Knocking Down Your House and Rebuilding: 5 Things You Need To Know



Knocking Down Your House and Rebuilding: 5 Things You Need To Know

The rising costs of renovation have made knocking down one’s house and rebuilding a popular alternative for homeowners. This is especially true if hardly any part of the old structure is retained in the final design or when very little of the of the existing home is salvageable.

But before proceeding with your knockdown and rebuild project, we want to make sure you’ve covered all the bases. So, here’s a list of five things you need to know:

1. You must have a detailed and complete knocking-down-house-and-rebuilding budget.

We know you’re aware that any project that involves construction from scratch involves expenses, but do you have a clear idea of how much you’ll need to spend? To give you a fair idea of what costs you need to prepare for, check out the following:

  • Site costs: All site costs are expenses you need to shoulder for the construction of your home. These include soil tests, levelling out of the block of land to be used for building your home, a contour survey, changing the location of connections and services, and others.
  • Knockdown and demolition costs: How much you’ll need to spend on knocking down and demolishing the old structure depends on the size of the house, site access, temporary fencing, neighbouring structures, tree removal (if any), etc. So if you’re knocking down a double-storey home, for example, expect to pay more than if, say, the old house is a single storey building.
  • Additional site costs: There are certain conditions when you might need to spend more than you would with typical site costs. For example, if you are building a house on a heritage-listed site, or within a bushfire or flood zone, you do not only need to spend on additional paperwork (these are subject to local council approval) but also extra site costs.
  • Construction costs: Of course, the bulk of your expenses would involve the building process itself. This includes whatever is covered in your contract with your home builder, including the materials, manpower and other similar costs.

So, in calculating your project budget, be sure to get all of these covered to avoid any unnecessary and potentially unpleasant surprises.

2. You will need permits and approvals.

Just because you’re knocking down and rebuilding on a block of land you own doesn’t mean you can just do what you want. Zoning laws and building regulations require everyone embarking on a construction project, including homeowners, to follow specific guidelines. 

There are certain council controls you have to consider, such as easements, overlays and covenants. You don’t want to find out too late that you’re trying to build a two-storey structure in a place covered by a restrictive covenant allowing only single-storey houses.

So, aside from the building permit, other documentation or paperwork needs to be taken care of. For example, before demolition, you need to get an asset protection permit from the local council and pay the required fee and bond. Then your demolition contractor needs to secure a demolition permit before they can begin working.

If there’s existing vegetation that needs to be removed, you’ll need to apply for a tree removal permit with the council.

3. You have to arrange for temporary accommodation and the disconnection of utility services.

If you’re currently living in the old home, you need to arrange for temporary living arrangements. You also need to find storage space to accommodate your furniture and appliances.

Before any demolition work can be done, you need to see to it that all utilities are disconnected, and any issues concerning these are promptly addressed. You have to inform your gas and electricity providers about your project and have these services cut off. You also need the expertise of a registered plumber to take care of sewer, drainage and other plumbing concerns.

4. You should have a realistic schedule or project timeline.

You may think that your knockdown and rebuild project will take only a maximum of six or eight months. But you may be surprised to know that you can end up waiting close to a year or more before you can move into your new home.

The size and complexity of the home design dictate how long the project will take to finish. There are other external factors to consider. This includes the weather, site issues and other challenges that present themselves along the way. If you suddenly decide that you want an energy-efficient home or make decisions you think will make the project more cost-effective when substantial work has already been done, this can significantly delay and possibly add costs to your venture.

The best way to get around these things is to ensure that the home design is final after all assessments have been made. You also need to factor in possible delays due to council approvals and permissions that you need and have no control of.

In general, though, a knockdown and rebuild takes about 12 to 18 months from start to finish.

5. You have to find a reputable and trustworthy builder.

Referrals and a lot of research are necessary to find the right builder to work with for your project. Check out reviews and testimonials and make time to go around and talk to your prospective builders’ previous clients. They may be willing to show you around their homes.

It’s also better to work with a builder that specialises in the kind of home you want, whether it’s a single-storey, double-storey or duplex home. Ask all possible questions you have and establish an honest and straightforward feedback system from the beginning. This way, you can rest easy knowing you’re entrusting your dream in the hands of a reliable and professional contractor.

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