POLL: Brand-New House vs. Very Old House

Emily H
August 5, 2014
last modified: April 15, 2016

All things being equal in terms of location and style, would you rather have a brand new house that has never been lived in before or a very old house, with a long history?
VOTE and tell us about it in the comments!

Comments (139)

  • eahlberg

    Although there is always something else to fix or redo, old houses are often better built and you just can't beat their character. It's a matter of taste, of course, but give me an old house filled with history and hopefully previous love.

  • uberv

    With a newer house you are less likely to be faced with immediate catastrophic failure of one or more systems. This includes things such as heating, wiring, plumbing, lead paint and pipes, and asbestos in the insulation, flooring and ceiling tiles. These all necessitate tearing into the structure to repair and require professional attention. We have not had to replace knob and tube or aluminum wire. We have not
    had to worry about corroded galvanized pipes or crushed terracotta waste

    Yes you have to maintain both in fact I've seen recommendations that you should be planning 10% of the value each year in upkeep. We have painted our 26 year old mostly brick home three times, made minor and major landscape alterations to respond to drought conditions, re-plastered the pool, replaced the leaking windows, replaced carpets with carpets and those with wood laminate. We have had multiple heat pumps, hot water recirculating pumps, hot water heaters, kitchen appliances and washers and dryers. Quartz tops replaced the chipped kitchen laminated counters when we repainted the cabinets. We have replaced broken PVC piles in the walls and the slab and reworked duct work for the HVAC.

    We lived in New England and New York for decades and loved the old homesteads. After living in two brand new homes, I have great respect for preservation but not sufficient patience of funds.

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  • Erich Whiteman

    I prefer most of the older properties. As stated, many of the materials and quality of workmanship you couldn't touch now without spending a lot more. Yes, old systems should be replaced or updated for safety but many of the older homes had large flowing floorplans as well. Also, depending on what area of the country you live in, many of the older homes were built better than those built in the 80s and 90s. Also, more insurance companies don't want houses with cpvc plumbing. Good old copper still lasts longer.

    All thing being equal, give me the older properties over most newer properties. They can be updated and still keep there charm.

  • pdk920

    Any house, old or new, needs care and upkeep. I spent very little on mine over the past 45 years so now that I'm retired I have repairs and improvements to make. But certainly nothing approaching the yearly "10% of its value" mentioned above. I think too many people try to make an old house into a modern house, which is pointless IMO. By all means keep it safe and comfortable, but why spend huge amounts of money ripping out walls and installing bells and whistles that the house was never planned to accommodate? Just buy a newer home that you'll love and leave the good old homes for the folks who'll be happy in them.

  • Tricia C
    From an investment standpoint it depends. However, new = least one to fix stuff and more time for family. You plant memories as the first family there. I love that.
  • L Hayes

    I had both, and prefer the old one. After a dozen years or so the new one isn't so new anyway. The old ones are built of sterner stuff.

  • willadale

    We live in an old house (built in 1888) and I love its character. True, it has nearly no closet space, the plaster in the rooms that haven't been renovated is made with horsehair which is starting to crumble, the window are the originals in most of the house (!), but I wouldn't want to give it up for a new house. There is so much character here!

  • lauren1331

    Our house was built in 1938. It is a 6 room house with a finished lower level with a full bathroom. I grew up in a house built in 1900. I didn't know it at the time nor would it have made any difference to me. It had 4 bedrooms, huge closets, large rooms and 1 bathroom for 4 people!!!! I've owned 3 houses since then, all built in the last half of the 20th century. We now own a stone house built in 1938. I just love all the quirky things about it, the small closets, the aggravation of driving nails into the plaster and lath walls, the old small bathrooms and the creaking floors. I wouldn't have it any other way. The moment I stepped in the front door, I felt at home.

  • willadale

    Lauren1331 - it has always been my dream to live in a stone house again. The house we lived in from the time I was 3 until I was 8 was a stone house with a wrap-around porch. I have so many wonderful memories from that time in my life and I have always attributed those memories to the house itself.

