Buying a New Home vs. an Old Home

A new home is constructed according to current codes and features that can save money.

A new home is constructed according to current codes and features that can save money.

Some people have definite preferences on what type of home in which they would like to live. There's that "new home smell" and cleanliness with a newly built home. On the other hand, older homes can seem to tell a story and have eccentricities, such as creaky floors, that appeal to people. When you're buying a home, you need to consider suitability for future plans, such as having kids, as well as finances. Even if you have no strong opinions, weigh the pros and cons of each type of home.

Maintenance and Repairs

You typically will have fewer repairs and less maintenance with a new home than an older one. Newer building materials are designed to last longer and weather the elements better, needing less upkeep. Newer materials, fixtures and wiring mean you can relax before you need to do basic maintenance, such as replacing flooring. Older homes come with older mechanical and electrical systems that might need frequent and, depending on how antiquated the systems are, costly repairs. You might appreciate the beauty of all of the wood trim in an older home, but that wood is also prone to rotting and will need repainting.

Efficiency

Home builders and regulations governing home construction didn’t focus much on energy efficiency and conservation until the 1970s, and things have progressed since then. Some energy-consuming items, such as kitchen appliances, are easy to replace, but other items waste a lot of energy and money. Insulation in the walls and ceiling, heating and air conditioning systems and construction of doors and windows are a few typical examples. It's not just the drafty doors and windows now that you need to consider; energy-saving features can make selling your home easier in the future.

Environment

You might not think your choice of home factors into the climate change argument, but it can affect the environment. Even if you get that new home constructed with the latest in energy conservation materials and features, it can take years before those “green” benefits outweigh the negative environmental effects of the fuel and materials used in building it. In 2011, the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation studied renovation and reuse of old buildings versus new construction over a 75-year period, and it concluded new construction uses more materials and contributed more detrimental environmental effects.

Historical Significance and Benefits

Buyers who are interested in history might find buying an older home appealing, and the government can make that decision easier and less of a financial burden. Check federal, state and local resources for financial incentives, such as special financing or tax benefits, in purchasing or renovating an older home. You might need to agree to certain conditions, such as not significantly altering the basic structure or other historic features of the home.

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