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Building a Home

Custom or Production Home Build: What Should you Choose?

Published on:

6/26/19

written by:

Carrie Barker

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So you’ve decided you want to build a home (how exciting!). Now it’s time to determine whether to do a custom or production home build. What should you choose? 

If you’re unsure of the differences (and pros/cons) between these two home build options, I’ve got you covered!

In this post, I’ll define custom and production homes, answer common questions, discuss the pros and cons of both custom and production builds, and help you choose the best option for your family.

custom or production home build what should you choose

WHAT DOES CUSTOM HOME MEAN?

According to Wikipedia, ‘a custom home is a one-of-a-kind house that is designed for a specific client and for a particular location.’

A custom home is built from a unique set of plans that YOU create with your builder or architect. A truly custom home is designed from scratch … the interior, exterior, floor plan, plumbing, etc. … all from scratch.

With a custom build, you typically first find and purchase your land, then hire an architect (or your builder) to design your floor plan, and then you build your house. You can do this the opposite way, but it’s much easier to plan a house around your lot (land) size than to find a lot that will accommodate your house plan (you could be looking for a unicorn).

Some custom builders do purchase lots to build homes on; however, this is typically your job as the future homeowner. This is different than a production home in which you are usually limited to only the lots your builder owns.

Related Post: 5 CONSIDERATIONS FOR CREATING A CUSTOM FLOOR PLAN

WHAT DOES PRODUCTION HOME MEAN?

According to New Home Source, ‘a production builder simultaneously builds a community of homes based on a library of floor plans, each with a limited array of personalization options.’

Some production builders refer to their homes as ‘semi-custom’, but this isn’t exactly accurate because the homeowner is allowed to choose from only a small list of floor plans and a small list of design finishes (e.g. flooring options, counter options, cabinet options).

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DESIGN AND BUILD A CUSTOM HOME?

This is a tough question to answer, but the low end of the spectrum is roughly six months to complete a custom home build. Some custom builds can take years to complete!

My custom home took about seven months to build from the day we broke ground to the day we moved in. However, it took me several months to create, modify, and perfect my floor plan before we could even think about breaking ground!

NOTE: due to popular demand, MY CUSTOM FLOOR PLAN is now available to purchase.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD A PRODUCTION HOME?

A production home is faster to build than a custom home because the builder is familiar with the floor plan specs. He/she builds from only a small amount of floor plans and builds them many times. 

It’s also faster to select finishes for your home because you are given just a narrow range of options. A production builder has easy access to the finish selections and is sometimes even able to buy them in bulk (which reduces the home price).

IS A CUSTOM HOME MORE EXPENSIVE TO BUILD THAN A PRODUCTION HOME?

Yes, it’s more costly to build a custom home than from existing plans because it takes A LOT of time to create a floor plan from scratch and tweak it (numerous times) until it’s perfect for your family. TIME = MONEY!

Additionally, your builder has no experience building with your exact custom specs. This can lead to unforeseen circumstances that can slow down the build. With a production build, on the other hand, your builder has experience building with the specs so there is less opportunity for uncertainties to pop up. UNCERTAINTIES CAN = MORE MONEY!

WHY CHOOSE A CUSTOM HOME (PROS)?

You get EXACTLY what you want (as long as it’s in your budget)! This was ‘PRO’ enough for me!

You can create a custom home in any size and any style. The options are endless and only limited by your budget.

Related Post: 8 SAVVY WAYS TO STAY ON BUDGET WHEN BUILDING A HOME

WHY CHOOSE A PRODUCTION HOME (PROS)?

A production builder usually has model home tours you can walk through … this is VERY helpful if you have trouble visualizing a completed home in your head.

With a production build, you get a small list of floor plans and a small list of design finishes to select from (unlike a custom build with endless options). This is great if you aren’t interested in making tons of decisions. 

Also, production builders typically have a design center you can visit; this allows you to simply pick out all interior and exterior materials in one spot.

Lastly, a production home build is much faster than a custom build. The floor plan has been tried and tested so there are fewer surprises and uncertainties to prolong your build.

WHAT ARE SOME PITFALLS OF A CUSTOM HOME (CONS)?

While I loved building a custom home and would do it again, it isn’t for everyone. Here are some negatives:

  • More expensive than building a production home
  • Longer build time than a production home
  • Can be (very) overwhelming because of the number of decisions
  • Requires trekking all over town to make design selections (cabinet store, flooring store, etc.)
  • Must design a floor plan from scratch
  • Usually required to buy land to build on (as opposed to builder buying the land)
  • Uncertainties with a custom floor plan … unknowns can slow down build
  • Have to visualize the completed floor plan and selections because there is no previously built similar home to physically walk through

Related Post: A HOME BUILD MUST DO: 3-D RENDERING

WHAT ARE SOME PITFALLS OF A PRODUCTION HOME (CONS)?

  • You must choose from a limited selection of floor plans
  • You must choose from a limited selection of design finishes
  • You are (usually) limited to the land your builder owns 
  • Your house might look very similar to your neighbors’ houses

THE FINAL VERDICT … WHAT SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Your choice is largely dependent on the following items: your budget, how many decisions you want to make, whether or not you care if your home is similar to your neighbors, and how fast you want to move in. Take all of these into account when you decide the best option for you.

As I always say, there is no right or wrong answer. I want you to make the best decision for YOUR family and needs. Do what feels right to YOU. Either way, you’ll be moving into a brand new beautiful home that is perfect for you! Just make sure to do your research and find a reputable builder no matter which type of home you build!

So what will YOU choose? Comment below! 

P.S. if you found this post helpful, PLEASE share it on social media so it can reach other people who need this information! You can share via the share buttons OR by clicking on the PIN toward the beginning of the post.

  1. […] Recommended Post: CUSTOM VS. PRODUCTION HOME BUILD: WHAT SHOULD YOU CHOOSE […]

  2. Teresa Brown says:

    I am trying to decide on our exterior. Our house plan is a country style plan. How would it look with SW Dovetail Gray, (board and batten and lapped siding) white post with light stone on bottom, wood stained shutters and wood stained double door?

  3. […] There are many factors that go into choosing between a custom or production build: […]

  4. […] Let’s start with the NUMBER ONE factor that contributes to how long it will take to build your home … whether you choose to build a custom or production home. […]

  5. […] The type of home build you choose (i.e. production vs custom home) […]

  6. Timberstone Homes says:

    Thanks for posting this article. Timberstone Homes Builds custom homes in Lafayette & West Lafayette and the surrounding area. Timberstone Homes builds in several communities conveniently located near shopping, dining, and top-rated schools. In addition, many of our communities offer desirable amenities such as parks, ponds, tree line lots, and lawn maintenance. For more information, visit the website https://timberstone-homes.com/

  7. home builder says:

    Production home builders specialize in buying large areas of land and quickly developing and selling as many homes as will reasonably fit on that land for as cheap as possible. It has been said that they are not in the home business but the land business. Production home builders make their profit by building a home as cheaply and efficiently as possible and selling the land. These homes are an excellent choice for families looking to stay under a very tight budget who aren’t looking for customization. Learn more https://www.morgantaylorhomes.com/our-communities/durango-co/

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