Is it cheaper to buy or build a home?

Do you know if it’s cheaper to buy or build a home? It’s a question that a lot of people are asking themselves in the process where they may perhaps currently not be happy with the current living situation they’re in, and it’s usually a question that is being asked when you are getting more serious about figuring out what your different options are.

There may be many reasons why you want to move to something else. Perhaps you’re not happy about the neighborhood that you are living in, or maybe you have found out that the living situation you once had is now no longer the same, at least warranting looking into what other options are available. Since we’re in the process of helping people test existing homes for lead paint, using the 2 EPA-approved lead paint tests, we thought it also warranted looking at the benefits of rather building a new home instead, too. Besides neighborhood, there may simply be other reasons why you are now looking into changing your living situation, and it could be because you perhaps decided to expand your family. An expansion of the family does not necessarily mean that you ended up getting pregnant, but it could also be that you decided to have a dog, and that the one bedroom apartment that you have been living in so far simply doesn’t allow enough space for a dog to adequately be able to get the exercise that it needs. On the other hand, it might not be that your family is growing, but it could be that you now have needs for a bigger house given the fact that you want to be able to host guests, or perhaps you are looking to have your mother-in-law live with you for a  period of time. Whether you want to allow another person to live with her, having additional space can often be a thing that families really end up liking, and it can help alleviate some stress, as you are no longer having to stay confined to the small space that you were previously limited to. 

Whether you are looking to either buy or a build a home, you still have to go through a range of steps before you are able to find the one that you truly want, including figure out what sort of budget you are operating with, what your wishes are and how you prioritize so that it’s not just parts of the family that are happy with the decisions, but that it is rather everyone being able to get most of the various things that they are looking for. If your family truly needs 4 bedrooms, and the one you are looking at is 2 bedrooms but may have a view that your other options don’t, there is the very definite risk that you just never end up really being happy in the new place, although it could have been intended as the place that you wanted to live in for many years to come. When you’re moving into a new home, you still have to be sure that you are happy with the various options that it offers you and your family, and then it might just be that you have to compromise on that fantastic view in the 2 bedroom house so that you can actually get the functionality that the 4 bedroom space offers instead, whereby each of your kids can now get their own bedroom instead, which will also help bring some peace and quiet to the house and help in those stressful morning situations where nothing seems to be going the way that you intended for it to go. 

As you can tell from now, we are just hoping to help educate you on the topic as to whether there is one of the options that is far superior to the other, as many of the same things need to be considered whether you’re buying or building. Besides just considering the cost, there are so many other things to help you decide, and what can sometimes seem like a relatively small sacrifice when it comes to making sure you are actually going to be able to live with the various options you choose. While there are situations where you may want to save money, there are also  situations where it is better that you make a realistic assessment of your priorities, and a $100 additional mortgage payment per month may just be the difference between everyone having their own room and not. Trust us, when your kids grow up to become teenagers, they will either be bothering you to get their own rooms, which would either mean that you move the other things around to accommodate so that the private office you used to have is now for one of the kids instead, or you may just find yourself on the market again looking for a different house to buy. 

Pros and cons of each of your options

There’s no denying that if you simply want the easy route, building a home is probably not the right route for you as it does involve a bunch of additional work as compared to simply going out, looking at a couple of homes, and putting down a bid on the one that you like. It really is an adventure when you’re building your own. On an adventure you can also expect that there will be a bunch of things that you haven’t realistically been able to predict that you will need to decide on when it becomes an issue. 

Building a home

One of the reasons why you may be considering building your own is because you really aren’t a big fan of compromising, and when you are building yourself you can afford this luxury, assuming you also have the budget to go along with it. There is nothing worse than thinking you’re embarking on a mission to be building the home of your dreams just to figure out that you were never realistic about what it would cost you, forcing you to make a bunch of shortcuts that ultimately mean you aren’t getting what you were hoping for. With that in mind, make a budget, and make sure it’s realistic. This is a step that we recommend you do even before you choose whether one option is right for you or not. We also recommend that you even consider doing several budgets, including things that you are willing to compromise on and things that you aren’t willing to compromise on. It may just be that you feel you can go without those luxury kitchen finishes, and in doing so you’re saving yourself a lot of money, perhaps in the thousands of dollars range. 

