There’s something to be said for the charm and craftsmanship that buying an old house brings to your life. There’s also something to be said for the inevitable (and expensive) mishaps that could be lurking behind any corner or wall. Yes, purchasing an old home has many benefits, but it also has its fair share of what-ifs that you’ll need to take into consideration.
The home I grew up in was built in the mid-1920s. It had various iceboxes around the exterior of the house, a hidden door leading under the deck that my parents discovered when redoing the basement, and a nostalgic je ne sais quoi that is impossible to capture in my current house—a new construction property whose joints are still settling into the earth.
However, homebuyers can see all the beauty and potential in older houses. Some view it as eyesores, and others see it as charm—four walls full of history that can’t be duplicated. Besides the nostalgia factor, an old house can be an intelligent purchase for the sake of your wallet.
Take a look at the top reasons why buying an old house might be the best decision you’ll ever make. Planning for a new look for your house? Look no further! Home Builders is here to help in your dual occupancy builder Melbourne.
Why Buy An Old House?
If you’re like most homebuyers, you’ve probably had a particular vision of the home you want. It might be a charming Victorian home with the classic white picket fence or a modern marvel. Either way, it’s probably chock full of charm, something that is characteristic of an older home.
Old homes are known for their old-world construction, and that means they’ve weathered many storms. As the phrase goes: “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” Is that true? In some ways, yes. Genuine craftsmen built many older homes.
Yet, some older homes haven’t aged well. They might be in various states of disrepair or desperate need of an upgrade. Thanks to the rise in home renovation show, these upgrades seem as simple as throwing on a fresh coat of paint, right? Think again. These shows might produce impressive results, and a DIY repair is no easy job.
The Charm Of A Period House
If you’re buying an older home, it may have the perfect combination of being matured and weathered with a reliable and robust charm. When you compare an older house to many new builds on the market, it often seems to hold qualities that have since been lost in modern designs.
One of the major appeals of older houses is space. Rooms are, by comparison, generally more spacious in older homes. The garden space is also usually much more significant, making older homes more appealing to younger families. Georgian properties are often huge, so there is no need to worry about whether your furniture will fit in when the removals team arrives! There many different property types and routes to buying a house. For more information, read our guide on the best ways to buy a home.
Pros & Cons Of An Old Build House
- Space: Older houses were often built with spacious areas, which still proves to be a massive bonus for many homeowners today.
- Thick Walls – Many modern properties are now made with thinner and lighter walls and plasterboard, whereas older properties usually have thicker walls made of brick or stone.
- Better Parking: Period properties are more likely to have ample parking and long driveways. Today, new-build terraced house owners are often lucky to have space for a single car outside, and parking is often on-street or away from the house.
- Bigger Rooms & Gardens: In the past, huge developments were less common, and multiple cars per household were not an issue, so homes were often surrounded by open land instead.
- Old Heating System: Older houses are often renowned for tired heating systems and leaking heat, which means an older home will usually take longer to warm up.
- Wear and Tear: Another common downside of an older house is wear and tear, which may not have been addressed. You may have issues with damp, leaks and old, worn-out features.
- Renovations: When you move into an older house, you can often find work to be done. They often need refurbishing and, at the very least, you may need to fix the old-fashioned décor if the house has not been kept up-to-date.
- Expensive Maintenance: In some older builds, it might cost more to fix certain things if the item you need is not readily available today.
Tips for Buying an Old House
- Ask Questions: Don’t forget to ask questions when buying a new build home. It’s good to know more about the developer as well as the condition of the property. You should also ask about the local area and any previous developments the developer has been involved with.
- Get a House Survey: Hiring a chartered surveyor regulated by RICS is nearly always a worthy investment. They will make you aware of any defects and damage you might have missed to understand the costs of any required repairs before you commit to buying. Compare My Move can connect you with up to 5 experienced and verified surveyors within a few seconds to save you time and money. You will usually need a Building Survey for an older house, notably if it has been altered or seems to be in more short repair.
- Budget for Unforeseen Faults: It’s a good idea to add an extra 20% to your repair/refurbish budget for any unexpected faults, hidden surprises and general wear and tear after you move in. Check out our cost of moving house guide, so you don’t come across any nasty surprises along the way.
The Benefits Of A New Build House
There is nothing quite like buying something brand new, especially when it comes to your property. There are many benefits of a new build home that you don’t get with an old house. There’s something satisfying about living in a home that no one else has lived in – being the first to take a shower, sleep in the bedroom, use the kitchen. It’s entirely yours and yours alone.
Even if you’re not the very first owner, you will still get that fresh, new feeling with a modern home. You will have smooth and even walls, no horrid Artex on the ceiling, lovely red bricks, a shiny front door, and a chance to decorate your home exactly how you want to. It’s the perfect blank canvas to start your new life in. Home Builders has the best range of dual occupancy builder services to help you create your dream house.
Things To Consider Before Buying An Old House
Things can get expensive—fast.
One of the reasons that my husband and I opted for a new construction home is that, as new homeowners, we didn’t want to have to worry about unforeseen problems that would eat up our decorating budget. You’ve probably heard the horror stories: a homeowner goes to renovate the first-floor bathroom only to find that the foundation is cracked and sinking, or something as simple as tearing down a wall reveals outdated and dangerous wiring that needs to be updated immediately.
