Deciding to build a new home is a big step with a lot of big decisions. What area will your house be built in? How big or small do you want the house to be? What other features are you looking for in a home? Will your home be a cookie-cutter home that looks like the other houses on the block? Or will it have a unique custom floor plan?
One of the first decisions you will have to make is what type of home builder to work with. Many people avoid hiring a custom home builder, knowing that custom homes are often more expensive than modular or prefabricated homes. But the advantages of having a custom home builder may outweigh the cost.
Efficiency, health and comfort—a great new custom home delivers all of those. But creating that home using today’s construction methods takes more knowledge than most people realize. That knowledge is one of the benefits of working with a professional custom home builder.
What is the home builder’s responsibility?
First and foremost, the best home builders advocate for the homeowners and collaborate as a vital members of the design team. On behalf of the homeowner, the builder works with the design team to help their clients establish a realistic budget for the custom home project. The architect and builder can share best practices and collaborate in customizing the design of your home.
The builder monitors the building project’s cost, scope, and execution during the design and construction process. Great builders are transparent, communicate well, and are always available to their clients to ensure the projects stay on budget and on time.
- The builder contracts with the homeowner for a construction home track all cost and submit payment requests for approval to the designer and bank. Additionally, they provide any lien release waivers for completed work and prepare estimates and collect money for any approved change orders.
- The builder will manage all subcontractors during the design process to accommodate the architect’s team and homeowner.
- Your builder will act as a liaison between the design team, building inspectors, and governing jurisdictions.
- The building contractor will manage and obtain all approvals, inspections, and occupancy certificate on behalf of the homeowner.
- The builder will order, check, and receive all building materials and manage all aspects of the building and installation.
- Upon completion of the construction, the architect may review the project with the builder to check for any deficiencies. If any problems, the builder will work with subcontractors to resolve these issues. Then the city will conduct a final inspection and issue the certificate of occupancy. Afterwards, the builder will deliver the home to the owners.
- The builder will correct all discrepancies noted on the homeowner’s punch lists. Additionally, the builder will educate the homeowner on the operation and maintenance of their new custom home.
When should you hire a custom home builder?
Hire a builder sooner than later in the custom home designing process to guide through the project and help control costs. Negotiate upfront with the builder how they are compensated and trust their experience in negotiating bids from subcontractors and suppliers.
A custom home requires good budget management to get the most value for your new home. Since custom homes are unique and built to your style, it is prudent to have your builder work closely with the architect on the project. Between these two, they can collectively leverage their respective experience and knowledge to maximize your budget and the home building journey.
Reasons to Work with a Custom Home Builder
More of What You Want
The most obvious reason for wanting a custom home builder is the capabilities for customization. There is nearly no limit to building what you prefer. The colours, the room sizes, the appliances and more can all be to your taste.
With a custom home builder, you work closely with an architect to discuss exactly what you want. It’s a much more intimate process that allows you to pick and choose whatever you’d like in your new home. You may choose the architect yourself or decide to go with a custom design-build company that handles both the drafting services and construction under the same roof for complete implementation of your vision.
Beyond the design, you can also pick the materials you want instead of being limited to just what those contractors offer. Do you like the look of granite countertops? What about copper sinks or oak floors? You get to choose it all.
Pick Your Location
Location can be everything. The perfect view, a secluded spot or nearby lake/ocean access increases your home’s value while also making it the ideal place to live. When you build your dream home in the ultimate spot, it feels like you have everything you need.
Keep in mind that prefab home builders don’t always have the liberty to build on any plot of land. Just like you’re restricted in your decisions for design and materials with these builders, you may be restricted on where your home is built too.
But with a custom home builder, you can get out of the cookie-cutter neighbourhoods and find a spot you love. They aren’t limited to building in only certain locations so that you won’t be limited in location.
Better Home Value
The location, those fine construction materials and modern design elements all increase the resale value of your home. They may have cost you some at first, but pay you back a great deal in the end. Those high-end materials and new appliances will last for years, saving you money too on home maintenance and repairs.
Plus, you won’t be spending more on remodelling your home later down the road. It’s already exactly how you want it, with all the updated features that new homebuyers will be looking for when you want to sell.
Building a new home can often be a difficult process. Custom home builders from a design-build firm, though, bring all the different elements you’ll need together. This means that you won’t need to hire each entity separately as an individual contractor. They act as the single point of responsibility for hiring contractors and ensuring a job well done. Often a design-build company will house such contractors within their own business.
Either way, this method for custom home construction ensures that all parties work together for a seamless design and construction process. You won’t be paying more for construction delays or floor plan adjustments because any issues will be addressed during drafting as architects and construction contractors work together.
In this way, custom home builders can make it easier to work within your budget and schedule when all parties are on the same page. This is one of the advantages of design-build custom home builders.
Building a Home Takes More Time Than You Think.
Managing home construction is time-consuming and difficult to fit into your “off hours.” The likelihood of having to take time away from your “real” job, your family, and all other aspects of your life is quite high. Time away from work means lost income or lost opportunity for other business – which effectively adds to the cost of the project. Your new home is your contractor’s job, which means he has the necessary time to devote to managing all aspects of the project.
Being Good at Home Repairs Doesn’t Typically Translate into Being Good at Building an Entire House.
You may be very handy at repairs or small construction projects such as building a deck. However, building an entire house from the ground up requires substantial expertise in managing many different trades and an understanding of how they all work together.
A Contractor has Years of Experience and Knowledge.
Building homes and managing construction is a passion for most contractors, not a hobby. They have mastered best practices over many years of working in a variety of conditions. They know how to avoid mistakes or handle unexpected circumstances that could otherwise cost you a lot of money in downtime or wasted materials.
