Diary Of A First-Time Homeowner (This Old House)

As promised, this is the second part to my previous blog post on this topic. Although I’ve never bought an old house, I have several sets of friends and family who are either going through the process right now or have been very recently. Good timing eh?

So, as a result, I feel well acquainted enough with their position to write about the other side of the “new-build vs. older house” coin. Without further ado, here’s a bit of insight into their collective experience.

Before The Move

This time period is one that’s often lasted longer than my friends and family have hoped, with one group having two deals fall through at the last minute due to problems with the onward chain and another property failing its survey due to structural problems.

Unfortunately, problems like these can be common. Some solicitors, surveyors etc. will cover the costs of a second property if the first falls through for some reason, but it’s just as likely that you’ll have to foot the bill for any failed attempts.

After The Move

Having visited the properties in question a few times, our new owners had a good feel for the surrounding towns, amenities etc. but also had a good idea what the estates the houses were located on would be like.

This is a nice advantage that you don’t get with new builds, where you have no choice but to hope that twenty-odd nightmare families haven’t bought the plots adjacent to yours. The downside is that buyers of older properties are, by default, the new kids on the block until they settle in!

Like with my own new-build, there were some post-move problems to deal with. One such issue involved a painter who’d been mistakenly told that all rooms were being re-carpeted and ruining the floor in a room that had been going to stay as it was. Another needed an old, faulty shower stripping out and replacing.

I’ve generally found that, while most of my new-build problems can be solved by either getting someone from the site round or paying a pretty small sum of money, those with existing houses tend to be much more costly.

Since Then

Despite one set of friends having moved into their older house several months ago, they tell me that they still feel like they’re a long way from the finish line. I sort of feel like that about my new-build place, but I’m still pretty happy with things as they are.

That’s probably because my rooms are very neutral, waiting for me to put my stamp on them, while those in their older house will most likely actively offend them until they scrape up the money to change things… which might be a while after that unexpected re-carpeting.

The key issue that sticks out to me that we’re talking about a first-time purchase. Being able to jazz up a new-build is great but, if we’re being realistic, I probably won’t be living there for much longer than 5 (maybe 10) years.

The thought of buying an older home and having to redecorate every room as soon as I had the money, only to grow out of the place after 5-10 years is very off-putting to me.

Unless you’re able to buy an older house that you can grow into, a new-build might be a good idea. But equally, you might resent paying more just for newness if you consider yourself pretty handy and don’t mind a fixer-upper. For now, I’m glad I went with a new-build, but I might consider an older house the next time around.

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