In addition to being able to create exactly what it is you want to create, another advantage to building your own place is that they are usually more energy-efficient making it easier to keep the place cool in the summer and heated in the winter, and if you live in a state where electricity is relatively expensive, this may add up over the years. If you are seeing a policy shift in the state that you’re living in, that old home that you were looking at could also end up becoming more expensive to own once those new policies are enacted, as you may then have to take additional measures just to make sure that the house is compliant, which for instance could mean that you would need to additionally insulate the house, which will also help against condensation. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing to do in an old home anyway, but it might just be one that you actually have to factor in when you’re considering buying.

If you’re not much of a handyman, it may be nice to be able to just move in and not have to worry about something breaking because you frankly don’t want to deal with it. In a newly built home you have the advantage that you will likely have a bunch of years being able to live in it before you have to start worrying about doing these sorts of repairs, or do other types of home maintenance. Eventually the deck will need to be stained, and your AC unit will need to have maintenance done on it as well, but at least you’re not moving straight into a massive home maintenance project. New homes also have a benefit that old homes don’t, and that is that those building materials that may have been used in the past because the materials did provide a range of benefits, are no longer being used in new construction. That means that encapsulating lead paint won’t be one of those things you have to deal with, nor will you or another owner of the home have to test for the substance when there is eventually a desire to remodel certain aspects of it. If you don’t know so already, lead was commonly added to a range of things, but due to its beneficial properties in paint, it was one of the most common places you used to be able to find it. That is, before 1978, of course, where the EPA introduced various legislation that banned its inclusion in residential house paint. On this website, however, we have already written a list of resources that you may want to look into, that will help give you an idea of how significant the problem used to be, but in addition how much of a problem it still is, and why there are still places like public housing and inner city public schools where these issues are really quite significant problems that the communities have to deal with. While they often don’t, the exposure to damaged lead paint may lead certain family members to ingest the heavy metal which accumulates in your body over time, an issue you won’t have to be dealing with in your new construction home, as leaded paint is no longer used for residential housing anyway. Besides lead paint, you also won’t have to deal with things such as asbestos that is another substance that we have fortunately been able to regulate and won’t be seeing in the US when you’re building a new home.

Cons

When that’s been said it doesn’t go without saying that there are natural cons to the whole process also, and if it’s your first time considering building a home, you might not already have a clear understanding of the breadth of the project and quite the length of time that the process ends up taking. In fact, the US Census Bureau has published that you may expect to be spending the next 7 months building your home if you choose to do so rather than simply buying one, and in that case, that may not line up very well with your expectations of moving. Your situation may in fact be so that you only really have 3 or 4 months before you are hoping to be able to move into your new place and in those situations, you likely won’t be able to rush the building of the home so much that you can catch up on those 3 or 4 months of difference between when you’re hoping to move and when you can realistically expect it. 

In addition, while the US Census Bureau may say that the typical home takes roughly 7 months to complete, that is not to say that you will necessarily be able to manage in that amount of time as there could be a lot of different things that would slow you down. For instance, there are a lot of counties in the country where obtaining the necessary building permits is a very lengthy process, and if the local building department doesn’t think you should be allowed to move forward with the project, guess what. You won’t be able to. Perhaps you know someone at the local building department, or perhaps you have other ways that you can help make sure that a situation like that never happens, but if you don’t, don’t be surprised when you suddenly have to halt the building project that was already behind schedule because you haven’t been able to clear certain aspects of it. 

That is to say that a delay in building isn’t the only difficult time you may be facing when you choose to build, as the budget you have laid out should include the possibility that you won’t be sticking to it, and that you won’t suddenly run out of money because you projected that everything would cost 20% less than it actually ended up costing.

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