Of course, the most obvious difference is the custom home is built entirely to your
design and specifications. Spec homes are built on a lot owned by the builder with no
input from a customer. It’s typically a house he’s built before so he can predict the cost
accurately and he knows what he should be able to sell it for when it’s complete.
Finishes tend to be a bit generic since the builder doesn’t know his buyer’s choices. He
tries to pick colors and finishes that will be acceptable to most buyers.
People build custom homes for all kinds of reasons, but there are three most common ones. First, if you own or have access to land to build on, you’ll save the $40-$80,000 built into the cost of land for an existing home. The second biggest reason people choose to build custom is they simply can’t find an existing home that’s just the way they want it. With custom, you tell us exactly what you want and that what we build. The third reason is you have certain specifications you want in your new home, often the latest energy efficiencies or you have certain materials you want to see in your house. The cost of remodeling is double the cost of building, so if you buy an existing house with the intention of changing a lot, you’ll most likely have much more invested in the long run and still not have the efficiencies of that brand new home.
If you were to have a custom home built exactly the same as a spec home, then the
price should be the same. But that never happens and here are the reasons why:
First, the spec builder chooses a cost-efficient plan and can have it in hand that same day for an average of $800-$1000 if he doesn’t already have one. The custom builder spends dozens of hours with customers choosing a plan and then modifying it to fit his customer’s needs and budget. He then has to have it drawn at a typical cost of $4000 and 3-4 months of time.
Finishes on a spec home – faucets, lighting, flooring, etc. are determined by what the builder is able to get the best price on and is readily available. When a specified material becomes unavailable, the custom builder has two choices: either stop construction until the material is available or go through an often long process of changing the material upon approval or, in the case of finishes, waiting until the homeowner chooses new fixtures and waiting until they’re available.
Finally, there’s the time factor. A spec builder should be able to build a home in 1/2 to 2/3 the time of a custom home. That means he’s earned the same amount of money in 3-4 months that might take the custom builder 6-9 months. When we contract for a custom home, everything that’s included in that home from concrete to shingles is specified and approved by our customers.
Historically, we’ve asked for 6-8 months to complete from the time the house is started (footers are poured). Currently, as locally we’re still dealing with supply chain issues and labor shortages, build times are ranging from 10 – 12 months, from the time we break ground. Where your custom homes falls in that range depends primarily on the complexity of the build, as well as how involved the owner is in the process. If we think your particular plan could take longer, we will let you know that up front.
We are a custom builder, so we are happy to work from our plans or yours. We will ask that you make an appointment with one of our consultants to sit down and review the plans and to tour our selection center so we have a better idea of what you’d like to see in your home.
We will sit down and make any changes you would like to fit your needs or budget that make structural sense. We will talk about the things that are important to you and will often suggest changes to make the plan better or more affordable for you.
There are three parts to the price of a custom home. There is land, house construction and site prep. Most builders, including Craftsman, separate the site prep from the cost to build the house. The reason is that the cost to build is based solely on the plan you have chosen. However, the cost to prepare the site (excavation, driveway, septic, well, etc.) is based 90% on the site you are using and only 10% on the house itself. So, our price includes everything in the structure of the house itself, from basement to shingles and everything in between.
Square foot prices are used by Realtors when they are selling an existing home when the price is set, and the square footage is known. A builder’s square foot price has absolutely no bearing on his estimate to build your home. In our company, all our standard homes have the same level of amenities – cabinets, flooring roofing, siding, faucets, etc. – and they still have a range of $160/SF to $200/SF. That is because most of the cost, approximately 55%, in a house is the structural design. You also have every builder calculating his square foot price differently. Is he including decks, porches, garages, basements in his square foot price? Or, like Craftsman, do they only use the finished square footage? In our calculations a $20,000 garage added to a 1500 square foot house just raised the square foot price by $13. Most builders will still use their, say $200/SF, but with them you’ll have a separate upgrade for $20,000.
In general, if a builder is building a home on his own property, he will ask for a substantial down payment, usually 20%-25% and he finances the project himself using the land as collateral. With custom homes, we are almost always building on your property. In that case the builder cannot borrow money to build the home on someone else’s land, so a Construction loan is necessary. There are builders who will still finance the project, but they will ask for a Deed of Trust to the property. Most don’t explain that process in a lot of detail, but bottom line, if for any reason you don’t make the scheduled payments to the builder or bank, the builder has the right to conduct a non-judicial foreclosure – that is, sell the property without first getting a court order. It is not a situation most homebuyers want to be in.
While we do not provide financing, we can certainly assist you with obtaining it. We have relationships with most of the banks in the region and can recommend the best lender for your situation, as well as the ones that typically give our customers the best terms on their loans. The banks we work with most understand our unique building process and want to work with us as we are one of the only builders in the area who will give you a price that, unless you change something afterwards, will always be the same at the end. Many builders use different such as “cost plus” and provide you and your lender with a cost projection, which frequently changes. Our way removes a tremendous amount of risk for the lender and so they are willing with us as your builder to offer more favorable terms such as requiring a lower downpayment. We also have dedicated loan officers at each bank so they know our process and can move your financing forward much quicker.
Yes. When you apply for your loan, the lender will order an appraisal for the house and property together. Since the land is paid for, whatever value they give to the land will be considered as cash. If you have enough equity in the land, you can even use part of it to pay closing costs, etc.
Once we have a plan and visit your site, we can give you an accurate cost. But for you to figure a number, it will typically run around $35-40,000 for a rural property, one that needs a well, septic, excavation, driveway, possibly clearing, grading, and seeding. It will often be less if you are building in a subdivision with public utilities. The lots are usually smaller in a subdivision so things like driveway and clearing can be much less. We will get accurate estimates on everything that needs done, handle all the work, and only charge you the actual cost of the work with no profit or overhead added.
Absolutely. Unlike other builders, we will arrange for soil testing and handle all applications for permits. Building your home on time is critical to our business and permits have become a time-consuming and complicated task. There are zoning permits, well permits, septic permits, septic designs, earth disturbance permits, operations permits, storm water management plans, and, of course, building permits.