Building a Home Vs Buying a Pre-Owned House

So, you think you’ve found your dream home after months of relentless search and research. The interior design is immaculate. The landscape design– perfect. The neighbourhood is ideal, and the location is prime. This is it! The price is right within your budget, and you are all set to move in – except because the price is so “right”, you find yourself in a bidding war with a few dozen other potential buyers who are vying for your dream home!

Or picture this: You find a home that you are willing to settle for, but it’s a bit of a fixer-upper. The windows and furnace will need to be replaced within the next couple of years, you’re not too crazy about the paint colour or the kitchen cabinets, and you’re thinking you will need to do a home renovation soon if you were to move in including, a kitchen renovation, and bathroom renovation, among other little touches of TLC (tender loving care) to get it to where you would like it to be.

If these are all things that you’ve encountered during your house hunting, you might want to consider hiring custom home builders just for you. Carefully consider both options as a home is one of the biggest investments that most people make in their lives. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What may work for one family, might not work for you and vice versa. You need to look at your own personal circumstances and weigh the pros and cons of each option to see what would make the most sense in your own unique situation.

With all this said, read on to see the benefits and drawbacks for choosing whether to buy a custom home, or a pre-owned home.

Cost and Competition

This one is tricky, because, it’s really subjective. It can go both ways. If you are pretty low maintenance and don’t care that the previous owners have seriously outdated appliances, interior decor, or finishes, or you are a bit of a handyperson yourself and are able to do the little renovations needed around the house to get it into tip-top shape, this may just be the choice for you. Another ideal situation would be if you were able to find the perfect home within your budget. The catch here, though, might be that you get stuck in a bidding war for this ideal home as it is a coveted property in a well sought after neighbourhood. You can imagine that the price can quickly shoot up in a hot neighbourhood. Think Toronto, or the Greater Toronto Area, where this is commonplace. You may be able to get around this by purchasing a home in a less popular area, but then commute to your workplace may become an issue.

With a custom home, remember that everything is brand spanking new; nothing will need to be fixed or updated. Anything that performs less than optimal will likely have a warranty on it so you can rest assured that there won’t be any costs incurred due to home renovations. This means that more money can stay in your pocket for the near future at least after moving in. Another thing to consider is what kind of finishes you would like in the new home. Quality will, of course, determine the price of building a custom home. The kind of flooring you choose, finishes, and brand of appliances that you choose will definitely either draw the price up or keep it low. It’s really up to your preferences here so you can imagine that you can find a varying price with this option. This is not dissimilar to choosing a pre-owned house with the latest and greatest already set up in there (which would drive the price up of any home). Competition is another factor in Toronto’s sizzling real estate market. For a custom home, you are less likely going to get into a bidding war with an empty plot of land to build your dream home.  For these reasons I’d say that this is hard to provide a universal answer that would be suitable for everyone.


Winner: Tie.

Move-In Ready

This point is rather obvious but still worth the mention. A pre-owned home will likely be move-in ready in as little as 30 days typically as someone is already living there. It’s just a matter of the previous owners moving their personal effects out, and you moving your things in, with a little bit of cleaning up and disinfecting in between. A pre-owned property can be an especially attractive option for those who are in a time-sensitive position where, because of school start dates, or work perhaps, you need to move within a certain time frame.

Winner: Pre-owned.


The odds are tipped in favour of a custom house here. Everything from your doorknobs, windows, flooring, cabinetry, appliances, to your paint colour, finishes, floor plan, toilet and beyond, is based on your choice. You are the mastermind behind the design of your dream home and have full power to dictate what you want to be done, and how. With this full freedom, you can fulfil your every desire for what you want your dream home to be, according to your convenience, preferences and budget. You can fit in those eco-friendly appliances with that Energy Star rating, or add in modern touches and smart home automation technology. You can also follow along with the process from the start, until the finish of the project. Choose a well-reputed builder, such as Ocean Breeze Homes who will take care of your needs, help you with the design process and keep you informed at every step of the way so that you’re in the loop, and maintain control of what’s happening. 

Another draw with having a custom home built for you is that it will be especially for you; no one will have ever lived there before you. You don’t need to worry about pets that may have previously lived there in cases of allergies (or if you’re superstitious, ghosts of previous owners!). In terms of hygiene, you know that that won’t even be an issue, because no one will have lived there before you. Who doesn’t love a new house smell? With a pre-owned home, you can imagine that your choices are limited. Of course, there’s always the option to do a bathroom renovation, kitchen renovation, or any other home renovation that you need, but remember, all of these will drive up the price of this home for you. 

You also will have to go through the hassle of hiring a renovation contractor or search for a renovation company. Let’s face it, the charm of buying this home might already be diminished just by reading this because it’s as if you have to do the work of customizing the home, even though it’s a pre-built and you’ll have to tear down things before rebuilding them. This can contribute to noise and disturbance if you’ve already moved into the house and are conducting these home renovations. Alternatively, it can delay your move-in date if you’re waiting to complete renovations before moving in. If you choose not to renovate, you might be stuck with the design of a house that the builders thought was ideal, or really outdated touches that might just have you feeling like it is throwback Thursday every day after you move in!


Winner: Custom home

Resale Value

A newer house is obviously more attractive to potential buyers because they likely won’t need to do any major renovations soon (think air conditioning, furnace, windows, etc.). For this simple reason, a newer home might be a better option for if and when you do decide to sell. This isn’t to say that you wouldn’t get more money out an older home, of course. It’s just that you might have to do some renovations around the house. A basement renovation here, a kitchen renovation, throw in some new appliances, a fresh coat of paint, rack your brain for some landscaping ideas… the list goes on of what you can do for your pre-owned home to increase it in value. Remember, costs will go up for you here. Just consider the cost of a kitchen renovation cost alone. Things can add up quick!

Winner: Custom home

As mentioned earlier, your home purchase is one of the biggest investments that you will ever make. Don’t leave things up to chance. Continue your research. See how things are for you in your own unique circumstances. Decide first what your likes and dislikes are. What are you willing to settle for? What will you not compromise on? Factor in your choices and idiosyncrasies to see what the best option for you is. Whether the best option is to buy a pre-owned home or a custom home is completely dependent on your unique situation. If you choose to go custom home, consider Ocean Breeze Homes. We provide services in home renovations, landscaping, interior design and custom home building and are your one-stop shop for home building needs.

Happy home building/buying!


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