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New Build vs. Second Hand

  • 07-03-2022 12:15pm
    Registered Users Posts: 2,440 ✭✭✭ chops018

    Hi all.

    I know that this has been asked a few times but I said I would start my own thread just to get some of your thoughts.


    Have been looking for a good while to buy in or around my home town. Second hand homes rated C to D are selling for around €290-320k.

    These prices are just about in the budget, albeit more than I would like to pay. Some need cosmetic work done etc.

    Some new builds are available in or around my hometown (i.e. within 10km). There is one new build I was offered, which is €355k. It is a 3 bed, 122sqm (so not small), and A rated.

    I am HTB approved for just under €25k. With that, my savings, and mortgage, it is just about doable. I would borrow around €280k. When I did the numbers the repayments on a new build are around the same as the second hand examples above due to much lower interest rates etc. Then you've the advantage of a new build and it being A rated etc.

    Does it make way more sense to go with the new build option?

    My aim is to keep the repayments around €1,000-1,100 a month max on the mortgage.

    Another question, this new build is actually using a highly efficient gas condenser boiler heating system. I had thought with building regs now you could not do that and it had to be all heat pumps? I would prefer gas over a heat pump being honest but with increasing gas costs I am not sure now. To counter that it will have photo voltaic panels, which I believe will both heat the water and provide electricity to the house.

    Anyway, any thoughts on the above?



  • Registered Users Posts: 490 ✭✭ mike_2009

    New builds today are the cheapest house you are legally allowed build. They won't pass the EU 2030 changes and will have their BER dropped significantly and will require retrofitting (crazy, right!?). Also they only perform an air tightness test on a fraction so the rest will have gaping holes and gales blowing through them. Consider that for a second!

    Now, there are reputable builders and they don't skimp and delivery quality housing, but there are plenty of others out there in a tight budget to maximize profit....

    Gas does expose you to rising costs but electricity is also rising and until they split out the meters for house vs heat pump/EV car separately, you can end up with awful bills on heat pump side of things too. Plus we've no feed in tarrif to get paid for exporting excess solar PV yet and I doubt we'll see it in any fair scheme anytime soon. You need a smart meter and smart meter tarrif and that's an extra standing charge before you get any credit at all.

    The hope is if you buy new and can inspect the hell out of the property, you'll be ahead of the curve than if you forgo the HTB and renovate over time to get the older house up to a better standard.

    So, I'd buy new and then the grants should be updated in 10 years to allow you to improve the BER again (once you have cash / remortgage / Government loan to do this work done). Gas can be replaced with underfloor heating (check out if this can be installed, even if not used now?) and a heat pump down the road and hopefully prices will have dropped a bit with the increased volume. Gas will be ruled out in a few years, banned from 2025 in UK. You can always supplement with a supersayer heater and gas bottle or an electric ceramic heater and a day/night electricity meter/tarrif. Max out your Solar PV and get a battery to time shift the electricity cost if that makes sense?

  • Administrators Posts: 51,078 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ awec

    If all else is equal (location, size etc), then the new build will be more comfortable to live in thanks to better insulation and cheaper to run, so IMO is the better buy. I think there are a lot of lazy generalisations about new builds on this forum.

    Others will likely disagree.

    That said, it's rare that all else is actually equal. E.g. older houses usually come with bigger gardens. Newer houses generally have much more practical layouts that better use space etc. New houses will usually have more bathrooms than older etc etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 61 ✭✭ suilegorma

    An old house in the right location (ie your home town) can be renovated. Do the new builds suit you location wise too? Is the new estate all going to be populated by young families v potentially a more widespread ages & stages in the old estate. What services/facilities are available nearby or schools, leisure, shops? Will you find yourself constantly on the road if you move out further? Those are all things to consider apart from condition of house.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,440 ✭✭✭ chops018

    Thanks all for the replies so far.

    I don't mind not having a big back garden. But from looking at the site plan the gardens look like they will be a decent size actually!

    Location wise it suits grand. It's around 7-8km from our home houses. The town itself has lovely pubs, restaurants, lots of shopping options and coffee spots. There is a train station in the town and the development will be around a 10 minutes walk from it. The train to Dublin is only a little over a half hour and it's 5 min drive to the motorway so it suits in that regard. Plenty of schools etc. We know the town very well as we are very close to it. Plus we are less than a 10 minute drive from our hometown too should we need to avail of anything there it wouldn't be difficult.

    Any of the second hand stock in our hometown (or even this town, we have been looking in both) is awful in the sense that there is not an abundance and as mentioned if you do see something for say €290k and go look at it and see it needs a lot of cosmetic work (never mind what you might find out from a survey report) then when you bid you're told current offer is at like €330k, so it just seemed to make more sense to go for the new build with the HTB and lower interest rates when the opportunity arose.

    I think the new estate will have around 99 houses to start with. The site plan looks good and they will have green areas etc. I presume it will be mostly young families. I will be asking about social housing location etc. too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,263 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    This isnt always the case because BER certs are so unreliable.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,263 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    Do you have info BER having their values dropped upon recertification?

