Urs Villiger

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Old vs New


Not sure whether to buy a clean new home or to settle for an older home with “lots of character”? Here are advantages and disadvantages you may want to consider when trying to decide on old vs new:


Pros to Buying Older Homes


    More character
Tudor and Craftsman Style, Victorian, Gregorian or Classic - appealing architectural features define these homes, e.g. roof shapes, window sizes and styles, columns, entrances and decorative details.


    Mature neighborhood
Neighbourhoods with established structures, i.e. old trees and vegetation as well as zoning. Long time owners or homes that have been within the same family for generations. 


    Proximity to downtown entertainment and restaurants
Older homes tend to be located closer to downtown areas or closer to established restaurant and shopping areas. Often residents can walk to local cafes and stores.


    Old world construction
Older homes have stood for decades, sometimes centuries. Some were built completely by hand, with meticulous attention to detail.


    Larger lot
When land was cheaper, builders generally used larger lots to put up houses, leaving space for garages e.g.



Cons to Buying Older Homes

•More maintenance.
If it were a "perfect" house, everything would fall apart at the same time. But things tend to go wrong periodically, and there's always something to fix. Chimneys and stone foundations require tuckpointing. Floors may slope.

•Expensive to replace wiring and plumbing.
If a home was built before sewer systems, the cesspool might overflow into a sewer. Tree roots break up sewer pipes. Galvanized pipes are rust-prone. Sensitive electronics require grounded wiring, and Romex can't be mixed with knob and tube.

•Smaller closets, storage space, garages.
Before today's concept of "bigger is better," people had less clothing, fewer personal items to store and one car.

•Might require updates.
Apart from HVAC systems -- I don't know how those in hot climates get by without central air --
trendy updates involve pricey kitchen and bath remodels.

•Often more expensive.
Classic and vintage homes generally cost more because of the location, meaning closer to conveniences such as schools, mass transit, shopping and urban amenities.

  1. Smaller square footage on average.
    With the exception of estates, many older homes are smaller in size, even though family sizes were larger when they were built.


Advantages to Buying a Newer Home

•Little maintenance.
New construction is meant to last for a while, so new home owners are not likely to install a new roof or replace the water heater.

•Modern conveniences.
Many items are standard such as built-in dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves and wine coolers; they feature master suite baths, work-out and media rooms; wiring systems are networked.

•Builder's warranty.
In California, builders are required to give buyers a 10-year warranty. The first line of defense is to buy from a reputable builder who will agree to stand behind the structure and its components.

•Energy efficient.
Many homes are built with solar panels that can turn back the electric meter. New appliances use less energy. Walls, ceilings and floors are insulated. Dual pane windows retain more heat in winter and keep the home cooler in summer.

•Built to code.
Code regulations change all the time. Consumer safety issues are continually addressed in new construction and conform to building codes.

•Emotional factor of newness.
Let's face it, there's nothing like owning something that's brand new, never been used, whether it's a car or a home.

•Less expensive.
If the new home is not custom, it's likely to cost much less per square foot than an older home in the city.

•Greater square footage, on average.
It's typical to see two bedroom homes with 1,000 square feet sell for the same as a two-story, 2,500 square foot home in the suburbs. When builders can't build out, they build up.


Drawbacks to Buying a Newer Home

•Tract homes have similar floor plans.
Some say tract homes are identical to each other; they have no individuality. Others prefer conforming areas. So what if your neighbor's house look just like yours, at least you know where the light switches are located.

•Immature vegetation.
It can take years for trees to grow. In the Natomas suburb of Sacramento, for example, many home owners can't afford to landscape the back yard. The front of these Mediterranean homes look magnificent, but look out an upstairs' window and everybody's lawn is dirt.

•House settling.
New houses settle. It happens everywhere, regardless of the type of soil. Settling causes cracks in foundations, walls and door frames.

•Longer commuting distances to downtown.
If you want to be where the action is in a metropolitan downtown area or avoid the drive to work in rush-hour city traffic, the distance from downtown might make a difference to you.

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