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Build or buy an existing home

Wondering whether you should build, or buy an established house? This useful guide weighs up the pros and cons of both.

Let's start with building a new home

Custom fit

Building your own home comes with a greater level of control. You can work with a designer or your builder and decide what sort of layout you'd like, depending on the size of your family and how you want to use the space. Keep in mind that each estate and building company will have guidelines or templates to work from. The further you stray from that, the more it will cost you.

Built for tomorrow

Home building has come a long way from the basic fibro home of years past. A new house will be built with energy efficiency in mind. Whether that's the layout of the rooms to encourage better airflow, LED lights throughout the house or simply the materials behind the scenes. These extra steps won't just help the environment but your wallet as well.


If you're a first homebuyer building a home, you may be eligible for a first home owners grant. Many builders and land developers have their own incentives on top of that. However, it's important not to get too caught up in the short-term savings. Focus on the house itself and the key aspects that surround your decision, especially what you can genuinely afford.

Costs and timeframe

You may end up paying more to build your own home in WA than to buy an established house. There are also a lot more hoops you'll need to jump through, both in the finance approval stage and the building process. It'll also take you a lot longer to get into your home than if you were to buy established.

Location, location

New homes are often built in new land releases. Be sure to check amenities and infrastructure. What's in place now and what is still to come? Will it be easy for you to get to work? Established suburbs have infrastructure and amenities already in place.

Let's take a look at buying an established home

The power of touch

Buying established gives you the ability to walk around a house that is already built. You don’t need to imagine how big a room is from house plans. This makes it very easy to picture how you will live in the house, and what doesn’t work for you.

Inspection time

Before you sign on the dotted line, you have the opportunity to get a professional building inspection. Essentially, an expert will go over the house with a fine-tooth comb to find any structural faults that might cost you further down the track. This is more than a money saving tip, it's an investment into the safety of your family.

Location, location, renovation

If you decide to build your home, you're limited to the availability of land in the areas you want to live. This often results in a sacrifice of preferred location, or an added pressure to pay more for the spot you want. Buying established broadens your search considerably. You may also have the opportunity to renovate the home if you'd like to make a few adjustments.

Speed up the process

The process of buying an established home is more streamlined than building a home. You'll have less hoops to jump through, fewer decisions to make and hopefully less stress. This isn't to say that you'll click your fingers and everything will fall into place, but it should take up less of your time.

It's not all positive

The negatives for buying established are really found in the positives for building. You lose the ability to customise your home from the get-go and will need to make a more conscious effort to ensure that it's energy efficient for the future. With older homes you can run into problems with internal things like plumbing and electrical systems, more maintenance and higher energy bills. Fixing these essential aspects of your home can decrease the size of your piggy bank when you least expect it.

House vs apartment living

Have you considered your home options? It's easy to think a house is your only option, but apartments can be a great option too depending on what you want in a home.


Generally speaking, apartments are more affordable than houses. According to REIWA, as of January 2023 the median house price in Perth was $540,000 whereas the median unit price was $400,000. Apartments can also be more affordable as usually your council rates will be lower than for houses.

However, where you may make significant savings in buying an apartment, it's important to be aware that they often come with charges you wouldn't have with a house, such as maintenance and management fees as well as strata fees.


When owning your own house, if your air conditioning breaks or you have a leak it's up to you to source and pay for the repairs which can be quite expensive. Apartments usually have maintenance staff or a site manager so you can report the issue to them and they will organise the repairs for you. For the most part, your maintenance fees will cover the cost of the repairs needed.


Do you want to be closer to the city and have easy access to amenities? Or do you dream of suburban life? If the city life is for you, apartments might be your best option. They are often located in built up locations full of amenities and transport hubs. New apartments often build amenities on the ground floor of their building, such as coffee shops or gyms.

However, if living in the suburbs far from the hustle and bustle of the city is for you, you may find you have more choices in houses than apartments.


When choosing an apartment over a house, you are sacrificing space. If you need a lot of room and dream of having a backyard, a house may be the best option for you.

With apartments, although you may not have as much space, you’ll find that you may be making significant savings on your utility bills. Often newer apartment complexes will have a communal outdoor area for tenants to enjoy. So although you may not have your own garden, you could still have a nice area to enjoy a barbeque with your friends!


A benefit of living in a house is you generally have a bit of space between you and your neighbours. So you can go about your day or have friends over to your house without worrying that you may be disturbing them, and vice versa.

When living in an apartment, your neighbours can be a lot closer and you may hear more comings and goings. it’s a good idea to sit and spend some time in an apartment to see what the noise acoustics are like too.

Consider your options

When it comes to the age-old question, buying or building, or house or apartment, there isn't a straight up answer. Take the time to think of your current financial and family situation, and what you want to get out of the house.

Keystart recommends that you seek your own independent financial advice prior to making any decisions about your financial needs. Any examples given are provided for illustrative purposes only.

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