New Construction vs. Resale: Why We Decided to Build Our First Home
Written by, Ashley Gilbert
I still have to pinch myself sometimes to realize we actually own our own home. Not only do we own our own home, but it feels like our dream home. I’m able to say this way sooner than I thought I ever could. And that has to do with the fact that we ended up going with new construction.
When we first started looking at houses, which was about 18 months ago, new construction was nowhere on our radar. We planned to get a resale and eventually fix things up we didn’t love. However, this new development caught our eye several times and even after we crossed it off our list, we rode back through and here we are!
A little background: Before this home, Will and I were living together in a rental for four years inside Baltimore City. I constantly felt like we were behind the curve when it came to home owning. Everyone around us was buying homes, even those who weren’t married yet, but something in me just still desired to live in the city and rent. It seemed super easy to call the landlord when anything would break and not have to pay out of pocket. Will and I are not the handiest couple, so a true fixer-upper wasn’t exactly on our list, but a true dream home wasn’t in our budget. So the house-hunting began and the next few things are what eventually led us to build a home versus going the resale route.
Everything is NEW
This wasn’t a must-have for either of us at the beginning, to be honest. However, once we started looking at the available resales and how old they were for the price they were charging, we started to get a little nervous. The houses were still at the top of our budget and looked like they could need a new roof or flooring in the next year. Big maintenance projects aren’t cheap. So when we factored those on top of the already high sale price, it just seemed ideal to go new. With new construction, you pay the higher cost up front, however, you know those big maintenance projects are far off.
I can’t say enough good things about our builder. Although the options meetings were super overwhelming, especially for an indecisive person like myself, the number of customizable options the builder offered was pretty awesome. We spent a lot of time on Redfin and Zillow looking for resale homes that had a layout that would work with what we eventually wanted to update and it was tough. The kitchen layout worked, but the master bedroom was a deal breaker etc. With new construction, we got to choose from several floor plans and even then got to move some things around the way we wanted. From floor plans to countertops to cabinets to flooring, we chose everything – 16 pages worth to be exact. Obviously, there are some things we didn’t upgrade right away because we’re not millionaires, but we got pretty darn close. We went standard with most things like fixtures and hardware because these are things that are relatively simple to change down the line. We opted to upgrade things now that would be more expensive later—pre-wiring, outlets, flooring, etc.
One thing that is pretty amazing about buying new, at least with our builder, is the one year warranty. As the house starts to settle in the first 365 days, things will move and shake, but any and all issues with the house are covered up through the first year. We’ve already noticed a few things here and there, but it gives a lot of comforts knowing we just add it to the list and come next year, the builder will be back to fix them all up!
If you’re lucky enough to be one of the first buyers in a new development, you get an advantage in that you can choose your location. We were the 4th buy of a 12 lot development, so we had a decent pick of the litter. With new developments, you’re able to choose if you want the lot with the sun facing front in the morning or the lot that backs up to trees etc. We love our lot. We back right up to the elementary school so when that time comes, it couldn’t be more convenient. The homes are relatively close together, BUT that’s the area we chose. There isn’t a lot of land left to build on, so developers are squeezing in what they can, especially because they know they’ll sell.
Watching the Process
The coolest part of building a house is watching the process. We went to every walkthrough and checked-in frequently. To see the actual boards go up and the items you pick get installed is v cool. It only took our builder 90 days from plot of land to finished product, which was totally faster than I expected, so I documented as much I could here and here.
We are not Chip and Joanna
As fun as it looks to buy a fixer-upper and renovate the heck out of it, we just aren’t that couple. We would end up having to pay contractors because we can’t do any of that ourselves and it’d just add up. So, we decided to pay the contractors up front in a new build and have everything done the way we want it now. We actually could end up saving money that way instead of going into a resale not knowing what walls can move and what can’t and end up having to spend more to move things to get it to work.
Ready For Decor
This wasn’t exactly high on the list, but now it’s been the most exciting/overwhelming. I imagine if we went resale we’d be focusing on what aspects of the house we were planning to renovate, but since all of that is done, we’ve been able to focus on the decor we want for our home.
We decided to go with a farmhouse/industrial style. With the help of Gardiner Wolf, we were able to start piecing items together right away. The Magnolia Home line by Joanna Gaines is available at Gardiner Wolf and let’s just say, I want it all. I immediately started with the kitchen since this was a place where I knew people would be gathering and it’d be the focal point of our home. Since furnishing an entire home can be overwhelming, I started small, with seating for the kitchen island. I toyed with a few options (these and these) and eventually decided on these round stools. I love that their height is adjustable, which makes them a great option for both kids and adults. And I love that they are two-toned. Our kitchen is a lot of white and black, so the brown and beige stools tie in our floors and our farmhouse style table.
Gardiner Wolf was nice enough to offer $50 off when you use my code in stores or online. Get the code HERE.
We won’t finish furnishing our home in a day, but having a store like Gardiner Wolf that carries so many brands we love has made the process thus far that much easier.
The moral of the story is do what works for you. What worked for us doesn’t work for everyone. But if you’re up in the air like we were, hopefully, our experience will help finalize your decision! Next task is the family room!
What has been your favorite space to furnish? Share your tips in the comments below!