Buy or Build a House in 2023 - Pros and Cons

To Buy or Build a House: Weighing the Pros and Cons  September 27, 2023

So, you’re finally ready to take that big step into homeownership, huh? Congratulations! It’s an exciting journey, and we’re here to help you navigate one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make – do you buy or build a house?  

We get it; it’s a tough call that can cause significant overwhelm! So, let’s dive into the pros and cons of each option to help you make an informed choice. 

Buying a House – The Pros 

Instant Gratification 

One of the most significant advantages of buying an existing house is that you can move in right away. Well – almost! You’ll have to wait until settlement, but it’s quicker than waiting months (sometimes years) for construction to finish on a new build.  

The cost and time to build a new home in Australia has increased significantly in the last few years. In fact, depending on the size and type of house being built, it can take 12 – 24 months to build a home in Australia.  

Easier Process 

Put simply, buying an existing home is generally a faster and easier process than building.

A house in the countryside for people who need to decide between buying or building a home.

The construction process for a new home can be time-consuming – there’s plenty of paperwork, council approvals, multiple rounds of designs, inspections, and those dreaded weather delays. When buying an existing home, the process is much more straightforward and means you can be in your home within weeks – not months or years.  

Location Options

When you buy an existing home, you have a wide range of neighbourhoods and areas to choose from. You can move into a well-established community with schools, parks, and amenities already in place.  

Predictable Costs 

You’ll know exactly what you’re paying for upfront. You won’t have surprise construction expenses or delays. The house is there, and the price is set. Of course, there are a range of upfront costs that must be factored in, like transfer duty. You can find out more in our article The Real Cost of Buying a Home in NSW.

Buying a House – The Cons 

Limited Customisation 

With an existing home, you’ll likely need to compromise on your dream features. For example, you may not get that dream butler’s pantry or media room. Renovations can also be costly and time-consuming, so you might have to live with the home’s existing design – at least for a while.  

Potential Repairs 

Older homes might come with hidden issues. Regardless of the age of the house, you could find yourself dealing with unexpected repairs and maintenance costs.  

A painter who is painting the exterior of a cream coloured house because buying older homes sometimes mean that they need unexpected updates or repairs

This could include repairing a leaking roof, replacing old wiring or redoing that back deck. And they might seem like minor issues, but the costs can definitely add up over time. Take a look at the five most common problems in older properties by Domain. 

Less Energy Efficiency 

Older homes might not be as energy efficient as newly constructed ones, which can result in higher utility bills and less money in your back pocket. 

Building a House – The Pros 

Build it Your Way 

Building your own home means you get to design it just the way you want. It’s all up to you, from choosing the right builder to the floor plan and fixtures. Want that extra bedroom? Not a problem! Dream of a butler’s pantry or a big back deck? You can do it! The only thing potentially limiting is your budget. 

Energy Efficiency 

New construction homes are built with the latest energy-efficient materials and technologies, which can lead to substantial savings on your utility bills in the long run. New homes often have good insulation in the walls, ceilings and floors, and modern and efficient heating and cooling options.  

A modern energy efficient house is a consideration for people who can't decide whether they should buy or build a house

An energy-efficient home is not only environmentally friendly but can offer healthier and cleaner living conditions for residents. 

No Hidden Surprises 

Since everything is brand new, you’re less likely to encounter unexpected repair costs early on. Plus, you’ll often have a builder’s warranty to cover any issues. This isn’t to say that you won’t have problems, but depending on what the issue is, it’s likely to be covered by the warranty.  

Future-Proofing: 

Building allows you to incorporate modern features and technologies that will make your home more appealing to potential buyers in the future, which can be a smart investment. For example, you can choose your façade and the layout of key rooms like kitchens and bathrooms.  

Building a House – The Cons 

Cost 

Whether building a house is cheaper than buying depends on many factors – location, proximity to amenities, the size and type of house you’re building and whether you’re eligible for a first home concession. Building a home was generally considered cheaper until material costs increased, and in fact, as of April 2023, building is the cheapest option in only two Australian cities

Time-Consuming  

Construction takes time, often several months to a year or more. If you’re in a hurry to move into your new place, this might not be your best option. 

Stress and Decision-Making 

The process of building a home can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make countless decisions about every aspect of the house – from the layout to light fixtures and the colour of your carpet – it’s one decision after another.  

A couple sitting at a table looking at a laptop weighing up the pros and cons of buying or building a house

Then, throw in some second-guessing and frustrations during the building process (like weather delays or extra costs associated with necessary upgrades); the process can be stressful for some.  

Land Size and Availability 

Finding suitable land can be challenging, depending on where you want to build. There’s no point denying it – newer estates tend to have smaller blocks. Gone are the days of the family-sized backyard! These days, you might find your options for larger living are limited, and you could compromise on location or pay a premium for the perfect spot or a larger block.  

So, what’s the verdict? Will you buy or build a house?

Ultimately, the decision between buying and building comes down to your personal preferences, budget, and timeline.  

Buy if:  

  • You want to move in quickly and don’t want to wait for construction. 
  • You need a more affordable option upfront. 
  • You’re not too fussy about customisation and are open to making gradual updates over time. 
  • You’ve found an existing house in your ideal neighbourhood
Buy or Build a House in 2023 - Pros and Cons

Build if:  

  • You have a clear vision of your dream home, and you want less compromises 
  • You’re willing to invest time and effort to build your home. 
  • Energy efficiency and modern amenities are a top priority for you. 
  • You have the budget to cover buying land, building the house, landscaping and covering unexpected upgrades (like a slab upgrade or meeting bushfire requirements). 
  • You’re patient and can handle the decision-making process that comes with building. 

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and both options have merits. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons, consult with professionals, and, most importantly, trust your instincts. This is a significant milestone in your life, and whether you choose to buy or build, it’s a step toward creating a place you can call home. 

Ultimately, it’s not just about buying or building; it’s about finding the place where you’ll create memories, build a life, and watch your dreams unfold. So, go out there, explore your options, and make the choice that feels right for you. And, when you’re ready, we’ll be here to help you navigate the buying process – from a free pre-purchase contract review to a 15-minute consultation that won’t cost a cent – contact us!  

Happy house hunting! 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. We recommend consulting with qualified professionals for advice tailored to your individual circumstances.

Oliver and Co Conveyancing Cessnock founder Tayla Ross (nee Oliver)

Hi there! I'm Tayla Oliver

I founded Oliver Howells & Co. to educate and support you through your legal, or property buying and selling journey, with affordable, full-service legal and conveyancing support. You can count on our experienced and friendly team to look after your best interests at every step of the way.

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