  • Administrators Posts: 51,078 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ awec

    BER certs are not exact science but in 99% of cases an A rated house will perform better than a C or D rated house and it won't even be close.

  • Registered Users Posts: 490 ✭✭ mike_2009

    Extract from Page 85, Self Build Magazine Spring 2022, Opinion "stay ahead of the curve" section:

    "The EU's draft recast EPBD states that only ZE buildings can be A rated on the BER scale after 2030. in ROIO, that could mean over 100,000 A1, A2 and A3 rated homes will be come B rated or worse" - John Quinn of Hone

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,518 ✭✭✭ Flinty997

    Id be curious if there are any actual detailed studies. Last study I saw (by the SEAI I think) almost all houses tested had serious deficits in energy efficiency due to substandard construction. They weren't built to the standard they claimed to be.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,518 ✭✭✭ Flinty997

    Further to that anyone I know who was interested in energy efficiency and had a their own house built bespoke. Had endless problems getting builders and trades to build to the standard required.

    It's systemic problem rather than a occasional blip as is being suggested by some.

  • Administrators Posts: 51,078 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ awec

    Even with defects they are going to perform better than a C or D rated house. You can argue that a house rated A2 might not be as good as this other house rated A3, but suggesting that an C house is going to perform similar to an A3 is pie in the sky wishful thinking.

    As I said, it's not an exact science and nothing is perfect, but you can be very confident that any new built house is going to outperform houses built decades ago and it's not even going to be close.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ JimmyVik

    My SIL moved into a house with 9in vents in every bedroom wall.

    One weekend I went around the place with the caulk gun. Rolled €500 of insulation out in the attic and made all the vents 4inches. Place is lovely and toasty now and no breeze going down the hall. That was about 5 years ago so the insulation might cost a bit more now. Maybe €750.

    Still the same BER though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,242 ✭✭✭ brokenangel

    Ok people get hung up on BER numbers and certs. You can buy a bottom of the rating house and with small upgrades jump quickly up the ratings. Like put in bulbs etc. Any house you are looking at will have the BER cert number on it, download it and see what is the issues/problems on the house. Will they be easily fixed. Like no TRV installed, or they have an open fire, no lagging jacket on cylinder, not enough insulation in attic etc etc

    Then check the heating in the house, if it is oil boiler and not condensor you need to change that out so include in your pricing. 2-3k. A condenser will save you 20-30% in oil plus the new ones from FireBird or Grant will support HVO if the government would ever go and approve. WE already have suppliers in Ireland.

    No matter what house it is insulation is king, if buying second hand does it have a cavity? if so cavity insulation is not hugely expensive and can make a massive difference. If not then you are looking at internal/external insulation and high cost.

    Attic insulation is very cheap, but rip off companies around. I got price 7k last week for a 224sqm house. Material maybe 1500 euro.

    As I said the BER is good for one thing, giving you an idea what needs to be done. Apart from that is it fairly useless. I only got a BER cert done because I needed for the solar and my d or E rated house when I bought it is now at a B2 rating. That is without the proper attic insulation which is stupid and my own fault.

    In terms of new builds, check the builder. In my area we have 3 estates, 2 of them I would buy off, the third not a f**king chance. But they are the same price. One builder is a chancer and will cut corners, the other two have a reputation and will not risk it.

    Buying a house with a A2W heat pump doesn't suddenly mean you will have cheap heating, a highly insulated house with a condensor oil boiler can he hugely efficient, even with oil prices rising,. The problem with most houses in Ireland is the insulation is terrible.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,518 ✭✭✭ Flinty997

    I'm saying its just guesswork unless you've over seen the building work.

    We had to have new schools rebuilt with major defects. You think some random builder is building to a higher standard with almost no oversight.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,707 ✭✭✭ MicktheMan

    "pie in the sky wishful thinking"

    I live in an official C2 rated 1970's house, yet it consistently performs to the A2 standard. Pie in the sky indeed!

  • Administrators Posts: 51,078 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ awec

  • Registered Users Posts: 670 ✭✭✭ spuddy

    If your goal is to keep costs predictable, go new build.

    The three main expenses you'll have to contend with on becoming a home owner are:

    1) The mortgage repayment

    2) Mandatory insurance (mortgage protection & home insurance)

    3) Maintenance

    1) and 2) will apply regardless of whether you buy new or second hand, 3) is going to cost you less, and stay that way for some time to come with a new build.

    Good luck with your decision!

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,440 ✭✭✭ chops018

    Thanks for the replies all.

    A couple of side questions:

    Would there be difficulty in getting broadband connected for phase 1? I was told the houses will be wired for broadband but you have to go off and contact suppliers yourself to get connected. This leads me to think that suppliers won't care about connecting the estate until there's a good few units up.

