Published: 30/11/2021Throughout this article, we will talk you through the differences between new and old build homes and explore the positives and negatives of each.
What’s the difference?
A new-build has never been lived in before, whereas an ‘old-build’ (a less common term) is one that has had one owner at least.
Even though you could refer to a modern home as a ‘new-build’, if they’ve been lived in they will be classed as an existing home.
Which is better?
Whether it’s best to buy a new-build or an existing property will depend on what you want out of a potential home. There are a number of pros and cons to both new-builds and old-build homes and you should consider these against your own needs.
The pros and cons of buying a new-build house
- Energy efficiency – modern building techniques means superbly insulation for new build homes, often including advanced double glazing and a modern, energy efficient heating system.
- A builder’s warranty – new-build homes come with a developer’s warranty, usually for 10 years, meaning if anything goes wrong with your home, the builder has to fix it. However, these kinds of guarantees do tend to taper off after the first two years so bear that in mind.
- More personalisation – buying a new-build, particularly if you purchase off-plan, often means you can have a say in the style of things like carpets, flooring, kitchens and bathrooms.
- No chain – a new-build has no existing owner, so even if you have a property to sell, your chain ends with you, and this should mean there’s less chance of your transaction falling through.
- Home buying schemes – schemes like First Homes and Help to Buy are available on new-build homes only, so properties like these are great options for first-time buyers who need some help getting on to the ladder.
- Incentives – some developers will throw in incentives like covering your stamp duty, or upgrading your fixtures and fittings, when trying to sell you a new-build home
- Space – new homes are often a little ‘cramped’ on to developments, as builders want to maximise their returns. That can mean some new-build homes suffer with overlooking, or parking problems.
- Smaller rooms – compared with older homes, particularly period properties, new-build rooms are usually smaller; so think about the internal space you and your belongings need before committing to a purchase.
- Premium prices – because new-builds are brand new, developers often charge a premium and once you step foot inside, that premium disappears as the property is no longer ‘new’. This can mean that new-builds drop in value before they rise again over the long-term.
- Build quality and snagging – While new-builds often use more modern building techniques, there are almost always problems once you move in. Sometimes this can be as simple as a minor leak or a door that won’t shut over a carpet, but undertaking a snagging survey is key to iron out any issues with your developer.
The pros and cons of buying an old house
- Character – if character and history is important to you when buying a home, period properties offer both in spades. From decorative cornices and sash windows in Georgian homes to fireplaces and parquet flooring in Victorian and Edwardian properties, new-builds simply can’t match up when it comes to original features.
- Size – older properties tend to have more internal and external space than new-build homes. So, if big bedrooms, a large garden or higher ceilings are on your wish list, you may be better off looking at a period home or one from the 1920s or 1930s.
- You can see issues – although older homes often don’t come without problems, the major benefit of buying one is you can see what’s wrong. By having a survey done, you’ll be able to buy an existing property and be sure that everything is in order structurally, or pull out if it isn’t.
- You can add value – new-build homes are often harder to add value to, as they are usually built for specific types of buyer. With an older property, you may be able to find untapped potential where you can add value, such as a large kitchen extension or a loft conversion.
- Long chains – As with any existing property, it’s possible to get caught in a long sales chain and this can be both stressful, as well as heightening the potential of a collapse in the process.
- High maintenance – older properties have been standing for longer and have had lots more owners than newer homes, so that often means they need more maintenance to keep them looking great and structurally sound.
- Poorer energy efficiency – your energy bills may be higher in an older home, as these will often be less efficient than a new-build.
- Renovation costs – when buying an older home, it’s less likely to be suited to you than a new-build. That could mean you have to spend additional money bringing it up to standard and making it work for you.
- Wear and tear – older homes have often had dozens of owners and that means they may be more ‘beaten up’ due to people moving in and out. This can also require additional spending, especially if the property has issues with damp
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