Adelaide's Award Winning Custom Home and Renovation Specialists


Should I Build New or Buy Existing?

A home is generally the single largest investment you’ll make in your lifetime and in this day and age, a ‘forever home’ may not necessarily be ‘forever’. Times are different now and as your family grows and your needs change, so should your home. But a frequently asked question is, ‘Should I build or buy existing?”. There’s nothing like walking into a brand, spanking new home and feeling the freshness of everything being ‘new’, but on the other hand, an existing home has a natural charm and character that a new home could never bring. While there is no right or wrong answer, only what’s best for you and your family, knowing the pros and cons of both can help.


Whilst building new is generally more expensive, you’ll get more bang for your buck. New homes are usually more spacious and essentially, you’re paying for what you want, whereas, in an existing home, you’ll pay a premium price for those hardwood floors you don’t even like. But if you can find an existing home that has everything to suit your needs, then obviously that’s the more cost effective choice. A disadvantage to building new is running the risk of going over budget but that can be avoided by working with a reputable builder and having a good contract in place.

Another big drawback to building a new home is the longer timeframe. Try to have a contract that includes a construction timeline, this will help keep your builder accountable. But be flexible as there are many unforeseen circumstances that can arise. When buying existing, the timeframe is much smaller, even though it involves numerous steps – financing, viewing homes, making offers, home inspections and closing. The convenience of being able to move in straight away is compelling and it means that if you decide to renovate, you have somewhere to live during that process.


Older homes have more wear and tear, which means more maintenance and even replacements so it’s always smart to look out for elements in existing homes that may cost you in the long run. Look out for old roofs, fire places, old HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) systems, old pools and other things that are high maintenance or may fail and need replacing down the track.

Building a new home has considerably less upkeep because everything from major appliances to the heating and cooling system is new and under warranty so your initial maintenance outlay is very minimum.


A possible benefit to older homes is that you’ll be buying a mature landscape with larger trees and more established plants, the downfall is when it hasn’t been properly maintained. With newly built homes, you’ll be able to choose what types of plants you like and you’ll gain the satisfaction of watching your garden grow and come to life, however, landscaping can be very costly and the time you have to wait for it to look established is off putting.


Even though buying existing may be initially cheaper, in the long run, it could turn out to be more expensive. Older construction means dated windows, appliances and HVAC systems which means you’ll have dollars flying out the window on wasted energy. New homes in South Australia are required to have a 6 Star energy rating, so, better thermal properties which means lower energy bills.

Better thermal efficiency is better for the environment and it’s cheaper for you. Another perk to building new is that it may literally be better for your health. A new home is less likely to have toxic materials, such as asbestos, lead paint, mould etc. And it can be built with more green appliances, efficient toilets and plumbing fixtures, solar panels and natural heating elements such as internal brick walls that are exposed to the sun and well placed windows that negate the need to turn on the lights.


This might sound like we’re trying to say you’ll be more grateful for one over the other, but house appreciation actually means the increase in a home’s value over time. How much a house appreciates each year depends on the local real estate and any improvements to the home.

So when you look at it like that, a major perk to buying existing is knowing the home’s history. You can find out previous sale prices and compare it to similar homes in the area to get a feel as to whether it’s going to be a good investment or not. If the prices for your home and it’s surrounding neighbours have been steadily rising, odds are the trend will continue, which benefits you if you decide to sell later on.

Building a new home, particularly in up-and-coming suburbs and new developments, is more of a gamble. Without anything to compare your house to, there just isn’t enough information to really project what could happen down the track. In saying this, though, new homes come with updated features and more timeless colour schemes. But don’t get too caught up in customising it so much that you end up polarising potential future buyers. Whichever route you decide to take, do your research and be thorough. If buying existing, research the neighbourhood, the home’s previous sales, have it inspected by a reputable builder and consider every minor detail. If building new, make sure you find a licensed and insured builder that offers solid contracts and be sure to communicate efficiently and honestly. In both cases, working with experienced professionals – whether it’s a real estate agent or builder –  can help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

If you want to build new but don’t have time to wait, ZJ Building is currently working with Complete Additions on building two custom homes in Semaphore Park. One is currently for sale and is due to be completed mid to late September. This is the perfect opportunity and timing to come in and customise it to suit your style and not have to wait too long to move in.

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