The pros and cons of purchasing a new build

For many homebuyers, the call of a new build is strong. A new house is clean, up-to-date, and ready for a personal touch — appealing to those looking to simply move in, unpack and enjoy.

Despite these advantages, John Oborne, owner of Oborne Contracting Inc., in Richmond Hill, Ont., says there are both pros and cons to purchasing a newly built home.

genworth new build

A new home is like a “blank slate,” says Oborne. Because no one else has lived in the home before, the first buyer can truly make the home their own. “When you’re buying a new home, you may be able to choose layout and work on the design prior to construction,” he explains. Other elements — flooring, countertops, and cupboards — are also often customizable when purchasing a new build.

Some homeowners prefer the challenge of renovating and maintaining an older property; for others, that work is intimidating and costly. For the latter, a new home is a better fit, as there’s a much lower chance of having to pay for significant repairs or renovations in the first few years of ownership. New builds also usually come with warranties that protect against defects, and “a builder will sometimes provide an additional warranty on top of that,” Oborne says.

However, purchasing a newly built home might mean sacrificing your ideal location — especially if you love the hustle and bustle of city living. As land available for home construction dwindles in urban centres, construction of new, single-family homes is largely taking place in suburban areas.

Another drawback to buying a new build is the possibility of ongoing construction and all that comes with it — noise, dust, and unpaved roads. It may be years before the surrounding neighbourhood is completed. Plus, trees and greenery isn’t usually as fully developed and lush.

Before making a purchase, prospective buyers need to do their homework and look into the builder. Research the “financial strength and reputation of the builder,” Oborne says. He recommends checking into their history, their rating with the Better Business Bureau, the number of homes they build each year, and their membership with different home builders’ associations.

If there are already people moved into the neighbourhood, Oborne suggests asking about their experiences purchasing the home and working with the builder.

Buyers should also take it upon themselves to do their own quality inspection. “Look closely at the finishes of the show home or other homes completed by that builder to see their attention to detail,” Oborne says.

For more information on whether an old home or a new build is right for you, pick up a copy of the fall 2013 issue of Genworth’s A Better Way to Homeownership.

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