With the property market in metro Melbourne heating up, more homeowners are opting to upgrade their home on their existing block and stay in the location they love, rather than compromising on design or location.
Knockdown rebuilds, or KDRs, involve demolishing an existing dwelling to build a new home in its place. Growing in popularity, these projects now account for around 40% of all builds that we undertake here at Arden Homes.
“Because of our size as a business, 40% of our projects is a large volume of our work – so we’ve got a lot of experience in comparison to our competitors,” says Arden Director, Dean Morrison.
Having worked on three KDR projects of his own, Dean knows first hand how important experience is when it comes to navigating a knockdown rebuild.
“Even before you buy a property that you’re going to knock down, there are things to consider; for example, if there’s a bus stop out the front, it can limit site access.” Seemingly small factors can mean it’s virtually impossible to build a new dwelling on the site.
“You might go and spend $1 million on a property, only to find that most building companies can’t build on it. So it’s worth doing that research up front, and knowing what to look for,” says Dean.
This is just the first step of what can often be a confusing process for homeowners – so being there to support them throughout the process is crucial for a successful knockdown rebuild project, says Dean.
“We’ll go out and look at a block free of charge. We’ll assess that it’s not affected by overhead power, we’ll assess suitability for parking and access for trades and deliveries. The client then has the option to request a soil test and site survey with the existing dwelling. This will allow us to take into account the neighbouring properties, how much fall is on the land, setback requirements and things like that.”
Once a property has the tick of approval for the demolition to commence, the homeowners have the option to use Arden’s end-to-end knockdown service to make the process easier.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into the preparation stage of a knockdown rebuild, so that’s why we’ll arrange the disconnection of services for them – it takes up to about 6 weeks to have these services disconnected,” Dean says. “Once the home is knocked over we can get a plumber to cap the existing sewer for them.”
This service has proven to be key for knockdown rebuild clients and Arden now has strong existing partnerships with trusted demolition companies all across Melbourne.
It’s not just Arden as a business with experience in KDR projects, either.
“We have certain site supervisors, and knockdown rebuild projects are all that they do. They work in knockdown rebuild suburbs and know how to handle these jobs, as opposed to working exclusively in greenfields.”
This experience pays off in spades when it comes to planning your project, particularly in navigating the different requirements for your local council in planning your build.
Aside from trusting in the experience of their builder, many homeowners opting to go down the knockdown rebuild path are drawn to the flexibility that this option offers, says Dean.
“Unlike a renovation, with a new dwelling you’re not limited by the existing structure, so you can start with a blank canvas. You’re going to have to move out during a renovation anyway, so you’ve got the same rent costs as you would if you build from scratch and get brand new everything – and the ability to have it how you want it.”
Working from home has highlighted just how inefficient the design is in some older dwellings, and making structural changes in a renovation can get very expensive, very quickly.
Building a new home on your existing block of land doesn’t just give you design flexibility, but also financial flexibility, too, thanks to built-up equity in your home.
“You might be able to get a line of credit from the bank and you can do the progress claims yourself,” notes Dean, “otherwise the bank may add to your existing mortgage for the build portion and give the payments to the builder progressively.”
Homeowners knocking down their existing dwelling do need to be aware of the timeframe for these kinds of projects. With extensive preparation and potential town planning involvement, it can take several months just to demolish the old home.
“From the moment you pay a deposit, the average number of weeks to a site start – taking into consideration your work with our sales team, and then getting your house demolished – is between 30 to 35 weeks,” says Dean.
Without town planning involvement, this can cut around 10 weeks off this process, but it’s still something that homeowners need to be prepared for.
But the final product makes it all worth it, Dean says. When asked what it’s like to see the homeowners’ reaction at handover, Dean describes it as “extremely rewarding.”
“Every home we settle, the building supervisor takes a picture of the completed home as well as the family who’s moving into it. As a business, we’re always conscious that there’s a client there who’s building the home of their dreams. So to see them at the end, with a finished home that our team members have been a part of, that’s a really rewarding experience for us.”