How Many Years Should A House Be Renovated?

It's important to start with a realistic expectation that you're going to encounter a lot of surprises, especially if you're working with an old home. Every time you pull away from a layer, hope for the best but assume the worst. Ed upgraded a classic 1930s cottage, staying true to the traditional style at the front of the house but modernising the back with a sloping roof and feature walls.

Rules Of Renovating

Factor For Budget Blowouts

The most common complaint of first-timers is that everything costs more than expected. Overspending often results from not recognising that changes cost extra. It's standard for builders to write into the contract that alterations after work have started incur an additional cost, often an extra 10 to 20.

Choose A Reputable Builder

how many years should a house be renovated (2)Whether it's poor quality work, overcharging, or poor communication, the repercussions of having a dodgy builder or tradie can last for years. The renovation has been redone at a further cost of $150,000 plus another two years. Do the research, get at least three quotes and check that the builders quote for the same inclusions and allowances.

Keeping it real

This late Victorian home in Sydney had many challenges, including fibro extensions and six flooring layers. But the owners were experienced with period homes, so they had allocated budget and time well above the initial estimates.

Have A Watertight Contract

Many disaster stories are linked to bad contracts and homeowners locked into agreements they can't get out of. Instead, a contract should have ironclad escape clauses regarding lateness and the quality of work. Otherwise, the builder can claim he's completed a wall even if it's not straight.

Expect Timeline Stretches

While ordering materials and booking subcontractors are the builder's job, some decisions are the homeowner's. If you're going to order things with six to eight weeks lead time, get in early so you don't hold up the builder.

FAQs About Renovating A House

A look at the past proves that historical structures and buildings can last a long time, but what about when it comes to your new home? A house will likely be the largest asset you ever purchase, and you need to know that your home will be structurally sound and last many lifetimes. But, how long is that exactly? Not to worry, we have all the information you need on how long your new house will last!

So, How long will a new house last?

This is largely debated within the construction industry as it depends on the materials used, the quality of the craft, and the maintenance that is required and followed through on. A home's generally expected and acceptable lifespan should last at least 60 years. However, many believe that the lifespan of a home is much longer than that, reaching well over 100 years.

Lifespan Expectancies

When answering 'How long will a new house last?', one important thing is that life expectancies are only averages. There is no way to know for certain that your home will last 80 years or even 150 years. This largely comes down to a few key factors that can drastically impact your new build's integrity and shorten that timeframe, in saying that many things can also prolong it.

It's all good and well knowing how long your new house will last on average but do you know why? Many factors can influence the longevity of how structurally sound your build will be. Knowing these factors before building, while you are building, and after your build is complete can help ensure your home withstand time and the elements it is put through.

The factors include:

  • Materials
  • Quality
  • Maintenance
  • Weather/Environment 


There is no question that quality materials and products last longer. It is the same when it comes to your new home—building your home out of sustainable materials, and high quality can ensure that it will be standing tall for generations to come. Remember, things that are used more frequently will degrade faster over time, so be sure you invest in the right products for your home to last many lifetimes.

Materials that can last a lifetime (60 – 100+ Years) include:

  • Natural Stone
  • Clay
  • Concrete
  • Bricks (They require less maintenance and can provide better insulation. However, they can make the building process longer and more costly)
  • Wood (Wood is more prone to wind, water and fire damage if not properly maintained. However, wood is more common in areas that are prone to earthquakes as they are more flexible )
  • Metals (Slate, copper etc.)
  • Most types of insulation
  • Locally-sourced materials


This is one of the most important factors in ensuring your home has a long lifespan. Good quality craft can prevent issues arising too soon due to an iffy join or a seemingly 'innocent' crack. A poorly-built home will degrade much faster than a home with every detail paid attention to. With tens of thousands of houses being built each year, there is bound to be a couple that slips through the cracks and can have an issue or two – but it is the same with any mass production. Ensuring that this does not happen with new builds are put through detailed assessments at each stage of the construction, from measurements and materials to assessing possible outcomes of each decision made. They also have to rigorously follow the rules and regulations to ensure everything is kept to the same high-quality standard to provide you with a home that will last generations. Most newly built houses will come with a ten-year structural warranty certificate to give you a little peace of mind. Finding a builder/contractor who comes highly recommended is your best bet at ensuring a good quality on your home. Sloppy quality and a poor design can come with issues, replacements and repairs much sooner than required.