    Also if you move in once phase 1 is complete and they are still building the other phases would there be any risks from things like construction dust from being so close to a building site?


  • Administrators Posts: 51,078 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ awec

    For the broadband question, it really depends. I know of people who had very long waits for broadband, while others including myself it was all ready to go on day 1.

    Living on a building site is also something you need to factor in. Dust will absolutely be a thing, but the only real risk is having dirty windows. Depending on the site layout, and the location of your house within it, you may also have to contend with trucks and machinery driving past your house all day, as well as endless deliveries of materials. Building is also pretty noisy and they will likely start work early in the morning. If it's a large development this could be a couple of years.

    That said, not all sites have this issue, or your house may not be situated near any of the ongoing works etc.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 546 ✭✭✭ gandalfio

    Where can you find out about a builder/contractors reputation? Are there any review sites? Would like to know more about the one building our housing estate at the moment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,263 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    So hard to generalise. A wet plastered house from the 1950s might be be a lot cosier than than a recent enough dormer house with plasterboard hiding perforation filled walls. Standards are tightening all the time but plenty of houses from the 1950s will be better than pre-2011 houses and some later too, but how many, who knows. Very important for a buyer to get into the nitty gritty and know the build year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,242 ✭✭✭ brokenangel

    Ask around, if you are from the area you will know who to ask. If not then just ask around, have a chat to the priest, milkman, councillor :-)

    Knock on doors, current house I am in we knocked on neighbours doors etc and asked what the crack was. Before we bought this house knocked on a neighbours door of another house, anyway they had huge issues with water etc because the council had changed something and they had all tried to take them to court, recommendation was not to go near it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,440 ✭✭✭ chops018

    Thanks all for the replies so far. Interesting reading.

    They came back to me on the broadband and they have an agreement for SIRO to go in so all good there.

    Since posting this thread one of the smaller house types which I originally enquired about became available. It is much cheaper and the better option for me financially.

    It's €330,000 semi detached, 109sqm. Compared to €355,000 semi detached, 122sqm. Both are 3 bed.

    So I have gone with the cheaper one as although the dearer one is a bit bigger 109sqm seems plenty.

    Plus the dearer one had all the bedrooms along the front with the en-suite and bathroom at the back, on the first floor, which I wasn't a fan of tbh, then the garden was north facing.

    The cheaper one's layout seems to be more normal and the garden is south facing.

    I see the most lost space in the cheaper one seems to be in the sitting room, but funnily enough the kitchen is bigger in the cheaper one than in the dearer one and there is space for a couch and TV in the kitchen alongside the table and chairs and kitchen area and utility. The dearer one didn't have a utility room actually, I think the only thing it had going for it was the sitting room looked massive.

    Anyway I'm much happier with the price etc., as I was at my max going with the €355,000 one. What does everyone think? Would you have went with the dearer one for the little bit extra space?


    Post edited by chops018 on

  • Administrators Posts: 51,078 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ awec

    Do you have kids?

    IMO, having the possibility of a second mini-den type setup in the kitchen is way more beneficial than having a really big sitting room. Being able to have the kids watch some telly in the kitchen while you get 20 mins peace in the living room is invaluable.

    Also no utility would be a dealbreaker for me. Washing machines and tumble dryers in kitchens is awful.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,440 ✭✭✭ chops018

    Have one. Was thinking the same that it would be great to have a second separate TV area - leave them to it while you can relax in the main sitting room. Also agreed regarding a utility, I'd prefer this.

    Seems the cheaper, albeit slightly smaller one, is ticking more boxes overall.

  • Registered Users Posts: 985 ✭✭✭ cubatahavana

    We bought a house with a big kitchen where a table for eating and a couch and tv can fit. We spend 80% of our time there. The living room we use it mainly in the evening when the kid is sleeping. You chose the right house. As well utility room is invaluable

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,440 ✭✭✭ chops018

    Thanks for that. Very reassuring. Yes, weirdly enough, and as already mentioned, the kitchen in the smaller house is measuring to be bigger than the one in the bigger house. It just seems we are losing a bit of space in the downstairs sitting room and then the hallway. Then upstairs in the bigger one there was a storage room which is not in the smaller one. The bedrooms are measuring very similar in each one, they are slightly less in the smaller room but not by much at all. I suppose it's still 109sqm so it shouldn't be tiny. I'm used to a much smaller house myself but my partner's parents house is fairly big.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,287 ✭✭✭✭ Interested Observer

    Also no utility would be a dealbreaker for me. Washing machines and tumble dryers in kitchens is awful.

    I don't have a utility room as we bought a ~100 year old house and I'd tend to agree. The washing machine is in the kitchen taking up space and making a racket, and the dryer had to go in the garage out the back. If/when we move to a bigger house in future I will definitely be getting something with a utility space. There are a couple of things you don't really realise how much you need until you live with it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ JimmyVik

    We always put our outside in a shed. Even when we got a house with a utility room. We had better uses for the utility room and still relegated the washing machine and dryer to the shed.