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Building a New House vs. Buying a Fixer-Upper

Deciding on a new home is an exciting, stressful, and sometimes scary event. A lot of time goes into the entire process, between searching new locations, researching prices online, making offers, estimating renovation costs; the list goes on and on. One of the first decisions that potential home buyers go through is whether to build new or buy a fixer-upper.

Some people are accustomed to thinking that newer is always better, but when it comes to home buying, both new and old houses have their own unique characteristics, obstacles, and perks. You may be surprised by just what type of home you land on. It may be that diamond-in-the-rough fixer-upper or the safer, albeit more expensive, new home development by a Denver home builder.

Buying New: The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty

There are without a doubt some serious benefits of building a new home.

First of all, with a new home, you are guaranteed to be structurally sound and free of any structural, roof, or foundation damage.  Even the most experienced DIY person will contact an experienced contractor when it comes to structure, so if you are scared of big problems, a new home is a good option for you.

Next, new, functioning, and typically energy saving appliances will deliver year-round comfort and monthly savings.  There is a reason that energy efficient is all the buzz.  It can save you a great deal in the long run.

Furthermore, Denver home builders adhere to the most up-to-date regulations, which means the house will be both safe and energy efficient.  There are building codes involved in any type of construction project. In a newer build, you can adhere to all the code regulations from the start; whereas, in an older home, you may have to work to get the existing structure up to current code regulations, so a newer build is actually more budget-friendly when considering the time and effort necessary to make the home code ready.

One of the biggest assets to building new verses buying a fixer-upper is a desirable up-to-date style. Contemporary home plans make sense for a modern home and family; with the trending open floor plans, there are no awkward spaces that are hard to utilize.

Then of course there is always the benefit of those modern-day discoveries.  Particularly, there is no risk of asbestos, lead-based paint, or other unsafe materials that were used in the construction of pre-70’s homes.

Lastly, everything is brand new—literally down to the wire.  Sometimes, it’s just nice to have all new things—wiring, plumbing, flooring etc., which means free of rust, scuffs, rot, and other eyesores or damage.  A freshly built house comes with a new home warranty offered by your chosen Denver home builder.

The idea of a brand new house seems idyllic and problem-free, but they too have their own drawbacks

Probably the biggest deterrent for new home construction is cost. A newly built house is expensive, even when compared to the renovation costs of most fixer-upper projects.  So, if you are tight on cash or you are having trouble securing the funding for a home purchase, a new construction is probably not the best bet for you.

Since new homes are often built in developments, they are “cookie cutters” and therefore lack the unique charm of older homes.  Unless you are seeking a custom home builder in Denver, your house will look like everyone else’s—you’ll have kept up with the Jones’, but you won’t surpass them.  Oftentimes, these developments are not always in your desired neighborhood, which may lengthen a commute to school or work.

Lastly, many people have trouble with the amount of time it takes to landscape.  Your house may be move in ready, but the yard and surrounding houses may not be; you could spend the first few months surrounded by noisy construction while seated on a dusty, dirt lot.

Choosing a Fixer-Upper: The Pride and Prejudice

There is a lot of hard work that goes into renovating a home, but like all hard work, it breeds reward.

The first reason that many people lean toward a fixer-upper is the lower upfront costs.  Reduced cost means you can get more with your
money—as long as you put enough aside for the renovations.

Another thing that sways many people towards a fixer-upper is that good-old classic look. Contemporary is nice, but sometimes nothing beats the classic looks of arched doorways, iron-wrought gates, original hardwood floors, and exposed beams.

The truth is, there is more than likely a fixer-upper waiting to be discovered and restored in your dream neighborhood; plus, the lower prices of these project homes may allow you to find a house in an even more attractive location.  In fact, the right fixer-uppers allow for much more creativity, and you can really make the home plans your own creation that includes everything on your dream checklist.

The best part about a fixer-upper is that older homes have certain quirks to them that make for unique conversation topics or just interesting spaces; this could be the house’s history, a hidden nook in the basement, an ancient garden, etc.

Lastly, when it comes to money, a fixer-upper gives you a lot of perks.  Primarily, because property taxes are determined based upon your home’s sale price and fixer-uppers are lower priced, your property taxes will be lower. In some cases, if the house is historic enough, you may be qualified for an investment tax credit towards the costs of restoring and rehabilitating the property.

The bottom line when it comes to fixer-uppers is pride. Tackling an ambitious remodel can be a very rewarding process, and with the help of a professional Denver home remodeler, it’s not as hard as you may think.

Alternatively, buying a fixer-upper can seem like a never-ending mountain of work and problems.  Most of them start with money.  Budgeting a renovation can be tough work, especially when there could be unforeseen problems brewing beneath the surface of the house, including structural problems, sinking foundations, faulty wiring, etc. You never know what you may find, which is why you should always consult an experienced, Denver home remodeler prior to any final decisions.

While there is lots of classic charm in old houses, there can also be a lot of undesirable features, including pastel-colored bathrooms, popcorn ceilings, wall paneling, sunken living rooms, etc.  Then to complicate matters, renovations have their limitations because most neighborhoods have restraints that prevent you from increasing the price of your home too far beyond the values of neighboring properties; your Denver home remodeler or realtor can help you determine these limitations.

One of the biggest frustrations with fixer-uppers is maintaining a normal life while someone is in your home working. Depending on the size of the renovation project, it could take a lot of time, and if you do not have off-site housing arranged, you will be living in your own construction site!

The final reason that many people prefer forgo the remodel is the fact that so much has evolved with regard to homes over time. As previously mentioned, homes prior to the 70s were built with potentially dangerous materials, like lead-based paint or asbestos, which can be a large concern, especially for families with small children. Additionally, older homes were not built with modern technology in mind; there is often a lack of outlet plugs that are in convenient locations and properly wired to protect against electrical surges.


There is no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and drawbacks to both home plans. Some house hunters are willing to get their hands dirty and roll the dice on the busted up Victorian or the colonial cottage with the garden. Others, on the other hand, prefer the amenities, comfort, and low-risk involved in building a new home. After all, everyone’s dream home is different. If you are really torn between these two options, then hopefully this comparison analysis between building new or fixing up old has helped you make your decision and allowed you to move on to the next stage of finding a new home.Whatever your home plans are, always be sure to contact a Denver home builder or Denver home remodeler before making the big decision. They can help recommend where to build a new house or help estimate the costs of fixing up an older style home.