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Renovations vs moving house - what should you do?

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If your home is no longer working for you, you need to decide whether it’s time to sell up or whether some extra investment in your current home might do the trick.

Lack of space, a tired kitchen or bathroom, or just plain old boredom with the home you currently have? Whatever your reason for wanting change, one thing’s for sure – you’ll want to get the job done as painlessly and cost effectively as possible.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to renovating over moving house (and vice versa). For example, many people are understandably anxious about going through the trouble of hiring builders and living on a building site when they could just move to a shiny new home that needs no work. Others may wonder why anyone would leave a home where they are settled when all it needs is a bit of TLC.

Both options also come with important legal considerations. For example, you may need planning permission for renovations and moving house comes with all the legal conveyancing work involved.

Here we talk about the things you should bear in mind when deciding whether to renovate your home or move house to help you decide which option is right for you.


From giving your home a lick of paint, to adding extensions, to demolishing and rebuilding, home renovations come in all shapes and sizes.

Advantages of renovating over moving house

  • You get to stay in a home and area you’re familiar with.
  • You can put your own stamp on your home and create a space that works perfectly for you and your family.
  • Renovating may be cheaper than moving house – you don’t have all the costs of putting your home on the market, conveyancing fees or Stamp Duty (when you buy a new home) to think about.
  • If you start thinking about moving now, you’re likely to miss the Stamp Duty holiday and will have to pay this tax in full. With renovations, you don’t have to worry about Stamp Duty at all.
  • Any money you invest in renovations may add to the property’s value (but be aware of what similar high quality properties in your area are selling for).
  • Your mortgage lender may allow you to increase your mortgage, or you may be able to remortgage to fund your home improvements (always speak to an independent financial advisor or mortgage broker before remortgaging).

Disadvantages of renovating over moving house

  • There will be limitations on how much you can renovate your home – for example, it can be difficult to add extra bedrooms or change a home’s layout to work for you.
  • You may need planning permission which can be complicated and take a long time to come through (and there’s always a risk your application will be refused).
  • You may have to live on a building site or in the company of builders for a while which can be stressful, noisy and messy. You may even need to find temporary accommodation while work carries on.
  • You can’t change the area your home is in. If you have problems with transport links, the quality of local schools or your neighbours, these problems will still exist after the renovations are complete.
  • Renovations can be expensive and it’s not a given that you can remortgage to fund your home improvements (or that remortgaging is a good idea – always speak to an independent financial advisor or mortgage broker for advice).
  • Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic mean that there is a materials shortage and good quality builders are hard to come by. You could end up waiting a long time and your renovations may be significantly more expensive than they would have been in previous years.
  • Unless you’re able to do the work yourself, you will have to rely on your builders, architects and other professionals to make sure your renovations are completed to a high standard. There’s always a risk that there will be problems and delays along the way and it’s important to exercise good judgment to avoid cowboy builders.
  • Renovating is a big commitment if you think that you might move away in the next few years anyway.
  • Renovations might affect your home insurance – make sure to check your policy before doing anything.

Moving house

Whether upsizing, downsizing or moving to a new area, moving house is exciting. But it comes with a lot of legal, financial and practical things to think about.

Advantages of moving house over renovating

  • You can choose a new home that doesn’t need any extra work, saving you the time and stress of renovations.
  • You can have a fresh start in a new area where the schools, parks and other local amenities may be better.
  • Depending on the amount of work your current home needs, moving house may be cheaper than undertaking a complex renovation project.
  • If you need extra space, moving house is usually easier than extending.
  • Similarly, renovations can’t make your home smaller. If you want to downsize after your children have grown up and moved away, moving home is the best option and is more likely to save you money.
  • You can probably fund your new home purchase with a mortgage. With home renovations, you may be able to extend your mortgage or remortgage to fund them, but it’s not a given, and other forms of finance such as personal loans tend to be more expensive than mortgages.

Disadvantages of moving house over renovating

  • Moving home is an expensive process. You must factor in estate agents’ fees, your conveyancer’s fees, Stamp Duty and the costs of things like surveys and hiring movers. You may even have to do some work on your house anyway to maximise its value.
  • Moving home is stressful.
  • You may end up having to do work on your new home anyway. Depending on your budget, it may not be possible to buy a top-quality, fully renovated home.
  • If you love the area you currently live in, you may not want to move away.

Renovations vs moving home: which one wins?

It may be annoying to hear, but there is no clear winner. Both renovations and moving home suit different families in different circumstances. It is down to you to decide which option is right for you.

Start by working out the costs for renovating vs moving house. Then write a pros and cons list for each option. Make sure you also seek professional advice from architects, surveyors, builders, financial advisors, estate agents, and anyone else who can help you make an informed decision about whether to go ahead with renovations or a home move.

Decided to move house?

At Bird & Co, we are specialist firm of Law Society accredited conveyancing solicitors who help people across the UK buy and sell their homes.

We can handle all the legal aspects of your transaction on your behalf, making the process as simple, straightforward and stress-free as possible.

Get a conveyancing quote online to see how much your transaction is likely to cost, then a member of our conveyancing team will be in touch shortly.