What to Look for in a Knockdown-Rebuild Site

by Carlisle Homes

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Demolishing an old and dysfunctional house and building a new, contemporary home with all the mod cons in its place is the dream for many homeowners – here’s how to ensure your project goes off without a hitch.

A knockdown-rebuild can be a great option if you love your location, but not the house you’re living in, or if you’ve found the perfect block, but the house sitting on it is far from perfect. And it often works out cheaper than renovating. But fact is, not every block is suitable for a knockdown-rebuild. From zoning restrictions to the physical constraints of the site, several factors can throw a spanner in your plans.

The secret to a successful knockdown-rebuild is doing due diligence before committing, says Zac Monaghan, a knockdown-rebuild specialist at Carlisle Homes. “My biggest piece of advice is to have your property, or the one you’re interested in buying, carefully assessed by an experienced knockdown-rebuild consultant as early as possible in the process,” he says. “This is particularly important when purchasing a new property for the purpose of a knockdown-rebuild as you will want to make sure you can build the home you want before making any financial commitments.

“By having it assessed up-front you can be assured the home design you want to build is feasible, and avoid running into expensive site works, unexpected building costs and disappointment down the track,” he says.

Here are the other important factors to consider, says Monaghan.

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A knockdown-rebuild is a more complex process than building on an empty block. First step is ensuring you can actually build the home you want on the site – and our expert team can help.

Planning restrictions

“When considering a property for a knockdown-rebuild, first check the local council planning requirements to understand any restrictions or overlays that may affect the land,” says Monaghan. “The planning report will set out conditions that your build will need to conform to, which can affect minimum setbacks, building height, site coverage, and permit requirements for the removal of trees, for example, which can all have a considerable impact on what you can build on that property.”

Deciding between renovating and a knockdown-rebuild? Get essential advice in this blog.

Block size, orientation and slope

“If you have already decided on the home design you want to build, make sure the block size is suitable as well as the orientation, because this will have a major impact on your home’s natural light and energy efficiency. Any sloping on the block also needs to be identified as this can pose challenges for the home design you intend to build, and can increase site costs significantly compared to building on a flatter block,” says Monaghan.

If you enjoy gardening, want to put in a pool or plan to entertain alfresco on a large scale, you’ll also want to check that the block offers sufficient outdoor space.


An easement is where the infrastructure for essential services, like storm water drains and sewerage, is located. It is usually at the side or rear of a block and measures around 2 to 3 square metres.

“You are not permitted to build over an easement, so it’s important to check for any easements on the plan of subdivision, as this can impact on the size and design of home you want to build,” says Monaghan. “An easement generally has services running under the ground, such as gas, water and electricity, which must remain clear of any building in case the owner of the easement needs to gain access.”

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Factors like easements, the size and orientation of your block, local planning regulations, and the position of neighbouring properties can all have an impact on what you’re able to build on your site.

Street access 

“Another crucial consideration for any potential knockdown-rebuild is how accessible your block is during demolition and construction,” says Monaghan.

“Proximity to schools and bus stops, traffic, parking, and overhead power lines all need to be looked at. If your block has restricted access, this will likely increase your build costs due to the need for traffic management and manual unloading of materials where trades are unable to get close enough to the job site.”

Soil quality and site characteristics

You’ll also want to conduct soil tests and assess site characteristics, such as drainage, slope and vegetation, before you commit as these factors can influence site preparation and construction costs.

Neighbouring properties 

“You may have found the perfect home design and block, but did you know that what you want to build may be impacted by a neighbouring property? When building in an established suburb, any neighbours next to your property, including those behind it, must be taken into account as they will be affected by the construction,” he says. “There are specific rules and requirements in place to ensure any proposed new developments do not overlook, overshadow or block out sunlight to neighbouring properties.”

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At Carlisle Homes, we have over 200 great-value, contemporary floor plans for you to choose from, designed to fit every block size, orientation and budget, so it’s easy to find one to suit your site.

To check, speak with your local planning department, have a site survey conducted that will identify boundaries and determine potential areas of impact, and have a chat directly with your neighbours about your plans.

The neighbourhood feel

If you plan to live in your new build rather than rent it out, you’ll want to feel confident it suits your lifestyle. Consider factors such as proximity to schools, amenities, public transport, and open green spaces.

It’s also a good idea to look into any planned developments or infrastructure projects in the area as these might impact the neighbourhood’s character and property values.

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If you plan to live in your new, dream home for the foreseeable future, ensure the neighbourhood offers everything you need now and as the children get older, including schools, transport links and amenities.

Our experts by your side

Carlisle Homes is Melbourne’s leading expert in knockdown-rebuilds. Our specialist in-house team has decades of experience in knockdown-rebuilds, and is ready to help you figure out whether your current home or proposed site is suitable for a knockdown-rebuild. We can also assist with financing, help you choose the perfect design for your budget and block, and guide you right through the demolition and construction process.

Want to understand exactly what happens during the knockdown-rebuild process, and pick up tips for success? Check out our knockdown-rebuild podcast.

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With over 20+ years’ experience, Carlisle Homes is Melbourne’s knockdown-rebuild specialist. Our dedicated knockdown-rebuild team will help you every step of the way, from planning and financing through to demolition and construction.

Call 1300 520 914 to chat with our knockdown-rebuild team today. You can also download our  knockdown-rebuild information pack, or drop into any one of our 70+ display homes, situated right across Melbourne and Geelong, and speak with our friendly experts about what’s involved in a knockdown-rebuild and if your property might be suitable.


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