Lifestyle Guides

New builds or period properties - how to choose

If you’re buying a home, you’ll find benefits with both new and old properties; from energy efficiency and modernity to characterful spaces and period features. But how do you choose between the different styles?

Period property

What to consider when buying a period house

Plenty of period properties have just the right kerb appeal to turn your head when house-hunting. But it’s important to remember that appearance isn’t everything, so here are a few pros and cons to consider before you take the plunge:

Pros of buying a period property:

1. Size and space

Period properties often offer spacious rooms with high ceilings and generous windows. Less densely packed, their gardens tend to be larger and many have off-road parking.

2. Thicker walls and substantial building materials

These properties generally benefit from a superior build quality; you’ll often find thicker walls, ornate features and a structure that’s built to last.

3. Prime location

Many period properties are situated in prime locations within established communities, with amenities and transportation links on the doorstep.

4. Good investment

As only a finite amount of period properties exist, they tend to retain their value and you also have the potential to add value with updates and improvements. 

Cons of buying a period property:

1. Less energy efficient

Prone to be draughty, period properties can tend to attract higher fuel bills. Your home could take longer to warm up and be less effective at retaining heat. Read our guide on how to make an old home more energy efficient.

2. More maintenance

Issues of wear and tear are more prevalent, so the costs of upkeep and redecorating can really add up. Older wiring and plumbing may need to be replaced and there’s a risk older buildings may contain asbestos and lead paint. 

3. Property chain

When you’re buying an existing property (and this isn’t age-dependent unless you're buying off a blueprint of the new site), you’ll enter into negotiations with the current owners. You may find yourself in an unpredictable property chain, which can make the buying process a lot longer.

4. Old heating system

You may inherit an outdated boiler with your older home. This might need to be repaired or replaced, which can be costly. Taking out Admiral Home Emergency Cover when you buy a property can help spread the cost.

Tips for buying an old house

When you’re buying an older property, it’s worth commissioning the top level house survey to identify any defects or areas of damage that aren’t immediately obvious. 

Make sure you factor into your budget how you’ll pay for future repairs and what the likely costs will be for any remodelling or extensions you might be planning. 

Be sure to thoroughly examine your property - check out cupboards, roof spaces and cellars, which can both offer up potential and give clues to any problems that might exist. 

Take a look at our guide on what to look for during house viewings for more information.

What to consider when buying a new build

For some house hunters, there’s nothing like the thrill of buying something brand new and knowing you’ll be the first to live there. Modern homes certainly come with plenty of benefits, but there are a few less appealing aspects to be aware of too:

Pros of buying a new-build property

1. Energy efficiency

Complying with the latest building regulations means modern homes are more energy-efficient. As they’re well-insulated and fitted with more efficient plumbing and electrical fixtures, new properties are often cheaper to run. 

2. Building warranty and incentives

To give peace of mind, many new builds come with a 10-year warranty. But warranties can be limited in scope, so it’s important to have buildings insurance. Some developers also offer extra incentives such as paying your stamp duty. 

3. Bespoke design and modern living

You’re often able to choose many of the fixtures and fittings in a new build. And new builds are usually geared towards modern living with open-plan spaces and ‘smart home’ features.

4. Low maintenance

You should be able to start enjoying your home straightaway, with no wear and tear, there should be little that needs fixing or repairing in the first few years.

Cons of buying a new build property:

1. Expensive to buy

New houses come with a premium price tag and it can be hard to cover your costs in the short term if you choose to sell. 

2. Snagging

A new build doesn’t necessarily mean it’s flawless but most problems are likely to be cosmetic and easily fixed. It’s advisable to carry out a ‘snagging survey’ before you complete the sale.

This type of survey is designed to check for issues with new build homes and should be done by a professional surveyor. You’ll find there are several surveying firms that specialise in working with new builds. 

3. Lack of character and less space

New builds don’t have the unique features of period homes and can lack individuality. To maximise developer profits, new houses are often built close together, have smaller gardens and are less generously proportioned.

4. Build delays

If your new house is running behind schedule, which can happen, you may experience a delayed move date. This could add to your costs if you need to pay for storage or unexpected rent.

Tips for buying a new-build home

Try to see beyond the staging of a show home and be aware your house won’t be exactly the same as this.

Remember if you’re buying off-plan, the earlier you show interest in the development the more room you have to negotiate on price. 

Assess the land around your new potential property and decide if it’s likely other homes will be built and cause the area to become a building site.

What home insurance will I need when I buy a house?

Buildings insurance is often compulsory if you’re planning to buy a home with a mortgage. This covers the cost of rebuilding your home if it’s damaged or destroyed. If your period property is a listed building you’ll need listed building insurance, which covers any specific materials and expert work needed to maintain its listed status.

Once you have moved in you should also consider adding contents insurance to your policy - this will protect all of the belongings in your new home.

Finally, remember that house-hunting is an exciting time so take some time to enjoy it. Your dream home, new or old, could be just around the corner!

Flexible home insurance from Admiral