Buying vs Building a Home in the UK: Which is Cheaper?

When it comes to choosing your home, making a decision between constructing one from the ground up or buying an existing property can be a challenge. Purchasing a house is the more conventional route in the UK that the majority of homeowners opt for

However, building your own home can be more cost-effective in the UK, depending on the cost of land. Building a house also offers self builders more control over the design, gives you access to government incentive schemes, the ability to reclaim VAT and material costs.

To make the right decision for your home, it’s important to understand all the factors affecting the cost of building and buying a house, as well as the pros and cons of both. Let’s delve into the details.

how to build your own house

Costs of Building vs Buying a House in the UK

Whether you decide to build or buy a house, both options have their pros and cons. The primary factor influencing this choice is cost. According to Just Do Property, these are the current average building vs buying costs in 2023:

2-Bedroom House

Building: £190,000 to £280,000
Buying: £255,172

3-Bedroom House

Building: £240,000 to £360,000
Buying: £283,706

4-Bedroom House

Building: £290,000 to £440,000
Buying: £426,099

5-Bedroom House

Building: £320,000 to £480,000
Buying: £585,000

Cost Considerations for Building a House in the UK

Building a house involves several key steps, making it a very different financial journey to buying. This includes:

  • Finding and purchasing suitable land
  • Buying building materials
  • Appointing architects & designing
  • Labour costs
  • Interior design & furnishing.

As a general rule, while you typically start with a budget, the final cost often exceeds your initial estimate.

ICF homes

The cost of a plot can vary drastically across the UK. According to, it can range from £300,000 in the north of the country to over a million pounds in the south. The location and size of the plot, of course, can influence this cost.

The cost of construction is another consideration. Here are some examples from various sites providing average self building costs:

Take a read of our article How Much Does Self Building Cost in 2023 for more details.

Interior design, supplies, and installation can also add around £15,000-£22,000 to the overall cost, with the choice of building materials significantly affecting the final expense. For example, timber frames tend to be more expensive.

Cost Considerations for Buying a House in the UK

The cost of purchasing a house in the UK really depends on the location, but as of August 2023, the average house price stood at £291,000, according to the ONS.

The costs associated with buying a house includes:

  • Deposit
  • Taxes
  • Refurbishment costs
  • Insurance
  • Completion costs

These expenses can add up to approximately £32,771 for a low-standard quality 3-bedroom house.

You’ll also need to consider a solicitor, which can cost between £1000 – £2000 according to, mortgage arrangements (ranging from £1,100 to £2,200), and a house survey (costing £400 to £1,500 based on the type of survey). If you opt for professional movers, this can cost £2,000 and over.

It’s essential not to overlook stamp duty, a tax paid when buying a house in England or Northern Ireland. For first-time buyers of properties up to £425,000, stamp duty is exempt, but the tax rate increases with the property’s price.

self build project funding

Making the Decision: Build or Buy a House in the UK?

Making a decision on whether to build or buy a house in the UK is not a straightforward yes or no answer. Both options have their merits and drawbacks, and your choice should align with your preferences and circumstances.

In the UK, a majority of people opt to purchase existing homes, making it a great choice in terms of market value and competition. However, building your own house provides complete control over the design, size, location, interior, and more, allowing you to create something truly unique. While building a new house can involve considerable costs, the most substantial expense is often the land itself.

Ultimately, your choice depends on your personal preferences and circumstances. To make an informed decision, consider the advantages and disadvantages of both building and buying a house in the UK.