Should I Renovate, or Sell and Buy a New Home?

Home is where the Heart is;  Genius Loci and the ‘Sense of Place’

Michael & Libby bought their home eighteen years ago. It’s a heritage cottage that sits in the leafy suburb of Albert Park.

Michael & Libby’s heritage home, image by Bridget Puszka, BP Architects

Much as they like living in their home, they realized that it had become dated.

The bathroom and kitchen looked tired, and there was not enough storage in the house—bedroom cupboards stored half the bathroom items. Pushed into a corner, sat a display cabinet of sentimental china pieces, and is the only place it would fit was a piano.

Storage Problems in Homes
Display cabinet in the corner behind the curtain image by Bridget Puszka, BP Architects


Michael works from home, and his office is the front room of their cottage.

He had a large, heavy timber desk that took up a lot of space. There was no storage for his office files, so they piled up on his desk and the floor.

Storage in Home Office
Michael’s desk, , image by Bridget Puszka, BP Architect

They found their home dark and cold in winter and hot in the summer months.

dim and musty homes
Michael & Libby’s Hallway is dim and musty image by Bridget Puszka, BP Architect


Now in their ’50s and ’60s, they found their house didn’t work for them the way they wanted to live.

They knew they had to do some repair work on their home. The doors to the courtyard needed replacing as they had started to rot.

So they weren’t sure whether to sell their home and build a new home. Or buy a new home somewhere else. Or renovate their home.

The crunch came when it rained one day, and water poured down the inside party wall. They knew they needed to take action.

Water damage Home Renovating
Water poured down Michael & Libbys’ party wall, image Public Domain

So the big question Michael & Libby had to answer whether they should renovate or move?

They were aware that moving would have its expenses.

The costs involved with selling a house include the real estate agent fees and preparing the home for sale. There is the cost of moving and the inconvenience of it all. The time spent trying to find a house that suits you, and where do you start looking?

You may have to sell your home first and rent until you find a suitable place. There are stamp duty and mortgage costs on a new home, and the new home may need repairs.

Renovating means the cost of remodelling.

To renovate, Michael and Libby had to get town planning approval.  They also had to work out how their home would better suit their future aging selves.

It is a scary time and a big transition from your working-self to your aging retirement-self.

Genius Loci engraved on a Roman Tablet
Genius Loci engraved on a Roman Tablet
photo By Kleuske – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


A house does not make a home in itself.

You have the community around you, the locality, your neighbourhood, the shops.

You may be familiar with your area; your family may live nearby.

A home is where you feel safe and comfortable. Wikipedia explains Genius Loci as the feeling of a sense of the spirit of a place.

Genius Loci, the ‘Spirit of place’ refers to the unique, distinctive and cherished aspects of a place.  Wikipedia

The concept of Genius Loci made it so much easier for Michael & Libby decided the right thing to do.

You can always find solutions for some of the other considerations. You cannot build the Genius Loci into a place if you don’t feel that ‘sense of place’ called home.