Should You Build or Buy a House? (Pros & Cons)

Updated November 18, 2020

Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

The age-old question is whether you should build or buy a house. Another common question is which option is more profitable.

Whether you are leaning towards building a house vs buying a house, both are big decisions that have a ton of variables. To start with buying, interest rates are low, prices are higher than usual, and the housing market is competitive with the average time on the market of around 2-3 weeks (some areas like Eagan are around 11 days). This is great if you plan on selling your house, but it will most likely be a stressful experience trying to buy one you like. On the other hand, builders are backed up by the increased demand and the materials are in even higher demand (which of course increases the prices). But, you can get exactly what you are looking for in your new dream home.

Needless to say, there is a lot to consider. That is why we are breaking down the pros and cons to help you decide on building a house vs buying.

Pros and Cons of Building a House

Since there are so many things to consider, let’s break this down into a classic pros and cons list for building vs buying a house. While we are builders and have our own opinions on the matter, we will present the facts as they are without any bias.

Building vs. Buying a house pros and cons

Pros of Building a House

Let’s dig into each of the pros that we see when it comes to building a house:

No Competition: There might be some competition to get the lot that you’re looking at, but for the most part, when you choose to build a house, there won’t be competition to get the best deal. Pre-owned houses often sell quickly (especially in the current market), creating a sense of urgency and competition. When you’re building, you’ll be able to avoid that stress and focus on designing the home of your dreams.

Low Maintenance for the First Ten Years: When building, you’ll be able to avoid maintenance on your home for at least ten years, if not longer. The majority of your appliances, your roof, and other parts of your home will last a minimum of ten years and, in many cases, much longer. Not to mention, you won’t have to worry about the surprise projects and maintenance that come with buying an older home.

Efficiency = Low Energy Costs: New homes are between 20-50% more efficient than homes built before 2000. Additionally, HVAC systems and appliances tend to improve drastically every few years making new appliances and HVAC systems even more appealing.

Customization: This is one of the most appealing factors for buying a new house. Everyone loves getting to choose the different finishes within their home, as well as the layout and size. For some, customization can seem like a con, but we think it’s a pro! Sure, it’s a lot of decisions to make, but that is why we have skilled designers and architects to help you along the way. Just focus on the end goal of turning that dream home into a reality.

outside of modern lodge style home built in Minnesota

Cons of Building a House

Despite the many positives of building a house, there are some cons. Here are some of the largest that can sometimes be overlooked before it’s too late.

Hard to Stay Within Budget: Building a home is simply expensive. It costs a lot of money, and because of that, it can be difficult to stay within the budget. You’ll want to get the good features and finishes, which in turn can lead to spending much more than your budget allows.

Unexpected Costs: If it isn’t assumed, we’ll do everything we can to keep the home within your price range. But unfortunately, not every home builder is like us and will pressure you to push your budget for additional add-ons or furniture. Small upgrades throughout the project can turn into huge price increases in the end which is why we strive to be upfront and honest about the true costs of construction.

Longer Wait Times: When purchasing a pre-owned home, you have the opportunity to move in as soon as the closing process is completed. Often this is within two months of when you make an offer. The process of building a home could take up to a year or more in some cases.

Stressful Choices: You’ll have to make many choices when you’re building a house. There’s land to purchase, design styles, amenities, and preferences throughout the project that you’ll have to manage, all while trying to stay within your budget. That last part is the most difficult, but the good news is the designers at Sustainable 9 have been doing this for years and know the best methods of getting the most bang for your buck!

Pros and Cons of Buying a House

We’re big proponents of building homes, but we also see a lot of value in purchasing a house and make small incremental improvements to it over time.

Pros of Buying a House

There are many pros and cons to buying a house, just like building a house. Here are some of the top pros that come to mind:

Fast Move-In: A fast move-in is definitely something to be excited about. It can take a long time for homes to sell, but when you’re ready to buy, you’ll often be able to move in within 60-70 days. That’s a huge advantage over building a house over the course of a year.

Often Cheaper: Yes, you will be able to find a house that costs you just as much as it would be to build, but unlike a building, you can find deals when buying pre-owned homes. The unfortunate part about finding deals is that it can often mean there is something wrong with the home or that the home needs improvements.

Room For Improvement: It can be seen as both a pro and con, but room for improvement is something you get when you’re buying a home. After a home building project is complete, you won’t want to spend money changing things like you can when you buy a pre-owned home.

More Land and Older Neighborhoods: Many new homes are built in tight developments. Pre-owned homes are often found in older suburbs where the lots are larger, and the trees have grown up. New homes can sometimes be built in incredibly tight quarters.

Cons of Buying a House

Unable To Customize: You can always undergo a remodel process, but your ability to customize your house like you would be able to in a new build isn’t there. It’s good to search for the right house, but it can be a challenge, and in some cases, you may have to settle.

Has Already Been Lived In: The newness of a new home is a really exciting and fun thing. When buying a pre-owned home, you might not be able to experience this as much. While it will still be new to you, it’s not quite the same as living in a completely new home.

Competitive Market: Due to the high demand and low-interest rates, the market is very competitive at this moment which could very well continue for some time. While it is not as competitive as it once was during the height of the pandemic, it can still be difficult to find a home you like and submit an offer in time.

Maintenance: While we would like to think you were able to find everything you need to know about the house you just bought, it is possible some surprise projects or maintenance could be just around the corner. You might find your gutters leak, or there is a draft in the bathroom window or mice in the basement. All of these are hard to spot during the buying process and can add to your end cost.

Much of this can be avoided when buying a newly constructed house, but you won’t have the opportunity to pick or personally know the builders who constructed the home. While we would like to assume that everything is in tip-top shape, the high demand for housing has led to a big push in production speed which has led to a decrease in quality. Not to mention many builders are struggling to find workers, which can also contribute to the decrease in quality.

Deciding to Buy or Build a Home

If you’ve been wondering when to buy a new home, we have a recently written article for you. We go into the market as a whole, where it’s been, and where we think it’s going. Be sure to check it out as well as other pieces from our blog.

And, if you’re looking for a custom home builder or a remodeling company, reach out to Sustainable 9 today! We’re a reliable luxury home builder with years of experience in the industry. Our homes have won multiple awards and are recognized every year for their sustainable building features and design excellence.


A custom-built home means you don’t have to sacrifice the details that make your home one-of-a-kind. View our award-winning work and get inspired.

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Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

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More energy efficient than a standard new construction home* *based on HERS ratings


0% Stinky. Committed to - reducing or eliminating VOCs and toxins in the homes we build* *Receiving the EPA's Indoor AirPlus certification on every home we build


Tighter and less leaky than a standard new construction home* *based on blower door test/air leakage results

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