Blog Post for Greater Charleston New Homes Guide

What should I know about buying a new construction home as compared to buying a resale home

If you're in the market to purchase a home you must first decide whether you want to buy a new construction home or if you'd like to buy a resale home. There are advantages to each home type. Knowing your preferences allows you to find the home that suits you best.

What are the advantages of  new construction?

New construction homes have never been lived in and that alone has a strong appeal for many people. Many people think of resale homes as homes that come with other people's problems or other people's deferred maintenance. Roofs, air conditioning and heating all have a useful life of between 15-20 years. If you’re purchasing a resale home, you may have to replace or repair one of these components unless the sellers have recently done so.

In new construction homes everything is new. A new home has brand new appliances, HVAC systems, and has plumbing and electrical wiring that meets or exceeds local building codes. Older homes plumbing lines may leak or be near the end of their useful lifespan. In older homes electrical service may not have capacity to handle the high demand of modern living; necessitating a rewiring project.

New homes are built to the latest Lowcountry building codes. This is important when it comes to strength to withstand coastal storms. Codes in the greater Charleston area require that all houses have hurricane strapping in their framing and meet specific standards for structural integrity that were not in place decades ago. A resale home may not meet these requirements, putting it at greater risk of damage during seasonal summer storms.

New homes are more energy efficient

New homes are designed to be far more energy efficient than resale homes. New homes have better insulation and they often have Low-E windows which prevent heat transfer. Appliances in new homes also comply with the latest Energy Star requirements.

Resale homes often have windows and exterior doors which leak air as well as insulation which is not sufficient to keep the house at comfortable temperature no matter the season. Buyers can replace all of these, but it can be costly to do so, especially when unusual sizes or configurations are used.

Floorplans for the way you live now

Floor plans in new homes are designed to fit current lifestyles. Older homes frequently have more closed in floor plans. In older homes it’s common for kitchens to be separate from the living areas. You can remodel older homes, but most buyers these days don’t want to take on major remodeling projects.

New homes often have more flex space or rooms that can be allocated to either study areas or home offices or hobby spaces.

In new homes the ratio of bathrooms to bedrooms is higher than in older homes where fewer bathrooms were more common. The other feature which is generally more abundant in new construction homes are closets. Older homes may have smaller closets or no closets in bedrooms, depending on the year in which they were built.

While some may prefer older homes for their charm, you can have charm and character in newer homes. Home builders design their floor plans and house fronts to reflect coastal Lowcountry vernacular styles using side porches reminiscent of the Charleston Single House. In areas like Summerville and Mount Pleasant’s Old Village where homes reflect the Victorian period, new construction builders often make sure house fronts include design nods to that period.

New construction homes are built from the latest materials

In older homes one has to be concerned about the presence of asbestos which was used decades ago in siding, ductwork insulation, or linoleum. Lead paint is another concern in resale homes. If you choose to purchase a resale home, testing for the presence of asbestos and lead paint in homes constructed prior to 1980 is critical to your safety.

New homes are constructed with the latest materials. These materials are designed, in most applications, to be require less maintenance and may be more energy efficient. As an example, cement plank siding, which is used in many new construction homes requires less maintenance as compared to wood clapboard siding which is common in older homes.

Granite countertops and up-to-date tile designs in wet areas of the house are highly desirable to buyers. Older homes may have laminate countertops or tile countertops which have to be removed and retrofitted with granite or quartz.

New homes are safer

New homes are equipped with smoke detectors and CO2 detectors — often hardwired to the house. Carpets in new homes are required to be more fire-retardant. Walls in new homes must meet all building codes for fire blocks and fire rated caulks. Security systems are frequently a component of the new home’s smart home aka structured wiring.

Community amenities must be considered

Master planned communities often include amenities which are very much in demand with buyers. Swimming pools, fitness centers, large and well-appointed children's playgrounds, biking trails, hiking trails, and community meeting spaces are all amenities which you will find in a master-planned community.

Resale homes may be in parts of a city where these types of services can be found but they are frequently not in immediate proximity to your home.

The one advantage that resale homes may have over new construction homes is their location. Older homes may be closer to the city center, which could shorten your commute if you work in there. However, many new construction neighborhoods are in areas where the very best schools are located. And many new construction neighborhoods like Cane Bay, Nexton or Summers Corner have new schools built within them.

The choice between new construction and resale is yours alone

Ultimately, only you can choose which type of home is right for you, but knowing the advantages of a new home when compared with a resale home will help you be an informed home buyer.