Building Vs Buying A House In Idaho: A Complete Guide

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Building vs buying a house is a common question for homebuyers no matter where you are looking to live. But location is a huge factor in the build vs buy decision, so here we’re going to cover building vs buying a house in Idaho where Pathway Builders is located. It’s where we have our expertise and our home state, so we want to help you determine whether you should build or buy a house in Idaho and, even more specifically, we’ll cover some considerations for building or buying a house in the Boise area. 

There are many factors to consider when determining if it is better for you to build or buy a house. Most of these factors are going to be dependent on what you value most as a homebuyer, but hopefully, here we can make this decision easier by outlining some of the pros and cons of building a house vs buying a house in Idaho. 

Building vs Buying a House: Buying a House in Idaho

Pros of Buying A House in Idaho

Faster Process

This one isn’t unique to Idaho, but it’s one of the top factors to consider when determining whether to build or buy a home. Buying a home whether in Idaho or elsewhere is typically going to be a much faster process than building your own home. 

According to Redfin once your offer is accepted, the average closing time on a home is between 30-60 days. Meaning it’s one to two months until you can move into your home. Of course, you’ll also need to factor in the time it takes to find the home in the first place as well which can increase the time the entire process takes, especially in Boise and Treasure Valley area where it’s a seller’s market in 2023. You may end up making several offers before one is accepted and this can increase the time it takes to move into your new home.

Of course, working with a great realtor in Boise can make the process faster as can your requirements and how motivated you are to buy a house. In general, if you need to move into a new house faster, buying an existing home in Idaho may be the way to go.

Mature Landscaping

Mature landscaping is one of the benefits of buying an existing home vs building a home. Most of the time when you buy an existing home, you’ll be purchasing a property that already has landscaping and more mature trees than a lot you’ll build a new home on.

Even if your lot previously had mature trees, it’s typical these trees would be removed to make the construction process easier and more efficient if you are building a home. If you are looking for a home with mature trees and landscaping, buying an existing home in Idaho will likely be your best route.

Ability to Renovate Over Time

When you purchase an existing home, you won’t be buying something that is completely custom to you and there may be things about the home you’d like to change. But you’ll likely be able to find a home that doesn’t need the renovation right away to be move-in ready, so you can move into the home and work on renovating the home over time versus all at once. 

This can be beneficial if you need to move into a home more quickly and if you want to spread out the cost of your new home and any renovations over time versus having to pay for everything all at once.

Cons of Buying A House In Idaho

A More Stressful Buying Process

As one of the fastest growing states in the US, increased demand is certainly a factor in the home buying process that can make buying an existing home in Idaho more stressful than choosing to build a home in the state. Pair this with the increasing scarcity of homes in 2023, and you’ve got the recipe for a much more stressful home buying process. 

Consider this, in Ada County in particular, although there has been a slight decrease in housing demand in 2023 versus previous years, the availability of homes has decreased. In fact, according to FRED, new inventory listings in the Boise CBSA (including Ada, Gem, Boise, and Owyhee County) in July 2023 were 28% lower than last July.

This reduced home supply isn’t unique to just Boise and Ada County, it’s also prevalent across the state of Idaho (source). This means it’s a seller’s market, and a seller’s market can be more stressful for homebuyers.

It means fewer choices, potential bidding wars, and the stress of offers not being accepted. The state of the current housing market in Idaho is definitely something to factor in when considering building vs buying a home in Idaho.

Not Getting Exactly What You Want 

Related to the limited inventory is the fact that when you decide to buy a house vs building a house in Idaho, you’re most likely going to make compromises in the things you want in your home. The potential for making compromises in what you want can increase when the existing home supply is limited like it is right now in most of Idaho. If you find a home you like, you may need to renovate the home before you move in, which can add time and expense to your home buying process. 

Potential for Hazardous Materials

In addition, an existing home may come with outdated or hazardous materials like asbestos or lead paint, depending on when the home was built. It’s also possible there could be other dangerous materials such as mold in an existing home. These materials can take time and require special assistance to remove, which can add to the cost of buying a house.

