19 November 2012 To renovate or move: that is the question There comes a time in almost every family’s life when they are faced with the question that has plagued homeowners ever since Mrs Neolithic first turned to Mr Neolithic and pondered whether to find a modern cave, or simply touch up the walls of their existing one with a splash of mammoth blood and more economic food-crushing stone. That question, of course, is… ‘Should we renovate, or should we move?’ There are obviously pros and cons to both sides of the equation, and deciding on the right path requires some careful consideration. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you find the best option for your family’s situation. Consider the value-add of a renovation While a renovation – perhaps one funded by using the equity in your home – can drastically change your lifestyle and go a long way to creating your dream home, it’s important to consider how much value it will add to your house. It’s a good rule of thumb not to spend more than a quarter of what your home is worth when renovating1, in order to avoid overcapitalising on its value. Regardless, the cost of renovating requires careful research to decide if the extra investment will pay off. Of course, ‘value’ needn’t be purely financial. If renovating offers enhancements in terms of lifestyle, space and comfort, then even if the actual value of your home is not drastically increased, you may still feel the process is worthwhile. Consider the costs of buying a new home As with most things in this world, it’s the hidden costs that really get you when it comes to buying a home. Stamp duty, conveyancing fees, lawyer’s fees and associated moving costs can really add up. Make sure you are realistic when you planning to buy – it’s not just the cost of a new home you’ll be forking out for, but the (often substantial) costs that come with all the associated admin and legal work. Shop around! In all things home-related, it pays to weigh up the issues specific to your situation. Talk to a number of different service providers, shop around for the best product deals and keep a close eye on the local real estate market. You may be surprised by a great deal on a home that meets your requirements or, conversely, you may find that you can spend less on your renovation than you first thought. Talk to people who have renovated to get some tips and tricks to help get you started. Weigh up the stress Both renovating and moving house are pretty stressful times for a family, which means you have to weigh up the emotional costs as well as the financial ones. While moving your entire house and saying goodbye to a home (and all that may come with it such as neighbours, schools, shops and services you’ve become attached to) to start up again is tough, sometimes the ongoing stress (and potential delays) that come with aliving with and managing a renovation can take more of a toll. Whichever route you take, make plans to counter or minimise the stress it creates. The choice of whether to move on or stay put and renovate is a personal one, and one that can have a big effect on your family’s lifestyle. As long as you give the decision time and weigh up your options, you’ll feel comfortable that you’ve made the most appropriate choice for you and your family.