House: New or Used?

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House: New or Used?

Postby utopia » Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:45 am

Since my SO and I are not incredibly handy, and both of our handier fathers live far away, the thought of new construction is intriguing. Is Veridian really the Antichrist? Or am I just being sucked in by their marketing?

Does anyone have any experience with them? Or would recommend against new construction? (Grandview Commons would be the area we would select - the rest of them seem like beige monstrosities of sprawl.)

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Postby roadkill bill » Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:10 pm

When I bought, I told my real estate agent, "Don't show me anything built after WWII, unless it's spectacular." But that's me, I prefer the character and style of older houses. I am far from handy, but I know how to hire people that are.

The one thing you get with an older house is knowing ahead of time what is likely wrong with the house. That's what house inspectors are for - so you don't get too many surprises.

Some friends that have bought new have ended up with unpleasant surprises because you can't see, feel, knock on, hear, or inspect the new construction before you put money down. Leaking windows, trim not straight, warped floors, shifting soil, unexpected landscaping problems, etc. can all happen. it's not necessarily the developer's fault, but you just don't know what you are going to get.

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Postby Dark Meat » Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:38 pm

My house was built in the early 60s. Prior to closing, when the inspector was doing his thing, he kept talking about the craftsmanship and how they just don't make them like this anymore. He didn't have much nice to say about new construction, although he didn't mention names. And this is a guy who has no real stake in steering someone toward an older house.

One thing he mentioned is that new houses are often built so air-tight (Tyvek-wrapped, etc.) that they don't really breathe like they should. He said he'd seen dozens of examples of houses less than 10 years old with mold or mildew problems because they'd taken on some rain while they were being built which had been trapped in the walls. He said he wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the new construction you see was being torn down within a couple of decades due to black mold, etc.

Don't know how accurate that might be, but he's a seasoned inspector and thus, I think, speaks with some authority.

I think there are plenty of advantages to owning a new home, but I seriously doubt quality is one of them. Also, those vaulted ceilings that are so popular now are heat sinks. Something to think about as the price of heating your home continues to climb.

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Postby dudemeister » Fri Nov 30, 2007 12:55 pm

The good things about an older home are that all that will go wrong has gone wrong and gotten fixed.

Bad things are that stuff is old and breaks.

Seems like a good reason to get a new house might be energy efficiency. Our friends have a Veridian home about the same size as our 1920s home and their heating bill is about 1/2 to 1/3 of ours.

On the other hand, the old houses are made with higher quality stuff. The stuff in the developer houses seems really low quality to me. The trim is cheap, the doors are cheap, the hardware is cheap; and you can tell.

You know what they say about real estate though. Location, location, location. It seems fishy to me when a developer buys 250 acres of farmland for $2m, plats it out and suddenly each 1/4 acre lot is worth $50k. Minus roads and greenspace, that's an instant, say, $23m profit.

My advice: buy an older lakefront home. They're not making any more lakes.

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Postby aaron » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:12 pm

I am also far from handy when it comes to home repair, but I take an older home any day over these new cookie-cutter, generic they're putting out these days. There is something stark and sterile about most of the new construction that just totally turns me off. The character of older homes wins me over every time.

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Postby Henry Vilas » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:17 pm

dudemeister wrote:My advice: buy an older lakefront home. They're not making any more lakes.

Mother Nature might not be making them anymore, but man-made lakes are fairly common in Wisconsin. Lakefront property is very expensive, so even an older home on the water will set you back beaucoup bucks.

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