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If you’re ready to swap paying a landlord for getting a property of your own, there’s a fundamental choice you’ll have to make first. At Cougar Homes, we get asked this question all the time: ‘Is it better to build or buy a house?’
Any house hunt depends on the location, price, market trends, and taxes — as we’re sure you’re aware. But to help you make that final choice, let us help you. In this article, we’ll weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of buying a house, including costs, timeframes, and flexibility. Let’s dive right in.
Buying a house is a ready-made solution, like picking a juicy apple from a tree — it’s ready to enjoy almost immediately. But building a house is like planting an apple tree, watching it, and nurturing it until it gives you fresh fruit.
Well, maybe not quite that simple; building a house involves rigorous details and choices, such as floor plans, building materials, landscaping, and more. But with adequate planning, you should breeze right through.
The first question that most people will ask is cost-related. In 2023, the average cost of buying a house in Australia sits around $896 million. Meanwhile, building a house will set you back under half a million dollars (the national average falls between $330,000 and $480,000). House building costs are split differently for each build, but in general — 40-45% goes to materials, 40% to labour, and the rest to taxes, and insurance.
The cost of building and buying greatly depends on location; for example, according to the latest data from 2023, the busy city of Sydney has the highest average build costs, while Brisbane has experienced the most rapid growth of house building costs over the past two years. But it’s important to note that a regional area will have significantly lower prices than a capital city due to the nature of supply and demand.
Buying a house offers two main draws: convenience and speed. The extra money you pay for buying rather than building can save you time and effort and get you moved in much quicker.
The other upside of buying is choosing an established neighbourhood with local amenities and attractions you already know. With less and less land available for new builds in 2023, it might be harder to nab a plot in well-established and high-density areas.
Buying an existing house means you may have to compromise on the dream home you’ve envisioned for years; certain elements may not align with your expectations, and you might even need some renovations if there are aspects you want to change. You’ll also want to get a conveyancer who can help you inspect the house for any potential issues.
Building a new home allows you one of the most important freedoms of any project: personalisation. Whether you choose a home design or start with a completely custom design, personalisation matters. Adding your personal touch is the most satisfying part about building a new house; after all, if you’re going to be living somewhere, you want to make it your own.
You’ll also be able to incorporate the latest design trends and technology. If you buy an older home, you’ll have to pay for renovations if you want to change the design. But building allows you a blank canvas to paint upon.
Newer homes are designed to be energy-efficient and sustainable. Especially if you’re building in North Queensland, where we are, you’ll want a house with a passive design to save money on air conditioning, heating, and lighting — all expensive utilities in 2023! Consider windows with insulated glass, solar panels, and skylights as practical design features suited to our sunny landscape.
As with so many good things, from travelling overseas to looking forward to a good movie, the hardest part is the wait.
Building a house means you’ll have to commit to waiting months for construction to be completed. Delays are also commonplace in the construction world. The good news is that you can anticipate delays and plan for them. By getting your finances, documentation, and design notes in order before the time comes when you’ll need them, you can get a head start and streamline the process.
When you’re trying to choose between building and buying a new home, consider these three main factors:
Whether you buy or build, there’s an exciting road ahead. Remember: the right partner can make a world of difference. You’ll want to work with someone who can provide advice backed by years of experience selling and building houses.
Luckily for you — Cougar Homes are home builders and sellers in Cairns. So, whether you’ve decided that buying or building a new home is better for you, we’ve got you covered with our trusty design range or our homes for sale. If you’re ready to start your home building or buying journey in Queensland, reach out — we’re here to help.