The Difference between OId and Modern Builds
Whether you’re buying a house for the first time, or you’re a veteran of the property market, the age of a prospective new home is sure to play a key role in your decision to buy. Newly-build properties tend to be hugely different to those built decades, or even centuries, ago. And if you’re going to get the best from your purchase, you’ll want to take account of those differences. In this article, let’s take a closer look at some of them.
What are the upsides?
The main upside to older properties is that they tend to look better. A house built in the 19th century will tend to have a distinct look and feel which modern houses simply can’t replicate. If you’d like to move into a property that’s brimming with genuine character and history, then an older one is certain to fit the bill.
If you’re buying a property that’s already been lived in, then you won’t need to worry about paying for the connection of the phone line and aerial – as they’ll already have been installed. While these costs might be small, it’s often reassuring to know that someone has successfully lived in the house, and so any problems connecting to the net or watching television are unlikely to be considerable.
We should also consider that older houses tend to offer more space than those built recently – for reasons that we’ll examine shortly, older homes tend to come with higher ceilings, and they tend to be more expansive overall. Moreover, they tend to be cheaper – and you’ll be able to enjoy a home whose price won’t fall by a fifth the moment you move into it.
If you’re looking to buy a brand new house, then you won’t need to worry about an extensive chain of ownership. You’ll simply have a short conversation with a sales representative before agreeing a final sum – and then you’ll be ready to move in. If you’re looking to minimise hassle, therefore, buying new might be an attractive way to go.
Since they haven’t been around for all that long, newer properties won’t have picked up any wear-and-tear. You can therefore expect to move in without having to encounter any hidden costs involved with re-wiring the place and redecorating. You might even find that carpets and other furnishings are thrown in for free – though you’ll be free to replace them at a later date.
What are the downsides?
First and foremost, we should consider the cardinal sin of older homes – they’re often a lot more difficult to heat. In the 19th century, housebuilders weren’t all that wary of things like energy efficiency – since electricity and modern plumbing were still the stuff of science fiction. Even when it was realised that insulation and the like were important, the technology of yesteryear wasn’t a patch on the stuff you’ll find in a modern build.
You might find that an older home has been given a few upgrades over the years to compensate for this. But there are some hurdles which can’t be easily vaulted: if your home doesn’t come with cavity walls, for instance, then cavity-wall insulation won’t be possible. Moreover, some period properties won’t be granted planning permission for things like double-glazing. Instead, you’ll need to look to alternatives like secondary glazing.
You should also account for wear-and-tear that’ll need to be repaired. Ideally, you’ll want to do this before you move your furniture in, too – as doing so afterwards can make things a bit more difficult. When a property is empty, its flaws will be all the more apparent – and so it’s worth setting aside some time and funds so that you’ll be able to address these problems.
Victorian-era properties are quite notorious for not having very tight seals between the floorboards – and the brickwork tends to be rougher, allowing rodents the chance to get in. Given a choice between living outside in the cold and living in a snug, heated hideaway, small animals are always going to take the opportunity to move in. If you don’t want to share your home with bats, rats, squirrels and other critters, you’ll need to identify and seal up any potential points of entry.
The main downside to buying new is that you’ll typically be looking at a much smaller property. The sites where developers bid for land are generally centred on the maximum number of houses that can be crammed in while still following the rules. Unlike some of our neighbours on the continent, we in the UK don’t have any rules about how small our houses can be – and thus you can find some of the smallest homes here. If you’re looking to buy new, particularly at the entry-level end on the market, expect to buy small.
You can also expect to have to pay a premium for things like garages and driveways – and for much the same reason: there’s less money to be made building garages than there is proper homes.
When you’re carrying out your first inquiries and inspections, it’s worth considering that the show-home you’re looking at might not be the same as the property you eventually move into. Often, there’s a tiered system to lure buyers in – so the bathroom, and kitchen in your home might not be quite as good as the one you’ve looked at. Unless, of course, you’re willing to pay a premium.
We’ve taken a look at the general differences between older and newer properties. But while these observations might hold true when we look at the property market in general, there are sure to be variations within your local area. If you have your heart set on one or the other, then it makes sense to focus your search accordingly. If you aren’t sure, however, then it’s better to cast a wide net – that way you’ll know you won’t be discounting perfectly attractive properties out of hand!