Is Renovating a House Cheaper Than A New Build?

Building from scratch vs renovating: What to weigh up

Is Renovating a House Cheaper Than A New Build?

The choice between renovating an existing structure or building a new one, often depends on many different variables. Both options have their advantages and both have challenges, meaning the best and right choice is the one that will serve the bigger picture.

Option 1: Renovation

Renovating a residential property can be both stimulating and daunting — not to mention the potential for making a short-term profit that it provides. From discovering unique features hidden under years’ worth of dust or the chance to put your own signature on something — or perhaps the best direction to getting a bigger house in a better area than you would otherwise be able to afford.

The success of renovating a residential property strongly relies on being prepared for what lies ahead and, to a certain degree, an expectation that there will be some surprises and risks.

Total design has two meanings: first, what might be called the implosion of design, the focusing of design inward on a single intense point; second, what might be called the explosion of design, the expansion of design out to touch every possible point in the world. In either case,the architect is in control, centralizing, orchestrating, dominating.

Whilst renovation might look like the ideal opportunity at first glance, further investigation may prove otherwise. Knowing when to walk away from a residential renovation project is crucial if you are to avoid buying a money pit.

Residential Property Renovation Projects in Crete
Renovation Projects in Chania, Crete

Renovating your property can bring about a set of problems that will need to be resolved before your dream home can emerge — and these problems tend to involve hidden costs and a considerable amount of time to deal with them.

Being aware of these risks and uncertainties and having a strategic plan of the actions or the alternatives to be implemented should mean the project remains on schedule and budget.

A schedule of works is critically important to anyone renovating a residential property. A realistic and pragmatic schedule plan outlines every single job that needs to be done from start to finish of a renovation project, who will be responsible, how much it will cost and how it will affect the project a whole.

Below is a typical schedule of works for a residential renovation project, although every list and works prioritization could be different. At ARENCOS we can advise you on the works and time required and the associated costs.

  • Structural condition assessment
  • Internal condition assessment
  • Constitutional consents
  • Structural stability
  • Demolition work
  • Dealing with damp
  • Drains and plumbing system condition assessment
  • Site access
  • Major building work
  • Insulation
  • Exterior works
  • External works
  • Plastering
  • Fixed flooring
  • Decorating

Building from scratch vs renovating: what to weigh up

Wondering whether to knock down and renovate your residential property or build an new one? Here’s what you need to weigh up.


Renovating a residential property is a popular way of trying to save money but ironically, a problematic schedule and an unreliable cost estimation can mean you could end up paying more for a property than it is actually worth.

When first viewing the property, look for its potential in terms of what could be done with its design and the financial potential it could eventually provide short or long term.

Is there enough outdoor space to extend, for example? Can you extend the balconies or construct a swimming pool? Can you redesign the interior areas without affecting the structural condition and stability of the building?  Can you improve the heating insulation or install solar panels on the roof? Can you redesign the interior areas without affecting the structural condition and stability of the building?


If you are interested in the renovation, get in touch with a quantity surveyor.

A quantity surveyor from ARENCOS can help you to meet both your renovation’s objectives and your budget and will manage all aspects of the contractual and financial side of your renovation project. Additionally, he/she will proceed to further investigation work to help you successfully identify issues or problems such as:

  • Infestation
  • Accessibility
  • Structural Issues
  • Subsidenceor Heave
  • Damp
  • Drainage Problems

A renovation report is designed to determine the construction methods and procedures that have been used in the property. This information can then be used in the renovation project to check that any new materials, tools, technologies, methods and techniques used are appropriate — this allows you to design your renovation strategy more effectively.

Another pre-renovation project prerequisite is to get a measured survey. This will give you a precise prognosis – estimation of the layout of the existing building. Particularly, if you plan on making a planning application as part of your property renovation, this is likely to be required.

Renovation or new Builds? Discover the Answers by Chania Engineers and Architects Specialists - ARENCOS
Residential Renovation Project or New Builds

Are You Renovating or Remodelling?

Unfortunately, the terms ‘renovate’ and ‘remodel’ are often used interchangeably but obviously they do have quite different meanings.

When it comes to buildings, renovation is more similar to restoration than remodelling — that is to say, bringing something back to its original state, to reinvigorate and refresh.

Remodelling, on the other hand, essentially refers to changing a building, perhaps through altering its layout, arrangement or extending.

In order to retain the original character of your renovation project, there are certain features which you should pay particular attention to, including:

  • Windows
  • Floors
  • Doors
  • Fireplaces
  • Original mouldings
  • Roofs

However, what most owners of old residential properties end up doing is a combination of renovation and remodel — returning original features and the bare bones of the property to their former beauty whilst playing around with the layout and characteristics in order to make the property more modern, comfortable and environmentally sustainable.

Chania Renovation Construction projects - Crete ARENCOS

Option 2: New Construction

When you decide to build a home, you and your team (architect, engineer, and interior designer) collaborate closely to make decisions about every element of your new property, from the architectural style to how it will be situated on your lot to what type of finishes will be used throughout.

Building from scratch might be the more costly option, but it comes with several benefits and can be less restrictive than renovating. These include:

Environmental sustainability

Designing and building a new facility from scratch allows for more control over energy consumption. The building materials, floor plans, and electrical and plumbing systems can all be built with energy efficiency in mind, thus reducing energy costs in the long term.

Modern technology

Older buildings are often unequipped for modern technological needs, especially when it comes to electrical systems. One of the advantages of creating a new building is the ability to integrate electric systems with a specific use in mind.

More options

If aesthetic plays a larger role in the decision-making process, starting fresh might be a better option. Designers and architects are far less restricted when building from scratch.

More efficient layout

It’s much easier to design a building with a specific purpose in mind than to convert a building intended for a different use.  Depending on how drastic the difference in intended uses are, it’s quite possible that renovating an older building could cost more than a new building.

Less Maintenance

New materials combined with construction warranties means your building will likely require less maintenance over a long-term period.


While renovating can seem like an easier and cheaper option in the long run this can actually cost far more, and you may find there are a lot of hidden extra costs you did not know about.

One of the realities of an extension or renovation project is that there are likely to be a few surprises along the way, and unfortunately, these generally aren’t nice ones and costly . Unlike a new home where there is little scope for surprises to catch you out, a renovation may have any number of surprises that do not reveal themselves until work has commenced.

Upgrading electrical infrastructure, structural modifications and waterproofing issues are common problems.

Knock-down-rebuilds can yield a better sale price – if this is your end goal as not only is it sparkly new on the inside, the structure and integrity of the home is too.

As you can see there are benefits to both building new and renovating which is why it’s often hard to choose between the two. If you’re stuck, it may be worth getting quotes for both to help you decide and get started on planning your dream home.

ARENCOS can provide upfront pricing for a brand new home while your builder should be able to give you an accurate quote when provided with a detailed plan of the renovations you want.


The decision to renovate or build new depends on individual factors that are different for each person and situation.