What’s the Difference Between an Extension and a Renovation

If you want to upgrade your living space, you’re going to need to decide whether you want an extension or a renovation. Though these two processes might seem similar, there are key differences that you need to consider as a homeowner. Before you commit to a home builder, make sure you fully understand the financial and practical implications of choosing one or the other.

In this blog, we’re going to cover the main differences between an extension and a renovation. Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of which one suits your particular needs.


  • Work on existing buildings

A renovation is when you upgrade or repair an existing building, without expanding the structure. Renovations generally involve restyling your kitchen, repainting the walls or getting a new carpet. Generally speaking, you can’t expand your living area via a renovation job. It may, however, help you optimise your current living space.

Since most renovation projects are smaller in scale, they are generally more affordable when compared to extensions. However, you might find that the cost per square meter is more expensive for a smaller project. Additionally, overhead expenses are typically charged at a fixed rate regardless of how small your project is. With this in mind, it might be worth going for a project that’s larger in scale to get more value for your money.

Some renovations are simple enough to be done as a DIY project. However, if you’re inexperienced with DIY projects, we strongly recommend hiring a professional worker to help you.

  • Restoration and modernisation

Restoration and modernisation are two procedures that fall under the category of renovation.

A restoration project aims to restore the original aesthetic of a property. For example, if your property was built in the 1950s, the workers will often try to restore the home using materials and products from that particular time. This is a perfect choice if you want to retain a vintage feel and period look to your home.

Of course, for comfort, you can choose to keep a few modern features. For instance, you can keep your modern HVAC system, your security systems and your LED lighting.

On the other hand, modernisation is when you upgrade the older parts of your home with newer components. The most common upgrades that you’ll see are double-glazed windows, central heating systems and various security features.

  • Permits

According to the Victorian Government, you don’t require a building permit if the renovation:

  • Doesn’t adversely affect the structural integrity of the building
  • Doesn’t affect the health and safety of the residents and the general public
  • Doesn’t adversely affect a safety feature of (or relating to) the existing building

Keep in mind that these rules may or may not differ depending on which state or territory you’re in. Please refer to local government websites if you’re unsure about the building regulations in your area.


  • Extending the ground floor

As the term suggests, an extension is when you add a new area to an existing building. The most common way to do this is to expand the ground floor by building a pergola, a patio or a veranda.

Your pergola or patio can either be attached to your main home or it could be detached. Before you commit to one, make sure you understand its legal implications. Indeed, some jurisdictions require particular building permits for detached structures.

  • Additions

An addition is when you add new floors to an existing building. The most common method of adding a new level involves tearing the roof off your existing house and building the new floor from scratch.

Otherwise, if your home already has a second floor, you can also expand it across the top of an existing building. For example, if you have a garage or a shed that has unused space above it, you can use that space to expand your second floor.

Typically, additions do not go beyond one additional storey. Most states and territories in Australia have height limits for residential homes. Make sure to check in with your local government to find out what the height restrictions are in your area.

  • Permits

Most Australian jurisdictions will require you to get a building permit before an extension project can begin. Essentially, any project that involves changing the structure of your current home will require a permit.

Before you commit to an extension project, it’s a good idea to have a solid understanding of the building regulations. For more information on the Victorian building regulations, click here.

There you have it, the differences between extensions and renovations. As you can see, one option isn’t inherently better than the other. You must analyse your particular situation and decide which choice is the most appropriate for you. The factors to think about are your budget, the size of your property, local building codes and, of course, the desired outcome. For some, this is a lot to consider. If you feel that you need help, don’t hesitate to call a home builder near you.

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Amarjit Khakh

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