Buying or building a house
Are you itching to have your own house or apartment?
Do you want to decide on the colour of your walls yourself instead of being dependent on a landlord (or your parents)? Then you are ready for your own house or apartment!
One of the first questions you might ask yourself is: should I build, or is it better to buy an existing house?
Choice of design
You invest in your own property
Everything is new
No major costs for the first 10 years
Possibility of exceeding budget
You can move into your new home straight away
Congratulations on your choice! You get to decide yourself what your home will look like, and you will not have any significant costs to pay for at least 10 years, thanks to the contractor's liability guarantee. However, before you enthusiastically call your architect or builder, here are a few practical points you should bear in mind.
1. Building plot
You should certainly compare prices in different municipalities. Depending on the location, the price of a building plot can vary greatly.
The choice of architect is very important. After all, he or she is the person who has to design the house of your dreams. So take all the time you need to find the right architect for you Flanders (NL), or Brussels and Wallonia (FR).
Choosing a contractor is also important, because he or she is the one building your house or apartment. Avoid unpleasant surprises during the construction process: ask your contractor for a clear description of the works and for a fixed price. Make sure you look for a good contractor.
4. Permits and certificates
A new build must adhere to a whole host of guidelines such as the building permit, a subdivision permit, soil certificate, rain water storage and waste water treatment, etc. The relevant guidelines and procedures vary from region to region. It is therefore always best to ask advice from your local council.
5. Energy consumption
New builds are only allowed to consume a small amount of energy for heating, ventilation, cooling and hot water. The guidelines are laid down in a European Directive from 2010. Flanders (NL) has already implemented these guidelines in its own step-by-step plan. Wallonia (FR) and Brussels (FR) will soon follow.
Building an energy-efficient home may be more expensive, but:
- the extra investment will pay itself back in the long term due to lower energy bills
- you can apply for many government subsidies (FR)
- if you build a nearly energy-neutral (BEN) (NL) home, you receive a reduction on property tax (up to 100% for 5 years!).
Need more info?
and Flanders (NL)
Congratulations on your choice! It is highly likely that the purchase price will be lower for an existing house than for a new build. Here are a few tips if you are not sure where to start.
1. Make your choice
Are you not yet sure what or where you want to buy? These questions can help you:
- Would you prefer the hustle and bustle of a city, the peace of "the outdoors", or a combination of the two in a large town?
- Do you want an apartment or a house? And what kind of house (triple gable, detached, terrace, bel-étage etc.)?
- How big a house do you want? Are you thinking of starting a family?
- Do you want a property that is ready for you to move in to, or are you prepared to do some work on it – and how much?
- Do you want a garden or a patio?
- Does your home have to be near shops, a good school, a sports club, a train station, bus or tram stop, etc.?
2. Start looking
You can get help from an estate agent, but there are also plenty of property websites, and even one where you can find properties for sale via notaries. It may also be useful to drive around or take a walk in the neighbourhood you want to live in. You might end up buying your dream home directly from a home owner who has not posted their property on a website.
3. Visit the property
Take your time during your visit, and be sure to organise a second (or third) visit, too! Do not just go with your heart, but also with your head. Do you have a friend or relative who is an electrician, plumber, etc.? Take them with you to get advice about the condition of the property and any potentially hidden defects.
Some questions you can ask:
- How long has the property been for sale?
- Why are you selling the property?
- What are the neighbours like? (Talk to the neighbours if you can.)
- What is the property's energy consumption like? What is the EPC value?
4. Carry out a property survey
A property survey is a must for obtaining an objective valuation of your future home.
Need more info?
and Brussels (FR)
Have you found your dream home, but still want to change a few things? Then take note of the following pointers.
- Check if you need a town planning permit before the start of the works.
- Get experts to come and determine the extent of the works and give a price estimate. If possible, this should be done before signing the sales agreement.
- For certain renovations, you pay 6% VAT (FR).
- Make your renovations energy efficient! The regional governments of Wallonia (FR), Brussels (FR) and Flanders (NL) offer subsidies for modifications such as low-emissivity glass, roof insulation, etc. You can then save on your energy bills and create added value if you later sell or rent the property.
I know what I want. What now?
You have a clear picture of your dream home. This means you are ready for the next step: determining your budget. Before you throw yourself into your real estate adventure, you first need to know how much you can spend