Buying a production home is easy. The steps are simple and take little effort on your part. Find a new community and builder you like. Check out and pick one of the models. Sign the contract. Wait for it to be built. Move in.
Building a custom home is much more involved. It’s a major undertaking demanding a lot of your time, effort, and, of course, money.
Completion of a true custom home requires significant advanced planning and active involvement on your part. It consists of a number of major steps or actions that demand your participation and decisions – from finding your dream location to defining, designing and building your dream home. Only one of which (tracking the actual construction of your home) is required when buying a production home.
With a custom home nothing is pre-planned, pre-selected or pre-designed. Because of this, taking a custom home from concept to completion takes significantly more time. See the accompanying article: “How Long Does It Take to Build a Custom Home?”
As shown here, the custom home building process also requires a number of additional steps taken by you, the homebuyer:
Step One: Fashion your dream
Way in the beginning, long before construction, you need to fashion ideas and elements that you envision for your “perfect home.” Collect photos and tear sheets. Tour completed homes. Chat with an interior designer. Begin to outline preferences in regard to architectural style, room function, design elements, product features and lifestyle requirements.
Step Two: Assemble the team You might select an architect first who can then help you get bids from potential builders. Conversely, some custom home builders offer design service or can help you find an architect. To find these professionals, ask everyone you know for recommendations, including local realtors, lenders, building associations, even friends who have recently bought homes.
Step Three: Obtain references Ask prospective builders for the names of clients, lenders, suppliers and subcontractors. Get their opinions: Were they satisfied? Was the project managed effectively? Dose the builder pay subs and suppliers on time? What was the quality of construction? Get sample contracts, construction schedules and warranties. Step Four: Find a location & buy your land
You’ll need to find and purchase the land for your home. Here, the professionals can help evaluate potential sites as to their suitability for building, available utilities, and potential views.
Step Five: Help craft the design
Designing your custom home will require extensive discussions with your architect/designer to analyze the cost/benefit of various options, establish a budget, and finalize specific design and floor plan ideas, features and product elements to be included and that best match your “dream” home.
There is no “typical” time limit for the above elements and none of these are required when purchasing a pre-built production home. The time they take depends on you. Dream building, team/site selection and home design could take a few months or even years.
Step Six: Track construction
In addition to the decisions you need to make when formulating your home design with your architect, numerous selections will be required of you during construction. On a typical 12 month building schedule for a custom home, significant buyer input on design decisions, product and color selections will be required in at least 9 of the 12 months.
Custom Homes are Built in Phases
Rather than defined Steps, Kim Hibbs, owner and general contractor at Hibbs Homes, a custom homebuilder in St. Louis, MO, divides the custom home building process into five phases: