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Buying a house vs Building your own house: Pros and Cons

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Two people shaking hands in front of a desk.
Buying a house vs building your own house pros and cons

Whether it’s your first ever home or you want to move up on the property ladder to something bigger and better, you have a choice between building your own home or buying a property from somebody else.

Most people assume that buying an existing home is less hassle, but that may not be true. New build homes are appealing for their modern building standards, but are more expensive, while pre-owned homes tend to be cheaper, but likely to need costly upgrades.

Meanwhile, self-built homes take a lot of effort and funding, but you’re likely to be satisfied with the end result you planned yourself, so it won’t require further work in the future.

With the housing market often seeming to be in turmoil, it’s not surprising that more people are looking into the possibility of building their own homes. It may not be common practice in the UK, but sustainability and self-build trends like ‘tiny homes’ are making the idea more popular.

There are pros and cons to both sides, but money is often the deciding factor. So, which is cheaper, buying a house or building a house? Which is better? Let’s look into the benefits and disadvantages of building a home versus buying a home.

Buying a house

Buying a house is often preferable to building one simply due to the convenience of being able to purchase an existing home and move in quickly.

If you choose a newly constructed home, you may have to wait a bit longer for the development to be completed, but you’ll have a freshly built modern house ready for you.

There are many reasons why buying a home is easier, but also drawbacks to buying a place that someone else designed and decorated – so here are the pros and cons.

Pros of buying a house

+ Takes less time

When buying a secondhand home from a previous owner, the process can be fairly quick if you get the paperwork in order. Purchasing an existing house can be completed in several weeks, whereas building a new house takes months of planning before construction even begins.

Even if you buy a new build off-plan, the completion date should be within several months to a year of work beginning on the development. In either case, securing a mortgage to buy a property will be much faster than obtaining a loan for a self-building project.

+ Fewer decisions to make

When you build your own house, you have to make all the decisions yourself – and there are a lot of possibilities to consider. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to agonise over a million tiny choices, you might prefer to buy an existing house as-is, or a ‘cookie cutter’ new build.

You can simply adjust the filters on a property website to choose how many rooms you need and which features and amenities you’d like, select properties from the list that match to visit, decide whether or not you like the ones you view, and then choose which one you like most.

+ More financing options

As mentioned, getting a mortgage is much more straightforward when you’re buying an existing home rather than building your own from scratch. You won’t just have a greater choice of lenders and fixed or variable loans, but the offers you get are also likely to be worth more of the property’s value.

When it comes to new builds, developers often provide incentives to use a preferred lender, which could get you a discount on the purchase price or extra inclusions with no added cost. Even older properties come with some bargaining power if they’ve been on the market for a while.

+ Better locations

If you want to build your own house, you’ll need to find land to build on – which isn’t readily available in urban centres that are often overcrowded already. In many areas, potential building space has already been snapped up by commercial developers for business use.

If you have your heart set on living in a specific area, you’ll have a better chance of buying an existing property. You’re much more likely to find an apartment or house closer to a city centre or within an urban development that doesn’t place you too far from the action.

+ Ready to move in

Purchasing a pre-built home usually means you can move in as soon as you’re ready. This is handy for relocations on a tight timeline, such as moving to start a new job, or moving your family to a bigger home while the kids aren’t in school.

You’ll have the near-instant gratification of moving house right away and settling into a ready-made home while you have more time to save up for any refurbishments you might want to carry out.

New builds have enough contemporary features that you shouldn’t need to do too much, while older properties can benefit from unique architectural features and mature gardens.

Cons of buying a house

– Stressful competitive markets

As easy as it may sound to be able to conduct a property search, visiting compatible properties and choosing the one you want to buy isn’t as easy as it sounds. There may not be a suitable property in the area you want to live in, or there may be too few options with too many hopeful buyers.

Demand for housing often outstrips the number of properties available, leading to intense competition between buyers and fast-moving bidding wars. You may not necessarily have control over the timing – having to either make a snap decision or experience multiple rejected offers.

– Compromising on design choices

In reality, finding a pre-built home that matches everything you want from your dream property is near impossible. You’ll likely have to compromise on a number of things, whether it’s pricing, location, number of bedrooms, size of the garden, age of the building, etc.

This may not be a problem if your preferences aren’t that strict, but most people are reluctant to make such a big investment when they aren’t entirely happy with the property. You wouldn’t want to pay to live with features that you don’t like, which you might have to spend more to change.