Not all pre-existing homes have hazardous materials, but it’s certainly something you’ll want to consider versus building a new home, which will use building materials that are up to today’s standards using safe building materials.

Older Appliances

Another con of buying a home vs building new is the appliances. Older homes may include less energy efficient appliances that will increase the cost of your monthly utilities. With rising utility costs across Idaho, it’s worth considering the age of appliances and energy consumption in your decision to buy as you may want to pay to upgrade those appliances to lower monthly expenses. You are also more likely to need to spend more money on repairs or invest in new appliances sooner as older appliances break down.

Cost: Is it Cheaper to build or buy a house in Idaho?

Speaking about cost, this is one of the most important factors in the building vs buying a house decision for the majority of homebuyers. So is it cheaper to build or buy a home in Idaho?

The common assumption is that buying an existing home is going to be cheaper than building a home.

Why? When you choose to build a home you are building something custom and in most instances in life, you pay more for customization.

Cost to Build vs Buy in Idaho

However, with recent changes in home prices and scarcity of available homes, there are actually places & instances where it can be more cost effective to build a home vs buy a home. According to an analysis by StorageCafe published in February 2023, Idaho is one of 19 analyzed states where on average it is cheaper to build a home vs buy a home.

According to this same study, on average building a home in Idaho is actually $70,000 less than buying an existing home. If you are working with an affordable custom home builder in Idaho, you may save even more when building a home vs buying a home.

Of course, there are many, many factors that will influence the cost of your home build or home price such as location, type of home, size of the home, the home builder you are working with, and more.

But if price is your top concern when looking at building vs buying in Idaho, you’d do well to explore your home building options by talking with an Idaho home builder or an area real estate agent to potentially save a serious dollar amount on your home price. 

Beyond the initial price of the home or the build, you’ll also want to factor in some of the other potential costs we’ve covered here such as potential remodel costs, appliance and repair costs, along with the factors involved in the cost to build a custom home.

These are all highly dependent on your unique situation, but all worth weighing in your final decision to build vs buy a house in Idaho or wherever you may be looking to buy a home.

With that said, there are other considerations, beyond the cost, when deciding to build versus buy a home, so let’s continue with the pros and cons of building a home in Idaho.

Building Vs Buying A House: Building A House In Idaho

Pros of Building a Home in Idaho

Get Exactly What You Want

Outside of cost, this is probably the top benefit of building a home in Idaho

When you build your own home, you’ll get exactly what you want in a home. You’ll select the location, your lot, the house plan, paint, finishes, etc. Everything you want or don’t want down to the smallest details.

If you want a south facing home – you got it!

If you want 2 master suites – you can!

If you want to customize the configuration of the master bathroom or make your closets bigger – you can do that too!

If there is a specific style that you like, such as a board and batten wall, you can make that happen.

Anything you want in a home is possible when you decide to build a custom home. This is the biggest benefit of building vs buying a home. 

Newness & Less Maintenance

On top of getting exactly what you want, when you build a home everything will be brand new. New appliances, fresh paint, new flooring, and with all this newness mean less maintenance required when you build a home.

If you buy an existing home, you may need to replace the flooring sooner or redo the roof in a few years, but when you build a custom home you’ll know everything is new and that means a longer period of time with less maintenance and lower maintenance costs than if you were to purchase an existing home. 

If something does go wrong, your new build is typically covered by a warranty. At Pathway Builders all of our new homes have a one year warranty. The warranty and coverage can vary by builder, but it means that you’ll have peace of mind that if something does need to be fixed or replaced, it’s covered when you choose to build a home.

Modern Materials

Choosing to build vs buy a house in Idaho also ensures that the materials you are using in your home are safe & modern. You won’t encounter any asbestos or other hazardous materials that need to be removed. Everything used in the build process will be up to today’s build standards. 

Because you are building the home you also have the opportunity to select all the materials used. This means if prioritizing sustainable choices is important to you, you can select a more sustainable flooring option.