Things get old. Whether living or non-living, they are bound to wear and tear damage and break – it is no different for your new home. You may not need to do too much maintenance within the first few years, but it will come. Keeping on top of the maintenance your home requires will ensure that it will last much longer. Your home is made up of various components, and while your house may be sound for many years, the components that make your house a house may not be as resilient and last as long.

Here are some of the components of your new house that have a shorter average lifespan that will require repair or replacement:

  • Aluminium roof coating (3 -7 years)
  • Enamel steel sinks (5-10 years)
  • Security system (5-10 years)
  • Carpet (8-10 years)
  • Smoke detector (less than ten years)
  • Faucets (10-15 years)
  • Garage door opener (10-15 years)
  • Air conditioner (10-15 years)
  • Asphalt (12-15 years)
  • Termite-proofing during construction (12 years)

Trash compactor, compact refrigerator, microwave oven, humidifier (9-10 years)


Unfortunately, mother nature is something that we can not control, and when it comes to your new home, you need to be sure that you build it for the environment it is in. Your home will need to be able to withstand years and years of harsh elements and whatever else mother nature decides to throw at it. Using locally sourced materials is a great option for ensuring your home's longevity as the materials were made with the climate and conditions of your environment in mind. Keeping the environment and weather your home will be prone to in mind is vital to ensure a good construction and adequate upkeep that provides you with a long-lasting home.

When it comes to prolonging the lifespan of your home, there are a few measures that you can take. It comes down to common and basic routines that can prevent disaster from striking. Checking regularly will allow you to catch any new damages, breaks or wear before it becomes too costly or repairs or replaced altogether.

Things that can prolong the integrity of your house include:

  • Regular cleaning – This prevents the growth of bacteria, mould and fungus, which can compromise aspects of your home.
  • Proper separation and disposal of waste
  • Check for termites, pests, insects – This prevents possible irreversible damage caused by termites, insects and pests in and around your home.
  • Look out for damp walls, water leaks and seepage.
  • Check for plinth, foundations and bases of any structural components.
  • The right material for the needs and requirements of your house
  • Regular and proper maintenance
  • Renovation Costs

As a first homeowner, you should avoid taking risks when renovating and spend conservatively. To make sure you don't overcapitalise (when you spend more on the house than what you can sell it for), it's a good idea not to spend more than 5% of the purchase price on renovations. So based on the current mean national house price of $679,100 (source: ABS), the cost of renovating a house or your renovation budget shouldn't exceed much more than $33,955. A well-planned and executed renovation can add up to 10% to the value of your home, especially if you hold onto the property for five or more years. So by spending $33,955 renovating your average $679,100 home, you could potentially make more than $60,000 – double the money you invested.

Understanding Home Renovation Costs

A decade spent working on renovations has helped Kieran develop a knack for estimating construction costs.

Here's his estimated budget breakdown for extensive room renovations.

  • Kitchen: $25,000 – $50,000
  • What's involved:
    • new kitchen cabinetry and benchtop
    • demolition of existing structures
    • modification of electricity and plumbing points
    • structural works to remove walls and open up the kitchen into an open plan
    • Fixtures and appliances.
  • Bathroom: $15,000 – $30,000
  • What's involved:
    • strip out of the existing bathroom
    • adjustment to wall frames
    • new floor and wall tiles
    • new tapware and vanity
    • shower screen and mirror
    • Floor coverings and a fresh coat of paint.
  • Living room or dining room: $10,000 – $15,000
  • What's involved:
    • removal of load-bearing walls (for an open plan space)
    • upgrading lights and power points
    • Floor coverings and a fresh coat of paint.
  • Bedrooms: $2,000 – 5,000
  • What's involved:
    • storage space installation (such as a wardrobe)
    • upgrading power points and lights
    • A fresh coat of paint.
  • Extensions
    • small homes: small extension or internal refurbishment: $150k
    • medium homes: extension to post-war home: $250k - $350k
    • large homes: house lift, extension & build under: $500k+
    • If your structural renovations require council approval, construction will often be funded according to a progress payment schedule rather than one lump sum. This schedule can help cover costs at each stage of the Fixed Price building contract provided by your builder.

