sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

To Buy or to Build, That Is the Question

By Cindy Williams September 26, 2022 Lifestyle

So you are ready to buy or build a home that fits your retirement needs, but which is the better choice? Is buying an existing home the cheaper, least stressful choice or is building a new home the most efficient and satisfying choice?

Personal Needs or Compromise?

The choice to buy or build truly depends on the person, the location and the time frame needed to have a home complete. I often encourage home buyers to consider building a new home instead of buying an existing one to help insure they will be getting the home for their individual needs. Most often, however, homebuyers opt for the quick fix, so to speak, and will settle for a home that may not meet their needs.

Pros and Cons of Building a New Home

So, let’s look at the basic pros and cons of building a new home.

The Pro

Building a new home will allow you to choose the size, style/décor, special needs and location.

The Con

Building a new home is a process will take months from beginning to end to complete and can be stressful due to the many decisions to be made.

Does Building a New Home Cost More Than Purchasing an Existing Home?

That is a question you can easily get answered by getting bid estimates on building a new home on your lot or a lot you plan to purchase, and the estimate may surprise you. Buying an existing home and attempting to convert it to your needs can often exceed the cost of building a new home at your lot.

The response I get the most when I suggest building a new home is, “We can’t do something like that,” or “I can’t handle the stress,” or “I am too old to build.” I understand that building from scratch (so to speak) is much like baking from scratch; it can take a little more time, sometimes doesn’t turn out exactly like we want it, and it can be stressful!

But think of the bright side: Much like baking from scratch, when we get finished, how proud we are of our dish and the satisfaction we get from being an integral part of its creation!

Building homes can be stressful, and they don’t always turn out like you want them to, but taking the leap and building a home of your choice could possibly be the best decision you have ever made.

My husband and I built a new home just months before our marriage. Sounds crazy, huh? We got married the day after the home was completed in our empty home courtyard and moved into the home the following day.

Was building our new home stressful? At times, yes, but the reward of having a home where we selected the lot and we designed and created the floorplan was worth the time and effort. We, today, often refer to the building of our new home as our pre-marital counseling period as it took cooperation, understanding and acceptance that everything would not turn out perfect.

A sweet older gentleman sub-contractor that we met during the beginning of our construction, and later again close to the completion of construction, looked up at us from his wide brimmed hat, smiled and said these profound words of wisdom, “Well, the house is coming along and it looks like ya’ll are still together, that’s a good sign.”

How to Know What Is Best for You

The key to determining the best choice for you is to compare one or more existing homes that closely match your needs and to take some time to get estimates for building a home that meets your needs. The time to get estimates to build may not be as time consuming as you think.

Simply contact several reliable licensed builders in your area, and they can guide you through the costs (including loan costs) from start to finish. If you have recently witnessed a new home being built from start to finish, you may want to contact that builder for an estimate.

Many builders have lots available to build on or they will take a look at any lot you may already have or may be considering to build on. It is wise to get at least three estimates, if possible, to get a fair true idea of the cost of building. The estimates are typically free.

Whether you are buying or building, it is up to you to determine what offers the best alternative. Finding the home that fits is always worth the extra effort to compare existing homes versus building a new one.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you considering building a new home? Have you built a new home and are happy about the choice? Have you built a new home and regretted the choice? Have you purchased an existing home that fully meets your needs or is acceptable?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Crystal McCombs

I was 11 years old when my parents had their “dream” house built. They hired an architect to design the house and I still have the blueprints 60 years later. Although they were elated to be homeowners, they found themselves saying “I didn’t know
it would be like this” or “I thought it would be bigger than this” when referring to different features in the house There’s just no way to know how house will look just by looking at the blueprints. Once a rooms are furnished, the space becomes even smaller. After living through my parents’ experience with homebuilding, never would I ever build from the ground up. I’ve got to see the finished product and know what I’m getting.

Cindy Williams

Hi Crystal……How neat that you still have the blueprints of your parent’s home! I can truly relate to their final project not fitting expectations. Often when we I was building new homes, the framer would come to me and tell me that the half bath I had planned for under a stairway would just not work(sometimes what looks good on paper just doesn’t work). I had to quickly redesign the floorplan or accept the reality that a half bath was not doable in the space I intended. One thing I do highly recommend when building is to visit the home while under construction often during the framing stage and walk around it making sure the rooms are the size you want, the rough-in plumbing and electrical fixtures are where you want them to be, and the doorways/windows are where you want them to be. If you want or need changes, the framing stage of construction is the best and cheapest time to make those changes prior to the insulation/drywall stage. Thank you for sharing your parent’s experience!

Khoo San San

It will be better to build if we are financially stable. We can design the build up ourselves.

Cindy Williams

I agree. If you are financially stable, building a new home is a good way to design a home that fits you and your family. Thank you for your comment.

The Author

Cindy Williams, investor and recently retired 40-plus-year TN-licensed real estate broker/appraiser, enjoys empowering people. Cindy has written articles for local newspapers, co-hosted a radio talk show, owned/operated a dirt race track and looks forward to more adventures. Any questions are welcomed at

You Might Also Like