Buying a new build home in the UK can be a huge moment for some. It could be a first home for a young couple, it could be the forever home for a family. We’ve all seen it – the instagram pages dedicated to someone’s new build they bought from one of the big housebuilders, decorated with items from the range, B&M and home bargains.
But what if I told you that as nice a new build homes are – those who buy new build properties pay that premium and are missing out. Why? Well there’s so much value they could have otherwise generated by buying an older house and doing it up.
Buying an old house for cheaper and spending money on a refurbishment to create it the way you want allows you to boost the value of a property and benefit completely tax free from that upl
Pros and cons of a new build
- Nice new home, never lived in before. You can smell those fresh carpets. Not a single nail has been put into the walls. The paint is still drying and the turf outside in the garden has only just been unrolled in the past week.
- Can sometimes choose the carpets, kitchen and interiors
- Live in a nice estate with other people doing a similar thing to you, you slowly get to see your new community grow.
- Defects can be a pain – houses are big things to build and bits will always go wrong whether it’s settlement cracks, dodgy workmanship, the cheap materials that the big house builders use. You usually get a warranty to fix them for free but you have to keep an eye on them.
- You usually pay a premium for a new build, similar properties in the area that are older typically are less expensive and more in line with the local area.
- If you’re buying off plan, you’re taking a bit of a gamble, especially if you’re not with a major housebuilder, but you can’t actually see what you’re buying. I was stung by this when my floorplans showed 2 balconies in the flat, turns out that was wrong when I went to go and see the property when it was done half way through purchasing.
Pros and cons of an old build
- You can buy an old house for a cheaper price, and use the savings to refurb the house to make it your own. This means you can rebuild walls, plan out the spaces, choose everything and make it into a fun project to make a house a home.
- You can gain value in the property which ends up being completely tax free if it’s your main residence that you live in.
- It’s a great way to hack yourself up the property ladder buying somewhere, doing it up, living in it for a bit and moving on. That’s how some people work their way up to million pound houses by doing this.
- It’s an old property – you might find some skeletons in the garden, who knows. Some buildings have asbestos which needs professional removal, may have structural issues that need addressing, builders and tradespeople could let you down and refurbishing a house isn’t cheap – so it’s not for the feint hearted.
Personally, I wish I would have bought an older property and spent the time doing it up, not only for the huge sense of achievement but also the gain in property value as well. Typically new builds go down in price after you buy them, a bit like a car.
This is because new builds have the premium price tag that’s out of character for the area, so they come down before they go up – meaning it can take a while to start seeing any equity in your property. If you have a high loan to value mortgage, it also risks putting you in negative equity and not being able to sell if you needed to in an emergency without losing money.
At the end of the day – it’s totally up to you and your preference, each option has it’s pros and cons, for me personally I’ve enjoyed living in a new build and I’ll be glad to say I’ve done it – but I can’t imagine buying another one in the future, unless I built it myself from scratch – and that’s one for another video.
Why I Think Buying a New Build Could Be a Good Option
Modern amenities and design: New build houses are constructed with the latest architectural styles and contemporary designs. They often feature open-plan layouts, spacious rooms, and energy-efficient technologies, providing a more comfortable living environment. Having visited a few friends new build houses, they’re specced quite nicely and everything is modern and up to date from the applicances to the heating system.
Minimal maintenance: New builds come with the advantage of being low-maintenance. Since everything is brand new, you won’t have to worry about immediate repairs or replacements. Of course you’ll get settlement cracks and the odd few defects that dodgy builders cause when building the house but overall having lived in a new build from new to 4 years old, in London. They’re not all bad. I have seen some horror stories on TikTok though, so be warned!
Additionally, many new build properties come with warranties, giving you peace of mind.
Energy efficiency: New homes are constructed with energy efficiency in mind, incorporating features such as insulation, double-glazed windows, and efficient heating systems. This can lead to lower utility bills and reduced carbon footprint, benefiting both your finances and the environment.
After visiting a family members new build house, theirs is so much warmed compared to our old 1950s build with no insulation, although we will be insulating as part of a large renovation – a lot of people might not have the budget to make their old house warm.
Customisation options: Purchasing a new build property often allows you to personalize certain aspects, such as choosing paint colors, fixtures, and finishes. Some developers even offer customization packages, enabling you to create a home that reflects your taste and style.
Why I Think Buying a New Build Could Be a Bad Option
Limited character and charm: One of the drawbacks of new build houses is the absence of historical significance and unique architectural features found in older properties. If you appreciate the character and charm of period homes, a new build may not be the best choice for you.
Parking is always a nightmare on new build estates with cars parked all over the pavements, often creating 1 way streets because of double parked cars all along. Also there will likely be no mature trees and plants meaning it can feel a bit sterile.
Delays in completion: Construction delays are not uncommon in new build projects. Factors like adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, or planning permission issues can lead to extended waiting periods, causing frustration and uncertainty for buyers.
Lack of established community: New build developments often lack the sense of community that older neighborhoods possess. It takes time for residents to establish relationships and for local amenities and services to develop fully. If a strong community atmosphere is important to you, an older property might be a better fit.
When I bought my London flat, I was the only person living on the corridor for about 6 months, and when I first moved in, I was one of about 3 flats that had moved into the block so it’s quite eerie and quiet at first when nobody is around you.
Why an Old Build Might Be Better For You
Unique character and history: Older houses often boast distinctive architectural features, intricate details, and a sense of history. These properties can offer a unique living experience with period charm that cannot be replicated in new builds.
After leaving London, we were lucky to move to a conservation area with beautiful victorian houses, tree lined streets and you just don’t get that in new build estates. All our gardens are very private with large hedges and mature trees and there’s no overlooking windows.
Established neighborhoods: Older properties are typically located in well-established neighborhoods with a range of amenities, including schools, shops, and public transport links. They tend to have a more developed sense of community and may offer a wider variety of cultural and recreational opportunities.
Often housing developers talk about building shops, schools and GP’s when they put their sites through planning, often none of these actually come to life and at most you end up with a local pub and that’s about it, this puts pressure on local schools and services.
Potential for renovation and value appreciation: Older homes offer the opportunity to renovate and customize according to your preferences, allowing you to create a space tailored to your needs. This can also potentially increase the property’s value over time.
Why an Old Build Might NOT Be Better For You
Higher maintenance costs: Older homes often require more frequent maintenance and repairs due to wear and tear. Electrical and plumbing systems may need updating, and structural issues could arise, resulting in additional expenses.
The owners before us were bad at DIY and it really shows, we’re having to rectify a lot of things. Thankfully I’m quite hands on but it would possibly put some people off, if they’re not as handy with tools and DIY.
Lower energy efficiency: Older properties generally have lower energy efficiency compared to new builds. Poor insulation, outdated heating systems, and single-glazed windows can lead to higher energy bills.
We’re having this exact problem right now, the house is freezing cold in winter with old air leaking doors, hardly any insulation and poor design of the house in general. Thankfully we bought it knowing this and accepted that the house will need a full renovation.
Potential for hidden issues: Older houses may have hidden problems, such as damp, asbestos, or faulty wiring, which can be costly to rectify. It’s crucial to conduct thorough surveys and inspections before purchasing an older property.
As we’ve started ripping out house apart, it’s clear how some of the trades that the old owner got in were cowboys which means we have to fix things and put them right!
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