– Repairs and renovations

All homes need regular maintenance to keep them habitable, and older buildings require more upkeep. If you move into a pre-existing home, depending on its age and who lived in it, there may be a lot of wear and tear that needs repairing to bring your house up to the standard you want.

If your secondhand property purchase comes with appliances included, this may seem like it saves you the expensive problem of having to buy new ones when you move in – but the opposite could be the case, as older white goods and furniture may be outdated and close to breaking down.

– Low energy efficiency

Most properties for sale in desirable areas, such as urban centres, will be pre-owned homes that may have been built up to 50-100 years ago or more. These homes weren’t designed with anywhere near the level of knowledge or technology we have today – especially when it comes to energy efficiency.

Not only will the amenities and systems be outdated, but everything from windows, doors, and flooring will need to be upgraded. Otherwise, you’ll be throwing money away on heating, cooling, and electrical power, which is as bad for the environment as it is for your bank account.  

Building a house

Building your own home is definitely a big challenge, but there is less compromising and disappointment involved when you can design the home yourself on your own budget.

When you buy a ready-made house to someone else’s design, it’s unlikely to have everything on your wish list – meaning you might end up spending more on renovations, anyway.

Having a tailor-made home is an appealing idea, but it does come with many difficulties – so here are the advantages and disadvantages of building your own house.

Pros of building your own house

+ Complete customisation

Finding an existing house that meets every need is unlikely, but when you build a home from scratch, you’re involved in every step of the design and construction. This means every decision is in your hands, from the floorplan and number of rooms to the interior fixtures and finishes.

You can be confident that the architects, builders, and contractors are doing exactly what you want, as you have control over any changes that need to be made. Though you may be limited by budget and have to wait longer for completion, the end result will be perfectly to your taste.

+ Increased efficiency

Technology is constantly improving, and the energy efficiency of newer buildings is substantially higher than older homes. When you design your own home, you can make sure that the space not only maximises functionality, but is also built efficiently for heating and cooling.

You can opt for high-quality sustainable materials and systems, including smart home technology, to make the home as up-to-date and eco-friendly as possible. You can also look into self-sufficiency by installing solar panels, heat pumps, or water boreholes on your land.

+ Everything is brand new

Though some people like to save money by thrifting materials or furnishings for self-built homes, in most cases, the materials will be just as fresh as those used in a new build development. You’ll benefit from better quality materials and construction that will last for much longer.

Moving into a brand new home not only feels like a luxury, but also means that there will be less maintenance needed to keep everything shipshape, conveniently requiring less ongoing upkeep. It’s possible to set up a structural warranty for a new home to cover latent structural defects, too.

+ Saving money by doing more

It’s true that there will be more upfront costs when creating a custom home, but there are also opportunities to save money. By choosing everything yourself, you’ll only be paying for exactly what you want, rather than having to pay for an existing home with features that you don’t like.

You can make cost-effective choices on materials with longevity and environmental efficiency in mind, and even pitch in yourself for parts like painting the walls and landscaping the garden to save some money. In the end, a new and unique home will have better resale value, too.

+ Little to no competition

With demand often outpacing supply, making an offer on a home can quickly turn into a bidding war with other potential buyers who want to purchase the same property as you. Multiple offers can turn into the hassle of a back-and-forth that could drive the price up beyond your budget.

When you want to build your own house, you have to either lease or purchase the plot of land to build on. Since fewer people choose to build their own property, there will be less competition when it comes to buying a lot, and you won’t have to deal with price hikes fuelled by competitive bidding.

Cons of building your own house

– More responsibilities

It takes a lot of effort to build your own house. Even if you have the budget to outsource as much work as possible, you’ll still be responsible for everything, and have to sign off on every final decision – and there will be a lot of decisions you need to make before construction even begins.

When you buy a parcel of land, you’ll be responsible for all the landscaping and maintenance of that land. Depending on its state when you purchase it, this could cost even more time and money to manage. Speaking of which – the financial management of such a project can be very stressful, too.

– Rising hidden costs

As carefully and thoroughly as you try to budget for your project, there is so much to do when designing and building a bespoke home that the costs quickly add up. From plans and drawings to builders and materials, plumbing and wiring to landscaping, there’s a lot to pay for.

Unless you have the funds to do everything yourself from the start, you’ll likely need to secure financing from a construction loan provider, which is likely to require a larger deposit and higher interest rates. The longer it takes to get finances in order, the more the price of labour and materials could go up in the meantime – possibly costing far more than you originally budgeted for.

– Longer timeline

Building a home obviously takes much more time than buying an existing house that’s ready and waiting for you to move in. The longer timeline can feel drawn out, putting more pressure on you with the possibility of unforeseen delays due to factors out of your control.

