Homes in Coastal RI September 2, 2021

New Construction vs Existing Home

Middletown, RI.  Listed by Kylie McCollough, Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty


Do you have to trade the charm of a home that has a “patina” for additional space and modern amenities?

Many buyers — especially here in New England — love the idea of an historic home and the stories it has to tell, but they can be just as easily turned off by the small rooms, lack of closet space and the primitive systems that are part and parcel of all that charm.  In cases where older homes have been renovated and “upgraded”, the choices are often not to the buyers’ taste, including rejiggered floor plans, awkward additions and unattractive finishes.

So, time to think about new construction?  Here are some things to consider.

The most straightforward approach is buying into a development of new homes.  Don’t settle for a cookie-cutter neighborhoods where the properties are indistinguishable from each other or ones where huge houses are stacked onto tiny lots.  Seek out a thoughtful builder/developer who is creating unique, quality homes and has a vision for a neighborhood that includes mature trees and privacy for all homeowners.  You’ll have the opportunity to upgrade where you want to spend the money.  To truly make it your own, avoid upgrade “packages” where you are only able to choose from things the builder has pre-selected.

If you can’t see yourself in a new development, consider purchasing vacant land or razing an existing property.  The advantage here is that it will already have hookups for utilities, including water and sewer, even if you have to upgrade when you build.  This option ensures your new home will be truly unique, and a good architect will help you maximize the space, the light and the views.  If you do purchase vacant land, your agent can help you navigate the process to ensure that the land is indeed buildable and what that might entail.  It’s a longer road, but you might find that you can get a good price on a vacant lot if you’re willing to put in all the work.

Whether you buy into a development or pursue individual construction, the finishes and furnishings you select will make the difference between creating a sterile vanilla box or a charming, comfortable home.  If you can afford a designer, they can help you envision your new space and introduce you to to-the-trade resources.  If you are confident enough to undertake the project on your own, I suggest – at a minimum – solid wood doors; good hardware; real hardwood floors; and stylish (but not trendy) tile.  And the best windows you can afford – always.


Michael Mosca is a real estate agent with Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Michael specializes in properties in coastal RI and he is a member of Our Trusted Network of Sotheby’s International Realty agents around the U.S. and across the globe