What if we knock it down and start again…..

The last few weeks have involved lots of design discussions and a now a possible big shift in direction, which I’ve become quite excited about. Because the original house isn’t a great floor plan our plans have always involved keeping the front three rooms only and demoliting everything else, with the rest of the house to be a new build. We always knew the floor plan of our house wasn’t ideal, with the bathroom right in the middle of the entrance hall, but we mostly bought it for the land and the location (as I’ve discussed before, you can change the house but you can’t change the location.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 12.37.05 pm

Here’s the original floor plan. We bought the house before it went to market so they never drew up a proper floor plan, but as you can see, the bathroom and kitchen are not ideally positioned and the front rooms aren’t huge.

In our latest design meeting our architect showed us two plans, both which met the brief of what we wanted and we were happy with. However, he then mentioned he had a third option to show us. “If it’s more expensive don’t show it to me,” I said, knowing that of course I would like that one more but that we were already at our limit.

“Actually, it’s cheaper,” he said. “But first, answer me a question. What do you love about the house?”

Curious as to where he was going with this I replied, “Well, I love the block, the street, the location, the lovely trees and feeling of peacefulness and that it’s zoned for good schools,” I began.

“But what do you love about the house?” he asked again.

I had to think about that. Because, while the house was OK and had enough potential to achieve what we wanted, it definitely wasn’t my dream house. That’s because whenever I found my dream house, with my dream block, in my dream location, it never met my dream budget! I liked the stone frontage, but the exterior was a bit of a mish mash of styles and the layout was pokey. It wasn’t the heritage federation villa I still hope to own one day, but I knew we could make it look great with the right design. So I eventually replied that I didn’t really love the house, but that it had the potential to be good with the right renovation.

“Seeing as that is how you answered, I have one more option for you,” he said, mysteriously, bringing out another plan.

“How about we knock it down and start again?”

This kind of caught me by surprise. We had always thought we would do a renovation and had bought the house with that in mind, but funnily enough, just the day before I had said to Phil “I almost think it would be easier to knock it down and start again.” This was after driving down the street and noticing that all the best houses on the street were new builds. There is a real mix on the street of new and renovated houses, so a new build certainly wouldn’t look out of place. And as the house isn’t heritage there wouldn’t be an issue with approvals.

The designer then presented us with some drawings and a budget, and much to my amazement it was CHEAPER. And BIGGER! He went on to explain that due to the high cost of fixing things during a renovation it would actually end up being cheaper to build a totally new house, with the added benefit that we would get exactly what we want, with no compromises to suit the original floor plan. Everything would be new, under warranty and without the ongoing maintenance of an old house.

I have to admit, those were a lot of pluses. But there was only one negative, I don’t really like new houses! I love the character of old homes, the slightly worn feel, the detailed cornices instead of square set, the imperfectness over the shiny and new.

The plans he had presented us had a fantastic floor plan, but the exterior just felt to…already done. When I mentioned this he came in quickly and said that we could have any exterior we wanted, we didn’t have to stick to a federation replica.

Now this really got me thinking and I quickly felt my excitement grow. “Could I have a Hamptons style weatherboard?” I asked.

“Of course!” he replied. And that is when my mind started to furiously tick over. Now that sounded exciting.

What do you think, should we make the old house work or knock it down and start again? There is lots to consider, but I am feeling pretty damn excited about the potential of a blank canvas now!






  1. Diane says

    i would love to see you knock down and do your Hamptons Home. Why only be half happy with what you are planing when you could be so excited jumping with joy, not sleeping because your ideas will not stop in your head. You have done the the renovations side of a build why not do a house design from scratch with all you ideas that can be incorporated.

  2. Michelle says

    Pass me the keys to the excavator. I’d be knocking down the old house in a blink. I’ve owned a 1911 Queenslander (loads of character but FREEZING cold in winter and a floor plan that was impossible to make work) and a new build reproduction Queenslander. The old house we lasted in 15 months. The new build we’ve been in 16 years to date and are starting to renovate. We traded character for practicality but I don’t have a shred of regret. Good luck with your decision!

