Buying vs Building a house – The pros and cons

Minutes read  .
Last updated on
April 7, 2022
To build or not to build...that is the question! 

There is a lot of debate in Zambia about whether you should buy a house or if it’s worth the effort to build one yourself. This is a very important decision and isn’t one that should be made lightly. This article will aim to highlight some pros and cons of each, so that you can make an informed decision and do what’s best for you. 

Buying a house

Pros of buying: 

  1. Saves time - You will save a lot of time by buying an already existing house, as all the construction work has already been completed and it may just be a case of viewing the house to make sure everything is in check and to your liking.  
  2. Availability- Once a property has been bought, it can immediately be put to use. If you would like to live in the property you can do soon after buying it or if you would like to rent it out to create another income, this can be done shortly after purchasing the property too. 
  3. Location - Existing properties tend to be built in well-established neighbourhoods. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will need to worry about the property’s utilities such as water, power and sewage systems which may all be established already. The surrounding area may also have good roads and amenities such as restaurants, supermarkets, malls, shops etc. if properties have been built and sold in this locality.   

Cons of buying: 

  1. High cost - Buying a house can be very expensive, particularly if it’s a brand-new property. Certain properties on the market may be overpriced due to their location and a high price may not necessarily reflect on the quality of the house itself. 
  2. Not personalised - When buying a house, you may not get the exact design you like as its been made according to someone else’s vision. This may not be an issue if the house is being purchased to rent to others but if this is being bought as a long-term home, this is very important to consider. Renovation may be possible to make the house more to your liking but this could be expensive and isn’t always feasible depending on the property. 
  3. Quality not guaranteed - As the property has been built by somebody else, the quality isn’t always guaranteed.Make sure to carefully inspect the house you’re planning to buy before committing to it, as some faults may be difficult to find at first. Likewise, some defects may not show until after living in the property for a while and now that the house is legally yours, it may be your responsibility to fix these issues rather than the previous owner. For example, the aesthetics of the house may be very appealing but if this isn’t built on a strong foundation, this will cause problems later down the line. 

Building a house

Building a home also has its own benefits and drawbacks. Some of them have been reflected already in the pros and cons of buying a house but the following section will go into this area in a bit more detail: 

Pros of building: 

  1. Personal choice - When building a house, you can design it as exactly as you’d like. You can decide how large the rooms will be, where they’d be located, the materials used and even smaller things like door handles or window sizes. You will have the freedom to create your dream house. 
  2. Quality - You can ensure that durable high-quality materials are used in the building of your house, which at the foundation level is very important 
  3. Cost - The overall cost of building a house may be cheaper than buying one. The labour costs of individual tradespeople in Zambia are fairly low and even if you hire a contractor or a construction company rather than individuals, this can still work out cheaper overall than buying an existing house on the property market. 
  4. Financial flexibility- As building a house is a long-term project, you don’t need to have all the money available up front to get the project started. This allows for both affordability and flexibility. 

Cons of building: 

  1. Time - The length of time required to build a house from scratch can be a disadvantage for some people. These projects can take years to complete which may not be convenient for some. The length of time required also means that a lot of planning is needed to get the building works underway and running smoothly. 
  2. Quality control - If the house is being built by individual tradespeople, you will need to assemble a team of workers to enact your vision. This includes a wide range of workers such as architects, civil engineers, electric engineers, plumbers and even painters towards the end of the building. Finding appropriate workers can be a time-consuming process and even after this, there may still be a risk of poor workmanship or people not showing up on time which can incur further costs and delays. You can always browse through Rivuuz to find vetted service providers for your building project
  3. Commitment - Building materials may have to be bought yourself which may require a significant financial and time commitment. Material shortages may also occur over the course of the building process which can cause delays and additional financial stress. 
  4. Inflation - Costs can rise over the course of the project due to inflation. 
  5. Public utilities - As the house is being built from scratch, there may be a lack of utilities in the surrounding land such as water, electricity and a functional sewage system. 


Overall, like with anything both options have their pros and cons which need careful consideration before making a final decision. If you would like the freedom to have a house to your exact taste and can afford to spend a few years to make this dream a reality, building a house may be the best option for you. If, however, you don’t have the time or commitment to oversee a construction project and need a house ready in the near future, buying a home would be the best option. Everyone has different circumstances and their decisions will therefore vary, but what is most important is that you choose the option that is best for you. 


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