A custom home gives you the ability to choose and design every single detail of the home you want to live in. When you decide to go in this direction and work with a custom home builder, the only limitations are your budget and zoning restrictions on the land you decide to build on.
Your increased investment in a custom house will make the process leading up to move-in very different from if you bought a house on the real estate market, also known as a spec house, or if you purchased a move-in ready production home.
WHAT IS A PRODUCTION HOME?
Builders who work on production homes are also known as high volume home builders because of the factory-like nature in which they build move-in ready homes for buyers. These high volume builders work faster because they are working off a library of floor plans, while a custom builder creates a one-of-a-kind home from the floor plan to the finishes.
Production homes have the arguably trickier parts of designing a home such as a floor plan, HVAC, and plumbing set up already so that you can customize things like finishes. On average, production homes take about 6.1 months to build, while entirely customized houses (i.e., houses that aren’t based on a layout) can take closer to 9 months. Production homes take less time to build since builders are familiar with the plans and have likely built several houses of the same layout before, but there are far fewer elements available for you to personalize.
These high volume-built homes are often located on huge lots comprised of the same four or five floor plans, too, so while technically, buyers have the option to personalize a production, that brand new home will look very similar to dozens, if not hundreds, of other homes in the neighborhood.
HOW DO I GET A CUSTOM HOME?
One of the first steps for getting a custom home is having a parcel of land. This may be land you already own or it may be a piece of land you acquire specifically to build a custom home.
This is a part of the process which many custom home buyers tend to overlook. Just because you have a piece of land that you’ve planned to build on, many factors can take an unexpected chunk out of your budget or delay the start of construction.
For instance, if you have a piece of land in the suburbs that already has in-ground utilities available at the curb, you will likely be able to start building as soon as you and the builder have completed the design process.
However, if you are considering rural land or any type of land that is situated on a hill or other uneven ground, there will be additional land-development costs which you’ll need to consider before knowing how much is left to go towards your design and building costs. Site preparation such as building driveways, leveling the ground, laying pipes, and excavating the foundation can become expensive.
Because of these land development considerations, it’s a good idea to work with a custom home builder from the very start (before you’ve even begun looking at land to buy!). Together, you can work with them to identify land that will work for your budget and for your project, mitigating hiccups that may have arisen if you’d shown up with floor plans and a difficult-to-build-on piece of land.
HOW DO I CREATE MY FLOOR PLAN?
Once you have land that’s been zoned for residential building, it’s time to take a look at the floor plan for your new custom home. You can work with a professional home designer or an architect to create a floor plan based on your desires and needs. Alternatively, you can design it yourself, though you’ll need to know a good amount about house design to supply a floor plan that the builder can use for their work.
Some custom builders have a team of in-house architects that you can work with to streamline the architectural and construction processes, but if there is an architect you want to work with (or you have a knack for designing floor plans yourself), feel free to supply the floor plan you’ve sourced.
WHAT ABOUT FINISHES AND OTHER DESIGN CHOICES?
After you and the builders have agreed to the floor plan, you will work with them to make your decisions about how you want the house to look and work. These will include your personalized touch on things like paint colors, appliances, countertops, flooring, cabinetry, and more.
While these finishes are the last part of the actual custom home construction process, it’s a good idea to make these decisions at the beginning of the process (pre-construction). Changes you make down the line may be accommodated by the builders, but it slows down the process as they may have to order new building materials, reconfigure fittings, or re-do construction steps that were intended for a different choice.
HOW IS A CUSTOM HOME BUILT?
It’s likely that while all of the pre-construction decisions have been made, the building team has already started work on acquiring the necessary permits to begin building on the land you’ve chosen. Sometimes, acquiring a permit can delay the process, so it’s a good idea to work with a builder who understands what you want to achieve and can take care of the administrative work along with the construction work.
Once the paperwork and regulations regarding land development, permits, and inspections have been completed, the builders can begin construction on your new custom home. Including the pre-construction time, you can expect to have the keys to your new home within the next 12 months (though of course, this timeline can be shorter or longer depending on the specifics of your project). During this waiting period, you can get to work on buying the furnishings for your new custom home and letting everyone know the new address of your incredible new one-of-a-kind home.