    • Amity says

      Thanks Michelle! I am equally obsessed with Queenslanders and my Hamptons style will have a lot of Queenslander in it too. And I agree the reproductions look just as good. I don’t think the stone reproductions look as good, but with weatherboard I don’t think the difference is as obvious.

  3. Marianne says

    I think you have already decided Amity. I looooooove Hamptons style and yes a blank canvas would be awesome!!!!! DO IT!

    • Amity says

      I think I have too Marianne – and by the looks of the comments already in on here and Facebook we’re all in agreement!!

  4. Sarah says

    Knock it down, start again, build your dream home in the best location. It would probably be quicker too, from
    Start to finish.
    I would have to be a little sentimental an ‘up cycle ‘ something from the existing house and put it in the new. What that might be, I’m not sure. Perhaps make a bench seat for the outdoor entertaining from the old wooden house frames/roof trusses.
    Fun times ahead!

    • Amity says

      You’re onto it Sarah, in fact I’ve already found a few ‘upcycles’ from the original house that I want to incorporate. So stay tuned!

  5. Michelle says

    Knock it down! There are so many surprise costs associated with old homes. If there is no attachment to the house, you can start from scratch and get exactly what you want.

    • Amity says

      You’re right Michelle and that’s why they cost more. The builders have to factor in and budget for those surprises and unexpected problems.

  6. Emily says

    Yes knock it down and build your dream home. Nothing is stopping you from using old characted features in your new home. Can you salvage anything from the exsiting home? Like floor boards or Fireplace? I’m sure with your design eye it will work out beautiful :)

  7. Bron says

    We are at the end of a very long expensive renovation of a Queen Anne Villa.(4 years) My husband has been the builder (full time teacher) and we have been living in the house during the reno. To say it’s been hard on everybody is an understatement. If I had my choice again, I would do a push over and build again from scratch every time. I have lived in brand new houses (built by husband). This house will be lovely when finished but it has been a lot of hard work, especially paint stripping and re plastering etc etc. Good luck.

    • Amity says

      Thanks Bron. I think owner builders do it the toughest because they have to find the time around building other peoples homes, so it often takes that long. I don’t envy you! I’m sure the Villa is stunning now though.

  8. Bronwyn Smith says

    I am married to a builder and do interior design and we have done Renovations and we have done a new build. We are just about to start reno again. But I did like how we could have the floor plan we wanted with the new build rather than having to renovate around the old one. But sometimes I think it is good to keep the outside of the house you are in and clear out the inside and do a new floor plan. We did that with one and it was amazing. Good luck I know what you mean about ideas in your head and trouble sleeping. I am the same. Can’t wait to see what you guys decide.

  9. Tammy says

    I would knock down and start again. When we were house hunting, every house we looked at we wanted to change things in and couldn’t make it what we wanted. So we found a block and built exactly what we wanted within our budget. Ended up way cheaper than buying an established house and renovating. Best decision ever so go for it! Good luck!

  10. Phillip King says

    Hi Amity. The additional benefits of not having to retro fit sustainability measures such as wall and floor insulation heating and cooling, double glazing will also mean you should finish with a home better designed with improved solar access and zoned living to suit the way you want to use the different spaces.
    Good luck with it all.
    Love the Hamptons.

    • Amity says

      Very good point Philip and we thought about that too. As ambassadors for Energy Australia heating/cooling and solar we are all over the importance of getting those things right and will be writing about that down the track.

  11. Kylie says

    i think start from scratch you can add the hamptons style to it and create a better floor plan of what you want maybe recycle some stuff from the old house into the new

  12. Fiona says

    Knock it over! Build your dream home, especially if you’re happy with the location and don’t want to resell to make profit! i loved building our house! Just make sure you do your homework re builders and lock in as much as you can cost wise!