Depending on the scale and complexity of your custom build, it’s likely to take several months to a year (or more) before your home will be anywhere near ready to live in. That said, the timescale can be similar when buying off-plan in new build developments, which aren’t as customisable.

– Less favourable location

With limited land in busy urban centres, where most people want to live due to proximity to work opportunities and amenities, it may be difficult to find a suitable place to build your own house in the location you would prefer. You’ll likely have to look for a plot further out.

This may not be an issue if you drive and like to have more green space around than built-up streets – having your own plot of land while the nearest town or city isn’t too far away by car could give you the best of both worlds. However, if you don’t drive, your choices could be very limited.

Is it cheaper to buy a house or build your own house?

On the face of it, buying a home seems to be much less expensive than building your own from the ground up. Down payments and closing costs may seem minimal compared to buying land, drawing up plans, obtaining permits, and procuring construction materials and labourers.

However, many factors can affect the cost of both building a home and the cost of buying one, which include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Square footage – the cost per square foot varies depending on size and location.
  • Maintenance – the cost of upkeep or replacements depends on the age of the facilities.
  • Landscaping – if you own land as well as a building, you’ll have to maintain this, too.
  • Remodelling – how much work needs to be done to adjust the building to suit your specifications?
  • Materials/labour – will contractors have the opportunity to increase charges to pass rising costs on to you?
  • Insurance/taxes – how much will it cost to insure the property, and how much is Stamp Duty and Council Tax?
  • Home warranties – is a building warranty in place to protect against latent defect costs?

Which route happens to be cheaper often comes down to the location, as rural properties tend to be larger but cheaper, while central properties tend to be smaller but costlier.

Which costs more: building or buying?

According to figures reported by Just Do Property in June 2022, the average cost of buying a home sits within the range of building costs for most sizes – though when it gets to a house with five bedrooms, it can be much cheaper to build than to buy:

House Size Average Building Cost Average Buying Cost
2-bedroom house £190,000 – £280,000 £255,172
3-bedroom house £240,000 – £360,000 £283,706
4-bedroom house £290,000 – £440,000 £426,099
5-bedroom house £320,000 – £480,000 £585,000

It still depends on the location, though, as revealed by Get Agent’s map of the places in England where it’s cheaper to build your own home than to buy one.

Based on land value, house price, and construction costs, the map upholds the common standard that it’s far more expensive to buy throughout the south than it is in the north, while there is the lowest difference in cost between buying and building in the North East.

Should you buy or build a house?

It’s not an easy decision to make, and certainly not one that anybody else can make for you. The main factors to take into consideration are location and how this affects the overall cost of the property and the amount of work you want to do on it.

There is definitely more to take on board when building a home, so you should consider your financial capabilities and the time you have available before committing to such an intensive project. Similarly, you should make sure you understand the purchasing process before choosing to buy.

In either case, think carefully about all the factors we’ve discussed above to make sure you’d be happy with your choices in the long term before making a decision.

If you decided to buy a new build home, the property will likely come with a new build warranty that the developer set up and passes to you. However, if you buy a secondhand property, there may be no such cover in place.

If you’re buying an existing property less than 10 years old, or choose to build your own brand new home, you should look into setting up a building warranty yourself. This will give you some peace of mind, knowing your investment is protected if something goes wrong with the structure.




