New build or old property… what to choose? Part two

So another week has passed and it's already time for this weeks Little One's Chat! Each week seems to fly by. Last week I discussed my journey on buying my first house and how I came to buy the house I did. I also compiled a pros and cons list for a new build property. You can read it here.

This week's topic is part two of my property review and comparison of a new build with an older property.

Buying a property can be extremely stressful; some people have a clear idea of what they want in a house, some haven't got a clue, finding themselves struggling to come to a decision and the rest of us ... we just fight and bicker with our partners because we both want COMPLETELY different things!

Hopefully these two posts will help you consider the important things that you need to know when purchasing both a new build and older property and most importantly I hope I help all you bickering couples come to a compromise ;). I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about as we have all been there with the bickering; My biggest problem was that I have always dreamed of having a walk in wardrobe and wanted one of our spare bedrooms to be converted into a dressing room. That dream was gone in a flash when Rob insisted we needed a home office. Luckily... after a lot of chats and rolling eyes we comprised by creating a multi functional spare room!

Pros and cons of an older property

I  lived in a Victorian house from around three years old until just over a year ago - apart from my stint in uni when I lived in Liverpool city centre. My parents house has been in the family since 1949 when it cost my Grandad a mere £900! - Can you believe that? There are many pros to living in such a beautiful character property but at the same time there are a lot of cons with one of the main ones being poor energy efficiency. I've grown up living in a cold house and being freezing in the winter because my room was in the attic -  the central heating didn't go that far up! It has taken a lot of getting used to living in a new build house that is always warm! I just can't get used to it. Carry on reading to find out more.

front house
My Parent's Victorian House
Back House
My Parent's Victorian House

Pros

  • I'd say the main benefit of a period property is that it has more character. In my parents the ceilings are high, the sash windows are lovely, the coving detail around the ceilings are intricate, the original features like the lovely fireplaces are still in the attic room and the wheels are still on the ceiling in the back room where the wooden maiden hung to dry washing. The beauty is that each period property has many different features that make it special. In my parents house it also still has all the pulleys from downstairs linked to the attic for the bell system to call the maids that would live in the attic!

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  • You generally get more for your money when buying an older property compared to a new build like for like.
  • If you buy a house that has been lived in before, the gardens are usually already done to a certain standard as well as the flooring, decoration and all the generic bits and bobs. It may not be to your taste but at least you don't necessarily need to do any work to it immediately when you first move in. (obviously this will be different for every individual property).
  • The rooms tend to have a bit of uniqueness about them with them often being not perfectly shaped; it's nice for a room not to be a simple box shape.
  • They all tend to have fireplaces as central heating wasn't invented back in them days ; fireplaces are a nice focal point to a room.
  • Older properties have history and a story behind them. One of my old clients lived in Waterloo warehouse, which was an apartment block converted from an old rice warehouse at Liverpool docks and they were telling me a story of how their apartment used to be chambers to store rice. It still had vaulted ceilings and exposed brick, with a metal plate covering the shoot where the rice would fall into to chambers.
  • The walls are solid meaning you won't have any problems fitting wall hung units and heavy pictures or mirrors. I think the scariest thing about a new build is hanging your very first picture on plaster board walls! I had nightmares that I would come down the next morning and my picture was smashed in pieces on the floor because I hadn't hung it correctly!

Cons

  • Period properties have very poor energy efficiency due to the walls being solid and rooms take longer to heat. Even if you insulate the roof and under the floorboards, you will always get a lot of heat loss through the brick walls and your energy bill will either be very high or you will have to suffer and be very cold in winter - it's a fact.
  • Victorian properties tend to have a lot of living rooms, a smaller kitchen but no open living spaces. Each rooms were separate lounges, dining room and kitchen used for their own purpose. This isn't really as suitable for modern-day living with many people converting their living spaces into open plan. To do this yourself is a very costly job if it isn't already converted. When viewing properties myself I've seen some oddly designed extensions that seem pointless and out of proportion to the rest of the house. If you are going to convert your house to be open plan combined with an extension, I advise to get an architect or  interior designer to look at the design properly so you can maximize the space and get the best layout. Also take the furniture you want to buy into consideration before it is built too. I've had so many situations were people have come to me saying 'I wish we'd built the extension a metre longer because we can't fit in the sofa we want!'
  • The maintenance costs of an older property are high; many things are built from wood such as facia boards and they need painting regularly and eventually rot. It can be a bit of a ticking time bomb with things failing unexpectedly. My parents often have leaks in the roof which costs a lot of money to fix and this  isn't protected under any warranty. My Dad had to completely re-wire our house, re-plumb it with a new central heating system and change the windows to double glazed. He also ended up buying his own scaffolding shared with our neighbours because any roofing work would cost a fortune hiring scaffolding for a three-story house.
  • If the property isn't the way you want it to be when you buy it, you will need a lot of cash in your bank to cover the costs of renovations - builders, decorators and tradesmen in general don't accept credit cards if you want me to put it bluntly!
  • Due to walls being imperfect - it is very difficult to lay wallpaper as no walls are straight. Often older properties have that ugly Artex on the walls and you will have to remove that if you want the walls plastering smooth. This again is a costly job!

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed both of my posts. Both new builds and older properties have their pros and cons but you have to decide what is best for your own circumstances. Personally I'd go for a period property when I'm a lot older with more disposable income to cover renovation costs and I'll also have more experience to do things myself. For a first time buyer I think a new build is perfect because you don't have to worry about maintenance costs for 10 years and those unexpected bills that pop up when things go wrong.

I would like to know what your preferences would be after reading both my posts? Please share in the comments below!

If you liked this post then please SHARE!

Natalie x

3 thoughts on “New build or old property… what to choose? Part two

  1. I had the same difficulty as you going from an old Victorian house to a new build via an apartment in town. After living in an apartment with lots of character I couldn’t ever imagine moving to a new build but after seeing a number of older ones in our price range we just couldn’t find what we wanted. I was very particular about the living space feeling comfortable and together while my wife really didn’t like the lack of hall or space upstairs you tend to get with some older properties. We really only looked at the new builds on a whim (we literally popped in one night after our friend was just so happy with theirs) but we were really blown away with the size and quality of the house, we’ve found it cheaper in a new build in the long run as we were able to do things room by room as we went where as in an older property there was so many things that we felt we would just have to have done straight away.

    One thing I’d say to remember in a new build is that you’re advised not to decorate till after a year due to natural movement in the house, so when buying furniture or things think about the colours or shades you might want and don’t just buy for the plain white walls otherwise that might be all you ever have.

  2. Really enjoyed these posts! We’re hoping to get on the property ladder after our wedding next year. I’m leaning towards old property because I do love Victorian townhouses, but your pros and cons are definitely food for thought!

    1. Thanks for the comment Mel! I love anything old too I just couldn’t find something that I liked that ticked all the boxes and I didn’t have the cash to change things! I’m sure you will find something perfect next year as the property sector has really improved in the past year x

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