For so many people, building a home is a real dream come true. You get a space that truly belongs to you, with all of your personalized touches and a layout that suits your lifestyle perfectly. It’s energy-efficient, everything is new and working well, and you don’t have to contend with any mistakes made by your home’s former owners.
However, there are a few different paths that prospective buyers can take to a new home, especially when it comes to choosing a builder. There are two main choices. The first is to go with a custom builder or one who will design a home to your specifications. It will be a design unique to you; you’ll have total control over every aspect, and your finished home won’t look like anyone else’s. The second is to work with a production builder or a higher volume builder. This is a builder that works from a set of floor plans; as the owner, you can customize a few things, but only insofar as they fit with the plan from which you’re working.
What are the main advantages and disadvantages of the two types of builders, and which one is right for you? Read on for a close comparison.
Custom Builders: You’re in Charge
If your vision of an ideal home looks like nothing you’ve ever seen or set foot in before, then a custom builder may be the right choice for you. Maybe you’ve got a floor plan in mind, or maybe you have an architect with whom you’d like to work to design your dream home, but when you work with a custom builder, you’ve got to supply the plans. The advantage of this is that you’ve got total control. All of the choices, from start to finish, are truly your own, and as long as everything fits with your local building and zoning codes, your home will be exactly as you want it.
However, that control comes at a hefty financial cost. You’ve got to be willing to spend a fair amount of money if you go with a custom builder. Not only are there more fees that add up, such as land costs, design costs, site prep, and even attorney fees to make sure everything is up to spec and up to code. Plus, working with a custom builder typically takes longer than working with a production builder, since true customization takes more time to implement.
The type of lot you’re hoping to build on will also affect things like timing and cost of your new home. Undeveloped land always takes time and money to clear, and the more trees and brush that need to be removed, the more of each you’ll need. Plus, you’ll also need to factor in things like digging a foundation, putting in water and sewer or septic, hooking up other utilities, and putting in a driveway. Of course, you’ll need to do these things with a production builder too, but due to the volume with which a production builder puts up new homes, these things are typically done faster and at a lower cost.
The main thing you’ll want to focus on if you decide to go with a custom builder is staying within your budget. The little extra fees can add up quickly, and if you’re not paying attention, you can end up paying a lot more for your home than you originally intended.
Production Builders: Personal and Economical
When you hire a production builder instead of a custom one, you’ll still get the personalized home of your dreams. The key advantage is that you’ll almost always pay less for it. That’s because high volume builders pay less for home construction costs: they buy materials in bulk, and they stick with the same contractors for things like foundation excavation, driveway pouring, and more. They’re then able to pass the savings on to you.
Plus, with a production builder, you’ll also save on your land costs. Typically, production builders work in planned communities, and they have land that is already purchased and cleared. It’s all taken care of for you, so there are no unexpected land clearing or development costs.
The trade-off, of course, is that you’ll almost always be working from a pre-set floor plan instead of your own design or the design of an architect. There’s still lots of room for customization, though; you’ll be able to pick colors, exterior materials, interior materials, fixtures, appliances, and more to make your home truly your own. What’s more, when you build with a production builder, you probably don’t have to worry about your home looking like a cookie-cutter version of everything else in your development, since builders are usually careful about mixing up the types of homes within a community
What’s Best For You?
When it’s time to build your new home, will you work with a custom builder or a production builder? The answer largely depends on three things: how much money you have to spend on your new home, how much control you want over the design of your new home, and how soon you want to get a certificate of occupancy and move in. Your priorities in the process will guide you toward the right builder choice for you.