5 Reasons Why you Should Not Build a New Home

We’ve all dreamed of building our own home (read: having someone else build it for us) at one point or another. After all, a home is a very personal thing. It’s the place where we spend the majority of our time. It’s the place where we might raise a family. And it’s the place where we want to relax and be comfortable.

Building a home allows us to control all aspects of a home. There’s nothing to complain about – it’s all new and fresh and should be maintenance free for many years to come!

Resist. The. Urge.

There are undoubtedly some benefits to building a new home. However, the negatives far outweigh them. Here are 5 reasons why you show not build a new home.

buy or build home

1. The Cost of New Homes Vs. Older Homes

There are a few reasons why new homes are going to cost you more than equivalent older homes.

In a tightening housing market, such as what we have right now (and likely will for many years to come), foreclosures and slow home turnover results in lower prices for older homes.

As of January, 2023, the median price of a new home was $427,500. The median price of an existing home, in the same month, was $359,000. That’s a price premium for a new home of 19% versus existing homes.

The thing is you can’t really get a good deal on a home that you build. All leverage power you had went out the door when you told the builder you were interested in working with them. It’s a buyer’s market for existing homes right now. But it’s always a seller’s (builder’s) market when you build new.

You might be able to get a good deal on a new home that has already been built and is sitting around – but you’ll almost never get one if you’re building your ‘dream home’.

2. The Environmental Impact of Building a Home

I would personally find it very hard to justify using up all of the materials, adding to urban sprawl, and authorizing the CO2 output required to build a new home vs. buying an older home (particularly when there are so many vacated homes already on the market).

Even if you build a LEED certified home (which you’ll pay a huge premium for), you could simply use up less energy by moving into a smaller home or retro-fitting an older home with energy saving materials.

The exception to this is if you build a tiny home to live in. And double bonus if you use reclaimed materials. These homes have a significantly lower carbon footprint because they use so much less energy and materials.

3. The Hassle

This is coming from personal experience, but I’ve never met someone who has built a home and didn’t complain about how much work, micromanagement, decision-making, fighting, and frustration it created for them.

If you place a value on time, buying an older home is so much quicker and easier.

4. The Quality (or Lack of it)

They just don’t make them like they used to.

I’ve bought two homes and probably looked at 100 homes in the process that were built over the last 100+ years (if you’re a realtor, you should probably run if I approach you. I’m a very big pain in the ass). From a quality of material standpoint, newer homes of similar cost tend to have much lower quality materials than older homes.

Yes, it’s newer. But that doesn’t mean it’s better.

You see, craftsmanship and pride used to count for something in the homebuilding industry. There were many more local builders, but the industry, much like the fast food industry, has consolidated and turned it into a factory-like process that puts a premium on speed and keeping labor and material costs down in order to boost profit margins (usually for publicly traded homebuilders).

I’ll never forget walking into a pair of houses built 2 years before I saw them that both had huge foundation cracks running from the top to the bottom of the basement wall. Just 2 years! Most builders these days don’t care about getting the job done right. They just care about getting it done as cheaply and quickly as possible.

5. The Pride

This is strictly personal opinion. If I ever built a home, I’d feel like I took the easy way out in that I didn’t have to put any work in to improving anything. Having done a lot of remodeling work on both of the homes I’ve owned, I feel like there’s a lot of pride to taking something and leaving it in a better condition than when you found it.

Even if it’s a simple floor sanding or wall painting project, that just seems so much more rewarding than walking into a house that requires no elbow grease.

Building a New Home Discussion:

  • Have you built a new home? What was your experience?
  • Do you want to build a new home? Why?

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