  13. Veronica says

    I say go with a knock down and build your Hamptons dream home!! You have worked hard and deserve what you want without compromise.

  14. Katherine says

    Im very excited to see your hamptons house come to fruition – I have always loved the house from father of the bride – and will be interested to hear how you love a modern day weatherboard!

    I hope you get some ornate cornices put in – square-set may be in now, and work in a loft – but it just does’t look finished : )

    • Amity says

      I agree Katherine, square set is the look now but I’m not a fan. I like the Father of the Bride house, but my favourite movie house is Something’s Gotta Give – it is Hamptons heaven!

  15. Tanya says

    Hi Amity and Phil,
    I live in your street and you are right about all the new builds and most of them look great. So why not go for it and go from scratch, get everything you want as you have said you want to live there. Be happy. Would love to see what you come up with.
    Cheers Tanya

    • Amity says

      Well hi there neighbour! You’ll definitely get to watch our progress then. Make sure if you see us you come and say hi. :)

  16. Sam says

    How exciting. I think I would knockdown and rebuild. Love reading your updates. Goodluck I’m sure what ever you will choose will look fantastic.

  17. Lynda says

    Knock it down! We are in the process of building a new house and it’s so exciting getting to pick everything and putting your own personal touch on everything :)

  18. Megan says

    We are facing the same problem. Live in a beautiful but very very old farm house. Floor plan is not great, and basically the cost to renovate will be huge. Cheaper to start from scratch. But whilst my house is freezing in winter, I love the high ceilings and the history behind it. So far 5 generations of the one family have lived in this home. Hence to say we are 8 years down the track and still haven’t made a decision. :)

    • Amity says

      Oh Megan, that’s a tough one! This house holds no sentimental value to us, but I can imagine how hard that decision must be for you. I think in your case i would have to renovate it. You can’t replicate history like that! Good luck with it.

  19. Edith says

    I think new would be best because you then have the option to change the footprint on the block and perhaps make better use of the position. It also reduces the chances of ‘surprises’ that usually blow out the budget. You still have ample opportunity to make it you own, probably to an even greater extent as you don’t have to put up with previous mistakes.

  20. Julie says

    Whatever you decide thoroughly check out your builder. We have renovated and doubled the size of our house and after being back in for 6 months we still are arguing over things that need completion. It is a very stressful time. Take time to stop and enjoy the little achievements don’t get bogged down in issues. Look forward to seeing your progress.

    • Amity says

      Thanks Julie, we are doing major research to find the perfect builder. I have had friends who’ve had trouble with their builder and weren’t happy and it’s a nightmare. I hope you get a good resolution.

  21. Jodi Johnson says

    How exciting!!! Knock it down and start again! Just think of all those designs and dream plans you have floating around in your head…the world is your oyster and you can CREATE absolutely anything you want…no limitations. Can’t wait to see the finished result. Best of luck xoxo

  22. Songs says

    Knock it down!!!! I love the Hamptons look too and look forward to watching you build your dream house. I live in a Queenslander and renovating it and it is so frustrating I think it will be so much easier to build what you want from scratch. Good luck

  23. Julie says

    I would go for knocking it down. If I had my time (and the money) I would have loved to build my dream home and living my dream. We were only able to do partial reno’s over the years. I like my house but it is a constant battle to keep up the maintenance on an old home.

  24. Lynneal says

    Hi Amity
    I am so excited for you. I remember your wish book with lots of Hampton’s inspiration for the 2nd block and look how great that turned out. You will get so much satisfaction every time you come home. Go all in and make your dreams come true.

  25. Jamie says

    Embodied energy is just as much a consideration as operational energy. Don’t be afraid to recycle, reuse and re-purpose when and wherever possible. This will give the ‘Hampton’ character, history and wonderful points of interest.

    Most importantly, enjoy the journey!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *