A question we often hear clients ask when deciding on a project is whether they should renovate their existing structure or build new entirely. In some cases, this is an easy choice to make but factors including time, budget, permits, location and expectations will all influence how to make the right decision for your needs. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to renovate or build new:


Arguably, the most influential factor when deciding to either renovate or build is your budget. Before making any decisions on what you are going to do, your contractor will discuss your budget with you to make sure you are on the same page and to determine what can be done to stay within your budget while giving you a result you’re happy with. Depending on the size of your budget and the state of structure, it may make the most sense to demo the existing structure and start fresh, but if your budget is a little more restrictive, renovations may be the way to go.


Permits, permits, permits! While they can sometimes seem daunting, permits are a necessary part of any construction project, regardless of whether you are making renovations or building a new structure. They are also an added expense to consider when planning your budget, and the time involved to obtain permits will need to be considered as well.

If you are planning to build new, expect higher permit costs. Depending on the size of your new build, permits can cost upwards of $10,000 to $30,000. They have lengthier turnaround times (approximately 30 days) and are more likely to need at least a round or two of revisions. Permits for renovations tend to have a lower price tag and a shorter turnaround time (approximately two weeks). Again, permits are not a one-size-fits-all and the price can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of your reno or build. At Thompson Construction, we take the stress out of permit applications by assisting you with filling them out and submitting them for you. We can then review any requested changes to discuss with you before resubmitting for approval.


Unless you are prepared to move, you can’t change your property, but you can change the house or structure that is on it. This is why location is such an important factor when deciding whether to renovate or build new. If you are in the process of choosing a property, and are deciding between a vacant lot, a structure to renovate or to tear down and build new, choosing a location with which you are happy and that is optimal for your needs will be a major deciding factor. You will need to weigh your pros and cons in every scenario to decide what is best for you. For example, a vacant lot may seem more cost effective, but the building costs for your structure may be a lot more expensive than buying a property with fixer-upper that you can renovate or add to. Similarly, if you are unhappy with the structure you currently have, you will need to consider your wants, budget and the condition of the structure to decide whether to renovate or build new.


Your contractor will work their hardest to ensure your desires are met on time and within your budget, but any project is subject to potential surprises. This is especially true when choosing to renovate an existing structure. As soon as you begin opening walls, ceilings and floors, there may be damage that you were not expecting which can be costly and could add time to the project. You must be prepared that these issues are a possibility to manage your expectations prior and during construction.

New builds are not immune to the occasional surprise. There could be an issue with the property itself, or a sudden change in regulations may change the process or timeline of your project. Again, open communication with your contractor can help ease some of the stress that comes with renovations and building.

At Thompson Construction, we have done everything from full lakefront property renovations to building entirely new industrial sites. We have the skills and experience to take your project from the ground up efficiently and within budget. Get in touch with us to learn more about our services or to discuss your project.