New-build versus period property
Discover the pros and cons
Choosing a new-build or a period property is more than a question of taste. Find out how two recent homebuyers reached their decision.
Buying a home involves some big decisions, and one of the biggest is whether to choose a new-build or older, period property.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your own situation, and it may come down to your personal preference.
To help you choose, we’ve spoken to two homebuyers, one of a new-build and one of an older property, to find out some of the factors behind their decision.
Buying a new-build
Buying a period property
Buying a new-build
Help with mortgage costs
One of the biggest pros of newly-built properties is the government support that may be available to buyers, according to owner Rachael Bilecki.
She and her partner bought their first new-build – a two-bedroom house near Colchester, Essex – using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, needing only a 5% deposit.
She says: “We could put down a 5% deposit on a new-build home and obtain a government loan of the additional 20%, which is interest-free for five years.
“We then got a mortgage for the remaining 75% of the value of the property. This made our budget stretch much further. Instead of a one-bedroom period flat, we could afford a two-bedroom house. Using the Help-to-Buy scheme gave us more bang for our buck,” she adds.
Taking out a 75% loan-to-value mortgage – as opposed to a 90% or 95% mortgage if the couple hadn’t used Help to Buy – reduced their monthly mortgage costs and meant Rachael and her partner had disposable income to furnish the house.
“It made a massive difference. We could afford to make it feel like a home, as we had the money to get the furnishings we needed as soon as we moved in,” she says. Find out more about the Help to Buy scheme and how we can help.
New-build homes are also likely to be more energy efficient than a period property and could save you money on utility bills. You may also be eligible for lower mortgage rates with a Barclays Green Home Mortgage.
Fixtures and fittings
It wasn’t just the Help to Buy scheme that persuaded Rachael and her partner to opt for a new-build. They preferred the space and layout of newer homes, and the ability to choose their fixtures and fittings in advance.
“A lot of period properties we saw had smaller rooms and bathrooms downstairs, which we weren’t keen on. The property we bought had good-sized rooms and high ceilings, as well as lots of built-in storage.”
Rachael reserved her property early in the build stage, so she could choose the specifications she wanted. “It was nice to know that we could pick the type of flooring we liked and choose from a huge variety of kitchen worktops. It meant the house felt like ours the second we walked through the door.”
Some developers offer moving-in packages that include items such as kitchen appliances or a garden shed. The fixtures and fittings included in the price will also vary between developers, so buyers need to do their research. Many house-builders will offer optional extras that you can pay for on top of the purchase price, ranging from outside lights to turf for the garden.
“We went through the optional extras and made a list of all the things we wanted,” says Rachael. “We worked out which ones would be easier and probably cheaper for us to do ourselves, and what we wanted the developer to do for us.”
The buying process
In many cases, new-build homes will come with a 10-year insurance-backed warranty, while fixtures and fittings may come with their own shorter warranty. However, buyers should check with the developer.
The process of buying a new-build varies depending on whether your home is finished, or still being built, and between developers. Rachael advises doing your research carefully before going ahead, including using social media to see what buyers are saying about the developer and to find out whether any delays and problems have been reported.
Buying a period property
The appeal of original features
New-builds might come with modern features and new appliances, but some buyers prefer the character and history that older properties can offer.
Jennie Butterworth, who has lived in her period property in the heart of Winchester for more than a decade, explains: “It’s a real treat to live in a home with lots of period features, like cast-iron fireplaces and wooden floorboards, which we worked hard to preserve while we were doing up the property.
“Every room is an unusual shape, which means it doesn’t feel mass-produced. It makes you feel you are living somewhere unique. Because people have lived here before, it also feels rooted and gives me a sense of belonging.”
The potential for character and period features isn’t the only advantage of older properties. In some areas, they can benefit from more central locations, built nearer to a town centre or public transport.
However, they won’t have many of the features common to new-build properties. For example, Jennie’s house doesn’t have off-street parking, although a residents’ parking permit is available for the surrounding streets.
Another factor to consider is that older properties can require more investment in repairs. Jennie hasn’t needed to do any major renovations, such as rewiring or damp-proofing, although this can be the case with older properties. If you’re purchasing a period property, it’s important to get a thorough survey.
Adding extra space
While part of the appeal of older properties may be small and cosy rooms with period features, owners may be able to extend outwards or upwards to create a new or larger living space. If your property is listed, however, you will need to apply for Listed Building Consent from your local authority before making any alterations. You will find details of all listed buildings in England1 at historicengland.org.uk. The website also has lots of advice on maintaining, repairing and making changes to a listed building.
Before embarking on a major renovation, make sure you’ve considered the costs involved. Extending a kitchen into the garden could cost tens of thousands of pounds, and in some cases six figures. Meanwhile, loft conversions can cost anything from £21,000 to more than £60,0002. On the plus side, however, an extension can add value to your home. The Office for National Statistics has a useful calculator3 that gives an estimate of how much an extension could be worth in your area.
Jennie’s property was extended at the back to create a glass-roofed dining area with bi-folding doors, which increases both space and light. “An architect was able to open up the home and provide us with additional space,” says Jennie. “Our extension provides an extra dimension to the property that is unique and a real selling point.”
If you’re considering how to cover the cost of larger renovations, we can help. Talk to us to work out which option is right for you financially.
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