  • montana88

    It doesn't matter to me what the house is, as we can make it home with our vision. My concern is location, location, location.

  • sabra900
    Live in a very old house...ready for a brand new one...
  • 38240

    Hard to answer. Grew up in farm house (see photo) & loved it. I love the character, the detail given to the old homes, but I also know that you either need the skills required to maintain/repair/remodel an old home yourself, or have enough money to be able to pay to have it done.

    Now for the new house. If the design is mine & I can get EXACTLY what I want as far as details & quality, then yeah, sure!

  • ptmallc

    I think we are on the cusp of real "smart home" technologies that will enable us to live more comfortably and economically. I want a well built new house with a roof strong enough for solar panels, wiring for whatever technology comes along, and easy accessed 'guts' of the house that can be changed to suit new inventions. I love old houses and early in our lives, we lived in several. But they are money pits, and they take constant vigilance to keep up with the maintenance. New with double paned, huge windows giving lots of light, heating that really keeps the inmates comfortable and the latest, easiest to use, appliances, Thank you!

  • 2desperate
    I will finally be enjoying both. After a kitchen fire destroyed 90% of the interior of our 125 year old Victorian (taking all our pets, and nearly our lives), we are rebuilding the inside. By keeping the look age appropriate, we can maintain a traditional Victorian home, but enjoy modern amenities and all code updates. Fortunately, it's beautiful exterior was undamaged. However, given the choice, I'd take the old house. I am a sucker for old homes with soul! :)
  • deesmom

    Old hands down! I have lived in both , and being married to a builder, we have seen both sides. In my view, new houses are exactly that... HOUSES... while older ones seems like HOMES.... the creeks and imperfections that go with it are only signs of the love that has been in the house before me. Life has existed there and I know I am a small part of Gods universe.

  • Judy

    In 1994 I got divorced and wanted a new home that had no history, no "ghosts" so I had a house built and got exactly what I wanted, it was a great house and very well built but kind of blah. 8 years later I craved a home with some character so I bought an older home (about 15 yrs old) which turned out to be a money pit so I sold that and bought another older home (about 30 yrs old) 4 years later. I've remodeled the baths and updated most everything else in my current home and I love every inch of it. New homes hold no attraction for me, if I could afford it I'd buy a 100 year old home, I would want updated appliances, bath and kitchen, I'd leave as much of the original design as possible.

  • suzi10

    I grew up in a house that had to be retrofitted for that "new fangled electricity!" The house was later moved about 15 miles and is still in use.

  • zajnat
    Brand new house will become old eventually. Old house can still look good, classic with upkeeping, has character and charm.

    If one has money to buy brand new, one can also afford to redo some old stuff and keep the charm.
  • donnatu

    I like the energy in an older home. New ones don't 'speak' to me.

  • Cheryl Biermann

    Only if I had the money to get them in "like new" condition . Also, if I ever had the money and chance to build another house for us, I would learn from 28 years of parenting...the laundry room would be part of the children's bathroom, it would be the largest room in the house, there would be shelves and racks for clothing in there and a private spot for changing after the shower! No schlepping around room to room any more, putting clothes away that in one frantic moment gets destroyed. No yelling when the basked of clean clothes they were supposed to put away winds up with dirty clothes on top!

  • hvanderark

    I would never be able to afford the new home I would want to build - it would have to have all of the old world charm I love and that price tag would be insurmountable! We tried to stay true to the era of our home (1929) when we remodeled the kitchen and even added a basement bedroom - materials and trim style make a world of difference.

  • Kelley Dockrey
    it depends on when the old house was built. some eras had better construction than others.
  • vgunter

    My home was built in 1972 ranch style and it sits on 5 acres of land, only 1 acre is livable the rest is woods. And yes, I do consider it an older home but it is built structurally well. I have done several upgrades and additions over the 17 years I have lived there because (1) easier to make some desired changes to an older home (2) sometimes they have more land than newer homes. So old vs new, older homes are probably built better but they do have problems as in any man made product old or new. So lesson to be learned if you live in your new home long enough you will see there are going to be some type of problems that will occur sooner or later. It's just a matter of time.

