What to Consider When Choosing Between New Home and Resale Home

Pegging the wood skeleton for a new home on a concrete foundation. This is the first step in the construction of a home with wood.

I’ll never forget the day the realtor handed us the keys, and my husband and I walked into our first house. We’d lived in an apartment for years, and I couldn’t WAIT to drive a nail into the wall without having to worry that it would blow our security deposit. The home itself was 70-years-old, but it was incredible. It had hardwood floors, high ceilings, lots of natural light, and a burbling fountain in the courtyard. It was charming and perfect. We thought we’d never change a thing. Until we discovered all the illegal, unsafe wiring. And the ungrounded pool pump. And realized the kitchen was two sizes too small.

We still loved the house, and our remodeling and repair years were happy ones. I learned how to rewire an electrical outlet, which extension pole to buy so I was as quick as the professional painters, and how to mix thinset so it was the right consistency to retile the front porch. I’m glad I know those things. They’ve served me well in subsequent homes, and also make me a handy friend to have.

However, three houses later, I find myself imagining some of the choices I’d make if I got to build my own home. If you are trying to decide whether to buy a new or used home, maybe they’ll give you a few new things to think about.

Making Every Room Your Own
My budget isn’t unlimited; I can’t dream much larger than what is realistically possible given our financial constraints. But I would still pick and choose what I want and don’t want in my new home.

I don’t need a dining room. I’d configure my kitchen with an island that could double as food prep and dining table. I’d also forego the brushed nickel finishes on the kitchen faucets. Those savings would nicely cover an instant hot water dispenser so I could have my tea the moment I wanted it.

The master bedroom? It would have low, his-and-her wall sconces flanking the bed. Three-way switches would mean we could turn on the lights when we walked into the bedroom, and turn them off once we’d turned in for the night. I could design exactly what I dreamed of instead of making do with what I had.

New Means Less Chores, More Fun
Previously-owned homes reflect the previous owner’s design choices, which didn’t always match my own. My current task list includes things like “re-paint guest room,” and “get rid of that awful gargoyle-shaped towel rack.” Before winter comes, I need to call some chimney repair people to come and re-mortar holes in the stone chimney facing. The smoke should go up, not out into the living room.

From the moment it was built, my NEW home would feature rooms and accessories that were safe and immediately suited to my style and sense of color. My to-do list could then say, “buy fun cushions for front porch chairs,” or, “invite new neighbors over for a barbecue on the patio.” I’d still call the chimney repair people – but to invite them over to admire the custom, pristine tilework around my new fireplace. I’ll always have a to-do list – but I could also have the luxury of ignoring it, which is a beautiful thing about building new.

In reality…
No home is completely without work. Every home, even a brand new one, needs occasional maintenance to remain attractive and functional. I don’t mind the work, but when we’re ready to move again, I will have fun deciding whether I want to buy and change, or dream, design and build.

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