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New Build Vs Old Build: Which is Better?

Martha Lott
Written by Martha Lott
28th June 2018 (Last updated on Tuesday 6th August 2019)

With choosing the perfect place to call home, comes a variety of decisions to make. But whether you want to invest in an old build or have a fresh start with a new build, it’s all purely based on your personal preference. 

Some people are immediately drawn to the charm and stability of an older house whilst others yearn for the blank canvas of a modern home. Then there are also some who have no idea where to start due to the endless amount of choices available to them. 

There are pros and cons for both house types so Compare My Move has compiled a list of the advantages and disadvantages of both old and new build homes to help you decide exactly what you want. From the importance of a chartered surveyor to issues you need to look out for in both properties, we hope this guide will help make the choice easier for you.

This article will cover the following points

The Charm of a Period House Pros & Cons of an Old Build House Tips for Buying an Old House The Benefits of a New Build House Pros & Cons of a New Build House Tips for Buying a New Build House Old Build Vs New Build? Why Do I Need a Survey? Save Money on your Old or New Build House Survey

The Charm of a Period House

If you're buying an older house, it'll have the perfect combination of being aged and weathered but with a strong and reliable charm. When you compare an older house to the new builds on the market, it seems to hold qualities that have since been lost in modern designs.  

One of the major appeals of older houses is space. Rooms are, by comparison, generally more spacious in older homes despite often having lower ceilings. The garden space is also usually much bigger which often makes older homes more appealing to young families. Georgian properties are huge, so no need to worry about whether your furniture will fit in when the removals team arrive.

Pros & Cons of an Old Build House

pros and cons of an old build house

Pros

  • Space - Old houses were built with big and spacious areas which still proves to be a massive bonus for homeowners today.
  • Thick Walls - Many modern properties are now made with breeze-blocks and plasterboard, whereas older properties have thick walls made of brick or stone.
  • Better Parking - Period properties are more likely to have ample parking and long driveways. Today, new build terraced house owners are lucky if they have space for one car outside.
  • Bigger Rooms & Gardens - In the past, huge developments were less common, and multiple cars per property were not an issue, so homes were often surrounded by open land instead.

Cons

  • Old Heating System - Old houses are often renowned for poor heating systems and leaking energy, meaning your old build house will take longer to warm up.
  • Wear and Tear - Another common downside of an old build house is the wear and tear. You may have issues with damp, leaks and just general old, worn-out features.
  • Renovations - When you move into an old house, you’ll usually find there is quite a lot of work to be done. Often, they will need refurbishing and, at the very least, you may need to fix the old-fashioned décor.
  • Expensive Maintenance – In some old builds it might cost more to fix certain things as the item you require may not be available today.

Tips for Buying an Old House

  1. Get a House Survey – Hiring a chartered surveyor is a worthy investment. They will make you fully aware of any defects and damage you may have missed so you can sort out the required repairs before you commit to buying. To save you both time and money, Compare My Move can connect you with up to 5 experienced surveyors within seconds. 
  2. Get Two Inspections – If possible, get two inspections so you can be certain nothing has been missed. It'll save you money in the long run if they find damage. 
  3. Budget for Unforeseen Faults – It’s a good idea to add an extra 20% to your repair/refurbish budget for any unexpected faults. Check out our cost of moving house guide so you don’t come across any nasty surprises along the way.

The Benefits of a New Build House

There is nothing quite like buying something brand new, especially when it comes to your property. There’s something satisfying about living in a home that no one else has lived in - being the first to take a shower, sleep in the bedroom, use the kitchen. It’s completely yours and yours alone.  

Even if you're not the very first owner, you will still get that fresh, new feeling with a modern home. You will have smooth and even walls, no horrid Artex on the ceiling, lovely red bricks, a shiny front door and a chance to decorate your home exactly how you want to. It’s the perfect blank canvas to start your new life in.

Pros & Cons of a New Build House

pros and cons of a new build house

Pros

  • Energy Efficient - A major benefit of new builds is that they're well insulated with cavity wall foam and double-glazing. As a result, these homes are cheaper to run and cosy too.
  • Easy to Personalise - Often home buyers are able to choose everything from the carpet colours and kitchen style if they buy early enough in the construction phase, meaning you can decorate your place however you wish.
  • 10-Year Warranty - A new build house will come with a 10-year warranty, so if anything was to break, the developer is obliged to have it fixed ASAP.
  • No Property Chains - Moving into a new property means there is no waiting for someone to move out. There is no moving chain, so getting into your new house should be hassle and stress-free.

Cons

  • Lack of Character – New build houses don't usually have unique features like old build houses do. More often than not, new builds lack character and look very similar. 
  • Thin Walls – Many new build houses are now made with breeze-blocks and plasterboard, meaning the walls are often thin and you can hear more of your neighbours than if you were in an old build house.
  • More Expensive – Although new builds are more energy-efficient than old builds, recent research has shown that new build houses on average cost more than old houses.
  • Delays – If you’re waiting for your new house to be built, then you could often experience delays which could affect the completion date.

Tips for Buying a New Build House

    1. Negotiate – If you are buying off-plan then you will have room to negotiate on the price. The earlier you show interest in the development, the more chance you have of successfully negotiating on the price of your new property.
    2. Know What You’re Paying For – When buying off-plan, be sure you know exactly what is included in the price. Will you get white goods and turf or will you have to buy them yourself?
    3. Staging of a Show Home – Try to see past the staging in the show home as your house will be different. You should arrange for a Snagging List which is a survey of potential issues for new builds to get any issues fixed immediately before you decorate.

    Old Build Vs New Build?

    Generally speaking, new build houses are often more expensive than older properties in the UK. For example, a one-bedroom old build house in London costs on average £137,000 less than a one-bedroom new build flat. Although old build houses are cheaper to buy, the owners often end up paying more for renovations

    old build vs new build costs

    Data from Homes & Property


    On the other hand, you'll save £629 on your energy bills in a new build home as they are extremely energy efficient. Old build houses do have a lot more character and unique features, but they often have big spaces that take longer to heat up, adding more to your bills. 

    energy costs of new build houses

    Data from Home Builders Federation

    Why Do I Need a Survey?

    It's always recommended to get a property survey conducted whenever buying or selling a property as it's vital you know the property's condition before the transaction is complete. There are a number of property surveys to choose from including a Homebuyers Survey, a Building Survey and a Snagging List for new builds. 

    If you're purchasing a property, you want to know what you're buying before you commit. A Homebuyers Survey is the cheapest out of the comprehensive surveys, perfect for modern houses under 50 years old. However, a Building Survey is far more thorough and is for unusually constructed properties or buildings over 50 years old. As new builds don’t generally need a survey due to the warranty and its recent construction, a Snagging List will suffice so that you get an idea of any issues that need fixing immediately before construction is complete. 

    Whichever survey you choose, the report will state whether or not the property is worth the asking price, saving you money in the long run as you can either re-negotiate the price to cover the repair costs or back out of the sale altogether. You need to know if you are financially capable of maintaining the building whilst you're staying there, ensuring it's a safe place to live now and in the future. Whether you choose an old or new build, a property survey can be vital in saving you from future costs and ensuring a safe home.

    Save Money on your Old or New Build House Survey

    We hope this guide has helped make your decision easier. Once you’re ready to move, get connected with Compare My Move and we’ll save you time and money by providing you with up to 5 RICS verified chartered surveyors. Simply, fill out our quick and simple form to get started today.