If you’ve been trying to buy a house recently, you know the housing market is pretty brutal. That’s partly fueled by a startling fact. America is currently short of a staggering 5.4 million homes. With such a housing shortage, it could make you wonder whether it’s better to build a house rather than buy one. Do a little digging and you’ll find there are lots of advantages that come from building rather than buying. Let’s take a deep dive into building a house vs buying so you can see whether it’s the right choice for you.
Condition of the Home
When you buy a house, you have the option of getting a fixer-upper, a turnkey home, or something in between. Whatever option you choose, they all have something in common. They all contain materials that have been around for decades.
A turnkey home may be in great condition. It may have had all new electrics, plumbing, HVAC, you name it. But underneath it all, you still have the fabric of an older home.
Even if you get a fixer-upper and do all the work yourself, you’re still faced with structural materials that may be decades old. The bones may be great, but you’re still taking a risk.
When you build a house, everything is new. From the concrete slab to the roofing shingles, everything will still have its warranty intact and is right at the start of its working life.
Another benefit is that the materials you buy today may be of higher quality than those used in the past. You also have control during the building process and can make sure you get the materials you want.
The verdict on this mini-battle? The building option wins hands down.
Cost and Financing
Many people have never even considered the building a house vs buying question because of the perceived high cost of building. But maybe now’s the time to take a look at the figures.
The median sales price in the United States hit a new high of $428,700 at the end of the first quarter of 2022. That’s a jump of almost $100,000 from the same period two years ago. Same old houses, but very different prices.
The cost of a new-build home varies depending on a number of factors. National averages put the cost at between $100 – $400 per square foot.
You need to first consider the cost of the lot and then add on the building expenses. But it’s worth crunching the numbers. Although it is often a little more expensive to build a house, it offers many other advantages that an older home simply can’t.
Financing can also be more expensive when you’re building your own home due to the lack of collateral.
The winner on cost? Buying is usually cheaper. But there’s a difference between cost and value, as you’ll go on to see.
On average, it takes about 4.5 months to find the home you are going to buy. Then there are other things to factor in, such as how quickly you can arrange your mortgage and whether it needs any repairs before you move in.
All of this can potentially add on lots of time.
When you build a house, first you need to go shopping for a suitable plot of land. Then you need to find the right designers and builders to take on your project.
Then you have to work around the weather and get the permits. You can only go ahead when the build crew is available. Depending on how complicated your build is, the process could take anywhere from 7 months to 2 years. Purchasing a well-designed house plan from Livable House Plans can help expedite this process and minimize delays.
With a relatively simple build, if everything goes according to plan, 21 weeks is a realistic timescale. The fewer changes you make along the way, the faster the process will be completed.
The verdict? Buying is usually faster, but building can be a lot more fun.
When you buy a house, you’re always going to have to make compromises on the design. It’s impossible to find a home that is exactly how you would have designed it if you were involved from day one.
When you custom-build your own home, you’re in control at every stage of the design process. It all starts with the style of the house. Are you looking for a three-bedroom ranch-style home?
Is a colonial or Cape Cod-style more your thing? The choice is yours. From ultra-modern to cozy and traditional, you’ll get exactly what you want.
If you’re choosing to build instead of buy your next house, you’ll want to ensure that your style and preferences are honored all the way down to the floorplan. A majority of the available housing market consists of bland, cookie-cutter homes. These houses are often built by builders who work on volume and unfortunately, volume builders don’t always focus on design or quality.
At Livable House Plans, all of our designs are sourced exclusively from a residential designer with decades of experience designing homes for custom clients – this means every detail of these floorplans was thought out specifically for one client. You get the quality and excellence of custom designs, at production prices.
The style of the house is just the start. Now, everything from flooring to countertops to paint finishes are your choice. It can be overwhelming but don’t worry. If you choose an experienced home builder, they’ll guide you through the process.
You have the chance to get the kitchen layout and finish of your dreams. No awkward conversions, no major structural renovations. Everything is just how it should be – the first time.
Finally, the landscaping. Want to add a pool, a gazebo, or a water feature? You got it.
On the design front, building your own home is the clear winner.
Whether you’re building or buying a home, there’s going to be a certain amount of stress involved.
When you buy a house, there’s the stress of finding the right home and beating the competition. Then there’s the home appraisal, possible further negotiations, and closing costs to consider. And it’s a given with almost any home you buy that there’ll be some work to do when you move in, even if it’s just repainting.
When you build a home, the process can be a little stressful. First, you have to find the right lot and buy it before someone else does. Then you’re dependent on the weather, materials, and permits, so a few delays are inevitable.
But once you have your building lot, there is no competition and very little compromise involved. If it’s within your budget and local building codes, you can have it. When you move in, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy your new home, built exactly to your specifications.
The winner? It’s a tie. There’s no stress-free option when it comes to getting a new home.
When you build a house, it has to comply with the latest building codes, which focus on energy efficiency. They are better insulated, with fewer air gaps for warm air to either flow into or escape from the house.
They also have energy-efficient HVAC systems. New, insulated ductwork is much less likely to leak, losing energy and putting a strain on the air conditioner or furnace. Even the fact that your dishwasher, clothes dryer, and refrigerator are new will reduce your energy consumption.
It’s true, you can definitely make an older house more energy efficient. But you’ll have to spend a lot of money on new HVAC, windows, insulation, and appliances. Why not choose to build the most energy-efficient house you can in the first place?
On energy efficiency there’s no competition. New homes win hands down.
One of the joys of buying an older home can be the mature grounds. If the previous owners have taken good care of them, you can benefit from mature trees and shrubs. Attractive planting can give your property a lot of curb appeal.
With a new build, you have total control over the planting, but patience is needed for it to look its best. It will take several years before the landscaping really beds in. In the meantime, the lot may look a little sparse but there are ways to make it look more full in the meantime.
The verdict? Older homes win at first, and new construction homes win in the long run.
Older homes can mean old-fashioned and sometimes dangerous building materials.
For example, asbestos is still present in 30 million homes. 3,000 people die every year because of exposure to it. Although it’s not usually harmful when left intact, it’s worrying to live in a home that has such a contaminant.
With a new build home, you know that all the materials being used are up to code. There’s no need to worry about the kids coming into contact with lead paint.
There is the issue of off-gassing. Many new products give off fumes that can cause symptoms. One way to avoid this is by choosing materials that are low-VOC and PVC-free.
The bottom line? Another tie – both have health risks to take into consideration.
Building a House vs Buying – The Winner Is…
Building a house vs buying – there are pros and cons on both sides.
But the bottom line is that building your own house offers so many opportunities that buying just does not – and not to mention with the way the housing market is going, it may even be cheaper! Choosing a house plan from an award-winning design team can take the idea of building a new house from daunting to exciting.
At Livable House Plans, we have hundreds of award-winning designs to choose from to help make your dreams a reality.
Call us at 407-629-6711 or contact us online to talk about the process of building your dream home!