Building vs Buying a house – what’s your best option?

Building vs Buying a house - what's your best option

While home ownership is a dream we all aspire to achieve, most people overlook self-building as an option. This age-old debate of building vs buying a house leaves many confused and reaching for Rightmove to look again at the open market. However, it doesn’t have to be that way!


Buying on the open market using an estate agent can be simpler, quicker and the overall cost is agreed on upfront. Whereas self-building can take longer, lead to overspending, but the result is exactly your dream property.


Let’s look at each option of Building vs Buying a house in detail and try to draw some sensible conclusions which will enable you to make the right choice for you.



Location, Location, Location

Let’s start with the biggest factor, location. Since there’s already plentiful supply of properties in good locations on the open market, finding a sensibly priced plot can prove difficult.


One factor people often forget about self-building is that land prices can have a massive impact on the overall cost. Especially as land can account for anywhere between 20% and 50% of the cost, depending on where you’re trying to build.


There are a few ways to find excellent plots which are perfect for self-building, including backland and garden splitting. That said, finding land yourself and negotiating can be an uphill battle. Luckily, some people do attempt to gain planning on their back garden and then sell this plot through an estate agent.


It’s also worth noting whether you’re purchasing land or a property, you’ll always pay a premium for in-demand locations.



creating your dream home



Creating your dream home

Since everyone wants their house to reflect their personality, home builders have had to adapt. With some now offering the ability to change the designs.


However, you might wonder how to self build and whether you’ll get to build your dream home. With any self build project, you’re in complete control of every detail. While this may send shivers down your spine, a good builder is worth their salt as they can help you interpret your ideas into the finished product.


It’s also likely, that the open market in your area is full of properties that tick a lot of your boxes but don’t quite satisfy all of them. So even after purchasing a home, it still might need some fine-tuning to get it perfect.




Maintenance can be a hidden money pit. Especially if you’re purchasing a property which looks fine from the outside, but actually requires a lot of work.


One of the biggest advantages with a self-build is that you should not have any problems for years as all the fittings, paint jobs and appliances are brand spanking new. This could save you thousands of pounds each year.


However, an existing house could be hiding a few money traps. It might look fine from the outside, but most of us ignore small issues, which have the potential to develop into larger ones.



property pricing



Peace or Stress

Transitioning to home ownership can be stressful, but no-one wants premature grey hairs, rising blood pressure and stomach ulcers. That’s why self-building is not for the faint-hearted and is a completely different task from adding a single story extension or combining two rooms.


During a self-build, you’ll have to deal with other stresses such as managing contractors, making endless decisions and more. Plus, self-builds are renowned for blowing the budget and exceeding the time frame.


Another stress of self-builds is landscaping. Any new house will have a bare plot surrounding it. And it could take years before you get the privacy or shade you require. Whereas a home which has been lived in for a number of years is likely to have a mature garden which provides privacy and space for enjoyment.



Priced right?

Plenty of people are happy to pay a premium to purchase the house of their dreams. However, if we break down the total price for us to build one from the ground up, the costs add up fast.


Should a home be well maintained and priced correctly, then estimating the total cost of moving is quite a simple task.


However, it’s easy to underestimate the cost of buying land, finding the right architect, builder and contractors for your self-build. Therefore it’s always worth talking with others who have built their own home and ensuring that your contingency is large enough.



Buying Pros and Cons

Let’s explore buying a home in more detail as this should make clear this option of building vs buying a house.



  1. You can move quickly to a house which ticks most, if not all, of your boxes
  2. It’s can be easy to spot maintenance issues and ask for a discount
  3. Older homes can have a great character and charm
  4. You can easily research the neighbourhood
  5. The deposit you need might be smaller



  1. Hidden and costly maintenance
  2. Buying a home can be quite stressful
  3. Could be more expensive
  4. Requires some work in order to become your dream home
  5. Might cost more to run the property



Buying or Building home



Self build Pros and Cons

On the other side of building vs buying a house is deciding to build for yourself. Let’s look at the positives and negatives of this option.



  1. You can build exactly what you want
  2. More energy efficient
  3. Little or no maintenance costs
  4. Less legal costs and tax
  5. Could be cheaper overall



  1. Might be difficult to find the right land and gain planning
  2. Self-building takes time
  3. A bigger deposit may be required
  4. You might have to use a specialist lender
  5. Costs can easily spiral out of control



Building vs Buying a house

There’s no clear winner in the building vs buying a house debate. If you’re keen to keep the mortgage to a minimum and willing to put in some hard work, buying is for you.


But for those determined to build the home of their dreams, self-building when done right can make you a health profit while matching your exacting criteria.