What are the minimum parts of the house you have to keep in order to be considered a renovation and not a new build?
In a lot of places today you actually don’t have to keep any of the original house to have it considered a renovation or a restoration. This might sound strange to say but there are a couple of rules that you have to follow to accomplish this in the eyes of the building department;
1. The building you replace it with cannot be larger than the building that was removed.
2. If the original building was violating set backs from property lines or high water marks then you have to place the house in the exact same place that the old building was removed from.
There’s a very good reason why someone would bother trying to call the building of a brand new home a renovation, it’s because you don’t have to pay the development fees to the municipality. Those fees could be as high as 30 or 40 thousand dollars; a renovation permit could cost you as little as one thousand dollars (depending on where you live).
In my experience this scenario happens a lot with old cottages that have been built on the water in the 50’s and 60’s before there were proper setbacks or high water marks. The foundations of these old cottages are usually poorly constructed block crawlspaces or slab on grade. After 50 to 60 years the foundations have finally started to fail and the building on top of it starts to shift and become damaged.
These old cottages need their foundations completely rebuilt or replaced, to do this you have to remove the structure from on top of it. Removing an old structure from the foundation usually doesn’t go well and can be extremely unsafe. What usually ends up happening is the contractor tells the homeowner that for the cost and the safety aspect it’s easier (and almost the same cost) to tear it down and rebuild it new.
What you end up with is a new home (small) that is violating the setbacks but because you didn’t change the location or the footprint of the house your still allowed to rebuild it there.
If you were to tear the cottage down and apply to build a bigger one in its place the building department would go through a review of your entire property. The first thing they would do is make you move the house back away from the water until you are behind the high watermark. This can be problematic because of the fact that you might not have enough room on your lot to move your home backwards away from where the current one is situated.
In scenarios where you don’t have enough room to move the home back to make it qualify you can only tear some or the entire house down and stay in the original footprint.
So to answer your question depending on where you are attempting to build your home you don’t actually have to leave any of the home standing to call it a renovation.
Village Builders Inc.