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    ★★★★★ 10 months ago
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    I cannot speak highly enough of the staff at ABC who guided me through a difficult and complex procedure and did their absolute best to solvesome seemingly impossible … Read more problems . Sara in particular was so very helpful. Emails were replied to same day and phone calls returned where necessary . I should also mention that the costs of the PCC I required were very competitive and there was an option to upgrade to a full warranty which was not offered by the competitors I contacted for quotes. An excellent company to deal with .
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
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    The guys kindly upgraded our 6 year architects certification to a 10 year warranty on request of our property buyer.They did it in a matter of maximum couple of … Read more days, fabulous service and really helpful and stress free.Will definitely use again for our next build. Brilliant.
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    Professional Service to the "T" from the office to the surveyors, but must praise the office for their prompt response and always finding a way to get … Read more around any issues. Highly recommend and have done so to others.Once again many thanks to the great team.
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    I have a three bedroom house property built in 2016 that was with Alpha CRL warranty. Unfortunately they went into liquidation leaving me in a messy situation. I … Read more have called up many companies to seek quotes for alternatives and found Architects Certificate & ABC+ Warranty the best.Tom Palin the accounts executive has been amazing from my initial form very first phone call, to the actual booking of an appointment of surveyor and to the end of issuing a PCC certification (took less than 10 days). The surveyor (Armarn) was super friendly, punctual and professional.I have been totally impressed with the speed of response, helpfulness and general professionalism. I will certainly be recommending them to anyone who may need a PCC on a new build warranty.
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    ★★★★★ a year ago
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    From the very first phone call enquiring about the services provided, to the actual booking of an appointment (at very short notice) I have been totally impressed … Read more with the speed of response, helpfulness and general professionalism of this company.I will certainly be recommending them to anyone who may need a PCC on a new build or completed project.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Zizi Hajdú
    Very responsed team and very helpfull . All go through on process they was explained all steps . And many times we facing some certificates not easy to sort ABC … Read more team was support me explain how I can sort and provide . I just can offer for all clients who wanna put warranty in place they never will be disappointed with ABC .Professional team . Lest then 10 days and warranty with me . Thanks a lot ABC .
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Tim Kearney
    An excellent and helpful service from Victoria and Kelly in order to turn round our certification professionally and promptly. Always friendly and cooperative. I … Read more highly recommend ABC Warranty
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Craig Wilkinson (Craig)
    I would highly recommend ABC. From my initial contact to the final delivery of the certificate they managed our expectations exceptionally throughout, were always … Read more happy to take our phone calls and answer any questions we had, we had a lot but everyone of the team were always happy to take our calls.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Cristina Antochi
    I’ve used the company for CML certificates and they were the only ones to help when others couldn’t and they were very helpful, friendly, professional and quick! … Read more We were pressed by time to complete a mortgage and they acted urgently on the matter and issued the certificates very quickly to help us. Outstanding services, went the extra mile to help the customer. Many thanks
    ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • John Crosby
    We found the company to be very professional and efficient. They resolve our issue very quickly with a good personal serviceMany thanks to Jatinder and Tom for their … Read more help
    ★★★★★ a year ago
  • Hilary Blunt
    ABC+ have been extremely helpful in producing a Warranty & Architects Certificate for the house we have just completed. Excellent service, thank you!
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Anthony Montague
    Just had a PCC turned around in 9 calendar days. Very impressed with the service, especially grateful for the speedy conclusion of their work to meet a 5pm deadline … Read more imposed on us by the mortgage lender.
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Clive Abraham
    Although I experienced a delay of a few days in the issue of the warranty certificate the overall service was very good. The staff were always friendly, helpful … Read more and proactive. Should I need to I will certainly be contacting ABC in the future.
    ★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Marc Vigliotta
    It’s been a very difficult and stressful year (as I’m sure for a lot of people) but I must say this company has been absolutely fantastic with how they have dealt … Read more with my individual situation. They have been Professional, efficient and thorough and I will strongly recommend them and will definitely be using them again. Thanks for all your hard work. kindest regards Marc
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Callum Boyle
    Jatinder and Oscar in the PCC team provided an excellent service and I'm very grateful for their help at a tricky time.
    ★★★★★ a year ago
  • melanie Owen
    First Class service from start to finish. From the first contact to completion I can not fault the service, they patiently talked me through every step, and answered … Read more my technical questions. Communication was second to none, I always received a reply form any e-mails/phone calls with in minutes. From initial enquiry to certificate being issued was 4 working days. I really can not thank them enough.
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Korin Smith
    Brilliant service, requested an architects certificate urgently fro the purposes of a remortgage. Sara booked the architect in at 4pm on the Monday and he attended … Read more the site Wednesday morning and the certificate was with me later that day. could not have asked for more, brilliant.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • YorkBuild Ltd
    After speaking to several companies with regards to providing PCC and structural warranties for our 6 unit development, ABC+ was the only one to clearly explain … Read more what exactly we required and why.Within a matter of days we have had a surveyor attend site, provide us his professional services and report back with certified PCC for the development.I highly recommend Architects Certificate & ABC+ Warranty for their professional services, we will definitely be using them for all services moving forward.
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • P D
