Renovating vs building new – what you need to know

Buying and Building
Not sure whether to upgrade a home or build a new one. In this guide, we consider both pros and cons to help you with the age-old question: is it better to build a new home or spend money on a “fixer upper”?

Houses are a large investment, so which is worth the money? Let’s look at how renovating vs building both stack up.

Let compare some costs! 

Sure, renovating a home might sound cheaper than building, but these costs can easily add up. Renovating a bathroom in 2023 can cost from $10,000 - $35,000+. Kitchens vary from $10,000 - $45,000+, bedrooms can cost around $1,000 - $35,000+, a living room could set you back between $7,000 - $15,000+ and for landscaping and decking, you can expect around $12,500 - $44,500+. As sobering as it is, the smallest room of the house will most likely be the most expensive: the bathroom. The extent of the renovation, materials and the desired fit-out all need to be considered too as this can fluctuate costs. 

On the other hand, when it comes to building a home, the costs can be more clear-cut. 
Quoting a new build can be simpler and it’s clearer to see the actual costs, while the refurbishment costs can quickly sneak up. Especially if there’s damage to the home or another problem is discovered during the process, like plumbing, pests, water-damage, or wiring. 
Turnkey homes already include all the essentials in the fixed price, such as flooring, landscaping, driveways and air-conditioning, so you know exactly what you’re paying for and where the money is going. 

Building is an up-front cost but this way, it’s easier to manage and budget for. While renovations could appear cheaper, they can quickly add up and hidden costs could be found along the way.

Location, location, location 

Alkimos Beach, Western Australia  

Locations and labouring can also fluctuate costs, particularly for older houses. For example, Queenslander homes are mostly timber so this type of housing can cost more to refurbish than a contemporary home (mostly due to supply and pests). Renovating an existing home does mean you can retain elements of the home that you like, but it doesn’t give you any options when it comes to location. 

It’s worth mentioning the neighbourhood too. Sure, you can have a great home, but it’s not so good with an unfriendly neighbourhood. You’ve probably heard the phrase the “worst house in the best street,” but if anyone’s had eagle eye neighbours, you’ll know there’s also “the best house in the worst street” too. While renovating a house can give you that feel-good factor inside the home, it won’t help with the neighbourhood unfortunately, and you can’t do much about the houses’ position on a lot, or the backyard size is either.  

When it comes to building your own home, the exact location it’s up to you. With 15 communities across Australia, building at a Lendlease community means you have choice of lot, location and home design, with the benefits of careful planning by a team of urban design and development professionals. Our communities mean you’ll be able to enjoy established amenities and live with like-minded people. Because it’s a new community, you also won’t have to worry about large blocks of units or intrusive apartment blocks popping up in your street either.  

Renovating a house can help keep its history but building means choosing a lot, community and home that suits your needs.

How long will it take?

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and renovations can take weeks or even months to complete, depending on the job. Plus, if work is being carried out in the house, you may need to consider alternative arrangements or accommodation, particularly for bathrooms and bedrooms, until the work is complete. Furniture and possessions will also need to be removed from each room, so you’ll want to have enough space in the home to move belongings in and out. Alternatively, hiring temporary storage or using storage warehouses could be an option, while you wait for the repairs to be taken care of.

How long does it take to build a home? It depends. As we discuss in our how long does it take to build a house article, once land has been registered in your name and you have received all necessary approvals, it can take around six to eight months for a house to be built. However, depending on the size of your home and factors like the weather, the materials and the type of work being carried out, it can take from as little as four months to up to 12 or 16 months. 

During this time, you can rent a home or live in an existing home and move out once the build is complete, which may be less tedious than a renovation as you’re only moving once (moving into the new home) and not twice (moving possessions out into storage while the renovations are underway and back in again once complete). 

Both take time but weigh up whether you’ll need to move out and store your possessions during the process as this could be considerably costly. 

Bespoke looks and layouts:

With a renovation you can be limited by the layout of the room and the type of house you’re working with. Though custom options like tiling and cabinets are available when it comes to renovating, you may be constricted by approvals, budget and lot size.

With a renovated home, you’re working with the existing foundations which some might find to be limiting and others might be happier to work within the existing layout, rather than creating a whole new layout with a build. 

There’s an expectation that building in a community makes for “cookie cutter” homes, where all the homes in the estate look the same. With the option to use a Lendlease display village builder, or source your own, there are a wide range of living options and lots sizes available for those looking for guidance, a quick-fix, or others looking for more customised options. 

If you’re looking for a specific layout or not sure what layout will best suit your lot size, we have plenty of experienced builders, who will work with you and help make your dream home come to life.


With limited layout options, renovations can be a quick fix, but building means more creative freedom and bespoke options. 

So, it bubbles down to the individual but if you’re next home looks like it’ll need a re-vamp, it might be better in the long-term to build a house instead. This way you can manage your costs, know where the money is going, build exactly what you like and choose exactly where you live -- and who wouldn’t love that!? 

At Lendlease, we’re all about helping you to start your home building journey and with welcoming communities all over Australia, now is a great time to explore the possibilities. To get in touch, or visit one of our display villages, see more here