New-build homes: a thrifty option?

Miss Thrifty8 July 31, 2008

Privet Drive

Following the steep rises in British Gas prices, Persimmon Homes has come up with an answer. Today the UK housebuilding giant put out a press release telling people to swap their current homes for new-builds.

Home owners looking to reduce this latest impact of the credit crunch on their bank balances should consider a move to a new build property, according to Persimmon Homes. Not only will purchasers save on the ongoing costs of maintenance on an older property but with new homes boasting excellent insulation they could make significant savings on their energy bills.  

Uh, right. The energy bills may be lower but truly, new-builds are not the housing option of choice for thrifty misses. This is because:

  1. They are terribly overpriced – even more so than the rest of the market. This is why property developers have been on the sharp end of falling sales. Buying a new-build is like buying a new car: as as soon as the keys are pressed into your hand, the retail value plummets. Round here, we have newly-built three-bedroomed houses going for 50 per cent more than older three-beds. 
  2. They are relatively poky. Generally speaking, newly-built houses have smaller rooms. And have you noticed that in many of them, there’s no storage space to speak of? I appreciate that the shrunken rooms support Persimmon’s claim that new-builds are cheaper to heat. But cramped homes at over-inflated prices don’t represent good value for money.
  3. They are cramped on the outside too. This seems to be a particular problem in already-established residential areas: developers buy up a meagre plot of land or half of someone’s back garden, then try to cram as many properties as they can into that space. I remember when, a couple of years ago now, a developer bought up half a back garden opposite my grandparents’ house. It was a tiny plot, overlooked by houses on every side. “Crikey”, we said, “they’ll have trouble fitting a house and garden onto that little square”. The developer, however, was utterly unfazed: less than a year later, five houses had gone up on that meagre plot. Five detached houses. They were billed as “executive homes” and went on sale for around £400,000 each. They were so squashed together, there was barely sufficient space to walk between them. I thought that nobody would be mad enough to buy those houses at those prices. I was wrong! Goodness knows what they were thinking.
  4. They look rubbish. Let’s face it, unless you can afford to splash out on a glass-fronted penthouse with sweeping river views – in which case, this probably isn’t the blog for you – the appearance of most modern housing in the UK is nothing to write home about. In the interests of disclosure, I should point out that my house is a thoroughly dull red brick box with a roof and four front windows. (Hey, it was cheap!) However, I’m a nut for older styles of architecture. We used to build some beautiful houses: I’m a sucker for those swooping rows of smart terraces big and small, with their heavy doors and fancy plasterwork, which generally cost a lot less than their bland, new-build equivalents.

In conclusion, Persimmon Homes’ idea is rubbish.

Did you enjoy this post?

Free Daily Digest

8 Responses to “New-build homes: a thrifty option?

FruGal says:

I agree totally! I wouldn’t swap my lovely victorian conversion with it’s draughty front room for a poky new-build if you paid me. There are plenty of ways you can cut down on your energy bills without having to move into a characterless new-build. And I think that it’s a bit OTT to suggest that it’s a good money saving technique to move house in order to cut heating bills. Dramatic, much? Added you to my ‘roll btw.

August 1, 2008 at 11:23 am

Anne says:

We live in a persimmon house in Beverley, East Yorkshire, it is about 5 years old & extremely well insulated. So much so that if my husband is upstairs he can’t hear me call “Dinner’s ready!”

Talking of cramming houses in. Along the main road near to us the owners of a bungalow sold a slice of land to one side of it. Two detached ‘Executive’ houses were built in the space. Sideways on to get them in. Common ‘drive’ /gravel pit with two garages up one side. They were up for sale at over £300,000. It took ages to sell even one. No sooner had the second one sold than the first one was back up for sale! No doubt that if you had windows open you could hear all that was going on next door. Not only that, how can you put up a ladder in an 18 inch gap if you need to do maintenance.

August 2, 2008 at 10:28 am

Good points! Now, I do admit to living in a new neighborhood where the homes are close together and the lots are tiny. But the homes are about as close together as the 1920s neighborhood where I grew up and where two of my sisters live. So we are OK with it.

And about those electric bills? Well, as it turns out there lot more gizmos than we had in our older / previous homes: electric garage door opener, lots more lighting inside and out, a dishwasher … so the high electric bill took us by surprise. It helped when we converted to CFL light bulbs.

But the personality of the house is not a problem. We took a more traditional interior decor approach than the contemporary styles that are popular in our area. The immediate impact is that our home is memorable when visitors arrive for the first time.

In the long run, what we put in our home will not go out of style and need to be “re-done,” as compared to those who added trendy colors and furniture.

August 5, 2008 at 1:40 am

karla (threadbndr) says:

I’ve got a turn of the (last) century Arts & Crafts bungalow. Older houses can be retrofitted with better insulation and replacement (period style) windows and doors, but you can’t get the craftmanship and period details in a new house without paying an arm and leg for it!

To say nothing of mature trees and landscaping! Give me an old house any day.

August 5, 2008 at 5:10 pm

admin says:

@FruGal: I’m so jealous! I miss my lovely Victorian conversion…

@Anne: I’m still bemused as to who buys these squashed, cramped houses. Why go for something like that when, for the same money, you could get something so much more spacious?

@Monroe: Good point re. the electric bill! When we moved in here, in the dead of a Yorkshire winter, we were on a pre-pay meter. It was a nightmare: it always ran out sooner than expected, and we soon learned to conserve the leccy whenever possible. Good habits, learned the hard (cold) way.

@karla: I hadn’t thought about mature trees and landscaping, but that’s another really good point. Must confess that until we moved here, to a property with a horrifically rundown garden (we’ve basically had to start it again from scratch) I didn’t appreciate just how much *effort* it takes to get a garden looking good! Hmm, may blog about that at some point…


August 5, 2008 at 5:19 pm

You know this post is 2 years old but resonates completely with me. I moved into a new build, a few months after you’ve posted this.

I deeply regret it, and the money it cost. Soon as I can ill be off out of there into an older house!

March 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Leave a reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *