The Pros & Cons of New Builds Vs Old Homes

pros and cons of new builds vs old homes

This is the age old debate and one that is discussed more and more as new build properties pop up on every stretch available in a city. Not only is the population increasing and more homes are needed, but lots of people are buying additional homes for investment opportunities. This makes the already rampant housing market even more difficult to get on.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a home and it is very much one of personal preference whether you prefer new builds of older houses. Of course, each type does come with its own set of pros and cons which can provide greater clarity choosing between the two.

What’s The Difference Between A New Build Home & An Older Home

A new build home is one that has been purpose built and no-one has lived it in before. Although, new builds which were considered new 10 years ago are still classed somewhere between that and existing homes as they are still perceived as being modern and up to date, although building regulations and modern housing techniques are constantly changing. An older home is one that has been lived in by at least one owner, but often, many, many more depending on the era of the property.

New Build Pros

  • There are many pros that come with owning a new build that are often reflective of the property price due to the fact that you can literally move straight in and you don’t need to do any work to them.
  • They are built around modern building techniques including up to date double glazing, and an energy efficient heating system. This means they are usually highly energy efficient and will have a good EPC rating. This means that your energy costs will be much less over time as opposed to a period or older property.
  • New build homes often come with a certain warranty which means if anything was to go wrong or happen during that period of time, then the developers have to come back and make those fixes.
  • If you purchase one of the properties on the plot whilst it is still under development you have much more say in how your new house looks. You can often choose what flooring, cabinetry, kitchens and bathrooms that you want. Meaning that you can buy exactly what you want. This is a HUGE bonus, because these are the elements in a home that cost a lot of money if you want to change them.
  • No chain. Probably the greatest words ever spoken. Whilst you might have to wait a certain timeframe for the house to be finished, no chain means that you’re not waiting on anyone else, or other solicitors. It is literally just you, the solicitors and the house involved which makes things a lot more stress, and hassle free.
  • Certain home buying schemes are available on only new build properties such as shared ownership or attractive low loan to value options such as 5% deposits. This is a huge draw for first time buyers as it means less time waiting around to get onto that property ladder.
  • As new builds are brand new and just finished it does mean that you are unlikely to encounter any maintenance or expensive jobs for a little while. Plus, if there was any snags or issues during your warranty you can have the peace of mind that the developer should put them right for you.

New Build Cons

  • One of the biggest cons of new build properties is their value. Whilst house prices can rise a certain % over a period of time as natural housing inflation, new build properties are one that can be greatly affected by their value. Because they are brand new, they are often sold by the developers at a premium price, but as soon as it’s yours that premium instantly drops. Whilst prices should rise again, a considerable drop is experienced after that purchase.
  • I have personally never come across a new build development that doesn’t have parking issues. The streets are often much narrower, the houses are bigger which means there are more cars and it causes absolute mayhem. You do not get the parking space that some older properties benefit from.
  • The size of new build houses is not comparable with older, period properties. Developers are trying to fit as many possible houses as they can onto one plot as the dollar signs start clinking in their eyes. Internal spaces are also much more compact and they do lack storage opportunities. As well as the lack of space, and tightly crammed houses, this does mean that they can often be overlooked by other properties.
  • Perhaps the biggest issue is the build quality and snags that you have to look forward to with a new build property. Whilst new build properties use modern building techniques, they are not constructed with as solid, expensive materials as the likes of Georgian homes. This can mean that sound proofing is not as adequate, whilst building snags are an expected element in new builds. Small snags could include minor leaks, things that haven’t been plumbed in and doors that won’t shut over carpets. Whilst most developers should get these fixed, in my experience I dealt with a developer that was simply not interested and left me with £100s worth of snags that I had to end up getting fixed myself. It can be an immense frustration when you continually spot snags, but it is part of the process in a new build property where quality checks aren’t as rigorous as they should be.
  • Like anything, where builders are involved delays can occur in the purchase of a new build property, sometimes by months. If your heart is set on a new build then it will be worth the wait, but it won’t be a quick 8 week process like older house purchases.

Old Build Pros

  • The one thing that old, period style properties have which new builds never can is character. Period properties of different eras come with detailing which is reminiscent of the period. Sash style windows, cornices, ceiling roses, high ceilings. I often wonder what people will love most or characterise new builds of today in the future. Paper thin walls? Oh, we just love those ‘compact’ rooms. lol.
  • Older properties tend to have much more space internally and externally than new build properties. High ceilings also make a huge difference, even if the room is slightly on the small side.
  • It is much easier to add value to an older property. There are still many old homes which come onto the market which require a lot of work, but ones that you could add considerable value too. This sort of opportunity just does not exist with new builds. Even if it’s slightly modern, there will be areas with untapped potential that can be improved such as outdoor space, bathrooms, kitchens and adding extensions.
  • Whilst a new build is built from scratch and you expect everything to be perfect, you won’t ever know the potential of issues later down the line. Whereas when purchasing an older house by getting a home buyers survey done during the purchase process you’ll be able to identify any and all issues with the house. If anything untoward was to crop up, you can pull out of the property or try and renegotiate the purchase price.
  • Depending on the state of the property, people will always be interested in buying period properties because of the characteristics they look for in these types of properties. Restoring old characteristics can even add value too such as ceiling roses, cast iron fireplaces and cornices.

Old Build Cons

  • Older properties are less likely to be energy efficient unless they have had everything brought up to date. Those high ceilings, poorly insulated roofs and older electric systems can become a money sponge, and it will be reflective in the EPC rating. A less efficient system will cost you much more money. When purchasing an older property a valid EPC is required so you can always see what you’re buying into and what improvements could be made to make it more energy efficient.
  • The worst thing about buying an older property is the potential for long chains. Some chains can have an incredibly large amount of sales and purchases in the pipeline. This makes it even more difficult for everything to marry up, whilst there is much more chance of things falling through even after it is seemingly going through fine for months. There’s literally nothing finer than seeing the words ‘no onward chain’ on a property listing. Where do we sign up?
  • When buying an older home there is probably a high chance that renovations are required and you need to factor this in when purchasing a property and what the potential resell value could be when you sell it on. There’s no point spending £50,000 if you’re not going to make that and a bit more back. Of course, if it’s your forever home then you don’t need to think of it in the same way. This is why new builds become more attractive to first time buyers because there aren’t any additional, big costs to make it liveable.
  • Ongoing maintenance is very much a thing with older properties and something that needs to be kept on top of to keep the property structurally sound and protected from external elements. There are some things that can be an issue with older homes (which should appear in a survey) such as damp. Whilst something like this might start off small, if left untreated it can cause structural damage over a longer period of times so it’s not something to ignore. But it can be a costly thing to treat.
  • Particularly old properties that need a lot of work doing to them can make getting a mortgage on them much harder. If your potential lender is presented with a house that has damp, rot, damaged roofs etc it would carry much more risk to the lender if they had to repossess it so sometimes a much bigger deposit is required. 5 and even 10% loan to value mortgages wouldn’t be accepted which does make it difficult for first time buyers.

There are pros and cons to every purchase whether a new build or older property. Whatever you’re purchasing, go in with your eyes open and make sure you tick every box during the purchase process. Especially with an older property, I cannot stress enough that getting a house survey could save you a fortune and help you to sell your property later down the line. Ultimately, it’s personal preference and budget as to what you go on to purchase, both types of properties can make amazing homes. If you found this article useful, you might also enjoy reading my other property posts.