A pre-built home next to a custom home under construction

Building a New Home vs Buying Existing

Home Buying Tips

There can be an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to purchasing a home for you and your loved ones to live in. Some of these options rarely make financial sense—we’ll be getting into those weeds soon enough—but the two most sensible options come down to having a home built or buying an already existing home. Which of these two options is right for you depends on several things, including what you are looking for in a home, the likelihood that you will find what you are looking for, how specific your tastes are, and how long you can wait before moving into your home.

Avoid Mobile & Prefab Homes

Before we begin, we should clarify that buying an existing home does not mean buying a mobile home, nice though some of those might be. Likewise, building a home rarely means buying a prefab. There is no shortage of economical and unique housing options, but mobile and prefab homes are not among them.

Rick Warren has said the only thing that you own that loses value should be your car. If you buy a trailer or a mobile home, however, then your house will also lose value over time. On top of this, mobile homes do not last very long, meaning they are not the best option for retirement. In fact, you end up losing more than 5% of the home’s value each year, even when you include any gains to property value.

“Small” homes like shipping container homes or other self-built structures that you can construct on a lot you bought can be economical if you do proper research, but generally starting with a prefab can come with a lot of issues. While some prefab homes utilize common sets of instructions and shared material, the problem is that you have little control over the packaged construction pieces. This means you won’t be able to predict the quality of the materials or the skills of the designers and builders.

When Should You Have a Custom Home Built?

Having a custom home built can be pricier than buying an existing home, but it offers much more control over the home’s design and amenities. While you may be able to easily find a pre-built 2-story pool house with a wrap-around deck, you may have a hard time finding one with all the amenities you want. If your dream home includes a huge open concept kitchen, a comfy reading nook and a flowing but comfortable living room with a very particular type of carpet, then it’s more than likely you might need to consider paying a bit more to have your own house built.

Tips for Building Your Own Home

If you end up going the route of building your own home, then you want to make sure that the timeline that the builder offers matches up with your own. You will also want to consider your financing options the same way you would if you were shopping for existing homes. Likewise, make sure to have your custom-built home inspected as if you were buying an already built one. This will ensure that the builders deliver the value you pay for.

Tips for Buying a Pre-Built Home

If you are buying a pre-built house in a subdivision, or if you are buying in a planned community, keep in mind that sometimes models differ from the actual homes. It’s important that you ask questions and make sure that you are getting what you think you are paying for.

Ultimately, whether you choose to build a custom home or buy a pre-built depends on your budget and the level of control you want. Whichever direction you choose, be sure to conduct thorough research and ensure you’re getting the appropriate value for your investment.

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