Do you prefer a home that needs some TLC or one that you can move right into and not worry about popcorn ceilings or a crumbling foundation? For some, the thought of taking an old home and making it really “theirs” is incredibly appealing; for others, even the thought of dealing with contractors and construction is nightmarish. If you’re on the fence about which is right for you, take the following questions into consideration.


Fixer-uppers are popular these DIY days, but investing in a whole-house project is a bit intimidating for most people. Here’s how to tell if this type of house is right for you.

Do you want to restore or update? If you’re mainly fixing neglected maintenance issues on a fairly recent home, chances are they’re manageable. Upgrading is a whole different situation from restoring an old home to its proper historical era.

Do you have a timeline? Home improvement projects almost always take longer than expected. Particularly with a house that is a fixer-upper, you’re likely to encounter project scope creep as you dig in and uncover additional issues.

Are you willing to live amongst the mess? Given the above, it makes sense that you’ll be living amongst projects for at least a few months, possibly even a few years. Are you willing to invest that kind of time in your home and live in unfinished rooms?

Are you capable and willing? There’s no sense in purchasing a fixer-upper if fixing up a home isn’t your style. But perhaps you are willing to learn how or hire others to do the work. These can both be great options, but the first scenario costs you in terms of a learning curve and the second costs financially. Factor this into your decision.

Things to consider: While a fixer-upper might be less expensive to start, don’t forget to tally up the costs from both your own to-do list and the home inspection report. A new roof might be $20,000; a crumbling foundation could cost even more. Wells and septic tanks are other expensive repairs, and all of these will need to be done shortly after you move in to keep the house in a livable and safe condition.

New Home

A new-construction home is exciting for many reasons, mostly because of the shiny newness. Other popular factors for choosing new construction are energy efficiency, current aesthetics and choosing features and upgrades.

Do you like the look? New construction homes are generally built in a style that reflects today’s tastes and fits in with the neighborhood. That may mean they lack a certain level of charm or regional appeal that you would like.

Do you like the lot? Lot sizes on new homes are often much smaller than older homes. They will also likely have new landscaping that hasn’t matured. This may be a good thing. While the shade of an old oak tree is welcome, mature trees also bring a lot more maintenance – something to consider.

Do you like the neighborhood? New homes are often in new developments. You might be living in a construction zone for a few months or years. That said, new construction often attracts younger couples and families with children; so if that’s your life stage, it may be a good choice for you.

Does it speak to you? Once the new-ness wears off, will the house speak to you? It will become lived in, yes, and you’ll be creating the first history and memories in the space. Many people love this, while others love to live among the history and sense of place of an established property.

Things to consider: Be sure to check the taxes on a new property, as they may be higher than older homes. While no major repairs are on the horizon, it’s always a good idea to save for future ones.

The question to ask yourself when looking at any potential real estate is: “Do I want to live here for a long time?” Your answer may very well depend on whether you’re standing in a fresh-smelling new home or a dusty fixer-upper. Either way, your happiness should be a top priority.

Posted by Natalie Wise

Photos via home on Zillow. Click on an image to view it on Zillow Digs.



About the author

Calvin Lickfelt

REALTOR®, Team Leader

"Client-First" - We believe that if you are not left with an amazing experience, we have not done our job. We do not measure success through achievements or awards, but through the satisfaction of each and every client. We take great pride in the relationships we have built...

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