Spec homes vs new builds: Which one is right for you?

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After many years of saying no to impulse buys and lavish holidays, you’ve finally got the cash to build a home.

Now, you face the small task of working out exactly what home you’d like to build. And the first step of that journey is deciding whether you’d prefer to build a spec home, or a new build.

One’s not necessarily better than the other. But you’ll probably find that one is a better fit for your personal situation. Here’s what you need to know to work out which one that is.

What is a spec home?

A spec home is a brand new property that is completed, or nearly completed, before it is sold. The home’s layout and flooring and its appliances and features are chosen by the home builder, not the buyer. This makes for a much simpler and cheaper planning and building process, but, if you go for this option, it also means you will own a house that is almost identical to numerous others.

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What is a new build?

A new build is a home that is built from scratch, based on architectural drawings that take into account the buyer’s input. New builds are more customisable than spec homes, but involve a longer planning and building process, meaning buyers have to wait longer to move into their new home.

Take a look at the pros and cons below, to help you decide which one is right for you.

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What are the pros and cons of buying a spec home?

Pros

  • While you may not get to choose every detail of a spec home, this option can offer excellent value for money.
  • Instead of spending months doing the research yourself, or having to pay a design firm, professional designers will have already found the right combination of architecture, colours and finishes to create a beautiful result.
  • Some spec home builders use familiar blueprints and have greater purchasing power, which means they pass significant savings on to the buyer. Many high-end items you find in spec homes today – such as European appliances, stone bench tops and timber flooring – can be very expensive if purchased individually.
  • Then there’s the added benefit of simpler financing. Buying a spec home could mean avoiding complex lending structures and progress payments, as the majority are sold with settlement upon completion.
  • Knowing when you can move into your new home is another bonus, as it will either be completed or well under construction.

Cons

  • Depending on the phase of construction, many of the design decisions will already have been made for you, which means you will have less say on the final product.
  • Your home will very similar to many other homes built by the home builder.
  • The design might include features you don’t need or want, which could drive the price up slightly.

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What are the pros and cons of building a new build?

Pros

  • With a new build, you sit down with your architect or builder and design a home suited to your specific needs and preferences. Some builders have a library of base plans, so you don’t necessarily need to start from scratch, either.
  • You can generally choose the number and types of rooms you want, as well as the colours and finishes of walls, doors, floors, cabinets and appliances – even the placement of interior lights, switches and TV points.
  • Features that are important to you can be built into the property, and you don’t have to pay for the things you don’t need. Your home will be perfectly tailored to your style and budget.

Cons

  • When building a home, you can be faced with delays and uncertainty. From developing plans to finding a suitable site and waiting for council approval, your move-in date might be months away.
  • During that time you may experience further delays and budget overruns due to weather or construction issues.
  • Then there are your finances to consider: You might need to secure additional financing in the form of a bridge loan to pay for construction costs, while paying your existing mortgage. This situation may not appeal to some home buyers.

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Whether you go with a new build or spec home will depend on your personal needs and preferences. If you’re the type of person who enjoys being involved in every step of the way, a new build might be the way to go.

But buyers who want to avoid a lengthy construction process and would prefer a quicker move-in should probably opt for a spec home can be an excellent option.

That said, when looking to build a new home, it pays to consult with an experienced builder – one who has a proven track record, is customer focused and is financially secure.