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Investing in New Construction vs. Renovating an Older Home: Which is Better for You?

While buying a home is an exciting life step, or should we say leap, it can come with the stress of a major financial and emotional commitment as you invest in your future. Many questions come into play, such as the more obvious factors of determining the location, size and yard space that’s best suited for your lifestyle. Another big decision is whether you’ll go the route of new construction or potentially renovate an older home. As with most things, both new and old homes have their pros and cons. We put together a list to help you decide what’s best for you: 

Pros of New Construction

  • Modern design and amenities: New homes offer today’s highly desired curb appeal and interior features. For the exterior, choose versatile siding materials that offer flexibility to achieve a wide range of styles and durability for years to come. Interiors often include large master baths and big kitchens with built-in appliances—all with modern paint colors, flooring, fixtures and lighting.
  • Updated safety: All electrical wiring, plumbing and fire codes meet current local and national building codes.
  • Innovative products: New homes are built with the latest innovations in building envelope, insulation, appliances and HVAC, which can mean increased energy efficiency and lower maintenance requirements. Plus, most new homes come with a builder warranty that may cover materials used and the structure. 
  • Larger average size: Because new-home construction is typically in the suburbs where land is less expensive, the average square footage of new-home construction can often be larger than older homes in existing neighborhoods.

Cons of New Construction

  • Longer commute: Most new construction is located in the outer bands of suburbia, which often means a good distance logged on the daily commute.
  • Homes are identical: Since everyone is choosing from the same floor plans and fixtures, it’s likely your neighbor’s house will be almost identical to yours.
  • Fewer mature trees: It can take decades for trees to grow big and lush. Many subdivisions look a bit barren with immature trees and shrubs dotting the landscape.
  • Unknown housing infrastructure: New houses settle, regardless of the type of soil or foundation. Therefore, homeowners can expect cracks in drywall and windows and doors to stick.

Pros of Older Homes

  • Craftsmanship and charm: Many older homes were built by craftsmen with meticulous attention to detail in cove ceilings, baseboard trim, crown moldings and other unique architectural features, both inside and out. Exterior trends seen throughout older homes are quickly circling back in popularity today, including vertical siding for farmhouse styles and contrasting trim and siding colors. Those buying farmhouse-style homes today are paying premiums of around 10 percent, meaning renovating an older farmhouse with updated siding (consider popular siding trends like a smooth or pre-finished option) could prove to be a financially smart decision. 
  • Larger yards, more privacy and established landscaping: Homes built in the 1950s to 1970s were often built on larger lots, giving room for privacy between neighbors, mature trees, detached garages and structures.
  • Closer to downtown: In some neighborhoods, restaurants and coffee shops are within walking distance and the commute to work is faster.
  • Diverse architecture: Not only do homes have old-world craftsmanship, but neighborhoods integrate an interesting variety of architectural styles. Many previously popular home styles have come back and are trending with homeowners today. For example, Bungalows and Craftsman are now resurging in demand. Read up on how siding can provide a facelift to your Bungalow here and Craftsman here.

Cons of Older Homes

  • May require renovations: Older houses often lack open concept layouts, hardwood floors, big master bathrooms or even chandeliers and lighting fixtures in the same finish.
  • Expensive updates: Depending on the age of the home, the most expensive updates may lurk behind the walls, including weary electrical, rusty pipes, old septic systems and rotted foundations. Whole house heating and air conditioning may also be required.
  • Smaller closets and less storage: Homes built before 1950 usually had one tiny closet in the master bedroom and a medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Storage for seasonal items may be non-existent and the garage may have room for just one car.
  • Outdated curb appeal: It’s likely older homes still have its original wood, vinyl or aluminum siding and showing damage or wear. However, LP® SmartSide® Trim & Siding can match the appearance of real wood siding for partial repairs or recreate the old-style charm with a full re-side. Plus, a re-siding remodel is a wise investment as it has the potential to increase the resale value of a home by an average of more than $12,000.

What’s the Best Decision for You?

If you decide to take the renovation route, we’ve put together a homeowner’s guide to navigating the planning process. For those considering new construction, take a look at the top 2020 design trends and browse our inspiration gallery.

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