The pros and cons of a new build vs period property

So after a few days of moving into our 1930s semi, we took some time to reflect on the move, and the pros and cons of buying a new build vs an old house.

The first house we bought together was a brand new property we reserved off-plan and lived in for 4 years. This blog compares this with our nearly 100-year old property we’ve just purchased.

New-Build

Pros

Buying off-plan is a big benefit to a new build. We were very early and reserved a prime plot that wasn’t overlooked. In addition you are able to select fixtures and fittings as well as special requests. We removed a built in wardrobe in our master bedroom to give more space, and moved it into bedroom 3.

Everything works. The only thing you will worry about when moving into a new build is getting your bed, couch and table up. Everything else is pristine. I can’t begin to describe the warm fuzzy feeling of using a brand new dishwasher, shower and toilet for the first time. Joyous.

Lower bills. ‘They don’t build em like they used to’ is a common phrase heard about new houses. I actually think new build houses have a huge benefit over older properties as gas, electricity and water bills are greatly reduced due to modern homebuilding techniques. The walls, windows and roof are all much better insulated than an older property resulting in your bills being less and more money in your pocket at the end of the month. Winner

Blank canvas – the walls are bog-standard magnolia, floors have likely been selected by you prior to moving in and garden is ready for you to put your mark on. The big benefit for us was we didn’t have much of a budget for decorating to begin with, so you can take your time with one room at a time without the dreaded avocado bathroom suite bringing your chi down every morning!

Cons

Resell value – if you are looking for an investment property, a new home is unlikely to feature on your list. Similar to buying a new car, we found new homes don’t increase in value much during the first year or two of ownership. If you are looking to sell before the development is complete, this compounds the issue as prospective buyers have even more choice and discounts offered by developers.

Character – a new house by nature does not hold much character at all. The exterior of ours was actually thoughtfully designed to take influence from the arts & crafts movement with lovely bay windows, however the interior was plain plain plain with very few distinctive features.

Period property

Pros

Investment opportunity – buy the right house and you could be in for a tidy profit if you get a great price, renovate and flip. We have a 5 year plan for our current home and purchased a property that needed a new bathroom, kitchen, roof and a complete rewire with this in mind (more on our renovation plans in a later post!

Character – our 1930s Semi has bags of character – beautiful stained glass windows, four fireplaces, bay windows, period exterior features and a grand old oak tree in the garden. It is by no means perfect but somehow the imperfections in the plastering, bannister and flooring add to its charm.

Cons

Things often break – We were not at all a DIY couple, but even after a week in the house we have learnt via YouTube how to fix locks, install washing machines and are currently learning how to create expensive looking fitted shelving with Ikea bookcases! It’s actually pushed us both to be more handy and learn how to fix things rather than call a handyman whenever anything breaks.

Bills – While the new build was great for lowering heating costs, the opposite is true with our 1930s semi. We’ve yet to receive our first energy bill, however the energy rating on our survey was 30% lower than the new house!

I’m sure further pros and cons will pop up as time goes on, but the above give a flavour of what to think about when weighing up that next property purchase!

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