New Construction or Vintage Charm? Here’s How to Pick the Right Home for You

by Alex ThatcherJune 11, 2018

Picking Between New Construction and an Older Home

You’ve probably made this choice before – do you buy something used, or brand new? Maybe you were buying a car, or perhaps you were purchasing another big-ticket item. We have a tendency to think that the newer something is, the fewer problems it may come with, but is that always the case?

Sometimes it can be better to let someone else take the initial hit of depreciation when something makes the jump from “new” to “used.” After all, there’s very little difference between a “new” car with 20 miles on it, parked on the showroom floor and a “used” car with 25 miles on it, parked in your driveway.

A home is likely the single most expensive thing you will ever purchase. So is it better to buy a new home, or to get something vintage? The answer might not be as obvious as it seems; both options have their advantages, and the attendant disadvantages.

new home construction or vintage home

The Pros and Cons of New Home Construction

New homes are, well, new. They have a certain un-lived-in quality that may be worth the extra price tag. The walls, floors, windows and doors, the roof, the wiring, the plumbing, and all the fixtures are new, unused, clean, and (presumably) in good working order.

Plus, new homes generally come packaged in new neighborhoods, with new streets and new water lines, and all the other new infrastructure that comes with their new price tag. Plus, depending on your developer, you may be able to have a say in some or all of the architectural details of your new home.

Unfortunately, new homes are made of brand new materials, and in many cases, that can mean off-gassing may be an issue. If you’re at all sensitive to volatile organic compounds, or at all worried that they might affect your health, then maybe a freshly constructed house isn’t the right option for you. Plus, new neighborhoods tend to have less than perfect walk scores, and living in them generally adds to your commute.

new home construction or vintage home

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Vintage Home

Older homes have vintage charm, and architectural integrity. They have stood the test of time and were constructed back when building standards really “meant something” — if you believe your grandad. Older homes are typically in better-developed neighborhoods and are usually closer to the arts and commercial hubs of your city.

Unfortunately, standing the test of time can come with a whole host of hidden problems. Dry rot; plumbing issues; compromised water lines; covered-up, bungled remodel jobs; termites—the potential list of what you might find after you sign the papers is enormous. Plus, a great walk score and proximity to what makes the city tick can also come with a higher neighborhood crime rate.

new home construction or vintage home

How to Make a Choice That Works for You

Ultimately, you will have to choose which pros outweigh which cons. New houses can be absolutely amazing, but it’s tough to beat the charm of a vintage home, and it’s safe to say that both come with their issues. Weighing those issues against the obvious perks may seem like a daunting task, but as this is the biggest purchase of your life, it’s definitely going to be worth the effort.

Don’t stress too much – most people don’t spend the rest of their lives in their first home these days. You’ll get the opportunity — perhaps several more times — to make this decision again. After all, if you’re truly torn, you could go one way this time and another the next.

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About The Author
Alex Thatcher
Alex is a home staging guru who moonlights as a writer. She loves everything about interior design and loves working in the industry. Alex is an expert in finding what makes people light up when they walk into a room, and has made a living by creating interiors that are unique, warm and inviting. When she isn't arranging flowers or making sure she's found the right loveseat for prospective buyers, she writes about her passion — home design.

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