March 27, 2020 at 10:01am | Jacqui Luberto

To Build or To Buy? 

That is the Question


The Dream Home. Everyone has a vision of it. Though they tend to differ greatly, most everyone has dreamed up the ideal place they’d like to live and the perfect home to go with it. For some, it’s a beach house in New England, for others, it’s a ski lodge in Aspen. Heck, some people just want a cabin in the woods where they can be away from it all. Just like the Unibomber. But hopefully without access to the postal service.

The big question is, does that house already exist or are you gonna have to make it yourself? Building a home is an ambitious undertaking, and there are both endless decisions to be made and many possibilities for hiccups along the way. Building a house from scratch often ends up costing more than buying one, and can take years to complete. However, it does give you the freedom to design a home exactly as you want it, and it will also be brand new, eliminating the many of the headaches that can unexpectedly occur when moving into an existing home.

So, it comes down to the bottom line - let’s look at the costs. Buying an existing home comes down to one price, which you agree to pay to the owner, whereas building a house involves buying a plot of land and building costs, which tend to often exceed set budgets. While builders offer cost estimates, factors such as the rising cost of materials and delays in construction can add to the total bill. A new home also requires all new appliances, furnishings and landscaping. These are the many things you don’t think about, like tile floors and window treatments, sconces and outlets with added USB ports, bushes and mulch, maybe a bird bath. Those things all add up very quickly. 

Whereas buying an existing home starts with figuring out your price range by getting preapproved for a mortgage to determine what’s doable then factoring in other variables like closing costs, real estate fees and any money you plan to spend decorating, moving or repairing the home. That’s your total cost of buying right there.

It comes down to your own financial situation and your wants and needs in a house. If you know exactly what you want and aren’t willing to give up on anything, building might cost less than buying an existing home and making extensive changes. If you already own land in an area where home prices are high, building a home may also cost less than buying one with an inflated value. In the end, making a few compromises and buying a home that's already built will save money compared to building your own home. If you can dream it, you can do it. Just have deep pockets and plenty of patience.

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