Old Homes Versus New Builds
How do Britain’s new builds compare to older homes in today’s housing market? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The best choice for you depends on your non-negotiables for your new home.
Going for a newly built, modern home is an attractive option to many people. It can be an easy decision to make when comparing an aged bathroom and tired-looking kitchen with a sparkly modern place that’s kitted out with the latest appliances and gadgets.
The excitement of the new can frequently swing the deal for first-time buyers. When people are enthusiastic about a potential new home, every issue seems surmountable. Who needs a big garden? We don’t! Lack of storage space? We will figure out a way around it – as well as those paper-thin walls. However, after the move comes the irritation with the lack of space, parking spaces and quiet resentment over your darn rowdy neighbours… which is why it’s so important to consider the following factors before you make your big purchase:
New builds may be more modern, but older properties often offer more space. With the increasing numbers of densely populated new developments springing up, people often take issue with the lack of space in their new homes. Also, smaller rooms and compact gardens are not unusual in new builds and with a large family and it could make for a tight squeeze.
If space is one of your priorities, view a Victorian terrace or a Georgian town house to see if you could better see yourself in one of those properties. Another plus is that period homes are generally located much closer to the city centre, saving you time on your daily commute or night out into town.
Buying a newly built home often means you won’t become part of a moving chain that could threaten the completion date of your property purchase. It also means there are no chances of being gazumped after you’ve made an offer that the seller initially accepted. Eliminating the buying chain minimises a great deal of the stress and uncertainty that often accompany the purchase of a property.
You’re more likely to find an older property with a garden, as many new builds are built upwards. Although a new build may offer a balcony or a terrace, a great deal of period properties have gardens. And while a small number of contemporary properties do come with outside space – they are typically offered at a premium.
High tech or old fashioned?
New builds frequently come fitted with high-specification appliances and materials, more so than older properties. You’ll have the comfort of knowing that everything is brand new, clean and unused. New homes also must comply with the latest building regulations, which means you’ll be well-equipped with the latest heating systems and insulation. This is particularly appealing for if you’d like to quickly settle into your new home, rather than deal with potentially expensive DIY and maintenance costs.
New build homes save residents almost £700 a year in energy bills – they are significantly more efficient than older properties. New developments use 103kWh/m2, of energy on average in comparison to an average of 294kWh/M2 for existing homes.
Why is the energy gap so large? Firstly, new home builders boost energy savings by installing boilers that only release hot water when you need it, and by fitting modern creating sophisticated water drainage systems. New builds also typically have cavity wall insulation, the latest being six times more efficient than homes built in the 1960’s. In addition, the newest double glazings are filled with argon gas. This absorbs sunlight but minimises heat loss, twice as energy efficient as double glazing from the 1990’s.
It may feel great to acquire a property with perfectly plastered walls, double glazing and a warranty. However, there are some standard costs of moving in that you need to take into account.
Extra costs to expect when moving into a new build:
- Snagging survey – designed to check for problems with a new-build home.
- Telephone line connection
- Curtain rails, curtains
- TV aerials
- Garden landscaping and plants
These costs can run into thousands of pounds. On the other hand, older houses commonly need more attention, which can also be expensive. This could take the form of a new roof, re-plastering walls, restoring old chimneys or even addressing floor structure and foundation defects. As all these renovations can quickly add up to £10,000, period buildings may not be the best option for people on a tighter budget. Although they may look grand, if a property needs a full revamp, it’s important to hire specialists who will do the job properly – and experts don’t come cheap.
Extra costs to expect when moving into a period property:
- Professional carpet cleaning
- Re-paint walls and ceilings throughout
- Install smoke alarms, security locks, burglar alarm and security lighting
- Super-efficient new boiler
- Extra insulation to improve energy rating
- Higher heating bills because of high ceilings
As safety is now a top priority, building regulations are continuously changing and new developments are required to conform to these new high standards.
Government schemes such as Help to Buy are also making new builds more attractive to a first-time buyer. The scheme allows home buyers who do not own another property to purchase a newly built home up to the value of £600,000.
How does Help to Buy work?
The buyer’s deposit only needs to be 5% of the property’s value, and up to 20% of the value of the property can be borrowed under the scheme. The remaining 75% can then be borrowed from a mortgage lender. This is ideal for those who may be struggling to get onto the first rung of the property ladder – but is also available to previous homeowners, as long as they don’t own another property at the time of purchase.
For information about buying a property through bridging or auction finance, check out more of our blog posts and guides.