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New Construction or Pre-Owned – The Pros and Cons

When searching for a new home, should you purchase new construction or pre-owned? Therein lies the dilemma. My husband has recently landed a new job and would like to move closer to his new place of employment! We’re excited to buy a house but also want to carefully consider our options.

We have looked at quite a few open houses, of both new construction and pre-owned homes. Our latest adventure had us thinking that new is the way to go, simply because in two out of three pre-owned homes, Steve’s pet allergies exploded before we could get out the door. This prompted me to create a pros and cons list of new construction vs. pre-owned.

New Construction

Pros

  • Energy efficient – Let me tell you how amazed I was when we moved from our 900 square foot duplex into our 1969 square foot new construction home, back in 2003. I was really amazed! Amazed that our energy bill went DOWN! It went down in a bigger house AND we were even heating with a wood stove in that 900 square foot duplex. Okay, you’re amazed now too, right?
  • No one has lived there – No need to change those locks or worry about strangers coming to visit. You are the original!
  • Smells – There’s nothing but new house smells here!
  • We will be the first to use that toilet – I don’t know, there’s just something about using someone else’s toilet, at least at first.
  • Appliances are new – They should last at least a few years!
  • Everything is new – No need to spend the big bucks updating because it’s already updated!
  • Make it your own – Woot! Woot! You can make your own footprint!

Cons

  • More expensive per square foot – Well, I suppose if new construction wasn’t more expensive than pre-owned, it would be hard to sell pre-owned.
  • NO window coverings – There’s nothing like staying the first night in your new home, with blankets taped over the windows.
  • NO window screens – You would think they would come standard with windows, wouldn’t ya? It isn’t a given.
  • Landscaping – There may be a builder out there that will landscape the whole yard. It has been my experience that the norm is to landscape the front and leave the back, for you. We negotiated for the whole shebang back in 2003, which means the builder planted grass in the back yard. We took our time to landscape with plants and trees.
  • No fence – In a new construction home, you will more than likely have the added expense of installing a fence. There may even be regulations of when and what kind of fence you install, if you purchase in an HOA.
  • NO garage door opener – These things just don’t come standard!
  • Construction zone – Purchasing a new construction home may mean you are living in a construction zone for quite a while since other homes, nearby, are being built.
New construction or pre-owned - the pros and cons.

Pre-Owned

Pros

  • Less expensive – Purchasing a pre-owned home will most likely be less expensive than a new construction home, with the same footprint.
  • Fence – A pre-owned home may quite possibly have fencing installed.
  • Window coverings – A pre-owned home will most likely have window coverings, at least where it matters most!
  • Landscaping – Most pre-owned homes will have landscaping in place.
  • Garage door opener – When we purchased our new construction home 13 years ago, it did not come with a garage door opener. The cool thing was, the realtor we worked with commonly gave garage door openers to her clients as a thank you!
  • Location – Many times the best views and conveniences will be found in a pre-owned home.

Cons

  • Smells. Oh, the smells! – Pet smells, cooking smells, people smells, smoke smells, so many smells to be smelled. Within five minutes, Steve could tell if a pet lived in the house. For that matter, I could tell by his breathing. We didn’t even have to ask.
  • Someone has lived there before – Seriously! Recently, in our neck of the woods, a drunk teenager walked right into a home, in the middle of the night! Turns out, he used to live there and, apparently, thought he still did.
  • I wasn’t the first one in that tub – Let’s just not think about that!
  • Updates will likely need to be made – Gold door knobs and bathroom fixtures, blue walls, wallpaper, light fixtures that were meant for grandma’s house, and that hole in the wall. Perhaps gold is your thing! If not, you may be looking at a lot of updates, when purchasing a pre-owned home.
  • Appliances may need to be replaced – When you purchase a pre-owned home, it is likely that the appliances will be pre-owned as well. We all know the days of appliances lasting 20 years are pretty much gone. Where’s my avocado refrigerator when I need it?
  • Quirky stuff
    • There’s a reason that television cable is taped to the floor in front of the bathroom door. Mmmmhmmm! They wanted the television front and center and didn’t want to pay someone to wire it.
    • Perhaps the master bathroom door is made of glass and you’re not about that.
    • Maybe they have foliage growing all around their home, touching the siding, and you know that’s just an invitation to insects.
    • Really! It is quite amazing what you’ll find when touring homes. Do you want to fix someone else’s quirks?

Steve and I have decided that a new construction home would best fit our needs. The major factor is that we would likely need to replace all carpeting, in a pre-owned home, and cross our fingers that would do the trick to prevent Steve’s allergies from acting up. That’s just not a chance we’re willing to take. Oh, yes, there are other considerations that led us to this choice and I can’t say if we found the just right pet-free, pre-owned home, we wouldn’t jump on it. We are simply focussing our efforts on new construction and hoping to find a buyer that loves pre-owned to purchase our home, gold door knobs and all!

In no way is this an exhaustive list of the pros and cons of new construction or pre-owned homes. This is simply pros and cons we have taken into consideration.

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Jony

Wednesday 5th of September 2018

A new build is definitely not worth the money. I have been in the business for 18 years and say this from experience. If the older home is not run-down I would always take that and change a few things if necessary. Just my 5 cents.

Janeen

Thursday 16th of June 2016

Late to the party here, but we build our home in '03 and it was a great experience. I'm not sure how they do it in the "lower 48", but many of the builders here will let you put sweat-equity into the house, and also potentially help find cheaper or better subcontractors. That might not be an option in your neck of the woods, but it adds a whole new pride-factor to the house when you can remember the night that you stayed up 'till 2am insulating the attic (and nearly sold the place then and there). Can't wait to hear how your adventure goes!

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Oh my goodness! It would be awesome to build our own home and that is definitely an experience I hope to have someday! The area we need to live in right now just doesn't have any available lots to build on. Someday it will happen! I love that you were able to put sweat-equity into your home! How awesome is that?

kay ~ the barefoot minimalist

Friday 27th of May 2016

What a great list! I have to say, if I could, I would definitely go with new construction too. We're in mom's house now, and it hasn't been updated since the early 80's. We toured a "dream home" once that was being raffled off. I dreamed about that house so much that I can still walk through it in my mind. That en suite bathroom and walk-in closet ... oh man oh man oh man! I pray you find your dream home Bridget! And I'm so glad to see you're back at this site again. I've always loved the content AND the name! :)

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Monday 30th of May 2016

You're the BEST, Kay! Thank you for your prayers! I can't wait to get settled in a new place soon!

Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

LOL, the toilet one made me crack right up. :-) I can understand your desire for new construction, especially with Steve's allergies. Pet smells aren't always something you can paint away, you know? Years ago friends of ours bought a house from a chain smoker because they got a really good deal on the price. They took all professional measures short of tearing down and putting up new walls, but the smell of cigarette smoke still remained and they were never happy in that house. They eventually sold and bought something else.

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

Oh, Laurie! We went to an open house like that. We asked the open house realtor if he thought we would be able to get rid of the smoke smell. The realtor said, "What smell? I don't smell anything." Lol! I'm glad we didn't go for it after hearing about your friends!

Lorraine

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

Very interesting thoughts. We always think of the expense of a new roof. If the house is 20 years old and the roof was meant to last 25 that could be several thousand dollars. That's a con in pre-owned. A con in new purchases is that there are usually a few bugs that have to be worked out… Not insects, but maybe poor workmanship here or there, a leaky pipe, or cupboard doors that don't close properly. These are a few things we've experienced.

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Tuesday 10th of May 2016

Oh, yes! The roof. That could get expensive fast. Good adds to the pros and cons list!

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