Buy used or build new? This is one question that almost all prospective homeowners have to deal with as they plan for the home of their dreams. In 2017, over five and a half million existing homes were sold in the United States while there were 1,263,400 authorizations for new home construction that same year. While this shows that more used homes were purchased than new homes built, 2017 was the best year for residential construction since 2007 and single-family homes have shown the highest growth rate amongst new residential construction projects. There are several reasons to build a new home, and in this short article we look at three advantages that come with building the home of your dreams.
Reason #1: Lower Cost per Square Foot
Real estate agents and companies often mention that the average cost for a used home is less than the cost to build a house from scratch. While that might be true in some cases (though not necessarily true in all housing markets), it is a classic case of comparing apples with oranges. The average size of a home today is around 2,600 square feet, which is almost double the size of houses that were constructed in 1960.
The National Association of Home Builders mentions that the average cost to build a new house stands at $289,415, which is about $60,000 more than the average price of a used home. However, since many older homes are only around 1,500 square feet or smaller, the average price per square foot is actually significantly higher than newer construction. Thus, while you might be paying more for a new home, you are getting more bang for your buck as the cost of construction per square foot is actually lower.
Reason #2: More Energy Efficient
Another consideration in the debate between building a house vs buying is related to the amount of energy needed to operate a home. Older homes are almost always much less energy efficient, due in part to lower performance insulation and non-sealed housing envelopes. As homes settle over time, cracks in foundations and around windows and doors also lead to drafts which further compromises the energy efficiency of the structure.
The extremely cold winters in western New York coupled with drafty, low-insulation, older homes will obviously cause a spike in your heating bill. The average heating cost for Buffalo, to name one example, is $1,618.27 and the local price of natural gas is higher than most other parts of the country. New home construction that prioritizes high efficiency insulation, a super tight building envelope, and efficient mechanical heating systems such as heat pumps has the ability to drastically reduce the cost of heating your home.
Thus, while the cost to build a house might be nominally more than purchasing a used home, new home construction allows you as a homeowner to opt for the most energy efficient building practices and technologies that will help you start seeing savings on your monthly utility bills.
Reason #3: Protect Your Health
Opting to build a new home will also allow you as a homeowner to protect the health of your family. Maintaining optimum indoor air quality is important for your overall health, and today builders can choose from several different types of building products that contain low or zero volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. From formaldehyde free plywood to low VOC paint, our knowledge of the negative health effects of several formerly common building materials continues to grow.
Furthermore, homes built in the Buffalo area prior to 1970 might very well contain lead paint on the walls and asbestos in the insulation. The American Cancer Society defines asbestos as carcinogenic to humans and lead paint that is chipping or dusting off of aging walls has been linked to learning disabilities and behavioral problems in children.
Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a House?
Unfortunately, people who are thinking about building a house vs buying, often only look at the overall price tag of the home. While it might be a bit more expensive to build a new home, the cost per square foot might actually be cheaper. Furthermore, more energy efficient newer homes will pay for themselves over time as you will see a considerable decrease in your household utility bills. Lastly, it is difficult to put a price on the health of your family, and newer homes allow you to conscientiously choose products and building technologies that limit exposure to toxic materials.
If you’re considering to build a new home, talk with the experts on the Natale Builders team to learn why a new build may be just what you’re looking for.