Custom home construction is certainly appealing on the surface. For some people, seeing your house built from scratch, from the ground up, is a rewarding experience in itself. For others, it’s the new aesthetics and untouched nature of the house that’s so appealing. Then again, some people prefer the older aesthetics and practical value of pre-owned houses on the market.
No matter where your head is, or how intuitively appealing one side seems over the other, this is a difficult decision to make. Custom home construction and home purchasing are major decisions that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re having trouble deciding, we’ve put together this brief guide to help you finalize your choice.
Think carefully about these points before you end up making your decision:
The cost of a home will vary based on many factors, but overall, the median price for a custom built home in the past few years has hovered around $280,000 while buying a pre-existing home has been closer to $200,000. It’s also possible to find older homes for far cheaper prices based on their current condition and location—especially if they need some work before they’re fully livable. No matter what, for the same space and location, you’ll end up paying more for a new home than you will a pre-owned one, so if you’re working with a limited budget, you may want to steer away from custom builds.
Design and layout choices.
However, older homes are always limited when it comes to the design and layout choices available to you. Obviously, older homes are already built, and their foundations are firmly set. You can add new extensions, remodel certain rooms, or customize the exterior, but the overall layout is practically unchangeable. Building a new house, on the other hand, gives you full control over the design and layout of your home, with practically unlimited options for how to finalize the architecture.
For some people, there’s a certain aesthetic appeal to buying a new home. All the floors, walls, and exteriors are brand new, and look cleaner and more polished. Things are more “perfect,” and are generally easier to keep clean—at least for the first several years. Then again, some people actively prefer the aesthetics of older homes—they like how the homes have history, with stylistic choices from doorknobs to flooring that reflect a different era. Ultimately, this is a personal and subjective choice, but it’s one worth considering.
Repairs and ongoing maintenance
New homes are going to need maintenance eventually—so don’t think you’re exempt—but the first several years of your ownership will be mostly hands-free. You won’t have to worry about the cost or the effort of ongoing repairs and maintenance, such as appliances breaking down, structures failing, or other needs. Older homes, on the other hand, demand about one percent of their value in repairs every year—plus the time and hassle of getting those repairs done.
You should also consider what location opportunities are available to you. When building a new home, you can generally build a custom home on a plot of land you’ve purchased or opt into a new development—either way, you’ll be somewhat limited in your choices, usually ending up far away from popular cities toward more suburbs and the countryside. Older homes are also in a fixed position, but you’ll have more options when it comes to location. If school systems, neighborhoods, and certain institutions in walking distance are important to you, it may be easier to buy an existing house than it is to purchase a new one.
Real estate prices
You’ll also want to pay close attention to fluctuating real estate prices. For example, if there’s a buying opportunity for a price far lower than what you’d expect, it may be wise to buy an existing home. The same is true if you’re expecting a certain neighborhood’s real estate values to increase steadily over time, affecting the strength of your investment. Newer homes tend to hold their value and improve over time, so keep that in mind too.
Time and effort investment
Custom building a new home isn’t a hands-free process. You’ll have to do lots of research, work with many different people, and think carefully about your design and layout choices—not to mention the paperwork. However, with older homes, you’ll need to tour many different houses before finalizing your decision. Both choices demand time and effort—but in different ways.
The urgency of your move may also affect how you buy a home. Building a new home is a process that takes several months, at a minimum, while buying an older home usually means you can move in right away. If you have to move soon, you’ll want to buy an older home, or consider temporary housing while your new one is built.
Finally, remember that built houses come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, and the quality of your builder will play a huge role in how your finished product turns out. Before you decide whether or not you want to build, start by interviewing some custom builders. They’ll be able to help you determine your housing needs, and can give you a preview of what to expect during the building process. Some builders are better than others, both in expertise and in overall service.
Finalizing the Decision
These nine factors aren’t meant to guide you toward or away from custom home construction; instead, they’re intended to give you a framework for how to make your decision. These are points you should think over carefully, though where they lead you is entirely up to you and your unique circumstances. If you feel confident in how you feel regarding each of these areas, you’ll be ready to move forward with a final decision.
If you’re interested in learning more about how custom home construction can benefit you, we’d be happy to talk with you about the opportunity. Contact us at Parker Built Homes and we’ll set up an appointment to discuss your future home.