Old homes are certainly sturdy—they wouldn’t have lasted as long as they have without true expertise in their construction—but they’re also potentially ripe with minor problems (or big problems) that can put any renovation plans on the backburner. Need a new roof? That will set you back an average of about $11,000. Have to repair some windows? It’ll cost you about $350 to $500 each. While buying an old house doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll have some costly repairs in your future, it’s absolutely something that you’ll have to think about before going all in, especially if you plan to renovate.
If it’s priced low, there’s probably a catch.
That old Victorian mansion listed at what appears to be well under market value? It’s likely not just because the current owners believe in the power of a good deal. Any time you see an older home priced lower than expected, it’s usually because the sellers are accounting for something, be it necessary home repairs that they don’t want to take care of themselves or completely outdated features that will cost an arm and a leg to bring up to date. That’s not to say the home isn’t worth purchasing, but it does mean that what looks like a good deal on paper isn’t always going to be a good deal in reality.
If you’re interested in buying an old house that appears to be listed suspiciously low, make sure to do your research before getting too serious about it. In addition to the obvious steps, like going for a showing at the property and having your realtor get as much information as they can from the seller’s agent, see if you can locate past inspection reports and any other relevant paperwork, which should give you a better idea of the home’s possible problem areas.
You may be limited when it comes to renovations.
While it’s not always the case, some older homes come with restrictions regarding what can and cannot be done to them. Check with the Building and Planning Department for the area that the house is located to find out what those restrictions may be. It’s possible that you will be limited in terms of the changes that you can make—for example, you might not be allowed to add on to the structure, fence the property, or make changes to the interior layout.
If you have renovations in mind (or at least know that you would like to renovate at some point), work with planners before purchasing to get a clear picture of whether you have any limitations, and if so, what they are. That way, you won’t be surprised later on when you go to get a renovation permit and are swiftly denied.
It takes a village
To ensure that you’re making a wise investment when buying an old house, it helps to have various people on your team. That includes not just your real estate agent but an engineer, a contractor, and an inspector who has plenty of experience with both old and historic homes.
I know what you’re probably thinking: that’s a lot of people to get on board, especially if you have no plans to renovate. While built to last, old homes are generally outfitted with pretty ancient features when it comes to things like plumbing, electrical wiring, roofing, and heating. If you don’t do your due diligence, you could end up buying an old home with excellent bones but a plumbing system that is entirely ready to give.
Putting together a team of experts who can check on these critical features ahead of your purchase will give you a head’s up about any systems that will need to be replaced shortly. It will also give you a lot of peace of mind. It is better to know that the roof will need to be replaced in a couple of years than only to discover that fact when it starts leaking into your kitchen.
Your homeowner’s insurance might be pricey.
Homeowners insurance, like all insurance, is priced based on risk. Insurance providers are well-versed in the many expensive problems that older homes can pose, and you can expect them to wrap those possibilities into the quote they provide you with.
Just as you must budget in advance for unforeseen repairs, you also have to know what you’re getting in to with your homeowner’s insurance policy. Start collecting quotes early on so that you can see how insurance might affect your spending limit and so that, when it does come time to close, you can know that you’re getting the best deal possible.
Why Buy A New House?
Buying a new home is cheaper than ever before. New builders and developers are popping up across Australia to meet the demand for new homes of all shapes and sizes. Not only will you have more customization options when crafting your home, but you’re the first person to ever live on the property. That means you’re less likely to need pricey repairs or modern upgrades.
Another perk of a new home is that these homes are built with more environmental concerns in mind. Homes today are greener than ever, and that might save you some extra money on utility costs throughout the year. If you’re worried about cost, a new home might end up being the most affordable choice when you crunch all of the numbers. Finding the right duplex build is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at Home Builders.
Benefits of a New Home:
- Less Maintenance: Because the home is new, it’s less likely to need any further repairs for a while. If you’re working with a builder, you might even have a warranty on the property.
- Modern: While those special old touches are unique, it’s always nice to have modern conveniences. Things like built-in dishwashers, media rooms, and network wiring are standard in many new homes, which is a significant perk.
- Energy Efficiency: Modern homes are built for our new green-driven society, with things like solar panels, low-energy appliances, and insulated walls.
- Less expensive: Depending on your customizations, your new home is likely to cost less per square foot than an older home, and that’s before you factor in the lack of repairs.
Drawbacks of a New Home:
- Cookie-Cutter: Many new developments feature cookie-cutter floor plans which lack those special touches.
- Location: New homes are often built further from downtown and entertainment areas. This might mean a longer commute or fewer dining and shopping options nearby.
- Smaller Lot: You’re less likely to have a large yard or lot since space is limited for new homes.
- House Settling: Finally, new houses need to settle into the foundation. No matter the type of soil or construction, settling will cause cracks in the foundation, which need to be repaired.
Is Buying An Old House Worth It?
Whether or not purchasing an old home is the right choice for you is, ultimately, a personal decision. Despite the considerations mentioned above, old houses have a multitude of benefits that you won’t find in newer homes, as well as an undeniable charm that can easily make a place feel like a home.
Your best bet is to not rush into the purchase. Do as much research as you can on the property, and enlist the help of plenty of experts who can help you see past the surface.
Ultimately, the better investment will come down to your unique goals. If you plan to use the home as an investment property, updating an older home with modern conveniences will likely pay off more when you sell your home. On the other hand, if you plan to live in the home long-term, new construction will cost you less over time and will be in a good state when it’s time to sell.
Like most decisions, it comes down to what you value. If those small character touches mean a lot to you, it can be worth paying more for an older home in an established neighbourhood. If you’d rather have a home full of modern conveniences, it’s more value-friendly to opt for a new house.