Doer-uppers vs new build homes: Which should you buy?

Doer-uppers vs new build homes: Which should you buy?

Which camp are you in?

When it comes to property, most buyers either:

  • Want a renovation project
  • Want a ‘move straight in’ home

There are plenty of reasons why buying a new home, which you can simply move straight into and enjoy, suits many buyers.

But there are also a huge number of reasons why buying a doer-upper works for others.

And there are many, many things you’ll need to consider before buying either…


New build vs old build homes: Which is right for me?

Whether you buy a new build home or an older property that you can make your own, there are plenty of things you’ll need to think about:


The pros of new build homes

  • New builds are chain free, so you won’t have any buyers above you in your chain
  • With a new build, you could make use of a buying scheme like Help to Buy or Shared Ownership
  • Developers will often add incentives to buy, like upgrades on fixtures and fittings or covering your stamp duty
  • New build homes are often more energy efficient, meaning lower utility bills
  • Most new builds come with a builder’s warranty


Cons of new builds

  • New builds are often built on sites with lots of other homes, meaning space around your property could be at a premium
  • New homes can often drop in value before they rise again
  • Snagging issues can sometimes be frustrating with new properties
  • Delays to your property’s build could mean you have to rent for longer, or delay completing on the sale of your current home


What is a ‘doer-upper’?

A doer-upper, or ‘fixer-upper’, is a name for a property that is in need of repair and renovation.

The level of work a doer-upper needs will vary from overall cosmetic improvements and decoration, to general renovation work and then major structural improvement.


Buying a doer-upper: Things to consider

While the prospect of taking on a property project can be exciting and a real opportunity to put your stamp on your home as well as add value, there are also plenty of things to consider:

  • Set your budget for the purchase and renovation work
  • Think carefully about location – the old adage ‘buy the worst house in the best street’ is a good thought process to follow
  • Have a full survey so you know exactly what you’re buying
  • Speak to your local planning authority if you’re looking to extend
  • Talk to your local estate agent to find out what buyers locally look for, so you can ensure you make the right changes should you come to sell your home in the future


The pros and cons of a doer-upper

There are plenty of pros and cons you’ll need to think about if you’re planning to buy a doer-upper:


Pros of buying a doer-upper

  • Properties in need of repairs are often cheaper to buy
  • You may be able to buy a property in a better area if it needs work, as it will almost certainly be cheaper
  • By renovating and improving a property, you can add value
  • A doer-upper can be a blank canvas for you to make your own


Cons of doer-uppers

  • Renovating a property can be expensive
  • Homes in need of repairs can throw up unexpected additional problems, which can test your budget
  • If major work is required, you may not be able to live in the property, meaning you’ll potentially be paying for two homes
  • Renovation work takes time, so patience is a key trait when taking on a doer-upper


How do I find a fixer-upper?

The best place to start when looking for a fixer-upper to buy is your local estate agent.

It’s worth remembering that this kind of property doesn’t always have to be a wreck – a good fixer-upper is one that needs updating, but also offers the potential to add additional space.

Other places to look for development opportunities include:

  • Solicitors, who may have probate properties for sale
  • Property auctions


Financing a doer-upper

While you might be able to buy most doer-uppers with a mortgage, those in a more severe state of disrepair might be deemed ‘uninhabitable’ by lenders.

If so, you may be limited to buying with cash or through development finance, which can be more complex and more expensive than a traditional mortgage.


Further reading…

New build properties and doer-uppers can be good options for first-time buyers – particularly in London.

If you’re thinking of buying your first home in the capital, take a look at our London first-time buyer guide, which can help.