As a custom home builder we have a bias toward starting with a clean slate and building from the ground up. There are times, however, that we undertake major additions and renovations to ‘gild the lily’ as my Dad would say. There are many considerations when making the decision to build on what exists or begin afresh. Here are things for you to consider:

Zoning By-laws and Building Code

What will the regulations allow? Can you extend up or out? Will a variance be required? Are balconies permitted? Will aspects of the retained portions of the home require updating to meet current building codes? Is the existing placement of the house advantageous vs current zoning requirements?

What do you know about your existing home?

Are you prepared for renovation surprises? There are always unknowns when you begin to open up walls, ceilings and floors which result in more money and time. You need to plan accordingly. In renovations and additions any unforeseen issues must be resolved before moving forward.

How old and efficient are the current systems?

Electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and home entertainment systems have developed with new technology and are more efficient now than ever before. If the current systems are in bad shape and old then replacing them in their entirety may be required suggesting a clean slate approach.

Foundation and basement quality

Is the existing basement waterproof, is the existing foundation strong enough to support the additions? If the answer to these questions is no then a new build will likely be more cost and time efficient than resolving the foundation and basement issues.

Structural Quality

Are the bones of the house solid? Do joists, insulation, trusses, etc. need to be upgraded? If the existing bones are good this is beneficial in a renovation/addition situation. Replacement of these items leans the decision towards building new.


When the cost of the addition/renovation starts to approach the cost of building new then it is obvious that a new build is financially preferable. Interior only renovations may come in about $100 – $125 per square foot. Major renovation and second storey additions may come in $200 – $250 per square foot. Custom new home construction may start at $300 per square foot. There is also a significant resale advantage to building new. New homes command a premium over older homes in the resale market.


Overall the amount of work being done frequently determines whether it is best to start fresh or build on what is already there; assuming what will be salvaged is in good condition. If major systems need to be replaced and there is a new foundation to be or repairs to the foundation required then building from scratch may be the better alternative.

Before making your decision to build a new custom home or add on to your existing home take the time to gather the relevant information and make an informed decision that is right for you. Dalzotto Homes can provide valuable input on your project in Burlington, Oakville and the surrounding communities. Contact us at 905 335 8799 or