New Construction or Resale: Which Home Type is Right For You?

June 24, 2019 | Buying a Home

Are you buying a house in Ottawa—and trying to decide whether to go the newly-built or resale route? Both options have their pros and cons, and understanding them can help you find the living space of your dreams…

Some home buyers know exactly what they’re looking for. Others need to explore their options. If you fall into the second camp, you may be unsure about whether to purchase a brand new house or one that was previously owned. There are many differences between the two: pristine surfaces aren’t the only perk of a newly-built home, and there’s more to older properties than their architectural character. Here, we’ll walk you through the advantages and drawbacks of each home type so you can be as informed as possible when deciding between new construction or resale and which home type is right for you.

Typical locations

Do you like the idea of living in a brand new community, or would you prefer a neighbourhood that is well established? Which matters more to you: enjoying peace and quiet, or having big-city amenities within walking distance? Keeping your family’s lifestyle and preferences in mind is the key to deciding which home type is right for you.

If you’re drawn to neighbourhoods with a lot of character and a sense of history, you’ll likely be looking at resale homes. The same is true if you want to live close to central shops, restaurants, and transit. While brand new homes are sometimes built in communities near the city’s core, the majority of houses in these areas will be older.

New-build homes tend to be constructed in areas outside of the city’s core. These are typically communities that offer brand new roads, along with modern neighbourhood planning and attractive landscaping. That said, when it comes to new-construction homes, the builder you work with won’t necessarily own the entire subdivision where you buy. An experienced real estate agent can help you understand what this will mean in terms of zoning, infrastructure, and architectural controls. That way, you’ll know what to expect in the years ahead!


Unless you’re one of those (very) rare buyers for whom money is no object, your budget will play a major role in your purchase decision. Typically, a new build will be pricier than a resale home on a cost-per-square-foot basis. But that’s not always the case. Whichever type of living space you have your heart set on, chances are good that your agent can find some fantastic options in your price range.

Of course, the costs of buying—and owning—a piece of property will extend beyond your sticker price. When it comes to new-build homes, you’ll also be paying a 13 per cent HST tax (which may be included, or an additional cost above the builder’s price). There are also a few things that won’t be built into your new-construction purchase, which you’ll have to pay for. These typically include things like eavestroughs, air conditioning, appliances, fencing, and landscaping.

On the flip side, resale homes come with some unique costs of their own. If the house you buy is even a couple of years old, we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find some wear and tear. In the years ahead, you can expect to shell out a bit more for upkeep and repairs than you would with a brand new home.


When you purchase a house, you should know the whole story. Its construction and repair history can have a major impact on how much you’ll spend down the road. That said, if you’re buying a resale home, getting all the info you need can be tricky. Fortunately, your REALTOR® can help by making sure you ask the right questions. In many cases, they can also negotiate to get major repairs completed before closing—and help you find an inspector who’s great at sniffing out potential issues.

If your family opts for a new-construction house, it will be up to current building codes. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your home’s entire history (and, as a bonus, it’s modern construction means it’s going to be fairly energy efficient). You should also be covered by a Tarion home warranty. This means you’ll receive protection for many major defects related to the work and materials that go into your home, along with a variety of structural issues. Be aware that different levels of coverage apply at the one, two, and seven-year marks.

Buying new: special considerations

If you’re buying a house in Ottawa and can’t decide whether to go for new construction or resale, there are a few other things you should consider. First off, think about your ideal timeline. If you buy a new home, it could take up to 12 months or more to complete. Depending on when you move in, you may be living without a driveway, grass, and a curb (among other things) while your community develops. Many buyers are okay with that, while others see it as a major life disruption.

You should be aware that it could take one or two years until you close on your new-build home. One of the great things about this time lapse is that your property may increase in value as it occurs (which is part of why new-construction is considered such a great investment). If you’re not going to close for a while, talk to someone at your bank about finding the right financing option for your situation.

Lastly, a word of advice. If you start touring brand new homes, you’ll likely be looking at models that include high-end upgrades. Unfortunately, they’re almost never included in the overall purchase price. In other words: make sure you know exactly which costs are built in, and which will be separate (or you could wind up paying tens of thousands of dollars more than you expected). You should also be aware of the planned locations of sidewalks; hydro, telephone, and cable boxes; streetlights; and associated easements. Asking the right questions—and having a REALTOR® representing your best interests—can make all the difference.

When you get down to it, choosing the type of home that’s right for you is all about your family’s needs, goals, and preferences. Luckily, a great REALTOR® can act as your guide at every step—so don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions!

Ready to buy your dream home? Whether you’re looking for a new-build or resale house, we can answer your questions. Get in touch—we’d love to help!