Just because you can afford to renovate doesn't make it the right decision. Whether you're considering renovating a house or an apartment, you should consider all the pros and cons before committing your time and money:

  • Pros
    • Added resale value.
    • It can make your home more comfortable and improve your standard of living.
    • It can save you time and money by renovating instead of relocating. You can avoid all the stamp duty, agency and legal fees that come with moving by remodelling your home to suit your changing needs.
  • Cons
    • Potential to overspend and overcapitalise.
    • May have to move out of the home while works are being completed (or live in dust.

Tips For Renovating

Don't Forget About Details Unique To You.

While it's great to have a rough idea of how much your reno might cost, the actual cost can depend on a range of factors. For example, recent Suncorp Bank lending data* found that average home renovation costs varied greatly depending on location. While the Australian average was $63,118, renovations for households in Victoria were $71,067 and in Western Australia were $54,377. If you know the rough details of your project, tools such as a renovation calculator** by Suncorp can give a more relevant cost summary.

It's also important to budget according to your house's structure. The style of a house being renovated can significantly impact price. For example, houses typical to Queensland were built pre-1946. This is because they're all timber, and there is a much larger labour component for these houses versus renovating a house built 20 years ago.

Make Sure Your Budget Is Bulletproof

It pays to understand financials when renovating. Although estimates from experienced builders are usually accurate, your budget will need a buffer. However, it's not always clear how big this backup fund should be. Professionals advise that a contingency of around 3% of the contract value is required. This help covers unforeseen or latent conditions, such as finding rotten timber or hitting the rock in the earthworks stage. If you want peace of mind, it's worth saving a little bit more – particularly if your home is several decades old. When renovating older homes, you have to expect that there will be a few anomalies that appear.

Small Rooms Don't Mean Small Costs.

Assumptions can be a costly mistake. For example, even renovating small bathrooms can surpass the cost of large dining and lounge areas. This is because renovations are less about the area and more about materials and quality. There are typically eight to ten different trades for a bathroom to complete the work. This also doesn't factor in the large variety of materials required, including sheeting, tiling, tapware, vanities and shower screens.

how many years should a house be renovated (3)On the other hand, renovating bedrooms and living rooms won't involve trades like plumbing, waterproofing and tiling. Because revamping these rooms requires fewer tradespeople, even large examples can have a relatively small impact on your overall budget.  

Slow And Steady Doesn't Win The Race.

A popular way homeowners look to stretch small budgets is by focusing on single rooms. While taking it slow might make sense on paper, Kieran doesn't recommend renovating one room at a time. Instead, it's better to have everything completed at once. This way, you're getting economies of scale with trades, so they're not making multiple visits to the site and increasing costs. It also means all furniture and belongings can be packed up once, so there's less household stress caused by living through a constant renovation.

Waiting can also work to increase your costs in more unexpected ways. For example, building costs are always going up. We're expecting a price increase of somewhere between 10 and 20% for all carpentry-based materials in the next six months.

  • Custom work is rarely budget-friendly
  • Custom work might look great, but it can quickly eat through your finances. If you're on a budget and want to lower costs, it can be worth looking into off-the-shelf options.


Renovations may be expensive, but they can also be an investment. By updating now, you might improve the value of your property considerably when it comes time to sell. If you're looking to renovate, a Suncorp Bank home lending specialist can help you decide what financing options could be right for you. All consultations are 100% obligation-free.

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