    Been using Architec certificates for a few years now, I would thoroughly recommend. I have future property developments on the way and will use them again. Site … Read more surveyor was very professional and took the time to go through things so as to benefit all parties. If you looking for a reliable company to supply your PCC this is the place to come :-)
    ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • Michael Clews
    Dealt with ABC after having issues with LDI cover through another broker. ABC very quickly resolved my issues at a reasonable cost and were very easy to deal with. … Read more
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Peter Boggis
    So easy to deal with, super efficient .... warranty issued within 10 days of instruction. Including a surveyor on site (Devon) within three days.Reasonable price … Read more for the service given (no hidden costs), would highly recommend 😀
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Tony Frazier
    This is an excellent service . We hadn't really thought about warranties or certificates when embarking on our self-build project. After completion we needed … Read more a bank loan and found that without a warranty or Architect's Certificate using the property as security was impossible. Architects Certificate saved the day for us!
    ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • raj chauhan
    Architects Certificate & ABC Warranty have been involved with my Penthouse project at flat 11- 2 Antrim Grove NW3 4XR.From day one, I have received the top quality … Read more service with issuing of Warranty.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Asad Qureshi
    Jatinder at ABC Warranty has provided the best services, very helpful, efficient. I will definitely be using them in the future. Thank you
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Michaela Palaniappan
    Great service. Very responsive and helpful at every step of the journey. Would highly recommend.
    ★★★★★ 10 months ago
  • Sandeep Sahota
    Easy, quick and efficient, Ben was amazing in responding quickly supporting our needs when under pressure.
    ★★★★★ 11 months ago
  • Weszley Sealey
    Big thankyou to Mark and Louie for all there help getting my warranty sorted. Mark was fantastic throughout and diddnt hesitate to help in any situation. Thankyou … Read more for all you help guys!
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Robbie Grobler
    ABC provided an excellent and speedy service. We will definitely use their services again.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • David Tom
    Brilliant services. website is very informative and the staffs very knowledge very useful in helping us make an informed decision. referred a few clients and they … Read more have similar positive experience.
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Leigh Vink
    I was very impressed with the service from all at Architects Certificate & ABC+ Warranty, from receiving a very competitive quote, then once placing the order, … Read more a quick turnaround on the required 10 year warranty certificate...the team are quick with there replies over email..being a Project Manager, i always strive to give good customer service, so when i get it back im very Grateful and impressed.....Well done guys, totally recommend all the team to whom ever maybe considering using them.
    ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • Lee Snailham
    John, Andrew, Mark and the team all responded quickly and very professional for our retrospective 10 year guarantee requirements - thank you all and happy to recommend … Read more
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Ancuta Jacota
    Professional service , very quick response to all emails! Highly recommend them!
    ★★★★★ a year ago
  • Linda Radford
    Excellent service from Tom & team!Efficient, polite & prompt, would not hesitate to recommend.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Simon McGuinness
    Would highly recommend this company to anyone looking for their services. Highly professional and very responsive. Fantastic customer service also. 5 stars
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Benjamin Tuson
    From start to finish these guys were amazing!! Thanks to Chris the surveyor, and Kelly in the office.. thanks again!
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Helen Christou
    I cannot recommend this company enough for the quick turnaround in providing me with a professional consultant certificate. Very professional and responsive.
    ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • James Lanyon
    Great service as always and a pleasure to work with. Cant recommend their services more
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Florian Bouygues
    Jatinder was very helpful in chasing all parties. Highly recommend
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Tom Jolly
    Really, really pleased with the service. Friendly, knowledgable, professional and at the right price. Thank you.
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • leon Binns
    Very professional company and extremely good service. I would highly recommend.
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • john gittins
    Good business to deal with, prompt replies to emails and attentive even through the restrictions
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Mike McGlynn
    Very efficient and professional company. Highly recommended
    ★★★★ 2 years ago
  • George Burgum
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Dean Pepper
    Very good service and very quick to act on any question i had .Would reccomend
    ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • andrew chappell
    First class service
    ★★★★★ a year ago
  • Paul Curran
    Good service levels and extremely helpful staff in all departments
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Mairi Bryce
    Excellent service, very helpful over the telephone.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Catherine Stezenco
    Excellent 1st Class experience, efficient service and competitive price provided.......
    ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • Rajani Beeharry
    Very efficient and easy to deal with.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Adriano Marrocco
    Fantastic people to work with highly recommended
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Marc Waller ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • Jay ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • James Hood ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • Martyn Woolner ★★★★★ 4 years ago
  • Lauren Roberts ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Marcus Sultan ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Macnells Smith ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • Phil Clay ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Peter Hopkinson ★★★★★ a year ago
  • colinhart15 ★★★★ 4 years ago
  • Hanaa Mew ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Mona Rathod ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Roz Lawrence ★★★★★ 3 years ago
  • jason ware ★★★★★ a year ago
  • Sarah Morgan ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Bethany Moore ★★★★★ 3 years ago

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    Alternatively, Contact Us On The Following:
    Phone Number: 0161 928 8804

    Address: 1 Anchorage Court. Caspian Road, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 5HH