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Conversion or New-Build – Which is Better?

The recent announcement by the Government to relax planning laws in a bid to boost the economy means that it will become easier to build new houses across the UK. There may be more converted properties coming on the market, too, as Whitehall tries to give high streets a new lease of life by encouraging owners to turn unused shops into homes.

Anderson Associates offer brand new home surveys in Suffolk, Essex, Kent and London. as well as surveys on all types of properties that have been converted into houses. Here we look at the pros and cons of buying either a new-build house or a conversion.

Advantages of Conversions

To start, conversions tend be more visually appealing, as a result of having more unique features and character. As a concequence of the uniqueness of these properties high quality workmanship is often a prerequite infor the conversion, meaning that they will likely be a good buy and will hold their value well.

Some conversions, such as barn conversions and the lower floors of Georgian townhouses also have a lot more room. In the case of the former  (because the staff lived on the smaller upper floors).

Another added benefit is the fact that conversions tend to be more common in built-up areas with a pre-existing community, meaning good access to local facilities such as healthcare, schools and shops. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more rural location, barn and oast house conversions offer plenty of peace and quiet, and often some great views.


Disadvantages of Conversions

First of all, you are limited to the existing size of the building with little to no possibility of adding an extension, either because of a physical lack of space or you aren’t allowed to, either because you are in a conservation area or the building is listed.

Some features of an older building may also mean that space is at a premium. While the ceilings may be high, at ground level space can be limited, particularly in townhouses that have been converted into multiple flats.

You must bear in mind too that ongoing maintenance and upkeep is likely to be more expensive, particularly if the initial conversion work hasn’t been done to a very high standard. Likewise, heating bills may be more higher, especially if the insulation hasn’t been updated.

Some conversions present specific problems. For example, oast houses may require underpinning, and the roundels replacing if they haven’t been already. Some shops may be unsuitable for conversion because with floor to ceiling windows and fully glazed doors there will be little privacy for residents and they will be too hot in the summer and too cold in winter.

Advantages of New-Builds

A new build will give you a more logical and convenient layout. In addition, they are more  likely to be fully compliant with the latest Health and Safety and Building regulations, which will be reflected in lower energy bills and lower maintenance costs.

New builds are also more likely to have incentives to buy them, for example, Help to Buy and shared ownership, which are particularly attractive to first-time buyers. If you are the very first buyer you won’t be stuck in a chain either.

Lastly, with a new build you will probably have more scope to add extensions to the property at a later date if you wish.


Disadvantages of New-Builds

Just as some conversion may be limited for space, the same can be said for some new builds, particularly on new estates where developers seek to maximise profits and build as many houses as possible in the smallest possible space. This may also limit your ability to extend as well as the size of any garden.

It is also worth considering that you may may have to pay a lot for a property which doesn’t have any striking individual features, although you shouldn’t have any problem if you want to redecorate.

Another downside of new builds is the fact that you may struggle for community facilities such as shops and schools close by, often because the infrastructure isn’t in place to support the new area yet.

Lastly, not all new properties are of top quality. Getting a snagging survey done will highlight any potential issues.


Full Building Surveys from Anderson Associates

As you can see, both new-builds and conversions have their advantages and disadvantages. Whatever you opt for, whether you want a brand new home survey in Suffolk, a barn conversion survey in Kent, or a period flat conversion survey in London, Anderson Associates are the people to call.

We offer a range of different types of surveys, but usually recommend our full building surveys, as fees are not significantly more than a Home Buyer’s Survey. This also includes a cost summary, which not only advises you on what repair and maintenance issues the property has, but also gives an indication as to the cost of these repairs. Not all building surveys include this and would not be included in a Home Buyer’s Survey.

We will also be able to advise you if the specific property you are interested in, whether it’s a conversion or a new build, is a good investment. This is because we work for you, not the mortgage lender or the estate agency, so you can rely on us for independent, impartial advice.

If you would like to know more about any of the services we offer, you can reach us on 01473 623656.


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Whether you need a simple valuation or a full structural survey as well as being expert building surveyors we’re happy to give you free, impartial advice on anything to do with buildings and property.
Anderson Associates
(Head Office & Correspondence Address)
Warneford House, Portal Avenue
Martlesham Heath, Ipswich
Suffolk IP5 3QY
T. 01473 623 656
T. 0800 652 8285
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Registered Office: Anderson Associates (Surveying) Ltd. | Warneford House, Portal Avenue, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk IP5 3QY
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