If using the highest quality materials in your home is important, you’ll be able to make that decision and the materials you use will be the highest quality by today’s standards, not by standards ten or twenty years ago. 

Energy Efficient Appliances

Building a new home also means new appliances, which will be more energy efficient options. At Pathway Builders, we offer our clients a 90% efficient HVAC system and a higher R-rated insulation standard on our homes. These features combined improve energy efficiency for heating and cooling even further.

Having these energy efficient appliances & better insulation rating in a new build is going to save you money in the long run particularly as the cost of utilities increases over time. Idaho currently has one of the cheapest utility costs in the country, but costs are rising.

This makes having energy efficient appliances even more of a cost savings and a large benefit when weighing your option to build vs buy a house in Idaho.

No Competition – Eliminate Home Buying Stress

As we mentioned in the cons for buying a home in Idaho, existing home inventory in much of the state is declining causing competition for pre-existing homes to increase. This makes the home buying process more stressful for buyers. When choosing to build a home in Idaho, you’re really eliminating that competition and the stress that comes with it.

Because you’re building on your own land, you won’t need to worry about potential bidding wars or not having your offer accepted on an existing home you really liked. Instead, you’ll be focused on building your dream home.

Resale value 

Another benefit to building vs buying a home in Idaho is that newer homes tend to be more desirable to homebuyers. So if you were ever to resell your home in the future, you may get more for your home than if you were to buy an older home and resell it in the future. Of course, there are many variables that factor into resale value, but newness of the home can be a consideration and a benefit to building your own home.

Cons of Building a Home In Idaho

Construction Process Can Take Time

The biggest downside for most homebuyers when determining whether to build vs buy a house in Idaho is the timeline. Building a home takes more time. This is true in Idaho and everywhere because you’re building something from scratch versus moving into a house that already exists.

There are many factors that can influence the exact timeline to build a home, but on average when you work with Pathway Builders to build a home in the Boise or Treasure Valley area, it takes five months from when the foundation is poured to when your home is complete. 

Other factors like preparing the land and permitting can add to the home build timeline, making this an important factor in your decision. If you are looking to build a house in Boise or Treasure Valley and considering your timeline, reach out to us to talk more about your home build for a more accurate estimate of how long it may take to build a home on your land.

More Complex Financing

Another factor that can impact the decision to build versus buy is the need for multiple loans. If you don’t already own your land, you may need a land loan to buy the land. After that you’ll need a construction loan, and potentially a traditional mortgage once the home is built. This can add complexity to financing your home build versus buying a home where you’ll just need a traditional mortgage.

However, working with an experienced lender can alleviate the complexity of multiple loans as you’ll have someone who knows the process and can guide you through the steps. It’s also possible to obtain a combined loan that would eliminate the need for both a land and construction loan, which can also simplify the financing process when building a home. 

Greater Effort Involved

The beauty of building your own home means you get to make all the decisions about how the home is laid out, the materials used, the appliances installed, the finishes, and more. The downside of that is that it is more time consuming and there is greater effort involved than there would be if you were simply finding and purchasing an existing home.

While for some people this effort is a downside, for others this is the exciting part about choosing to build vs buy a home in Idaho. You get to dream about the house you want and make it a reality.

If you’ve never built a home before, this can feel more overwhelming, but working with a great home builder can really help you in this process.

At Pathway Builders, we make it our priority to make the home building experience as seamless as possible, so that the building process is enjoyable rather than overwhelming. 

In the end, building vs buying a house in Idaho or wherever you are looking to live is a personal decision. Many of the pros and cons of building vs buying are dependent on your values, along with the home type, style, & size you are considering in addition to the market and the timing of when you are making your decision. 

Key Takeaways: Building vs Buying in Idaho in 2023

  • If a faster timeline is essential, buying an existing home is likely a better choice
  • If cost is a top priority, building a home in Idaho may save you a significant amount of money; however, there are many factors involved in the cost so doing your research is essential

If you’re considering building a home in Boise or Treasure Valley, we’d love to talk with you! Contact us for a free home building consultation.