What Is Cheaper Building A House Or Buying?

Who doesn’t love to get something brand new—especially if it’s custom-made just for you? The problem is that custom-made things tend to come with higher price tags and longer delivery times—which are important factors in deciding whether to buy or build a house.

The house is way too big a financial responsibility to make the wrong choice. To help you make the best decision for you and your budget, we broke down the pros and cons of building a house.


  • If you buy an existing home: older homes have more wear and tear, which means that some things may need more maintenance—or, if they’re on their last legs, replacement, points out Michael Schaffer, Colorado’s LIV Sotheby’s International Realty broker. Of course, the cost of this upkeep isn’t cheap, so make sure you know the age of the main items. For example, the average furnace is expected to last 20 years and will cost $4,000 to replace it. The typical HVAC system lasts 15 years and costs $5,000 and more to replace it. Another big thing is the roof: the average shingled roof has been around for about 25 years. If you need to replace roofing, look at a bill of at least $5,000. Plumbing and septic systems can go without a problem for a while, but when something goes wrong, it’s an emergency.
  • If you build a new home: considerably less maintenance is one of the primary reasons for building your own single-family home, because everything from major appliances to the HVAC system is new and under warranty. In fact, sometimes the entire home is protected for up to 10 years because the builder generally offers a construction guarantee “for any problems that arise,” says Schaffer. Your indoor and outdoor maintenance costs for a decade are potentially zero dollars. This can make up for some home construction costs per square foot that you paid for by choosing a custom home.

The Upfront Costs

  • If you buy an existing home: according to the latest figures, the median cost of buying an existing single-family home is $223,000. For the average 1,500-square-foot house built before the 1960s, that’s about $148 per square foot. That said, the exact price may vary widely depending on where you live. (Go to realtor.com/local area to see the price per square foot in your area.)
  • If you build a new home: building a house will set you back an average of $289,415. This is $66,415 more than the cost of an existing home. Still, you’re going to get a lot more for your money. For one, new construction is usually more spacious, with a median size of 2,467 square feet—so the cost of construction per square foot, $103, is actually lower than that of existing homes.

Another advantage of having a builder build a custom home is that you pay for just what you want, while an existing home may have interior and exterior features (e.g. a finished basement or basketball court) that you pay for, even if you don’t want them. But if an older house happens to be your dream home the way it is, that might be a more bargain-friendly route.

Are You Planning on Building a Custom Home?

If you’re considering getting started on building a custom home for you and your family, New Key Construction, based in Walnut Creek California, is here to serve you. Our passion is to be the home for talented craftsmen who deliver beautiful homes to clients throughout the SF East Bay Area! Choosing the right general contractor for your custom home can be difficult, but we make things easy by focusing on Your Experience, Client Communication, Cutting Edge Technology and Pushing Our Design and Build Limits!  If we could have one goal, it would be that when someone you know is looking for a custom home builder you highly recommend our company because of the experience we deliver for you! Check out our website, our portfolio and our reviews to learn more – or give us a call today.