This blog post shares our experiences with living in a remodel versus new construction home. As a prior military family, we have had a number of home experiences which helped us make the current best decision for our family regarding our most recent home purchase. I hope this post is helpful in sorting out your own personal pros and cons for buying a remodel versus new construction home.
If you’ve been a several-year reader of my blog, you likely know how much we loved our home in Kansas. It was nearly 30 years old when we purchased it, and while the previous owners had done little updates here and there to maintain it, it was still mostly outdated in every way. We spent nearly four years living in and loving the home, but when the time came to move, we were ready to get it off of our hands.
When Jamie left active duty last Spring and we moved to Alabama to plant roots, we purchased a new construction. While a brand new home wasn’t a “must have”, we were very like-minded in that we did not want projects of any kind for a while. I was so burnt out from working on our Kansas home that we did not even want to have to repaint walls. Ha! So, a new construction was our best option. We’ve now been in our house for 14 months and plan on calling this home for the foreseeable future. We’re very happy.
We’ve discussed many times throughout the last year the lengthy list of pros and cons we’ve discovered about living in a remodel vs new construction. As far as which option is better, we think it boils down to how one wants to spend their time, what their plans are regarding how long they want to live in the home, and finances. What is right for one family isn’t right for the next; it’s a very personal decision.
Remodel vs New Construction
Here is our list of pros and cons, based on our own personal experiences.
New construction: Higher down payment and monthly payments, but significantly less money spent at home improvement stores.
Fixer upper: Potentially lower down payment and monthly payment due to cheaper cost of the house, but more money spent over time on contractors or at home improvement stores.
New construction: Since the home doesn’t need any repairs or updates, we’ve spent more money on replacing furniture and decor instead.
Fixer upper: You may wait to replace furniture and decor until some of the repairs and updates are made since you may not be interested in investing in both at the same time.
New construction: You will likely pay more per square foot, meaning you will get “less house”. What you get with the house though will be new, without need to be replaced.
Fixer upper: You will pay less per square foot, meaning that if you’re willing to do the work for a few years and then stay in the house for a while, you’ll then have an updated home and the space to stretch out.
LANDSCAPING AND PREVIOUS OWNER “TOUCHES”
New construction: Your house will be a fresh slate, leaving all landscaping options up to you. Your garage, closets, etc. will also be fresh slates and more “bare bones”, meaning you can do what you’d like with them in the future.
Fixer upper: The house will likely have previous owners’ touches, which can be a good or bad thing. For example, the previous owners may have hired professional landscapers, leaving you with beautifully annuals, mature bushes and trees, etc. They may also leave things like garage built-ins, handy front porch hooks with hanging baskets, or maybe even a ShopVac. On the other hand, they may leave you with pesky things to fix, like wall anchors, outdated curtain rods, etc.
SPEED OF VALUE INCREASE
New construction: Unless you’re in an area with a booming housing market, your home may take more time to increase in significant value.
Fixer upper: If your plan or goal is to move after just a few years (four years or less), you may want to fix up a home to increase the value as quickly as possible.
While fixing up our Kansas home required way more money (and gave us way more headaches) than we anticipated, we ultimately did increase the value quickly and learned so many valuable homeowner skills along the way. I loved designing and painting each room and watching it go from “drab to fab” while stretching our dollar as far as it could go.
So many projects were too expensive to hire out, so YouTube and DIY blogs became our best friends, teaching us how to do some significant home improvements on our own. We are grateful for those skills and experiences, even if they tested us at the time.
Our new construction has given us time freedom. While it may feel very “builder grade”, we know it will take time to evolve, just like our older home did.
We had some issues in the first year where we had to bug the builder an uncomfortable number of times to fix more things than we were expecting, but we didn’t have to pay for any of it thanks to a new-build warranty.
We like the idea of our yard being a “newborn” and starting from scratch in the design process, even though the no-tree yard is driving us a little nuts in the meantime.
We’re planning to stay in this house 5+ more years (potentially a couple more decades?), so we aren’t in a huge hurry to do any big overhauls or increase the value quickly on our own.
My unsolicited advice: Buying a home to fix up will teach you so much, but make sure it’s the right house where you won’t increase the value too high in the particular neighborhood. Also, be very sure that you have the time and money to devote to learning and doing. Your monthly mortgage will likely be cheaper than a new home, but the money you spend weekly/monthly on projects can and will add up very quickly.
Buying a new home will give you the time to dive into other activities and hobbies, which was essential for us with the ages of our children, Jamie’s two jobs, and my desire to work on my blog during any free time.
When considering a remodel vs new construction, it’s totally an “each to his own” situation though whether you go with a new construction or fixer upper. So much to weigh!
What would be on your list of pros and cons for a remodel vs new construction?
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo