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Building vs. Buying a Home

Home Remodeling Philadelphia
If you’re in the market to buy a home, you may be wondering whether it makes more sense to buy an old home or to build a new one. If you feel like building a new custom home is financially out of your reach, stop now and read our previous post ‘Building Your Dream Home: Make it Happen with a Construction Loan’ before reading any further.

As general contractors that provide both remodeling and homebuilding services, we serve a wide variety of clients who all have very unique needs. In our opinion though, there are some major advantages to building a new home that are worth taking a hard look at, especially when land prices are at all-time lows. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to what option is better, but let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both.

Buying an Older Home


•   Shop Around: You can take your time comparing the different features of homes available in your price range until you find the features you are looking for at the price you can afford.

•   Negotiation: Depending on the situation the seller is in; you can negotiate and get the best deal possible, especially in the market we are in today.

•   Shop at Your Own Pace: You can take your time house hunting and when you’ve found the home you like, in as little a 30-45 days you can move in.

•   Mature Landscape: Older homes are more likely to have well established trees and landscaping than new homes. There are quite a few homes on the market with mature, beautiful landscaping that has been well established throughout the life of the home.


•   Sacrifices: When buying an older home, you will have to make sacrifices regarding the features you want in your home. Since you didn’t design the house yourself, there may be a lot you want to change. Depending on what you end up paying for the house, making major changes could be outside your budget.

•   Updates: Older homes are likely to have outdated kitchens, flooring, appliances and other cosmetic features. The cost to replace or renovate could be more than you can afford.

•   Efficiency: Older homes are less efficient than new ones. The windows and doors may need replacement, the insulation most likely isn’t up to today’s standards and the heating and cooling systems are usually a lot less efficient than those made today. This could have a huge impact on your energy bill and should be considered thoroughly.

•   Maintenance: Older homes have weathered over the years and you will need to budget for more maintenance. The siding may be at the end of its life or could be an older high maintenance product. The roofing could need replacement and depending on how old the house is; plumbing, electrical and other mechanical elements may need to be repaired.

•   Stress: The process of finding and making an offer on a home can be stressful. You may need to visit dozens of homes until you find the right one, and even when you do the seller could decline your offer or you could get stuck in a bidding war.

Building a New Home


•   Complete Control: Building a home gives you control over the entire design, layout and all the features and options that you have to live with for the rest of your time in the home. Picking out all of the finishes, options and features for a new home is very exciting to some people.

•   Built to Today’s Standards: You’ll have the peace of mind knowing that the builder is following current codes and using current methods and materials to construct your home.

•   Efficiency: You can utilize a wide range of available cutting-edge products and incorporate energy-saving features that will save you money on energy and reduce your impact on the environment.

•   Deferred Maintenance: Many of today’s building products are maintenance-free or carry 25 to 50-year warranties. Selecting high-quality products that are made to last will keep your home maintenance free for most of your lifetime.

•   Lot Selection: When building, you can construct your dream on the lot you like best. With an older home, you may like the house but not the lot or vice versa. You can take your time selecting the perfect lot and design the house of your dreams to occupy it.


•   Time: Building a new home can take anywhere from 6 months to 1 year. Many people do not want to wait that long to move into a home that suits their immediate needs.

•   Living Arrangements: Staying with a relative while your home is being built is a major inconvenience and renting a place to live in while you wait can be expensive.

•   Stress: The process of finding the right lot and obtaining a loan can be daunting. Once you’ve secured the lot and financing, designing your new home will be time consuming and require you to make a lot of decisions. To some people the process can be very stressful.


As mentioned earlier, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer as to which option is better. We have found the cost per square foot to be almost the same whether you are building or buying. Regardless of which route you decide to take, we offer an extensive amount of experience building new homes and remodeling older homes.

If you are considering building a new home or remodeling an existing home, feel free to contact us. We can guide you in the right direction and make your dream home a reality.

This article is Copyright © 2012 Chase Building Group, LLC.
Photo Credit: VTW

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