Should I Demolish and Rebuild or Renovate My House?

Maybe you bought a home that needs a little, or perhaps a lot of love. Or maybe you inherited an older house that doesn’t fit your family anymore. Whatever the reason, if you have a home that doesn’t suit your needs, you might find yourself deciding between renovating and rebuilding. 

Asking yourself, “should I demolish and rebuild or renovate my house?” is a big question. Both options have significant pros and cons. You have to consider the cost, the duration of the project, and how long you plan to stay. There are also environmental concerns, local regulations, and several other things to think about. 

Below, we lay out everything you need to consider before deciding between a home renovation and a home demolition in Calgary. We can’t choose for you, but this should help with the decision. 


The most significant consideration homeowners make when deciding to demolish or renovate is the cost. When comparing prices between renovations and demolitions, it’s essential to look at both up-front and long-term expenses. 

Up-Front Costs

Up-front it’s usually less expensive to renovate your home than it is to demolish and rebuild it. Demolitions typically cost $9-$10 per square foot, but rebuilding costs can vary significantly from as little as $150 per square foot to $350 or more. 

It all depends on the:

  • Size of the rebuild 
  • Accessibility to the land
  • Materials you choose
  • Features you want to add

For example, if you’re going to add a basement and require excavations, your new home could cost significantly more. 

On the other hand, renovations tend to cost between $60 and $180 per square foot. The price will depend on the size of the project and the materials you use.

However, it’s crucial to understand that renovations come with unforeseen expenses more often than not. For example, you might tear down the drywall only to find a layer of mold that you didn’t anticipate. Or you might find water damage in an area you didn’t expect. Unanticipated problems like these can add significantly to your renovation price tag. 

That said, if you’re tight on cash, renovating might be the better option because it may allow you to approach the project in stages. With demolition and rebuild, you’re committed to the total cost right from the start, unless you want to be the owner of a vacant lot! 

Long-Term Costs

In the long run, a brand new home built from the ground up could save you in terms of energy and maintenance costs. You’ll probably have warranties on new construction as well, which protect you if something goes wrong. 

With a renovation, you could still save on maintenance and energy costs if you do the renovation well. However, if there are any structural problems with the house, you’ll still have long-term issues to deal with, and those issues can become incredibly expensive over time. 


When deciding whether to demolish and rebuild or renovate, you’ll also want to consider how long you plan to stay or how long you hope your home will stand.

A brand new home will likely last a long time, and you won’t have to worry about significant updates for years or decades to come. If you want a home that will last generations, quality new construction might be the way to go.

Renovations typically don’t address the home’s structure and may not increase the lifespan of your home. Eventually, foundational problems could force a demolition or additional significant repairs. If you’re only trying to stay in your home for a few more years, renovations might be a better bet, but if longevity is a concern, new construction is best. 

Project Duration

A lot of homeowners assume that demolitions and rebuilding will take longer than renovating a home. However, the length of either project tends to be about the same.

The demolition itself doesn’t take long, but rebuilding can take several months to a year or more. It will depend on how quickly you can attain local permits and get onto the contractor’s schedule. 

With renovations, you might plan for the renovation to be a few months, but more often than not, they take longer than homeowners expect. Running into unforeseen problems like plumbing issues or concerns with permits can significantly slow things down. A project you thought would take six months can easily extend to a year or more.

Environmental Concerns

There are legitimate environmental concerns when it comes to demolishing and rebuilding a home. In truth, reusing an old building through renovations is almost always better for the environment than wasting and starting from scratch. However, renovations have to be energy efficient and environmentally conscious for that rule to apply. 

That doesn’t mean that demolitions have to take a terrible environmental toll. In fact, Calgary law requires that demolitions be done in an environmentally responsible way. A good demolition contractor will minimize dust, prevent flooding, and ensure contaminated water doesn’t escape from the site. 

If you’re worried about the negative environmental impact associated with demolishing and rebuilding your home, there are things you can do. Consider reusing materials from the old house where possible. You may be able to reuse or repurpose windows, tiles, or historical pieces, significantly lessening the environmental impact. 

Other Things to Consider 

Choosing between demolition and rebuild or renovation process is tricky. We outlined the significant considerations above, but there are still a few things to think about before you decide. 

Historical Significance

If your home has historical significance, you may not be able to demolish it. Demolishing a “Heritage Home” will come with all sorts of obstacles. You’ll likely have to petition the local and perhaps even federal government. Even renovations with historic homes can be complex, but they’re usually more feasible than complete demolition. 

Local Building Codes

Local building codes could affect whether it’s easier to renovate or demolish and rebuild your home. When you destroy and rebuild, a good contractor will help you meet local codes. 

When it comes to renovations, though, you might run into more issues. Sometimes renovations reveal areas of your home that someone didn’t build to code, to begin with. You may have to fix those, adding to the renovation’s total cost and duration. 

Where You Plan to Live 

Many people choose to renovate so that they can live in their homes throughout the process. If that’s part of the reason you’re considering a renovation over demolition and rebuilding, it’s crucial to consider your and your family’s health. 

Renovations can expose dust, mold, and other issues that make them hard to live through. If you have allergies or any breathing problems, staying in your home throughout a renovation might not be a good idea. 

Your Home’s “Bones”

Your home’s internal structures and foundations might be the deciding factor between a renovation and a demolition. If you like your home’s “bones,” a renovation might be the way to go. 

However, if you hate your home’s low ceilings or overall layout, starting from scratch is a much better option. Trying to raise ceilings or move structural walls during a renovation gets messy and tends to cost a lot! In that scenario, demolition is a better choice. 

First Steps In Demolishing Or Rebuilding

Whether you’re leaning towards demolishing or rebuilding your home, there are a few first steps you need to take. 

Get a Home Inspection 

Getting a thorough home inspection can help you make the final decision between demolition or renovation. A home inspector can identify structural issues like foundation cracks that might make demolition and rebuilding the better choice. 

Research Local Codes 

Local laws and regulations will apply regardless of whether you renovate or demolish and rebuild your home. So, call your local government and start researching. You might discover local laws make the decision between rebuilding or renovating for you. 

Hire the Best Contractor For the Job 

Whether you want to demolish and rebuild or renovate, you’ll need good contractors. 

If you’re demolishing, hiring a demolition contractor that’s knowledgeable and efficient is critical. In Alberta, calling Calgary Demolition Services is the best choice. They’ll answer all of your questions and give you a free quote so you can start the process of demolishing your old home. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you choose to demolish and rebuild or renovate your house, you’re about to embark on a large project. Either option could give you the home of your dreams, but it’s crucial to make the right choice. 

Renovations are excellent if you don’t plan to stay in your home long or love its existing structure and layout. A demolition and rebuild may seem daunting, but it’s the better option for structural issues or when you want a home that will last for generations to come.  

Starting with a home inspection and researching local codes can help you make your choice. Once you do, pick out a contractor you can trust. Given a bit of time and patience, you’ll be happy in your new home, whether it’s an entirely new structure or a renovated version of the original.

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