  • Mary Dillon

    I just can't get over what we in the U.S. consider "OLD" -- !!!

  • PRO
    Beck Custom Homes, LLC

    I would normally say new but based solely on the Elevation pictures above and quality of workmanship, I would go with the Old.

  • dr_j_p_2046

    I love old as in over 60 yr. and older....they seem to have a personality all their own:)

  • artsyphartsy_home_maker

    I love the charm of old but voted for new construction from a practical perspective. A new construction only if constructed very well with quality materials & craftsmanship. Charm of old historical homes certainly can't be beat though.

  • pat_ter

    The quality older homes have a character and an element of comfort that the newer homes can never achieve!!!!

  • Barbara Larson

    There is no way EVER I would prefer a new house - I don't care how much money people spend on more space than most of them need - they will never be as great as the charm and character of my 1918 bungalow with original chestnut woodwork and ceiling trim. I've lived in older homes all my life while my sisters have opted for new - their homes are boring. My 2 cents and no one will EVER convince me otherwise. Updated plumbing, electrical, sure but new homes are just plain ugly to me.

  • mykidshavetails Dallas
    Just bought a 1896 Victorian 5 months ago after living in new homes all my life . After the initial shock and acceptance of the pricing of all new plumbing and eletrical ( still on going ) WE LOVE IT.
  • Mary Ann Keith Herrera
    Brand new house but old style...
  • WantAHome ForMyBaby

    I might be late to chime in ..but since we home shopping ourselves and have same questions haunting us, I want to contribute.

    We lived in apartments all along so when looking for buying, I feel more homely touring old homes and instantly wanted to buy. New constructions were just like bigger apartments to me. So with all the money in my bank, i would have Brand NEW "old style" home with sun room, front porch, big back yard, fencing, swinging door kitchen ( I hate open kitchen concept btw) and no basements if possible.

  • PRO
    Raleigh Cabinets & Remodeling

    Live in old house is great benefits if you "lucky" you can have quality materials and craftsmanship and enjoy because it's unique ... but some old houses build not up to construction CODE and problems all the time . Before buy old house just need Inspection after make mind if it's worth it to buy it . Problem found contractor who know how to repair old house very hard to found .

  • eightpondfarm

    our rock house. built in 1840s. we LOVE it. i prefer the character, and am perfectly, 100% willing to take this old hand built german home...warts and all. this old homestead is our bliss.

  • creatureofchaos
    I have an old house (1890) that was already thoroughly renovated. Building an old house doesn't have to mean buying old mechanicals, for heaven's sake.
  • januarisun

    If location and style were exactly the same, and both had excellent build quality, then I'd pick new. I love older homes, but knowing it won't need repairs and that everything is up to current code has a certain peace of mind, I would think.

    That being said, I've never lived in a new home, and in general, don't like them, so I'm probably dreaming about being happy with a house that doesn't need something done to it in the next few years.

  • e p

    Revitalizing an old poll... Old homes forever. The materials and quality of goods used in my 1912 can barely, if even, be purchased today and when you can it's stupid expensive. I look around and see houses built in the 90's - less than 20 years old that look old, worn and sad, even with upkeep, while my 100+ y/o house looks super with just a little paint touch up now and again.

  • PRO
    Gerety Building and Restoration

    Give me a beautifully restored old home. Best of both worlds!

  • dr_j_p_2046

    I go to junk barns, areas where older homes have been left to bury got the mantel for fire place free from owners:) I do still have doors with the brass knobs I took down as all rooms seem to have doors! stored in barn and tops of window frames I collected while restoring as well....yes hard to find many things places I have found...Carolina, Virginia, Smoky Mountains, Appalachians, gotta go down those side roads!

  • pat_ter

    The charm, character and warmth given off by extensive use of wood trim and floor plan tie everything together in a practical yet simple fashion.

