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Demolish and Rebuild vs Extend and Renovate

Our clients in London and Hertfordshire often ask us: Should we extend and renovate or demolish and rebuild? The truth is – there is no definitive answer. If you're reading information which does give a definitive answer, take time to check the source. Does the company specialise in just new builds? Do they only complete loft conversions? At MB Master Builders, we carry out new builds, extensions and renovations, which is why you can trust us to give you unbiased advice on what would be the best solution for you. Let’s look at the factors which matter most:

  • Age, condition and structural quality
  • Plot location and size
  • Budget
  • Design freedom
  • Time and Logistics
  • Your desires
  • Rebuild or Extend and Renovate - Rear House Extension London

    Age, condition and structural quality 

    The age and condition of the property is an excellent starting point for your considerations. The condition of a property can determine the costs of renovation. Is there a great deal of structural work to complete before you’re even at the blank canvas stage? If yes, demolishing and rebuilding could be a good option. This is particularly true if there are large-scale safety or preservation works which need completing which have minimal effect on your ultimate design.

    Or perhaps you have chosen this home precisely because you value its age and character. If so, then look for sympathetic renovations which enhance the property’s character whilst also meeting your objectives. If the changes are cosmetic and not largely structural then this is a sensible option.

    This was the case with our recent client Michael Dunk, who loves his North London home but wanted to add an extra room that would bring some light into the house and express his personality. We achieved this by adding a large rear house extension. The brick walls helped the expansion fit with the surroundings while keeping its charming character. The combination of the industrial style steel framed glass panel doors and a large roof-light allows a wealth of warmth and natural light in and give the feeling of vast space.

    Knock Down and Rebuild or Extend and Renovate - Large New Build House Hertfordshire

    Plot location and size 

    Often the decision about whether to start from scratch or work with what you’ve got is determined largely by the location and size of the plot. For example, if you have a structurally good condition detached property in a good size plot then extending and interior renovation makes sense. If you’ve got a townhouse style terrace then a loft extension may be the solution. Alternatively, if you’ve purchased a house to secure the plot but you don’t love it and it’s in disrepair, then rebuilding makes most sense. 

    Take our recent clients Orley and Jonathan Kutner in Bushey, for example. When they found a house to buy for themselves and their three children, they fell in love with the location and the setting, but they knew they would need to make changes to create the perfect family home. The house, a 1960s chalet, was very old fashioned, with small dark rooms, so they opted for demolishing and rebuilding. The new home we have built is much larger and brighter, with floor to ceiling glazing and easy access to the garden.

    Planning permission is another critical consideration. For example, are you in a conservation area (demolishing will be difficult or even impossible)? Again this is where it is worth speaking with construction companies in London or Hertfordshire, who know your local area and will be able to advise you on which options are going to face the least planning resistance.

    Demolish and Rebuild or Extend and Renovate - Loft Conversion London


    This is where expert advice which is unbiased is invaluable. Seek preliminary advice from design and build companies in London, who can give you a ballpark figure regarding your different options. A full house renovation, especially if it entails extension work, might often end up being more expensive than starting again. This is largely due to VAT. All renovation work will be subject to VAT at 20%. When you build a new property, this can be done at 0% VAT.

    However, the most significant costs are typically structural. Therefore, if you’ve got a structurally sound property and you want to enhance the aesthetics and add a little more space, extending and renovating would probably be more economical.

    Rebuild or Extend and Renovate - New Build Mansion Hertfordshire

    Design Freedom

    Clearly, a new build allows your input into every element of design. You can design the home you want in entirety (subject to planning constraints). Working with the existing property will require compromises.

    When weighing your options, keep your eye on your aspirations. Your home needs to work for your lifestyle. Therefore, don’t merely consider what others in your area have done, but think what matters to you.

    Good consideration to help you here is how much does the existing layout and style match what you hope to achieve? The greater the gap between where you are, and where you want to be, the more likely it is that you need to consider a rebuild. However, if it is largely suitable in the main, then an extension and/or renovation could be a better option.

    Rebuild or extend and renovate - two storey house extension in North West London

    Time and Logistics

    Different options will take different lengths of time. Surprisingly, new builds can sometimes be faster than renovation and extension work. There are a number of reasons for this.

    Firstly, the owner won’t be living in the property. Whilst working around the owner is possible, it can delay progress. Secondly, much of the new build ‘time’ is taken in planning. Once building commences, it is fast and to plan. However, with renovation you aren’t always able to know the precise amount of time required. Minor problems can sometimes crop up, which can add more time.

    On the other hand, if you opt out for a rebuild, you will have to consider where you will be staying during the construction. If you have to rent a house for the duration of the works, it will add to the cost.

    Rebuild or extend and renovate - large glass extension London

    Your Desires

    Do you actually want and need more space or are you after a better finish and look? What are your goals from this project? You should consider the following questions:

    Do we need larger rooms and/or more rooms?
    Do we need additional bathrooms?
    Do we need home office space?
    Is our family growing or changing in the near future?
    What matters to us most in our home?
    How does our current home flow? What frustrates us? 

    Renovate v rebuild: make your choice
    Hopefully, you are now a little closer to deciding which option is best for you. Choose trusted construction companies in London who can advise you on new builds, house extensions, loft conversions, renovation and all elements of home building and design. This will ensure you make the right decision so that your future home is the one you really want it to be.

    Office Address

    Kingsbury House
    468 Church Lane
    NW9 8UA


    Phone: 0208 200 2327

    About Us

    We are a Design and Build construction company specialised in building new homes, house extensions and loft conversions in North and North West London and Hertfordshire. We cover Notting Hill, Kensington, Maida Vale, Camden Town, Golders Green, Hampstead, Finchley, Hendon, Wembley, Colindale, Mill Hill, Harrow, Barnet, Hadley Wood, Borehamwood, Watford, Welwyn Garden City and St. Albans.