Which is better, building a new home designed exactly to your liking or buying an older home with character? We asked our brokers for the pros and cons of new construction versus buying an older home and wow did they have opinions!
One thing we at 5 Points Realty know really well is older homes. Our founders started 5PR with a passion for renovating houses while preserving history. On the other hand, we are also really passionate about new construction. We have written about our strong relationships with builders and why we love building a home from the ground up.
Our brokers have all lived in, bought, sold and loved homes of all ages. Here is their expert insight.
BEVERLY NEWELL: CHARACTER VS. CODE
- New homes have all new systems and have a higher percent of current code.
- Not all new construction is high quality, however. It should take around six months to build a home. Check out our favorite builders here.
- Older homes have tons of character.
- Older homes can have better structural characteristics than new builds. For our region, homes built in the mid 50s to late 60s early 70s tend to be more structurally sound if they have been treated right.
GINNI LANE: CHARACTER CAN COME WITH A COST
Ginni is on our social media team and has been working on her mid-century modern ranch in Windsor Park for a couple of years. She adores it, but you might get the sense her patience with her fixer-upper is wearing thin.
The pros of older homes: they tend to have larger lot sizes and mature landscaping.
The cons of older homes: they contain remnants of the people who’ve lived there before you. The previous owner of our place smoked inside. It took us a lot of work to remove the smell of cigarettes, cat pee and bong water. Oh, and don’t get me started on the beard trimmings all over the hall bath (in the drawers, stuck to the tile and implanted in grout lines).
Another con of older homes: appliances. I love my vintage oven but we just found out it runs 25 degrees hot. Another fun feature of older homes is the appliances might not be standard size and are harder to replace. The cabinet cut out for our oven is smaller than most ovens on the market today.
Pros for new construction: knowing you’re the first person to live in it, working, new appliances (see above) and new plumbing.
TYLER HAMRICK: IT’S ALL ABOUT LOT SIZE
“New construction lot sizes are so tiny now,” says Tyler. “They tend to run from .05 acre to .15 acre. Even out in the country they are packing them close together. I have clients who want new construction AND a yard, and it has been impossible to find in the $350k – 400k price range.”
ASHLEY MELE: CLEAN, BUT COOKIE-CUTTER
Here are Ashley’s pros and cons of new construction:
- New and clean
- Repairs tend to be cheaper
- Replacements easier to match/find
- No history
- Possibly low in character (depending on the builder)
- Could be the same as 50+ others in your area
- Pay a premium
- Potential loss of history to build it (previous home, trees)
MICHAEL DONEY: I AGREE WITH ASHLEY
“Ashley’s list is almost identical to mine,” says Michael. “Another pro for new homes is the structural warranty option. That’s pretty nice. Also, new homes typically have features and floor plans for today’s style of living, unlike many older homes.”
IAN LEONARD: DON’T WORRY VS. BE CHARMING
Here are Ian’s pros and cons of new construction:
- Fewer worries
- Less charm/character
- Smaller lots
EDWIN WILSON: I DON’T PLAY BY THE RULES
Edwin disobeyed our instructions and “replied all” to the email. (There’s one in every office.) In his defense, he says he was trying to encourage others to engage in the discussion.
Here are his pros and cons:
PROS OF NEW CONSTRUCTION/CONS OF OLDER HOMES:
- Hardly any need to budget for system replacements
- Much lower maintenance costs. Older homes typically need continual attention.
- Much lower energy bills. Older homes aren’t as energy efficient without significant upgrades.
CONS OF NEW CONSTRUCTION/PROS OF OLDER HOMES:
- Newer homes aren’t typically built with materials of enduring value; older homes often feature brick siding, site-finished oak hardwood floors, detailed trim profiles and architectural features.
- Newer homes have more homogenous color palettes, materials and facades. They lack the uniqueness of yesteryear when individual, unique details were cherished.
- Older homes were often built on better land and in better locations than newer homes.