To Construct or Destruct Your Home

At some point in life, you will outgrow your home. Whether it’s because of your growing family, evolving neighborhood or the passing of time, natural factors will eventually affect the conditions of your house.

You can’t stop your house from getting old, but you can certainly make a choice: Will you try to save it through renovation or tear it down to create something new?

Renovation, as defined by the National Building Code of the Philippines (P.D. 1096), is any physical change made on a building to increase the value and quality, or improve aesthetics. It is not just merely repairing damages but introducing improvements to your existing house.

Demolition, meanwhile, is the systematic dismantling or destruction of a building or structure, in whole or in part (P.D. 1096). Whereas renovation sometimes involve partial demolition, destroying your whole house becomes necessary if you wish to start with a clean slate in construction.
Surprisingly, it often costs more to renovate than to demolish and rebuild. But beyond costs, there are other items you have to think through before coming to a final decision.

Saving grandma’s house

For sure, the house you grew up in would be difficult to part with. When emotions play a part in your decision-making, it is best to see the big picture beyond your emotions.

Is your home a dilapidated ancestral house standing in the middle of a bustling commercial street? If yes, it might be wise to consider the real estate value of your house.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to demolish your house to keep up with the times. An interesting approach would be to renovate your house and convert it into an establishment that will make it more appreciated, such as a sit-down restaurant or an antique gallery.

Preserving a historical gem

Did your home play an important part in Philippine history and has been standing for more than 50 years? If this is the case, the decision of saving your house may not be up to you at all.
The National Cultural Heritage Act, or Republic Act No. 10066, dictates that heritage houses and buildings of significant cultural importance cannot be demolished. In fact, the government is mandated by this law to fund the preservation of the structure while allowing its current title holder to retain ownership.

If your home or building seems to fit the requirements of this Act, it might be best to talk first with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) before making any new changes on your home.

Determining a fixer-upper from a run-down house

In deciding whether your house needs a quick fix or a major overhaul, it’s best to check its structural conditions first.

Check for sagging floors, cracked beams or columns, and damaged walls. Consider also leaking pipes and roofs. In addition, check if your house harbors termites and molds that pose health and structural issues. If your house requires major repairs, it might be cheaper to knock it down and build from scratch.

Though a full demolition entails more labor cost, you can sometimes offset expenses by selling salvageable items.

Even if the house seems structurally sound, remember that it will still need new support if you decide to create additional rooms on upper levels. In this case, it is best consult a structural engineer.

Ensuring sustainability

Renovating a house will cost you, so make sure it would be a worthy investment.

If you are going to update your house in your retirement years, it would be best to retrofit it with grab bars, railings and ramps that you might need as a senior citizen. If you are going to replace floor or wall tiles, budget for extra tile pieces should you need to repair broken ones in the future.

Make sure that your new house will still comply with the National Building Code (P.D. 1096) and other laws.

In improving your home, do not be afraid to explore the options that are available to you.

It is possible to ask professionals to give you separate cost projections and designs for newly-built versus renovated structures. Architects and engineers can also give you their two cents worth of advice when it comes to assessing your home.

At the end of the day, the decision to renovate or demolish will primarily rest on you. The best decision is the one that will cater to your needs and that will make you happy.

(Sources: National Building Code of the Philippines; National Cultural Heritage Act ;;;

The author is a licensed architect who studied abroad and currently works for DSFN Architects. She finds renovation works more challenging compared to ground-up projects.
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Camella is the largest homebuilder in Philippines real estate industry. As builders of top quality yet affordable housing in the Philippines, Camella has an enviable reputation. With 40 years and counting, Camella has already built more than 400,000 homes in 39 provinces, and 104 cities and municipalities across the country.