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What Is Custom Home?

What is a Custom Home, and What Are The Differences Between Production and Custom Homes?

When it comes to the decision of finally owning your own home, the first big question to ask is what type of home construction process you are willing to work with. There are three basic types of homes in the building industry to select from: a custom home, a semi-custom home, and a spec or production home. These differ in terms of the owner’s level of involvement in the design and construction phases and the price.

Each of these homes has its advantages and disadvantages. Suppose you want to own a house that’s ready to use and do not really want to go into the nitty-gritty of conceptualizing the floor plan, interior and exterior visuals, and related compliance paperwork. In that case, a production home is the best for you. If you are looking for a house that already has a pre-designed structure and foundation but want a say in its layout and aesthetic, then you can go for a semi-custom package. However, if you have a specific design in mind and want to be totally involved in the entire process and have the budget to turn your vision into something tangible, building a custom home is a great choice.

Custom Home

What is a custom home? The simplest explanation is that a customized home project involves an owner’s direct collaboration with a preferred architect and contractor. The process starts from scratch at the planning and conceptualization stage and ends at the structure’s finish and turnover.

In between, you will need to deal with zoning requirements, foundational preparations, utility works, land titling (if necessary), and related concerns. If you want your home to be designed in a specific way that meets your lifestyle goals and are prepared to spend to get what you envisioned, then this is perfect for you.

Here are some of the responsibilities that you will have when you choose to build a customized home to give you an idea.

  1. Building materials and finishes: these include the types and brands of concrete, wood, brick, metal, etc., lighting styles, colors, wattage, plumbing fixtures, types and brands of paint, and energy efficiency efforts, among others.
  2. The entire home plan and floor plan: these include the types of doors, windows, walls (movable and non-movable), closets, ceiling heights and vaults, and more.
  3. Your home’s exterior: these include the sidings, shakes, stones, bricks and other types of materials you might want for outside your house, as well as where they will be battened down.
  4. Zoning and construction permits and limitations: these include whatever laws govern your area regarding owning a home, how elaborate you can legally go in terms of height and materials used, any property fees that need to be paid before and after construction, etc.

Pros of Having a Custom Home

  1. Original and unique design

With a custom-built home, you give your house your personal touch from the very beginning. Unlike buying a pre-built structure, you won’t need to make renovations here and there when you move in. Everything will be just as you wanted it the moment you step foot into your new house. Your priorities become part of the initial design and are ready to be enjoyed from day one.

  1. Minimal cost of maintenance

As mentioned, because your customized home is built precisely to your liking and standards, any renovation and maintenance work will be minimal. You don’t need to worry about the plumbing, the walls, the roof, and other concerns. If there would be something that needs fixing after you move in, it would likely still be covered by your architect or contractor’s warranty and will be treated as a back-job (with no additional costs).

  1. Less competition

Mortgage rates for home sellers are low, so finding an existing house to purchase can be challenging. When you build a home from scratch, you won’t have to concern yourself with the threat of housing costs going up because of the competition.

  1. Potentially higher energy efficiency

Building from the ground up means you can also take liberties when installing energy-efficient systems and appliances. Most pre-built houses do not have these in their packages. This way, you can drastically reduce your maintenance and upkeep expenses in the long run.

Cons of Having a Custom Home

  1. Lack of housing-ready landscaping

Some custom home owners have to deal property sites or neighborhoods that have immature landscaping. Often, you will have to cut down mature trees just to clear a space. There is a work-around for this, though, as you can tell your architect to design a house in a way that will preserve the property’s natural landscape.

  1. Cost

Constructing a new house will cost more than pre-built structures, but rest assured that this extra expense will be worth your investment. In the long run, your home’s resale value becomes more significant than a ready-made house in the same area.

  1. Time

Building a house from scratch means more time spent on the construction phase, and you will likely wait a few months before you can move in. With a pre-built house with a stock floor plan, you can move in immediately after buying it.

  1. Location

It’s quite challenging to look for an unused property closer to key amenities in your town or city. Most of the lots that are ready for custom-built housing nowadays are located in the outskirts.

Construction Process

Building a custom home comes with many challenges, so it’s crucial that you have the right (and best) professionals on your team to see the project through smoothly from start to completion and turnover. You start with hiring the right architect and builder to turn your vision into reality and do so within your set budget. If you are set on a bare area, you might need first to have utilities set up and work done on the land so that it’s ready for building a structure. You will also need to find out about the zoning limitations in your location.

Production Home

What is a production home? This is pre-built home with a pre-determined bill of materials and layout, so that all you need to do is move in and enjoy it. Usually, it is part of a community of similar other houses and offers limited options for personalization. Some new homeowners prefer production housing because they do not want to be bothered by the building process’s small details. It is a practical and quick way to own a house, and it is cheaper than a custom house.

Pros of a Production Home

  1. Home and land are typically offered as a package, and all the necessary utilities and paperwork are already taken care of.
  2. You still have a range of housing plans to select from, so you won’t have the exact same house as the one next to you.
  3. Buying a pre-built house is cheaper compared to building one from scratch. This is mostly because the property developer is purchasing materials in bulk and is privileged with lower expenses. However, you might eventually spend more IF you do want renovations in the future.

Cons of a Production Home

Customization options are limited. While you can select from a menu of housing designs and plans, as well as decide which colors to use, the layout and sizing of spaces will most likely be set. If you want to make a few changes before the house is actually finished, you might be allowed to have a few. This is a big deal for many homeowners, who will probably want a space that is built according to their lifestyle and preferences.

Construction Process

When you purchase a production home, your property will likely be part of a master-planned community. This means you will be given several options, ranging from a house that’s still on the pre-building stage or a ready-to-occupy property. All the paperwork needed will be taken care of by the developer, and all you need to do is sign and make sure that requirements are complete and submitted on time.


In the end, the decision between buying a custom home and a production home depends on how much of your time and resources you are willing to invest in the building process. If you want a house that you can immediately enjoy, then a production or semi-custom home is the way to go. However, if you want a home that truly reflects your unique tastes, then a custom-built house is best.

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