    The new homes look like they were designed using a rubber stamp and not a lot of imagination!!!

  • PRO
    Cinar Interiors, Inc.

    I have always lived in an old house. Purchased the home I am in now from my parents some decades back, the same home I was born and raised in. The home itself was built in the late 1890s. TONS of memories and history here. But with time things change. We are no longer secluded as I have neighbors on one side of me and the ranch next door sold with extensive construction being completed. No longer on the outskirts of town but more like smack dab in the center... boy oh boy does time fly. It's a nice home and has served its purpose but it's almost time to tear it down, sell the land and build new.
    Haven't decided if I want to build or purchase a newer home and remodel. This coming year will tell..

  • PRO
    Valter and Anna fon Eynik

    Brand new, designed and built by self. We'll create a history by us ))

  • suzihomemaker56

    I prefer an old house that has been updated to meet modern building codes. Updated plumbing, Updated Electrical with more outlets in all the rooms. All new paint. Also, I would like to have a master bath. Otherwise, this home will have the same vintage look, rooms, and charm as it did when it was built, which means the remodeler didn't knock down walls to make it open concept, which would destroy the reason why one would be interested in buying the home, in the first place, Where I live one can find these homes quite often.

  • uabchris

    On the topic of "Old House character" here is a good read on retaining and restoring that charm we all love!

  • pdk920

    Great article, uabchris. Nothing sadder than seeing irreplaceable architectural features ripped out, making charming one-of-a-kind homes into gutted pseudo-new houses. People should just buy new ones if that's what they really want.

  • Stella Mengels

    old glamor

    it will cost us an arm and a leg to renenovate this old villa...

  • leticia212813

    I am a single mom of three awesome kids and I always dreamed of moving my kids to a small town, owning a charming old fixer-upper, doing most the repairs myself or with my kids and growing old in it, so we moved to the mid-West and purchased a home built in the late 1800’s... I now wish we had stayed in our new home in California! There are so so so-so many issues which continue to rear their ugly faces in my old home, most of which I never imagined... for one, not one door in my home will stay open without being propped open because my house leans but luckily, theres no easy fix because one room leans to the east while another leans to the south and another to the west.... you get the picture! Also, somewhere along the life of this cute little home, a previous homeowner decided putting siding containing asbestos over the original beautiful wood planks was a good idea. So now it’s going to take a whole $$ hazmat crew $$ to remove it and bring it back to its original beauty (thank you previous homeowner!). There are other issues like the entire subfloor needs to be replaced, the material used for the walls and ceiling is this horrible fiber stuff, so that has to be replaced with drywall. Spiders, bugs and even snakes (I like snakes, hate the spiders & bugs) keep finding their way into my kitchen cupboards and although I’ve searched and searched, I haven’t been able to find anywhere they could be coming in. The opening to the attic is about 15” square, so getting up there is fun especially if you’re claustrophobic and arachnophobic, but the squirrels have had no problem finding their way in and out of the attic and crawl space above the room addition and just when you think you’ve managed to get rid of them, the winter comes and they chew their way into the attic again.... Long story longer, it would benefit you to be rich and a great DIY’r if you plan on purchasing an old house because otherwise you’ll be living in a depressed, leaning, cancer causing, spider infested, did i say depressed house until you come into enough money to repair it or have it repaired... Basically, I wish I had watch “Money Pit” prior to purchasing this house.

    P.S. We’ve lived here 12 years and I do love my little old house, just not all her issues.

  • pdk920

    Inspection of a house by a qualified structural engineer prior to purchase isn't outrageously expensive, and it's a very good idea if you aren't a professional-level fixer-upper.

  • Newhome2018

    I have a very very strong preference for straight floors and ceilings, modern Anderson windows, central a/c and heating, modern up to date plumbing, lots of recessed lighting ,ample outlets, and walk in closets , and open floor plans.

  • shirlpp

    Thanks for sharing Leticia...A house from the 1800's is bound to be full of issues, the snakes alone would scare me. Forget about the ghosts...Good Luck!

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