If you read our last blog post about things to consider before your first meeting with a builder, you’re already aware that there are several types of builders. From production to fully custom, the waters can get muddy and complicated to wade if you don’t already know what type of builder you’re looking for. If the first builder you spoke to quoted a plan significantly cheaper than another builder, but the second builder offers the finishes and design you’ve always dreamed of, how do you know you’re comparing apples to apples? Being aware of the unique product each type of builder offers will help you know what type of builder you’re looking for before you start looking, and it’ll help you ask pointed questions in the initial stages so you ensure the builder you’re considering offers what you’re looking for.
The Production Builder
A production home builder is one that has refined the building process to accommodate a specific selection of home plans on specific lots. They usually build over one thousand homes per year, and have anywhere from three to twenty home plans available to choose from. They typically have pre-set selection packages for finishes based on aesthetic and price range, and have some upgraded options for some features. For instance, they might have 6 cabinet fronts to choose from ranging from inexpensive to somewhat higher quality, three door knob options, and two paint colors. Plans are rarely alterable, as offering a specific product with specific finishes across the board cuts down on building cost, thus lowering the cost for the homeowner. The homeowner will rarely interact with the licensed contractor himself, but will likely speak to office staff for trouble-shooting and changes to the home.
This type of builder is the best option for someone who has little time to invest in making selections, and whose top priority is not to have a home tailored to the homeowner’s lifestyle and property, but wants to be able to make some choices. A production home is also typically significantly cheaper than a custom home and can accommodate an up-and-coming family with a low budget while still offering some customizable features.
The Semi-Custom Builder
A semi-custom home builder can land anywhere between production and fully custom. Most semi-custom builders are small-to-medium volume builders with customizable plans to accommodate the homeowner’s preference and lifestyle. Semi-custom builders usually have plans to choose from, but will let the homeowner make some changes (ranging anywhere from enlarging the master bedroom to altering a basement layout). They have more options available for finishes than a production builder, and will often build one of their plans on a nearby lot purchased by the homeowner. Their procedures vary builder-to-builder, but they always have more options than a production builder and less than a fully custom builder.
If you’re considering building a home, have some time to invest in selections, but don’t want to go fully custom, this is the option for you. Just make certain you are sure of the builder’s process and options before you sign a contract, because there are as many different procedures for semi-custom builders as there are semi-custom builders.
The Fully Custom Builder
The fully custom builder is the builder that offers the option of literally anything on the market. Custom builders will build almost any plan on any lot (lot allowing), and will allow the choice of any finish one can find. They typically work closely with architects to create a custom plan that compliments the landscape of the lot, a designer to design interior finishes that complement the view to the outside, and both designers and architects to tailor every aspect of the home to the homeowner’s lifestyle and specifications. Fully custom builders are typically small-volume builders, allowing homeowners direct access to a highly skilled licensed contractor for all trouble shooting, questions, and changes.
If your goal is to build your dream home, every aspect of the home and property designed to your exact wishes, with unlimited access to an expert licensed contractor, a fully custom home is for you. Some homeowners enter a design center, where all the most popular finishes and selections are available, and pick out all their selections in under two hours. They chose a custom builder because of the unwavering attention the contractor gives to each job site, and the attention to detail and integrity of which custom builders boast. Some homeowners spend hundreds of hours scouring the market for every finish available to them, making sure they know all their options. They chose a fully custom builder because they were ready to invest the time and effort into designing their dream home, every detail as they dreamed it would be.
As evidenced here, each type of builder offers a unique product, and the type of builder you choose should depend on what product you hope to achieve. If you’re ready to go through the rigorous, time consuming, yet infinitely rewarding experience of building a custom home, you can save time by not even considering a production builder. If you would like to build a house but don’t have the time or funds at this stage in life to build your dream home, begin searching for a production builder; the experience you gain as a homeowner will be invaluable when you’re ready to build your dream home with a fully custom builder. Whatever route you choose, the future of your home is in your builders’ hands, and so be sure they’re skilled in the product you’re after.