Buying or Building a Home: Which is Cheaper?

If you have had enough with renting or are looking for more space for your growing family and you have decided that the time has come to plant your roots down permanently you might wonder: Is it cheaper to buy a house or just build one from scratch? Since most of us are not rolling in money, taking the time to come up with pros and cons is a good idea. In this article, we are going to talk about everything you are going to need to know about buying a home compared to building a new one.


couple looking on house

Upfront Cost

According to recent numbers, if you buy an existing home the median cost is around $223,000 for 1,500 square feet, built before the 1960’s, and that comes out to about $148 a square foot. Now the exact price can vary widely depending on where you live. For Lakeland, the average home cost is around $158,900 and around $94 a square foot.

If you build a new home the average cost is around $289,415 which is $66,415 more than the cost of an existing home. However, you get a lot more bang for your buck because typically new homes are more spacious with the average size of 2,467 square feet, meaning the cost per square foot is $103 which is lower than the average of existing homes in the U.S. Plus you only pay for exactly what you want. If you buy an existing home you may have to pay for features you don’t necessarily want.


It is no secret that older homes succumb to more wear and tear, which means certain things are going to need more maintenance. Things like a new HVAC system can last up to 15 years and costs upwards of $5,000 to replace and the average shingle roof lasts for around 25 years and a replacement is going to run around the $8,000- $10,000 range depending on your home.

New construction, on the other hand, demands a lot less upkeep since everything is brand new and under warranty. In some cases, the home is protected for 10 years because builders typically offer a new construction warranty for potential problems that arise.

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Home Buying Red Flags


Everyone loves a house with huge mature trees to protect us from the Florida heat and owning an older home gives you that perk. Another perk besides shade is that the U.S. Forest Service estimates that strategically placed mature trees can add tens of thousands to a property’s value, plus it can save you up to 56% on annual air-conditioning costs which are a big deal since Floridians have the air going for 10-11 months out of the year.

If you want that type of landscaping for your new build you are going to have to wait awhile because it could take thousands of dollars and many years to get the yard you want. If you buy a 6-7 foot tall maple tree it will cost around $120, if you plant it yourself. Then the tree will grow around 2-3 feet a year so it will be awhile before you get a nice mature tree in your yard. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a complete landscaping is around $3,219.

Energy Efficiency

Just until recently the world was not concerned with going green so houses that were built 36 years ago, which is the median age of homes in the U.S., are not energy efficient. Those charming, outdated windows and appliances are just dollars being thrown away on wasted energy which is also hurting the earth.

New construction, on the other hand almost always beats out older homes in energy efficiency. Homes built after 2000 consume 21% less energy than older homes, which translates to huge savings and a happy planet.


One of the best things about owning a home is the return on investment, and when you buy an existing home you can come to some kind of conclusion on where the neighborhood will be in a few years and if you will make or lose money. You are able to get a feel for if the prices of homes in the area or rising or falling which could determine the potential for making money and the overall condition of the neighborhood in a few years.

Modern detached houseNew homes, in up-and-coming neighborhoods this aspect is much more of a gamble. Without a proven track record of years of the home being sold and bought, there is just not enough to go off of to really know what will happen in the future. This is also true for all the amenities and features you put into your home because trends eventually die.

Hopefully, this article helped you decide whether a new build or existing home is right for you. If you are still unsure feel free to contact one of our amazing agents, each one of them are perfectly suited to help you and your family get the perfect home! 


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