So You've Decided to Custom Build...
Custom home building differs from other kinds of home building in several ways. By considering the differences, you may be able to ascertain which type of home builder is right for you.
Custom Builders - A custom home builder constructs a one-of-a-kind home for a particular client, usually at a location already owned by the client. A custom home always requires the services of an architect and/or designer, who must collaborate with the client to create the house's design. The client's input is what makes the custom home unique. Decisions made by the client can include size, amenities, rooms, features, views, etc. The planning process can be lengthy, as the plan has to be carefully considered and revised often as the design takes shape. Custom homes are considered high-end or luxury homes, even though they need not be large or ostentatious. Custom home builders are generally small-volume builders.
- A spec builder buys land and builds a house on it, gambling that he/she will be able to sell the home once it's completed. These homes are customized to some extent, as they are being built to the builder's specifications. Spec homes come in every price range, from standard to high-end. Often the house will be sold during construction. A spec builder may be a custom home builder who's choosing to build without having a client in place first.
Tract Builders - Tract home builders (or production home builders) build in subdivisions. Tract homes are constructed on large lots owned by developers. Often the developer will build model homes for people to inspect. A tract home builder may have four or five different model homes to choose from, and 100 lots to build on. An open house shows off the model homes, which are completely decorated in order to give prospective buyers a good idea of what their finished home will look like. Clients choose one of the model plans and the homes are built in phases. Real estate agents sell the first 25 homes, for example, and once they're near completion the next phase of selling begins.
What's Best for You?
Of the three types of housing, custom construction has long been thought of as the most expensive way to build. It's true that consultation with architects and designers adds to the initial construction cost. However, you may find that a custom home saves you money in the long run. Contrary to popular belief, not all custom homes are large and elaborate. In fact, there's a current move toward smaller homes with a minimized environmental footprint. A custom home can be built with eco-friendly and high-quality materials specified by the client, which means that the house will be built to last. A client may ask a custom builder to furnish the custom-built house with energy-saving appliances and high-grade insulation, etc, creating a home that's not costly to heat and cool. And by hiring a build-design firm, a client can be sure of getting integrated service, with skilled trades persons having been previously vetted by the custom builder. And of course, living in a home that you yourself have helped to design will add value to your life in ways that are incalculable.