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To buy new or not?

(12 Posts)
raisin3cookies Sun 20-Dec-15 22:32:15

We are first time buyers, will be looking to buy in 2016, but we aren't sure if we should focus on a new build or older home.

Have you had good/bad/neutral experiences with a new build? Just found out an acquaintance - whose house is less than a year old - had her stairs collapse! I can't envision that happening in the Victorian ex-vicarage home I have been eyeing.

We won't have a lot of spare cash for repairs and redecorating an older home, though. Not for a good few years, at least. Husband wants a house we can live comfortably in as soon as possible. (The vicarage will need work but it's got miles of potential)

Argh. I'm rambling. This is a huge decision and I feel conflicted.

lalalonglegs Sun 20-Dec-15 22:38:34

Imo, newer houses are generally poorly designed and the rooms are rarely as well proportioned as typical period homes. You pay a huge premium to have something shiny and new and, unless the market is very strong in that particular area or it is a landmark development, you are much less likely to make money on them. As your friend has found out, the workmanship is not always as good as it should be. If you are considering a new-build flat, the service charges and ground rent have become appallingly greedy in the last few days and even some housing estates demand maintenance fees for very little actual work.

The only thing that new-builds have going for them is that they tend to be much more energy efficient.

lalalonglegs Sun 20-Dec-15 22:39:12

years, not days.

namechangedtoday15 Sun 20-Dec-15 22:41:20

Generally speaking new builds don't increase in value at the same rate as older houses. If you buy brand new, you're paying a "brand new" premium that you'll never get back. Also a nearly new (3/4/5 years old) can't compete with a brand new house so they're sometimes difficult to sell. The rooms are often smaller and nowadays they're on smaller plots (developers cram as many as possible onto sites). But they don't take much maintenance (everything is up to current standards), they're often cheaper to heat and they usually come with a NHBC guarantee which means major building faults should be corrected for 10 years.

It really depends on what your priorities are, how long you think you'll want to stay there, whether you might outgrow it etc.

Madblondedog Mon 21-Dec-15 08:15:46

I had a new Bovis home (certain other companies I wouldn't buy from) and on the whole it worked for us for that time period but we have sold and moved on now

- You all move in at roughly the same time so neighbours tend to be more receptive to getting to know each other
- 2 years of calling them when anything goes wrong and they fix it for free
- They tend to put more bathrooms in new builds
- Everything is spotless when you move in
- We haggled hard and got £30k off the asking price
- The house was bigger than old properties in the same price bracket
- If you get in early you can adapt the initial design a little (we got them to put a shower over the bath so it wasn't just a bathroom) again I refused to pay for that
- Incredible levels of insulation, we rarely used the heating

- No solid walls (putting stuff up such as shelves can be a little stressful)
- It didn't increase in value as much as other local properties did (but it did increase)
- Teeny tiny garden
- If someone slammed the front door the whole house shook
- They don't supply an aerial so you spend a day wondering why your TV doesn't work
- Sound traveled badly (so if you were in the bedroom above the living room you could hear what they were watching even if it was on quiet)

Things I would do differently if I bought a new build again
- Be more fussy and demanding about any changes I wanted to make
- Haggle harder, turns out other people got even more money off
- We got our own carpets and flooring put in as theirs were cheap and crap, would definitely do that again
- Make sure I got one with a bigger garden as they did exist
- Make sure I got a garden which I was sure would be in the sun at some point
- Make the most of the 2 years of free fixing, I forgot a few bits until it was too late and they were sticklers for the rules

Would I buy a Bovis home again? Yes if it suited my needs more than any other on the market. If it was a toss up between that and an older property of the same size, location, etc and same cost,, I would probably buy the older one.

