Dream House – Buy or Build?

Owning a house is more of an emotional thing than an investment for most people especially in the Philippines. A house is often associated to security and most often a “status symbol.” People having their own home are often assumed to be well established and having a stable life; aside from the feeling that you now have a place that you can call your own.

You made strides in your career or business and now feel that it’s time to have your own house and made that “dream home” a reality. You are faced with two options, buying an existing house in your desired area or building your own house from scratch. Either way buying or building can get you your own house, but these two different paths pose also different matters that would require you attention.

The process of owning a house is an exciting time for many people. You might consider buying or building but without first weighing out each of the pros and cons of each option, you might be surprise of want you can get when you compare the two. Let this be a bit of your guide in doing such.

One important consideration would be the cost. As you might know, housing prices have shoot up in the last few years. Cost of labor and materials had also gone up as fast. Housing prices differs based on the style/design, size and all other factors. But for the sake of discussion, let’s consider the same style/design and size to include same cost for the lot for both buying and building options. That way, well have an “apple to apple” comparison instead of an “apple to orange” comparison which can be misleading.


Buying a house is an attractive option for most people because of the convenience it offers. It can be as simple as going to your local real estate broker or agents and literally go shopping for your house. In most cases, you can immediately move into the house after the negotiation and closing depending on the terms of the seller or developer. Payment options can also be more flexible and vary depending on the different financing schemes offered and available. (For financing matters, please seek advice of financial experts). Others also allow long time payment options extending from 20 – 30 years.

In general, the benefits of buying a house can be summarized into the ability to move-in quickly and the flexible financing schemes. You also eliminate the cost for hiring architects and/or engineers for the design until you decide to have upgrades, addition or renovation later. Another benefit is the ease to visualize the floor plan and lay out of the existing house as it is more difficult to visualize the lay out when you build especially if one is not familiar with the technical plans or drawings. But there are more to consider when buying an already existing house.

The most common draw-back to buying an existing house is that it is more likely not going to be exactly what you want. Because the house is already built, although you can readily visualize the lay out and floor plan, this might not cater to your exact needs and preference. You also have no choice or decision for the size and/or colors of the rooms and spaces not to include your desired location of the said spaces. You might want to have to administer some addition and renovation works just to get them up to your “standards” and make them livable enough for you and your family. This adds up to the cost as this “works” are not included in the original price of the house.

And speaking of standards, you have no idea on “how” the house was built as you have bought it as is. You are not sure of the quality and specifications of materials and workmanship that were incorporated in the house. You might discover that maintenance works would have to be implemented just to solve the problems that might occur after moving in. You will not discover these problems until you start dwelling in the house and not while looking at it. This can be such a hassle especially if the problems would require major works which would cause so much inconvenience while you’re in the house.

Most built houses especially those for “mass housing” are not equipped with the modern amenities and wiring specifications. (I’m not even going to discuss the other components such as the structural) This makes the house less energy efficient aside from the safety issues that this might pose if they’re sub-standardly done. This would translate to higher energy and utility costs on a monthly basis that could really hurt you in the long run.


When deciding whether to buy or build their own house, people often rule out building too quickly. This might be because when you talk to anyone having their home being built, often stories of the project taking too long and exceeding cost expectations are a norm. Building a house from the ground up can come up with significant delays may it be due to severe weathers, special materials delivery, delayed decisions or unforeseen reasons. A typical small home can be completed within 6 month time depending on the required finishes but to be safe put an additional 1 to 2 months time before you can actually move in.

Cost is also a huge factor in the decision because it is “almost” always a bit more expensive to build a house than to buy an existing house. The fact that you are forced to hire “designers” and “contractors,” if you’re not one, admits to this added cost. Major changes after negotiations and closing can also add to the costs of construction which could extend the budget.

Building a house can also require you time commitment which can affect your emotions and schedule aside from physically demanding. This is because you might be required to meetings with the designer and contractors while the house is being constructed. This is to ensure that all aspects of construction meet your expectations.

Most people see these draw backs but don’t consider the long run benefits of building their own house. Building your own house can have potential value and advantages in the long run. Building gives you the flexibility of having things exactly the way you would like. Starting from the design and actual construction, you can literally custom built your own house. You can have everything your way from the size and location of the rooms and spaces, to the colors of the walls, cabinets and the kitchen, and everything in between, both lay out-wise or design-wise. The emotional feelings of fulfillment and pride is intangible in a house that has become “your own design.”

By building, you can be sure that everything is brand new and up to date as compared to buying an existing house. From the construction materials to the finishing fixtures, you’ll have the tremendous advantage of having everything new and under warranty. Furthermore, the specifications and building code will be up to the latest safety standards and you can monitor the development. You can also have the option to incorporate the latest technology into your home. From customizing a personalized entertainment room to fit your unique taste, having the exact number of outlets in the right places and location of the speakers and consoles to fit your requirements, to having your home installed the wiring for the highest speed internet. Anything and everything including the latest architectural trends can be added without much trouble if you chose to.

Another advantage you can have in the long run by having everything new and energy efficient is translated to monthly energy and utility bill savings. You can also save costs on repairs and renovation costs you would require on a problematic house since everything is new and would not require redoing.

A misconception that often mislead people from choosing the “building” option is that it doesn’t have the financial flexibility as that with the “buying” option. The same financing schemes are also offered now by banks and government loaning agencies for “building your own home.”  The high professional fees of designers and engineers are now also considered misconceptions as there are builders that offers great discounts and even waive designs fees.

Owning Your Dream House

There are pros and cons which faces everyone on deciding whether to buy or build their dream house. It is not an easy decision to make since each has its own set of advantages and problems that need to be carefully considered against each other. If this is your first time around this path, better expect a level of discomfort for there is really no “one-size-fits-all” answer.

To help you make the best decision, consider things such as your financial situation, preference, and long term plans. Decide what is more important to you and make a list of these features. Know what you are willing to give up and what you just can’t do without in your dream house.

Owning a house is a great experience and is considered as by many as the biggest investment, so it is acceptable to be picky and to taking the needed time to have the perfect home. Look into both options and decide what is best suited for you.

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