When it comes to your home, whether you go for modern styling or period architecture is a matter of personal preference.
However, over and above that, there are practical and financial considerations when it comes to deciding between a new build and old house. So, once you get past the aesthetics, what’s the difference?
How long do new-build houses last?
Every property in the country was once a new build, and most residential properties were constructed pre-1930s. However, many have benefitted from new windows and roofs, and had additional building work carried out. And there’s the key issue – ongoing maintenance.
For added protection with a new build, check it’s registered with the National House Building Council, meaning it comes with a ten-year Buildmark warranty, and arrange a ‘snagging survey’ to help avoid nasty surprises.
What are the pros and cons of new builds and old houses?
Here are some of the main considerations when deciding on whether to opt for a new or old property.
● The walls are smooth and straight and everything is new.
● You may be able to choose kitchen units, bathroom suite and more, so things are built to your taste.
● Décor is generally fairly neutral, so you can take your time decorating without having to live with garish patterns and colours.
● They are generally more energy-efficient.
● There’s no chain, and the developer might buy your existing property, if you have one.
● They can be small and boxy, with low ceilings and thin walls.
● There’s often not much garden space, and you might find yourself digging rubble out before you can plant out what you do have.
● New builds are sold at a premium price, so getting a mortgage might be harder to achieve or save for.
● You might be buying a plot and making your decision based on plans and a show house – but you might not get an exact replica.
● Depending on how advanced site development is, there might be a lot of disruption around you for the first few weeks or months.
● There’s often more space – as well as the building generally being bigger, the rooms are more spacious, and there might be more of them.
● As well as more space inside, you often get more space outside in the form of gardens front and rear, or perhaps a backyard.
● Older homes are often characterful, with period features such as leaded windows, ceiling roses and cornices.
● You see exactly what you’re buying, and the condition you’re buying it in.
● If there’s scope for renovation and improvement, there’s scope to increase the value, or stay at the home for a longer period.
● Unsympathetic modernisation and redecoration might have seen staircases boxed in, mouldings removed and ceilings covered in Artex.
● You inherit someone else’s choice of kitchen units and bathroom suite; they may be both ugly and in poor condition.
● You must live with someone else’s choice of décor for a while – and you might dislike it.
● They can be draughty and expensive to heat, and renovations can be costly.
● You might end up in a buying chain.
When buying a leasehold property – usually an apartment, or maisonette – amongst the pros and cons of new vs old can be issues around ground rent, management fees and insurance attached to the builds and land.
Some have leases including a clause allowing for the ground rent to double every ten years. Others may have a freehold contract including uncapped management charges, sometimes considered out of proportion to the services provided.
These issues can cause lenders to hesitate when considering whether to grant a mortgage.
So, which is best?
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to new house vs old house. Whichever you buy, do your homework, get a survey, and take advice to understand all the ins and outs. An independent mortgage advisor is a good place to start.