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New custom home build or home renovation, which is more cost effective?

Open-concept, mid-century modern kitchen and living room renovation

We are often asked if it’s more cost effective to build from the ground up or renovate. While in most cases remodeling your current home can be more cost effective, there are many considerations and questions to ask yourself before selecting the best option for you and your family. From location and age of your home to space and layout of your dream home, we explore some of the key factors that influence whether you should build a new custom home in Calgary or embark on a custom home renovation project. 

Benefits of a new custom home

  • Starting from scratch means you will have more control over the final design of your home with the option to include unique features that suit your lifestyle.
  • You can select sustainable and energy-efficient materials for your new custom home. 
  • Building new does not require demolition of your old home, which can save costs in the long run.
  • Eliminates guesswork for the home building team about the safety of existing materials like asbestos, and where electrical and plumbing infrastructure exists and if it needs to be upgraded.
  • A new home will lower maintenance costs.

Benefits of a custom home renovation

  • Love your neighbourhood? With a renovation you get to keep your address and customize your home to suit your needs.
  • You can stay at your house during the renovation.
  • Renovations are typically less costly and time-consuming to complete than a new build as the foundation and utilities are already in place. 
  • Increase the value of your home.
  • You can increase the energy-efficiency of your home and reduce overall utility costs.

Making the decision to build new or renovate

When it comes down to it, the choice ultimately depends on a few questions and what’s right for you and your family. Here are a few topics to think about and discuss with your family.


Do you love the location you currently live in? Maybe you are in a quiet community, close to green spaces, parks, amenities and schools with a short commute to work on top of it all. If you have collected special memories at your home, like your community and want to stay in it, then a renovation is most likely the best option. It is important to understand local building restrictions in your neighbourhood as well. Some neighbourhoods have restrictions on the kind of changes you can make to your home including colour scheme, roof type or architectural style. If you don’t mind moving, changing your routine and a lot in your desired community is available, then a custom build might be best.

Condition of home

If your home was built before 1990, there is a good chance it is insulated with asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral made of heat-resistant fibres that turn to dust when disturbed and can cause serious damage to the lungs. This complicates a renovation as more precautions are required. Perhaps your electrical and plumbing are dated and need to be fully replaced to bring your home up to current safety codes. Many older homes were also built with smaller rooms. Updating your home to feature open, airy spaces will require demolition and reframing to achieve your desired result which significantly add costs to the overall project. If this is the case, starting new could be worth your time and investment. If your home primarily requires cosmetic updates, then a renovation could be the most cost-effective.


A new custom home has greater upfront costs than a renovation. If your budget is limited, going the renovation route might be the most viable. If you’re looking to do a complete renovation on your home but your budget is a barrier, you can phase out your renovation project and complete one or two rooms at a time. If the cost of renovating your home outweighs the resale value, a new build may be the better option. This may cost more in the long run, but you will be able to enjoy aspects of your home sooner rather than later. If you’re increasing the energy-efficiency of your home, you may be eligible for government grants to help cover the cost of your home renovation project. The Canada Greener Home Initiative provides grants from $125 to $5,000 to recoup some of the costs for home retrofits and interest-free loans up to $40,000 to help cover the costs of major home retrofits.

Taking on a full-home renovation or custom home project is a big decision. There are many variables to consider before deciding what’s best for you. Our team can provide expert advice in all these areas to help you make your decision. When you’re ready to take the next step, contact the team at Saville and we’ll be happy to explore these scenarios further.