Should I Build a New Home or Buy an Existing Home?

The search for a home suitable for your lifestyle begins when your existing home no longer meets your needs. The question that inevitably arises is…“Should I build a new home or buy an existing home?”

There is no clear winner in the new home versus used home debate that applies to all people and circumstances. Each option has pros and cons.

The question is: What’s most important to you?

Let’s discuss some of the things to consider when determining the best fit for you.


building a new home


Pros of Building a New Home

  1. Get exactly what you want – When deciding to build a new home or buy an existing home, the biggest advantage of building is getting what you want. No need to settle for things you don’t like in a home. You’ll have a floor plan that provides the functionality you need. You’ll have the exterior design that makes you proud. Lastly, you’ll have the interior design you love to live in.


  1. Safer for your family – Building codes are constantly changing. Often, these codes focus on higher safety levels for the homeowner. One example is the requirement for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each bedroom in new homes. Whether it’s fire protection, electrical safety or other measures, newer homes are safer to live in.


  1. Less maintenance concerns –  The next maintenance cost is around the corner with older homes. It’s inevitable. Whether it’s the roof needing replacement, the furnace quitting on the coldest day of the year, or the headaches of rusty pipes leaking.


  1. Energy efficiency – Newer homes are as much as 50%-70% more efficient than older homes built a few decades ago. This will save you money and increase your comfort in the home.


  1. Comfort – Today’s homes are built tighter. They include higher quality windows and have a wide range of heating and cooling technologies to maximize comfort in your home. This benefit is overlooked until you find yourself in an cold, drafty, uncomfortable home.


  1. Lower operating costs – Cost is a factor when considering if you should build a new home or buy an existing home. A new home costs you less money to operate each year compared to an older home. Spend the savings on something else, or let your bank account grow!


  1. Better resale value – Newer homes provide better resale in the end. However, they do cost more upfront. The better resale value will help you recoup your investment. Furthermore, newer homes are more appealing than older homes. Consider two similar-sized homes side by side and one home is 25 years newer. Which one will sell for more? The newer one. While you may save money by buying an older home, you earn less for it in the end.


  1. Warranty – Deficiencies pop up after you move in. This is true in both new and used homes. A new home has a wide range of things that are covered by warranty. Some items (such as structural) are covered for up to 10 years!


  1. No toxic materials – Older materials such as asbestos or lead paint are nowhere to be found in new homes. You don’t need to be worried about mold lingering behind the walls!


  1. Radon mitigation – Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada. It has become a hot topic since 7% of homes in Canada are suspected of having high levels of radon. Building codes now require new homes to be sealed better and roughed in for future radon mitigation systems.


  1. Better technology – New homes are designed for today’s way of living. You may want lightning-fast internet or the latest in smart home or audio technology. The options are endless with a new home!


  1. No renovations – You don’t need to take on the time and hassle of retrofitting the home to meet your needs.


  1. Emotional connection – When you design and build a new home for yourself and your family, there is an emotional connection and sense of pride.


  1. Lot choice – Not only do you get the home you want, you can select the perfect lot as well.


Don’t count out existing homes just yet! Building a new home isn’t for everyone. Let’s look at some of the benefits of buying an existing home.


buying an existing home


Pros of Buying an Existing Home

  1. Lower upfront cost –  Buying existing/older homes saves you money up-front. However, this will change. When comparing older homes to newer homes, the gap between the total home costs (purchase price + operating costs + maintenance costs) becomes narrower.


  1. Landscaped yard – Start enjoying your yard right away! Usually, there is little-to-no work to do. You will spend less money on landscaping. That is, of course, unless you want to change things up!


  1. Move in quicker – There is less waiting. Existing homes are your best bet if you need to move in quickly. The caveat is that you may spend 6 to 9+ months looking for the perfect home with no luck. If so, you may not be saving yourself any time and may need to re-evaluate your options.


  1. No construction zone –  You will be able to enjoy your new home without nearby construction (unless you purchase in a new neighbourhood). Eventually, the construction ends. However, there are some inconveniences while it is ongoing.


  1. Resell sooner – Purchasing may be a better option if you are looking for a home to live in short term. It takes more time to maximize the benefits of building a new home.


  1. Fewer decisions – If you and your spouse have different tastes, you may not enjoy all the decisions when building a home. This may be a sign that buying an existing home is the best choice for you.


Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons of building vs. buying a home, let’s clarify some misconceptions about building.


Common Misconceptions about Building a New Home


Misconception #1: My new home build will probably go over budget.

This doesn’t have to be the case. It depends on how you structure the agreement with the builder. It is possible to have all your choices made and your final price determined before you sign the sale agreement and start construction.


Misconception #2: Building a new home requires a large time commitment

The time commitment depends on how far you want to get into the details. You will spend a sizable amount of time if you want to look at every flooring sample and paint colour swatch available.  You can rely on the experts (designers) to suggest some great design ideas and materials. Relying on expert advice allows your time commitment to be much less. The time commitment is not always equal for each spouse. Usually, one takes the lead and spends more time on the project.


Misconception #3: Building a new home is stressful

A well-planned build shouldn’t be stressful. It is exciting! Stress arises from these areas:

  • Unexpected costs or surprises
  • Miscommunication
  • A disorganized process


You can avoid these stress pitfalls by working with a builder that has tools and systems in place. A skilled builder has processes in place to ensure you have the best building experience possible.

If building is for you, it’s time to find a builder that you feel comfortable with! We’ve outlined the critical factors you will want to consider when choosing a home builder. We’ve also discussed common fears when building a new home.

Now, the decision is yours!


Other articles worth checking out:

How to Choose a Home Builder – 6 Critical Factors
Top 4 Biggest Fears When Building a New Home
Balancing Needs and Wants in Your New Home