home renovations

We’ve seen the dilemma over and over. A family with a home that they want to completely “Gut and Renovate” or fully “Demolish and Rebuild”, and unsure of which path is best for them.

Their home is either too old, too small, too outdated, poorly designed or perhaps it’s even starting to literally fall apart.

When should a home be torn down to build a new one, and when is a renovation the best option?

Existing Condition of Current Home

First of all, we always ask the question “Do you like the general layout and character of the home? Do you like the overall architectural style? What, in the existing home, do you wish to retain, and why?

>If the existing home is a basement entry home, and you need a bungalow, a renovation won’t solve this. If your old home is 4500 square feet, horribly out of date and in need of a complete renovation, but what you really want is a compact 2000 square foot home, it may be best to consider tearing down and building new.

If you like the general layout and architectural style, a renovation is often the cost effective solution. Retaining even the foundation and existing framing will save money, allowing you to to invest in quality mechanical systems and beautiful finishes throughout.

Although your current house may not work well for your lifestyle with it’s current layout, a full renovation can allow for walls to be opened up, layouts to change and the space to be complete re-imagined. By combining a more effiecient and open layout with, perhaps, an addition for more space, we can usually create a space that suits the needs of the family at a lower cost than if the house was torn down.

If you like the overall architecture and space, consider renovating. 

Restrictions and Regulations

Some municipalities have strict regulations regarding the placement and size that a new home would be subject to. In many of these cases, if an old home is torn down, a new one would need to be smaller to coply with “Floor Space Ratio” regulations. Additionally, in many cities, old homes are subject to “Heritage”  or “Character” status, which require a great deal of red tape to demolish, assuming the municipality allows it at all.

Municipalities have a significant influence over what new home would be allowed, and at times, municipal regulations will determine whether a reno or new build is more viable. 

Cost Analysis

In most cases, renovating will be cheaper than building new. A new home automatically triggers all new municipal connections, significantly increased permit fees, HPO (warranty) enrollment fees, all before construction even starts.

Once construction starts, a new home will be subject to all of the most recent (and stringent) building codes. Although these building codes are developed with the intent to ensure homes are well built, they are very costly. From engineering and ventilation to energy efficiency and insulation, the new home must be fully compliant, which comes at a steep cost.

If you want a new home, be prepared to pay more. While a renovation has the benefit of many “grandfathered” regulations, a new home will require the investment of building to the most recent building codes.


When deliberating whether to fully renovate your home, or build new, there are so many aspects to consider. Our recommendation is to investigate the viability of renovating as your first priority. Many homes can be renovated more significantly than homeowners think, and these renovations are usually less expensive than a new home. If the home does not possess the character, size or is fundamentally unable to be renovated to what you want, then a new home is the natural choice.

At Kenorah, we offer fully integrated Design/Build services for both renovations and custom homes so that we can provide unbiased guidance and explore both options with our clients. If you are struggling to determine the best path forward for your family, we’d love to help by providing whatever guidance we can.


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