elizabetho: We are building right now. I don’t have any experience buying a resale, but I did live through my parents renovating their house (room by room).
I knew right away that I didn’t want to live in a construction zone. Also, neither my FI or I are handy, so we’d have to hire in contractors for just about everything. That seriously jacks up the cost. Those are things to consider – in addition to the cost of the renos, the time and if you’re going to do it (ontop of your regular day to day jobs) and coming home to a construction zone. After a 12 hour day I can barely handle coming home to dishes in the sink, forget about a reno.
The new build has been overwhelming. There are are a million decisions, we had to pick a lot (there are 2 builders in our development, lots are pre-assigned to them. Then we had to make sure no one next or across the street from us had the same house at the same elevation. So it wasn’t as simple as picking a house and putting it on a lot. We ran into a few lots we loved but the elevation of the house we liked wasn’t permitted because a neighbour had it.) Once we finally figured out the lot and the right model/elevation then the decor options started: outside brick package – pick 1 of 12, tiles for all the tiled areas (laundry, mudroom, kitchen, powder room, front foyer), then the flooring – carpet is standard, want to upgrade? laminate? hardwood? colour? Do you want the oak staircase stained to match? Do you want wrought iron spindles? plain oak? stained to match? painted white? Standard newel posts? upgraded newel posts? The list goes on…. There’s a lot of choice and the chance to make it ‘yours’. But the choices are vast, and the upgrades add up very, very quickly and even within the standard options there are a lot of choices. And you can customize just about everything, which is awesome but by the end you’re just like “I don’t care. Just put it somewhere.”
And our home isn’t a model that we can walk through. We bought off the plans. I liked the idea of buying one that had a model, it was easy to say ‘Oh, I love that!’ or “Nope, that should be there.” Instead we’re stuck walking through it our heads. (We did go in during the framing process on a weekend and took a walk thru. At least now I can picture the layout and the space and imagine where things are going to go.)
Are you looking to sell in the near future? Or is this a forever home? DF and I never moved as kids. Both our parents live in the houses they bought after they got married. We knew we were looking to stay a minimum of 10 years, if not forever. So we went with a much bigger house than we need right now. And it means we’re doing what we want, not what would necessarily be great for a resale. We would much rather pay this house off as quickly as possible and keep it forever and then go buy a trailer for the summers and a ski chalet for the winters. But that kind of mentality is not for everyone, some people really like to move and renovate. We were told the average person stays in a house 5 – 7 years.
In your scenario, I’d build. But then I went with a huge house an hour outside of the city (and an hour commute) in a much smaller town and a brand new community.