Renovate, tear down, or sell?

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Posted by: from Toronto
6/26/2016 at 12:39:39 AM

My house in the east end of Toronto is roughly 90 years old, and has seen better days. It's a small bungalow that probably needs some foundation work, new siding, a new door, some electrical updates, and isn't terribly well insulated. I wonder if the cost of renovation might begin to rival that of outright replacement.

Not to say that it isn't a good place to live. It's better than any apartment I ever had, and the price was right at the time. The location is excellent - very short walk to subway, groceries (etc.), and GO transit.

I'm curious if anyone has insight into the comparative cost of the repairs/renovations I'm looking at versus tear-down-and-rebuild - or if what sorts of experiences people have had in selling properties in need of much overhaul. (I mean, I bought this place, so I suppose someone else might too.)

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Date/Time6/26/2016 at 11:32:58 AM


I have experienced a great deal with renovations in the GTA. The beaches, Avenue road area etc in the past. About three of the homes in the beaches area were definite tear down and rebuilds. In two cases the clients opted for full renovations and the finish was good. But I should point out they would have been better torn down and built new. And in the end it cost as much as a tear down would have. One, the client opted to tear down, and it was a great choice. It is now a fantastic little home. And will be for decades.

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Date/Time6/26/2016 at 4:13:09 PM

Hi Tim,

There are many scenario's to this question.

1) Is this a place where you want to live for the next 5-10 years?

2) What are comps going for in the area and in retro-spec to yours how do they show?

3) Budget. Cost's compared to a full renovation vs New build.

Kind Regards


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Donald from KCMC Inc in Burlington
Date/Time6/28/2016 at 7:26:44 AM

When renovating older homes I have found that the following most be considered.

Most important.


The location will determine if the area in which you are living would be better suited for a new costume home.

Or a major renovation and remodeling.

The cost of each are almost the same given that your foundations are old and may need underpinning to have a good height in the basement.

All your heating would be upgraded or replaced.

All your electrical wiring would be replaced.

All plumbing would be replaced.

New bathrooms and kitchen.

New windows and doors.

The interior would be completely striped.

The external walls would need spray foam insulation on a 4'/4.5' stud

And then you go into the own known (called site conditions)

Upgrade your water main.

Upgrade your hydro capacity.

If the house holds no intrinsic value as it stands then I would consider a new home.



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Robert from Alair Homes Toronto in Toronto
Date/Time6/28/2016 at 1:33:03 PM

Hi there Tim,

This is a great question, and one of the most important questions to ask before you invest money in a certain direction. In order to truly find out the direction that makes the most sense requires us to do two things. First we find out what you can afford to invest in the home, which will vary depending on what you are building. Secondly we will do two free estimates, one for the Reno and one for the New Home. From here we work with our professional market partners to evaluate what your house will be worth based on current sales in your neighbourhood. Than with all these tools you are able to make an educated, insightful decision based on real market values.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have any further questions!



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Tim in Toronto
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 10:17:29 AM

Hi Scott,

1) No, I would probably rather be living somewhere else 5 - 10 years from now. Toronto's just not for me - but my work is here for the foreseeable future.

2) Asking prices for detached homes in the area seem to range from $600K to $900K at the moment. (Something like 2.5 times what they were when we moved in 6 or 7 years ago.

3) Budget ... I have no idea. New construction certainly isn't something I could do out-of-pocket, and I'm not sure how one would go about financing such a project.

Thanks for your reply.

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Tim in Toronto
Date/Time6/29/2016 at 10:21:22 AM

Thanks for the advice and information, everyone. I strongly suspect that tear-down and rebuild is the way to go, though at the same time I feel like I'd prefer to sell the place and move on.

Not sure how best to proceed with that though - to get an agent and list it, or whether there are builders/developers to deal with directly.

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