It worked well for us for a few years but I love our new (old) house more

wonkylegs Mon 21-Dec-15 08:50:41

New home these days does not necessarily mean problem free - the build and finish quality from some of the major housebuilders can be shocking. NHBC is not all it's cracked up to be and claiming via it can be very very hit and miss (they like to exempt everything they can)
Thermal standards can be good but if the build quality is shite then they may not be all they should be. Sound insulation is often poor especially as most internal walls are stud without insulation so you can hear everything. Room sizes are often mean especially on 2/3 bed homes. We have friends who have "4 double beds" according to the developer but only the master bed is bigger than our victorian single and none even approach the size of our doubles. New builds also often seem to concentrate on numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms which can be disproportionate to living space.
Mass housing developers tend to fit cheaper products so boilers, radiators, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances don't always last as long as you'd expect - my mums Charles church house has just had to have all the cheap Chinese radiators replaced due to corrosion, the house is only 10ys old, whereas my decent Myson rads are over 30yrs old and still going strong. A friends house flooded as the developer fitted cheap taps which exploded when they were away ruining their house ( and others on the estate).
Older houses can be more generous with space and depending on what they have had done over the years can be money pits or can be in good nick.
Our last house was an Edwardian terrace but had modern electrics, modern kitchen & bathrooms, modern heating & double glazing and was toasty warm as it was a terrace with an insulated roof. We bought it in that condition.
We now have a large victorian house which is now insulated & has modern electrics, bathrooms, kitchen, double glazed windows, heating etc but we did it this time, it cost quite a bit but we bought the house with that in mind so budgeted for it.
Some old houses are awful but so are some new ones.
I think a better approach than generalising on old verses new would be to work out exactly what you want from a house and looking at all houses in your budget that fulfil your needs, you may be surprised at what works for you.
Remember though ALL houses old or new need to be maintained so will require money spent on them as time goes by or you will get problems no matter the age of the house.

mrsmortis Mon 21-Dec-15 10:52:40

I think it depends on what you mean by 'live in comfortably'.

We bought a 1930's house that hadn't really been touched in nearly 40 years. We had new windows, new wiring and insulation before we moved in. But the rest we are doing slowly. So far it's taken 6 years. We have a modern kitchen and bathroom and the bedrooms and dining room are done. We still have the living room, the hall and the stairs to do. As well as a seemingly unending list of other jobs. And we may go into the loft in a few years or add a second bathroom.

I wasn't always comfortable but it bought us our dream house. With enough space for us to grow into. For me the huge advantage over a new build is the space. I have high ceilings and large rooms. I have a sensibly sized mature garden. I have original features like fireplaces and picture rails. I've also added a significant amount to the value of my house. It just feels like a home rather than a box.

newname99 Mon 21-Dec-15 13:59:21

New builds may have incentives for first time buyers and can be stress free..I think you need to buy from a reputable developr and the moneysavingexpert web site has lots of reviews.If you are buying where houses are already occupied you can check with residents for build quality.

Ftb's may not have the funds or time to do uo a place so a new build can be brilliant for that.I recall moving into a old house, around Christmas, and the boiler breaking. We had zero contingency for that type of expense so it felt heartbreaking.Running costs of older houses are higher and can really add to monthly costs.

I think gardens are generally smaller in new builds but for a young couple that may not be an issue.We have a large garden and the upkeep is enormous and we have to pay for regular maintenance.
Location is actually the key factor, if the house is in a good location then you should prioritise that over other other factors.

Wiifitmama Mon 21-Dec-15 14:03:32

I agree with Mrsmortis. Our first home was a new build on an estate. 3 bedroom detached with garage. But it was neither roomy nor homely. Since then we have lived in much older properties. I could never go back from the high ceilings and space. We are in the process of buying a 5 bedroom 2000 square foot 1890's property that needs complete renovation. The bedrooms are enormous, the ceilings are ridiculously high and I love it! The fact that we will take years to fully do it up just does not matter. I wouldn't trade it for brand new.

raisin3cookies Tue 22-Dec-15 03:02:43

I appreciate all the replies; it's given us a lot to think about. I am definitely leaning towards an older home, but my husband isn't entirely convinced. I think we need to focus on location and just make house viewing our main hobby in the new year.

We are moving much further north for his new job, so we are actually able to afford a house with our small deposit at last. We already have a family so this is an exciting moment for us. We want to stay for a good 5-10 years in the house, but won't have a lot of extra cash to do a lot of work on an old home, which is why buying new does appeal... but the lack of personality that new homes have is slightly depressing to me. However, I think that no matter how high the ceilings or how large the rooms (both features I love as well), I would be even more depressed with a hole in the roof or the boiler going.

greenfolder Tue 22-Dec-15 06:31:55

It's horses for courses. If you don't have a stash of cash behind you, it can be anxious and depressing living in an older house that requires maintenance and complete redecoration. If you want to stay for 5 years or 10 years new build could be right for you. I would say though, especially if there is lots of houses going up, really look at the development plan for the area. Look carefully at the plots available. Get one with a decent garden if you can, think about whether kids can feasibly walk to a park from the house, or a school and rally look at the surrounding area. Is this a pocket of nice houses in an otherwise not very nice place? If there is a suggestion that there will be a bus service one day, assume it won't happen! Likewise suggestions of shops, doctors surgeries etc.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Tue 22-Dec-15 06:45:54

Whrn viewing think about where to put the bin or wardrobes tumble dryer airer etc to visulise the space.

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