Finding Your Dream Home: The Pros and Cons of Building vs Buying

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Are you ready to settle into your forever home? Discover the pros and cons of building vs buying, and which option is best for you.

It’s time for your piece of the American dream! You’ve saved for years and finally scraped together what you need for a downpayment on a house. But what’s the best way to go about getting your dream home? Should you start house hunting and buy one that’s already been built? Or should you strike out on your own and build something completely to your liking? Let’s look at the pros and cons of building vs buying and help you decide what is the best route for you.


What is the cost of getting a house built? Is it cheaper than buying an existing home? It’s hard to give a definitive answer to this. When you’re having a house built, you will inevitably choose a few customizations. This will make your home exactly the way you want it, but also push the price up a bit. The average cost of building a home in 2019 was $485,128. This estimate is for a 2,600 square foot house and is the entire done deal, including the land and everything. The average construction costs alone were $296,652.

Of course, there is a lot of wiggle room here. The type and size of home you build, the location, the current market conditions, even the time of year you start building will affect the cost. To get a more accurate figure, check out the average price per square foot in your area. 


However, even if you end up paying a little more to build your home, it — and all the appliances inside — will be new. It’s likely you won’t have to fork over any money for major repairs in the near future. An existing home might already have a 20-year-old asphalt roof on it. It looked good enough to pass the inspection, but a new roof is a major expense you’ll need to start planning for in the next few years. The same goes for the furnace, plumbing and septic systems, and HVAC systems.

Ready for Move-in

You won’t have to wait to move into a home that’s already built. When you’re building a house, however, you could be waiting a while. On average, it takes about 7 months to build a home. If you own your current home, you’re probably planning to sell it to get the money for your new purchase. 

That means you could be in limbo for a few months between selling your old home and when your new home is move-in ready. You’ll have to factor in rental and possibly storage costs for the interim. Of course, you can shorten the time you have to wait to move in and lower your building costs with a build-ready ADU like the ones from


You can make a few upgrades to an existing home after purchase, but you won’t get to fully customize it like you can when you build it from the ground up. Not to mention that you start chipping away at any savings you got from buying it already-built if you do any remodeling. If you’re particularly picky about your floor plan or your home having certain attributes, building it yourself might be the way to go. You’ll get it customized exactly how you want it, and it will generally end up being cheaper than trying to change something that’s already there. However, keep in mind that if you anticipate selling your home, crazy customizations could lower the value of your home. Not everyone likes the idea of tiny spiral staircases, even though you think they are totally awesome! 

Energy Efficiency

Standards for energy efficiency are changing and materials used in construction are becoming more efficient all the time. The median age of American homes is 37 years. A lot has changed in that time. Windows, siding, roofing materials, insulation — virtually all materials used for homebuilding are now more energy efficient. Buying an already-built house means you won’t be taking advantage of those materials. You could see higher expenses on your energy bills unless the home has been completely updated over the years. 

When you build your own home, you get to choose the materials and their level of energy efficiency. Keep in mind that more efficient materials may cost more upfront but save you money in the long-term on your energy bills. You can also rest easy that the home is built to the most current building standards and regulations. 


Older homes can sometimes come with health risks. This may be related to the construction of the home, such as lead paint or asbestos. Or it may be related to an event such as flooding or a leak that allowed water to get inside and start a mold problem.  These things may or may not be found during an inspection. Finding out about them a few weeks after purchasing is not a fun surprise. Even if they are found during the inspection, you now have to decide how you’re going to deal with them if you still want to purchase the home. On the other hand, you know that a new construction home won’t be coming with old problems. You can be sure that you’re not putting your health at risk by living in a home with traces of asbestos or breathing mold spores. 

Deciding between building vs buying an already-built home is a personal decision. There are many factors affecting the decision. We hope this article has helped you weigh some of your choices and given you a few things to think about as you make your choice. Don’t hesitate to do some research. Start house hunting and see what is available in your area and in your price range. If you can’t find anything that screams “I’m the ONE!” maybe building your own home would be a better route to go.


About Michelle Joe: Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524

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