Since getting married, Josh and I have owned two houses.
The first was an adorable bungalow built in 1948.
The second was a suburban traditional built in 1976.
We did significant renovations on each, adding a half bath and extra bedroom to the first house and completely overhauling the second one.
As we mentioned earlier, we have decided to focus our home search in the Springfield area where there is a really broad selection of housing inventory. Choices range from existing homes which are brand new (but have never been lived in) to 100+ year old historic ones (bungalows, traditionals, duplexes and mansions), to vacant lots where you can still build a new home, so long as the finished product looks historically similar to the other homes in the area.
We looked at all of the options in Springfield. New, old, already renovated, currently in shambles, and so on. If you are trying to figure out the pros and cons of new versus existing like we are, here are some things to consider.
Benefits of an existing home
- Existing homes are ready when you are. There is no need to worry about finding a builder, getting permits, or worrying about how the weather might delay your building process. You find a house, make an offer, agree on a price, close and move.
- You know what you are getting with an existing home, so long as you do your homework. You’ll want to do an inspection of the home before you close on the sale, so you can avoid any unforeseen problems.
- You benefit from someone already buying all of the little things that are needed when you move into a new house. If it has already been lived in, it is likely that someone already installed blinds, bought a garden hose for the yard, installed niceties like dimmer switches and shelving systems in the closets.
- The house has a story. You might have beautifully preserved architectural details, learn about interesting past owners or events, or uncover treasure. And you’ll be adding your chapter to a really neat story.
- Trees. You get trees. And plants. Regardless of whether the house is one year old or 100 years old, the landscaping is already in place. Even if you have to redo smaller garden beds to your liking, you benefit from greenery that is already thriving in place, and provides shade and character to your street and yard.
- You have to live with other people’s decisions. From shoddy DIY home repair to interesting décor choices, older homes can come with baggage. Even if those items are easy to change, there will be an investment of time and money to make the house your own. And there is always a risk that something large and expensive will be uncovered after you move in that was either unknown to the seller, or even covered up over the years.
Benefits of new construction
- With a new house, you’ll get exactly what you want. New construction means you don’t have to invest in changing anything from previous owners. You pick your layout, your design, your finishes – it is a true reflection of you.
- Newer homes can be built with energy efficiency in mind. Solar power, tankless water heaters, and environmentally friendly paints, flooring and building materials mean you can not only save money on the cost of living, but feel good about the reduced impact your home has on our planet.
- You have to have lots of time and flexibility. It takes time to find a design, a builder, get all of your financing worked out, get permits, and build a house. Even the best experiences will have delays and changes.
- You better be good a making decisions because there will be TONS of them. Even after you get all of the big ones out-of-the-way, you’ll have dozens, maybe hundreds of little ones. Something as simple as what kind of door knobs you want can require several decisions: do you want round, egg-shaped or lever, chrome, brass, or bronze finish, key-locking or push-button privacy settings, and so on.
As for us, after we finished our last house, I was not keen on the idea of doing a home remodel again. The dust, the chaos, the money, the choices… It was all too much to live through.
We thought wanted new.
But as life would have it, the Universe had something else in mind.
At the end of March, we toured a house that took us completely by surprise. And if you had not figured it out by now, we are embarking on a major renovation of a really old house.
This one makes the other renovations we did on our first two houses look almost silly by comparison.
And I cannot wait!