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Knockdown Rebuild Checklist


What we expect from our homes has changed a lot over the last few decades. Our daily lives now look drastically different, and many basic home inclusions were non-existent not that long ago. And that is without mentioning how much our taste in interior décor has evolved!
Our individual requirements for our own homes tend to change over time too. First homes are often more basic and functional, and we usually grow out of them quickly as our family expands. Then, later in life, many of us look to scale back on space to minimise upkeep and maximise liveability.

As most homes are unable to adapt to our changing needs, moving is often seen as the only option. However, leaving behind the life you have created in your current location can be emotionally and financially tough. This is where choosing to knock down and rebuild can be a great option, giving you the best of both worlds.

A knockdown rebuild allows you to create your dream home, tailoring the design to suit your specific needs. It also allows you to stay in the location you love and continue being part of the community you have built. It may even be more cost-effective than selling your current place and buying another established property in the same area.

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Choosing to knock down and rebuild could also allow you to get into your preferred location. In the most desirable areas, vacant land is often scarce, and quality established properties usually attract a significant premium. But being open to a knockdown rebuild opportunity increases your options as you just need to find the ideal site.
All that being said, if you are considering a knockdown rebuild, there are a few things you need to be aware of. While, in many ways, the process is similar to a standard new build, there are a few key differences. Here we look at what those are and the things you need to consider when planning a knockdown rebuild project.

Understanding what you are working with


When building most new homes, the site usually starts off fairly clean. There may be some issues, like a steep slope or restricted access, but these are generally quite easy to see and plan around. This is particularly true for new housing estate blocks, which are generally sold primed and ready for construction to begin.
However, when you knockdown and rebuild, the site usually comes with a little extra baggage. In addition to removing the existing structure, you also have to deal with everything that was connected to it. Depending on the property, this could mean anything from building around gas lines to having underground electricity connected.
Also, planning requirements tend to change over time, and additional work may be required to meet modern standards. While this will usually form part of the rebuilding work, some issues can be quite complicated and expensive to fix. Some considerations just need to be worked around, meaning they could impact the feasibility of your design.
With all of this in mind, before committing to a knockdown rebuild, you should look into the site’s:

Planning overlays

To protect the local character or environment, some areas are subject to planning restrictions. All new development applications in these areas will be assessed against the criteria of the applicable planning overlays. As such, it is best to be aware of any restrictions up front as they may impact your design. Find out if a site is subject to any planning overlays by contacting the local council or checking with Planning Victoria.

Usable Space


The size and shape of the site will impact both your design and how easy building works will be. As such, it is worth understanding the exact dimensions of the space you have to work with. As part of this, you will need to check whether there are minimum green space requirements in your area.



Existing properties in well-developed areas are often subject to easements. These can impact what and where you can build on the site. As such, it is important to check if any of these restrictions exist and, if so, where they are.


Knockdown & Rebuild

The good news is, none of the above considerations should stop you from going ahead with your knockdown rebuild plans. However, if there are any issues, they could require careful planning to manage, so it is worth understanding them up front. This will also help ensure your design suits the site and should minimise the risk of unwanted surprises later in the process.

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Planning your new design for your Knockdown & Rebuild Project

Once you have a clear understanding of the site’s limitations and considerations, you can begin developing your new design. It is best to start this process by thinking about what you need and the things that you would like. This could be the number and size of the bedrooms and bathrooms, the general layout, or specific design features.
As part of this process, there are a few specific considerations you will need to be aware of:

Set Backs


Each area will have its own requirements regarding how far a new property needs to be from the site boundaries. For example, in most locations, new homes need to be set back from the street a similar distance to their neighbours. Your new design needs to meet these requirements and consider how best to use the resulting set back space.



Drainage is one of the requirements that has changed significantly over the last few decades. As such, the site’s existing drainage system might not meet modern standards and may need to be reworked. If this is the case, your builder should be able to advise exactly what needs to be done.

Driveaway location


Generally speaking, it is best to maintain the existing street entry into the site. This is because relocating a driveway can be quite an expensive and time-consuming process. The change will also need to be approved and carried out by the local council.

It is also worth being conscious of the surrounding area when developing your design. Ideally, your new home should fit in within the neighbourhood and contribute to the local streetscape. This is usually achieved by adopting a complementary style or using a similar colour scheme and materials to neighbouring properties.
It can also pay to give some thought to potential resale when developing your design. Spending too much – or too little – on your rebuild could compromise the new property’s value and potential capital growth. Again, looking at neighbouring properties can help with this, as matching the quality of design should position you well within the local market.
At this time, you should also start your search for a builder. As always, it is best to find someone who knows the area and has delivered similar builds before. You should also look for someone with knockdown rebuild experience, as they will be able to help you through the process.


Why not just buy something ready to go rather than going through the process of building? There are a number of reasons why building on your existing property is sometimes the better approach to take.  


From financial reasons to lifestyle choices, it is important to consider all the factors when deciding which approach best suits you.

Managing the knockdown rebuild process


Once you’ve finalised your design, you will need to submit your plans to the local council for approval. They will review your application, assessing it against any planning overlays, and decide whether to approve the proposed works. As part of this, they will seek public feedback on your plans – so it pays to have the neighbours onside!
All going well, your planning application will be approved (this could take a couple of months), and work can begin!
As the name suggests, this usually starts with the demolition of the existing structure. Generally speaking, this will not be done by your builder. However, they should be able to recommend a demolition expert. Using the recommended demolition specialist is generally best as they will understand your builder’s requirements and prepare the site accordingly.
While your builder should manage most of the work for you, there are a few things you can do to help. Specifically, you should think about:

Site Access


Being able to get materials and machinery onto the site easily will significantly speed up progress. As such, it is best to keep access to the site as open and obstruction free as possible. If you are building in a well-developed area or on a busy street, this will require a detailed traffic management plan, which you will need to submit with your planning application.

Power Supply


While some builders can work with an overhead power supply, most prefer an underground connection. As the installation of an electricity pit can be costly and time-consuming, it is best to organise this early. The good news is, in many instances, an underground connection also allows easier site access and creates a cleaner streetscape.

Keeping Your Neighbours Happy


As noted above, your neighbours will be able to provide feedback on your knockdown rebuild plans. As such, it is worth engaging with them throughout the design and development process and addressing any questions or concerns. After all, these are the people you will be living next to for the foreseeable future.

Want more information on the knockdown rebuild process?


If you are interested in hearing more about how a knockdown rebuild could work for you, contact Carmel Homes. We are one of Melbourne’s leading knockdown rebuild specialists and can guide you through the entire process. We can also work with you to develop your dream design – book your free consultation today!


1129 Toorak Road

1300 79 28 29

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