A Contractor has Key Relationships with Good Sub-Contractors.
Subcontractors like to work with experienced contractors who have a reputation for doing quality work and using accepted business practices. Working for a general contractor with whom they have a strong, time-tested relationship is much less risky for them than working with a homeowner. That means if work for a contractor they know comes along, there is a strong chance they will prioritize that work over yours. Experienced general contractors spend years cultivating relationships with subcontractors they can count on and who have exceptional skills. Typically, the highest quality subcontractors only work for these types of general contractors.
A Contractor has a Streamlined Process Ensuring a Home is Built Quickly and Done Right the First Time Around.
Delays in finishing your home can affect your construction loan and add unnecessary costs to the project. Delays can occur when subcontractors aren’t properly scheduled or don’t show up on time or when work is done in the wrong sequence, through trial and error, as well as years of experience perfecting their craft, professional contractors know-how and when to schedule subcontractors to make the best use of their time (e.g. drywallers aren’t waiting around for electricians and plumbers to finish) and to ensure that work doesn’t have to be redone. They know what to do to complete your home on time and to your satisfaction.
Benefits of Hiring a Custom Home Builder for Your New Home
Get the Location You Want and Never Settle for Pre-Built Subdivisions
You might be able to get a new home at a slightly lower price per square foot if you are willing to settle for pre-built subdivision living. The old “cookie-cutter” home neighbourhoods popular in the 1950s to 1990s have lost popularity with newer generations. Being able to demonstrate individuality is gaining traction in the building community.
You Can Choose a Company with a Great Local Reputation
Having the right custom home builder to construct your home will take a little research. Making a choice to use a custom builder will automatically bring you in contact with some of the better builders in your local area. Ask plenty of questions to ensure the builder you choose is prepared to offer you the customized service you need. Experience and customer satisfaction are good signs they are a company you can trust.
The Builder Can Easily Handle All Desired Custom Features
Establishing good communication from the start is one way to determine whether the custom builder is the right one for your new home project. Are they familiar with the customized details you want and need? Have they handled projects like yours in the past? Were their clients pleased with the results? Answers to these questions will help you narrow down the choices.
Increased Property Value Due to Customized Results
A custom-designed and built home will always hold more value than run-of-the-mill builds. It will retain value for longer periods of time. You’ll be able to enjoy a customized home that will yield a higher sale value if the need ever arises to move, downsize, or enter assisted living situations in later years.
Hiring a Builder vs. Building Yourself
You save 25% of the cost by building yourself.
This number is commonly thrown around, but let’s look at it more closely. This number assumes that 25% of the cost is going toward contractor profit and overhead. Contractors often shoot for a 10-20% margin, but it is rarely achieved.
However, it also discounts the fact that your builder can accomplish the work more efficiently and effectively. The builder buys land at a cheaper price, obtains materials at wholesale cost, knows the best labour to hire for the best price, accomplishes the job more cost-effectively, and avoids costly mishaps and mess-ups.
Subcontractors are doing the work, and you just need to manage the project.
This project will likely require much more time, energy and expertise than you expected. Money saved in avoiding payments on the contractor’s overhead only becomes your own overhead.
Building requires a lot of planning, organizing and oversight. Time spent finding and recruiting subcontractors, materials, and labour will be much higher than a builder who already has these relationships and connections.
Additionally, lack of experience can be very costly. Quality may suffer, which will cost much more in the long run. Risk and liability for mishaps and cost overruns are transferred to you alone. Steps, processes, and costs may be overlooked or unaccounted for, making it difficult to execute the project in a timely and cost-effective manner.
When Should You be Your Own General Contractor?
Serving as your own general contractor for a major remodelling or building project can potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars. But these savings come with a notable cost in terms of stress, time management, and perhaps even the quality of the work. Don’t undertake this role unless you are confident in your abilities and have carefully weighed the pros and cons.
Acting as your own contractor can work if you have enough time to devote yourself to learning how the job is done. Also, the project itself cannot be on a tight timetable.
This high-performance custom home isn’t just designed and built—it’s engineered.
The goal of that engineering is to deliver a worry-free living experience. Creating such a home demands knowledge beyond that of the conventional builder.
Take those airtight walls, for instance. Meeting the code’s requirements while guaranteeing fresh indoor air and structural integrity requires the builder to grasp building science principles.
Building science is a recognized discipline (you can even get a degree in it) that studies how buildings of all types handle air, heat and moisture. While builders don’t need to be scientists, they need to put the findings of building science into practice. They need to know how windows and doors affect home performance, how to build tight walls that won’t trap moisture, how to determine optimal insulation levels, and many other things.
Custom home builders also need a thorough understanding of today’s mechanical systems. That includes how to choose a ventilation system that keeps the air fresh without introducing drafts. To do this, the builder needs enough knowledge to ensure that the mechanical contractor properly sizes the heating and cooling system and designs a duct system that’s quiet and yet provides a consistent temperature and comfortable humidity in each room.
Speaking of which, a high-performance professional custom home builder will advise you to choose the best possible heating and cooling equipment, even if it costs a bit more. Listen to that advice. Even when value-engineering to bring down costs, don’t be tempted to downgrade the mechanical system because the efficiency and comfort it provides will do more than anything else to make a living in your new home a great experience.
Your Dream Home Awaits
Make building your dream home simpler with a team of experienced custom home builders who know the lay of the land where you want to build. They can make your vision a possibility, with all the features you want in the location you want. With their help, you can build a home with the great resale value, all without the hassle of a long, drawn-out construction process filled with unexpected obstacles.