When you find yourself in the market for a new house, one of the first choices you need to make is whether to buy an existing house or build new. There are pros and cons to both, and ultimately, your decision will be decided largely by your family’s circumstances and your budget.

But even when you have a neat pro and con list written out, building a custom home versus buying an existing home can be a tough decision. We’re here to help! Keep reading for details that will help you make a decision you feel good about.

When You Should Buy an Existing Home

1. You're on a time crunch.

New home with for sale sign in yard

Major life events changes don’t always happen at opportune times, and they rarely follow a predictable schedule. That’s just life. And when it comes to buying and selling houses, things can change in the blink of an eye.

If you absolutely must be moved in and settled in your new home by the time your children start school, for example, forgoing the home building process right now is probably a good choice. A short-term rental can serve as a temporary home base if your current house sells and closes quicker than you anticipated, but the reality is that packing and moving is stressful and costly—and certainly not something anyone wants to do more than once in a short period of time.

Ultimately, you know yourself and your family best. If the idea of a short-term rental or trying to juggle house closing timelines makes you want to crawl in a hole, don’t force it!

Older brick home with back deck under construction

2. You genuinely enjoy home improvement projects.

There is no such thing as a maintenance-free house. It just doesn’t exist. Typically, older, existing homes need more TLC than others. And some people are totally OK with that! But it’s a decision only you can make.

Do you love doing the work to customize your home and really put your stamp on it? Do you want certain antique features, like old coil radiators or ornate wood carvings, for example, that you’re unlikely to find in a new build? If so, then purchasing an existing home is probably your best bet.

Row of homes on a neighborhood street

3. You want to live in a specific neighborhood.

Location is one of the most important considerations when it comes to real estate, and you may have a very specific area where you’d like to live. Maybe you need to be only a certain distance from work, or you don’t want to be outside of a certain school district. These are totally understandable criteria for your house search.

Depending on your part of the country and whether you’re in an urban, suburban, or rural area, you may have a difficult time finding a vacant lot to purchase for a custom home. If this is the hiccup you’re running into, you may need to shift your focus to existing homes instead.

When You Should Build a Custom Home

1. You're not in a (huge) hurry.

New home under construction

Building your custom dream home takes time. Maybe not as much time as you think, but you won’t go from offer to close in 30 or 45 days like you can when you purchase an existing home. That being said, when you work with an experienced, professional Wausau Homes builder, your new home will be ready in about 100 days—and you’ll be given a firm move-in date.

If you have approximately three to four months of lead time, building a custom home is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. Choose from our 150+ fully customizable floor plans to ensure that your new home is exactly what you want. No compromising necessary, unless you really want to, of course!

2. You know exactly what you want.

Builder with laptop showing house plans for customizing

Have you been building inspiration boards, growing your Pinterest account, and daydreaming about your dream house for years? Take a leap of faith and build custom!

One of the many benefits of working with a custom home builder is that your home is genuinely custom. Yes, the builder will begin with a floor plan that he or she has likely used before, but the ways that floor plan (and the home’s interior and exterior finishes) can be changed and modified to suit your specific needs are limited only by your imagination.

Have you dreamed of having a built-in bookshelf in your kitchen to showcase your collection of antique cookbooks? Now’s your chance! Do you need an extra-large garage to accommodate woodworking equipment? Tell your builder what you have in mind, and let him work his magic!

3. You want to relax and enjoy your new home.

Couple relaxing on couch surrounded by boxes

Moving is stressful. Selling your existing home and buying a new one is stressful. So when you finally unpack all the boxes, the last thing you want to do is jump into a home repair or home improvement project.

It seems that Murphy’s Law always strikes when you buy an existing home. Inevitably, you’ll discover that the dishwasher is broken the day after you move in. Or you’ll close your eyes on the first night in your new home and hear the furnace make an awful noise. When you build custom, your new home is truly move-in ready. There’s nothing left for you to do but unpack and start settling in. Doesn’t that sound nice?

Making the Right Choice for Your Family

There are advantages and disadvantages to both buying an existing home and building new. And it isn’t an easy choice to make! But ultimately, you know your preferences and limitations, as well as your timeline for getting into your new home.

Regardless of whether you build custom or purchase an existing home, the most important thing is creating a special home base for you and your family. And if building a custom home is the best choice for you, all of us at Wausau Homes would love to help!

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Find Your Local Builder

Wausau Homes has a network of highly-qualified new home builders. Find one serving in the area where you’d like to build the home of your dreams.

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