Is there anything more satisfying than sitting in a space specifically designed for you? From the colors on the walls to the flooring beneath your feet, choosing to build a new house allows you to customize aspects of your home to match your personality perfectly.
In the same breath, buying a house that’s never been lived-in gives you the luxury of a clean slate: sturdy construction, brand-new appliances, spotless walls, and impeccable floors. Truly, a new house—whether you helped design it or not—is one you can completely call your own.
Although it may be easy to see the allure of buying or building a brand-new house, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons before you make your final decision. In this post, we’ll go over some of the best and worst aspects of buying a new house so you can decide if new is right for you.
The Advantages of Buying a New House
Newly built houses can save homeowners time, money, and stress in a number of ways.
No or Few Renovations Required
You can be relatively certain your new house is structurally sound. That means there’s no need to worry about replacing shingles on the roof or upgrading inefficient windows. Plus, if you plan to build, there are certain aspects of your house that you can tailor to your style (and it’s much easier to customize before a house is built than after). Rather than scraping off outdated wallpaper or replacing old countertops and cabinets in a resale home, simply choose from an array of styles that are best suited to you.
Higher Building Standards
Newly built homes must adhere to standard building codes that were different (or non-existent) when many older homes were built. For instance, it’s common for older homes to lack proper insulation in walls and attics. When you buy a new house, it’s likely you’ll have better building efficiency (in terms of heat, energy, and water conservation) as well as proactive safety measures (such as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, fireproof siding, windows that double as fire exits, etc.).
People’s lifestyles have changed over time and houses have started to reflect that. Nowadays, people like spacious entertaining areas, extensive storage for special items, and smart home technology that makes living easier. Generally, these modern house trends are easier to find in a new house than a resale.
Signing Incentives and Home Warranties
Some home builders will offer incentives like free upgrades or luxury items such as granite countertops or even home theatre systems to get buyers to commit to a contract. Although you should approach these incentives with a degree of caution, they have potential to be well worth the exchange of signing a contract early or putting down a hefty deposit.
Depending on your jurisdiction, your home builder may also be required to provide a third-party home warranty. A home warranty can protect you from defects in your home’s structure or mechanical systems, and provide coverage for temporary housing if you can’t live in your home during warranty repairs.
Home Builder History
It’s important to do your research on a home builder’s history before investing your hard-earned dollars into a new house or building project. Luckily, there is plenty of data available about new homes and their builders. You can talk to past buyers to judge a builder’s satisfaction rate, review your local builder directory to learn a builder’s work history, or comb through a builder’s online presence to get an idea of their reputation, transparency, and trustworthiness. This kind of information is much easier to find with new homes and home builders than it is with older, resale homes.
The Disadvantages of Buying a New House
Newly built houses have a few drawbacks that can end up costing homeowners more than they expected, especially if they start a new project without doing their research.
Unfortunately, new homes are often priced much higher than resale homes and can sometimes be difficult to mortgage because of rising mortgage rates. So, financing your brand-new home might require extra research and planning.
Plus, there is usually less room to negotiate the starting price of a new house because home builders often intend to make profits from upgrades. That being said, people can get carried away with upgrades and end up paying more than what they had originally budgeted for.
New houses are built in undeveloped communities more often than not. That means there may be less amenities nearby, smaller yard sizes, and a closer proximity to your neighbors. Landscaping may not be included in the cost of the house, so you might have to deal with mud and dust until you can afford to design your yard. In addition, the whole neighborhood might feel like a construction zone for months, or even years, until the community is fully established.
Although new houses must abide by certain building codes, there is still the real possibility of human error during construction. As such, it’s important to investigate the quality of materials the builder will be using; don’t focus your budget on customizations but invest in quality products for the inner structures of the house like subflooring, piping, and flashing. When construction is finished, be sure to hire a qualified house inspector who can guarantee everything is installed correctly and in proper condition.
Picking the Right Home Builder
There are many home builders out there competing for your dollar and it can take time to weigh all of your options; however, this is an important step that should not be missed. If you jump into a contract with the first home builder you come across, you may end up regretting it later. For instance, some builders may be poor communicators, leaving you in the dark when it comes to accurate time and cost estimates.
If you’ve decided to build a house, expect to wait several months before you’re able to move in. There are many factors that can influence the length of time it takes to build your new house, such as:
- pulling permits
- finalizing building plans
- securing finances
- preparing the lot and laying the foundation
- framing the house
- installing internal systems like wiring and plumbing
- finishing interior designs like cabinets and light fixtures
On top of these normal processes, your wait time could be extended further due to weather delays, material issues, or other unforeseen problems. So, if you’re adamant about moving in to your new house by a specific date, building a new house may not be for you.
Weighing the Pros and Cons: Is a Brand-New House Right for You?
Being a homeowner is both exciting and exhausting. There are a lot of things you’ll need to consider before you can decide whether a brand-new house is right for you—after all, this is the place you’ll be spending the majority of your time for many years to come.
So, be sure to think critically about whether the advantages (no renovations, higher building standards, modern conveniences, incentives, warranties, and accessible builder history) outweigh the disadvantages (expensive costs, new neighborhoods, building deficiencies, wait times, and the challenges of finding the right builder) of buying or building a new house before you make an Offer to Purchase.