To Buy or To Build


Getting a place of your own could be a big deal. Many, like you, have a vision of their perfect home. After settling on what you want, and putting together the perfect budget, what’s left is actually getting the property. This is where the dilemma of either buying a house or building from scratch sets in.

The debate of either buying or building is a heated one whenever it’s brought up. People who are for buying love the idea of the convenience involved. They believe it saves a lot of time and heartaches.

The other party however believes that, by building from scratch, one can look at their dream coming into fruition. They get to build their masterpiece to their own taste.

According to the results of a survey conducted by Alveo Hive, 40% of the respiondents agreed with the idea of building a home from scratch mainly because they believe it is less expensive to do so.

Mr. Peter Nortey, a software designer we caught up with, said: “For me, I’ll definitely build from scratch because I have my own custom specifications. The kind of house I want is not one that exists in this world!”

Upside of buying a house

Another questionnaire contributor we caught up with, Mr. Collins Asare – a construction expert, made a profound statement that people sometimes fail to pay attention to the unseen costs involved in building. “We don’t often quantify the monetary costs of the stress levels involved, the depreciation that the house undergoes over the time of construction and the time value of money itself.”

He further explained that buying a house is more economical; financially and health-wise. In his opinion, if the mortgages in Ghana were made more accessible and manageable, many people who thought of building would quickly switch to buying. The upfront money required to buy a property is usually what makes people consider the alternative.

One thing people may not know about Real Estate is that the most important thing is location. Location ultimately determines value. Therefore, a 3 bedroom along the Spintex Road in Accra, Ghana may cost 2,000,000 Cedis whilst a 5 bedroom house could be going for 1,000,000 Cedis at Kasoa. As a result, with a budget of the former, one can purchase a house for less at a neighbourhood a bit further from the city center and use the remainder to renovate to taste.                                                                                              

The middle an upper-middle working class however, would want to be closer to where they work thus if a rent-to-own scheme is sold to them over say 20 – 30 years, they'll gladly take it.

The average cost to build a house in Ghana is about 500,000. On the other hand, depending on the location, the average cost of buying an already built home in Ghana is about 450,000. That means, choosing to buy an already-built house instead of building a new one could save you quite an amount.

Cons of buying a house

  • Expensive up-front costs when making a down payment:

Most home providers will not take anything less than half the cost of the home as down payment. That fee as well as other fees are going to be significantly more expensive than your first and last month of rent.

  • It could depreciate:

A home is a good investment, nonetheless, the market is not always moving in an upward direction. There are times when things go bad. As a consolation though, inasmuch as this is a possibility, the market always seems to find a way to bounce back.

  • You’re in charge of all maintenance:

There’s really no one to blame if the pipe under the sink starts to leak or the ceiling starts to drip. This is because all documents of ownership as at the time you move in, will be in your name and everything is left in your hands to deal with afterwards. You are responsible for learning how to fix it yourself or paying someone to do it for you. In a home that has a lot of problems, this can certainly add up to be expensive.


Upside of building a house

Undoubtedly, building from scratch has its perks. Let’s take a look of some of those.

  • Customization. Lifestyle and preferred taste are factors that cannot be ignored in the quest of moving into a new place. Choosing to build a house from the ground up will give you the opportunity to personalize the details to suit your lifestyle and tastes — from the foundation, type of roofing, layout, cabinets and tiles; to the lighting, color of paint and even the smallest detail like where your phone charger sockets are located!
  • Lower maintenance: Since new homes are built to meet current building codes and have up-to-date technology, you probably won’t have to worry about big repairs or heavy maintenance issues for the first few years.
  • Lower energy costs: New homes often feature the latest energy-efficient systems and materials, which usually leads to lower energy bills. Pretty awesome! Isn’t it?
  • Newness: The thought of getting to start afresh as the first owner of your home and enjoy the freshness of everything from the decor to the plumbing works is something to be proud of.

Cons of Building a House

We have established in the first few paragraphs that building a house has one major disadvantage of being more expensive (which shouldn’t be a big deal if your budget isn’t a point of concern).

We can now consider all the other cons of building a house from scratch.

  • Longer waiting time: It could take about a year, on average, to construct a house, not counting the planning and approval stages. This means there’s likely to be a gap in living arrangements between the time you sell your old place and build your new one. So you will need to be prepared to cover the cost of renting until you can move into your newly-built house.
  • Negotiation troubles: It is quite common for someone seeking to buy a house to ask for a reduction in price. Often times, their request is granted. However, in the case of building, the scenario may most often not play out that way as artisans find it hard to negotiate the value of their work especially in projects as big as building a whole house.
  • Noise & uncomfortable commute: Most people prefer to build in newly developing neighbourhoods. In such a scenario, when completed, one may still have to endure construction noise in the neighborhood, traffic and bad roads along the commute to the location. The situation will definitely get better eventually as other homes get completed, but it’s something to think about if your tolerance for noise level and potholes is on the lower end.
  • Stress: This point is absolutely undeniable. The majority of people will attest that buying a house has an upper hand in convenience than building one. When you build a house, you’ll have to purchase land, decide on a home design, pick out tiling, cabinets, countertops, interior trim, exterior trim, and the list goes on. To think that all of this will have to be within your budget can be more than just a little bit of a headache.
  • Unforeseen costs: Building one’s own place can be one roller-coaster of an event which might indeed be more dramatic than a Ghallywood movie, as we often say in Ghana. The unexpected can occur at the most unexpected times. Those unexpected events usually require more money to fix. To be safe, budget for more than just what you have originally planned.

In the long run, as a home seeker, it is really up to you to determine which option is best suited to you. Whichever path you take comes with its pros and cons. Carefully consider your lifestyle, taste and budget, and make the best decision that will serve you. Good luck!

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