Your First Home. To Buy or Build?

Young couple moving into new house

Decided it’s time to get a place to call your own? Congratulations! Getting on to the property ladder might cost you a mortgage and a deposit, but at least now you’ll be paying to live in something you own. Having decided to get a house, however, leaves you two options to choose from: do I build new or buy something on the market?

Each comes with their own pros and cons, but three of the most important considerations are convenience, cost and customisation. Let’s take a look at each and how they stack up when comparing new builds vs existing homes.


Probably the most obvious one here, but when you purchase a home, either at auction or through making an offer, the date to move in will be much earlier than if you were to build from scratch. Seeing open homes that have been lived in also gives you an idea of what your family could look like inside.


Should you choose to build from scratch, knowing everything is brand-new means it won’t cost much to maintain after you’ve moved in. Older homes, on the other hand, may be cheaper to buy initially, but they can come with maintenance that needs to be addressed from the outset. Insulation, plumbing and electrical faults can go unseen during an open home but you can be assured that it’s up to scratch with a new build.

When it comes to financing your home, you may require a higher deposit to get a home loan for an existing home. But if it’s your first home, you may be eligible for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant. Grants for existing homes can be up to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for couples. However, for new builds deposits can be as low as 5-10% and you may be eligible for $10,000 as an individual or $20,000 for a couple. Find a full checklist here.


When you buy a pre-existing home, the amount you can change it to suit your lifestyle will depend on your remaining budget and the land you have to work with. Things like backyard and outdoor areas are well within the reach of most homeowners, but building gives you the greatest ability to live in a home that is a seamless extension of your lifestyle. 

Choosing colour, materials, and finishes as well as designing spaces that work with the land you choose results in a home that makes your life easier and more enjoyable. And if you’re wary about designing your home from scratch there are a number of tools and services available to make it as simple as possible.

Take our online design tool, for example. By starting with an idea of the size you’re after, the budget you have and the number of rooms you want it’s possible to browse dozens of house plans that can each be customised to your exact needs. Paired with the ability to choose fittings, materials and finishes that all update the cost in real-time, you can see your dream home come to life at your own convenience. And if you need help finding land we can give you a hand with that too.

Published:  18 February 2019
Back to top of page