Home Buying 101: Builder-Grade v. Fixer Upper

Newly Built Home

If the time has come for you to buy your very first home or to move on from the starter home you and your family are currently living in, one of the biggest decisions you will have to make is whether you would rather purchase a builder-grade new construction or an older, “fixer-upper” house. In recent years, thanks in large part to popular television networks, the idea of renovating has gained traction among would-be homeowners in a number of demographics. This option, however, isn’t necessarily the right choice for everyone. Here, you’ll discover the pros and cons of both kinds of residences.

New Construction Benefits:

  • No surprises – If you go with a newly constructed home, you’re unlikely to find yourself dealing with any unexpected surprises, such as non-functional plumbing or electrical fixtures, asbestos, paint that doesn’t meet modern codes, or other issues. This can make it easier to stick to your budget since you won’t have to factor in as many unanticipated expenses.
  • Less lawn maintenance – Unless you’re buying a new construction on a farm or in a heavily wooded area, you are likely to have less lawn maintenance than you would in an older house. This is because trees and other forms of vegetation simply haven’t had time to grow yet in brand new neighborhoods. Not having to spend a lot of time dealing with your yard will free you up to enjoy your house!
  • You’ll have a blank canvas for decor – Decorating newly built homes is typically quite easy because they are blank canvases just waiting for your personal touch! You won’t have to worry about ripping out wallpaper and fixtures someone else liked before you, and you’ll be able to dive right in with any do-it-yourself projects that will really make your house a home.

New Construction Drawbacks:

  • Less “solid” than older residences – The saying “they don’t make things like they used to” is certainly true of houses! As a general rule, brand new homes aren’t made using the same high-quality materials that older houses were. Although this is not true in all cases, it’s likely that your brand new home will be less solid than something built 50 or 100 years ago.
  • Little, if any, character – One of the main issues that tends to dissuade people from buying newly constructed houses is the lack of charm or character. Older residences often have unique features, original woodwork, exposed brick, and other things that make them one-of-a-kind; this is not true of cookie-cutter homes picked from a builder’s short list of styles.
  • Possibly more expensive – Because older houses do typically require some remodeling to make them fit modern tastes and lifestyles, sellers are often more motivated to negotiate their asking prices. New constructions, however, usually have firm prices that builders and developers aren’t willing to alter.

Fixer Upper Benefits:

  • Often in established neighborhoods – Where new constructions are typically situated in suburban developments that didn’t exist even a few years ago, older houses are frequently located in established neighborhoods in nice, or even wealthy, areas. If you are willing to put-in the elbow grease to transform an older home, you might be able to get a great deal in an upscale community!
  • Easy to take advantage of existing features – Older homes, especially those that fall into the historical category, frequently have original features that look extremely high-end once renovations are complete. Gilded fireplaces and mantels, crown molding, wide-plank hardwood floors, and clawfoot tubs are just a few examples of features you can play-up when you remodel.
  • More private than new houses – If privacy is a priority for you, an older home is likely to best suit your needs. Whether a fence has already been installed, there is landscaping designed to block prying eyes, or you simply have large trees in your yard, the older your home is, the more private it is likely to be.

Fixer Upper Drawbacks:

  • Takes more time to make liveable – Some older homes are liveable from the day buyers receive their keys, but others take a while to make move-in ready. No matter what, if you invest in a fixer-upper, you are likely to find yourself living in a construction zone, at least for a period of time. There will inevitably be projects that prevent you from living as you would in a turnkey new construction from the start.
  • Budgeting can be a challenge – Because older houses have histories, it’s tough to budget for every possibility when you begin remodeling. You might, for instance, discover that a wall you thought was decorative is actually load-bearing. Or, you might realize that you have to completely rip out the wiring in a certain part of the house in order to install the light fixtures you want. Due to this, you might find yourself spending more than you intended to.
  • There will always be things to fix – When you become the owner of an older house, one of the things you have to understand is that your “to do” list is going to be unending. There will always be issues that arise and changes you want to make; this may not hold true in a newly constructed home where everything is already freshly painted, just installed, and up to today’s codes.

No matter what sort of house you decide is the best fit for your family; there are sure to be plenty of options for you throughout the Carolinas. If you need assistance with any projects once you close on your new residence, don’t hesitate to contact Hatch Homes to find out if your plans align with our service offerings. We look forward to speaking with you!

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