Skip to main content

Custom Builders VS Production Builders

Jennifer Daversa | 02/24/2020

Custom Builders VS Production Builders

Deciding to build a new home? One of the first questions to consider is to use a production home builder or a custom home builder. Either choice can lead you to an amazing home that fits your lifestyle and budget. What’s the difference? 


What is a production Builder?

Production home builders build entire communities. They purchase the land, develop the infrastructure and build the amenities. Homes are built based on a collection of floor plans. Each plan offers limited personalization, a benefit for those who want a new home, but don’t want to deal with extensive design details.

With Production builders you can expect to:

  • Purchase your home and land as one package
  • Select your floor plan from a predetermined collection
  • Choose finishes from a menu of options

What is a custom builder?

Custom home builders build homes for individuals rather than entire communities. Homes are built on the customer’s own land and designed specifically for their lifestyle, design style and lot. Custom home builders are a great option for those seeking a one of a kind home and desire more control over design details.

With a custom home builder you can expect:

  • Collaboration with the builder and architect to develop your home plan
  • Extensive involvement with room sizes, custom features, selections and overall aesthetic
  • Submit progress payments to the builder throughout the building process

Ron Rosenzweig, Inc.
Outdoor Trend - Make the outdoors part of your living space. Flooring that flows from inside to the outside, pocket sliders for open access and outdoor living rooms.

What about the Budget?

No matter HOW you build your home, you must begin with a realistic budget. There is a universal truth that has to be accepted:

Production homes cost less to build than custom homes.

Why? Production builders are volume builders. With a limited choice of floor plans, and selections they have the ability to buy materials in bulk, create national contracts with suppliers and negotiate volume pricing for both materials and labor. Those savings are passed on to the consumer. Custom home builders cannot purchase in bulk. Because each home has a different floor plan, features and material selections, volume buying isn’t an option.

Establish a realistic budget: Top Costs To Consider Before Setting Your Custom Home Budget.

Building a production home

The process of building a production home is relatively straight forward. You’ve set your budget, found a new home community and are ready to get started on your new home build.

An on-site new home consultant will help you select a lot and floor plan to fits your needs. Once you’ve chosen the floor plan you can select options for the outside of the home. Each floor plan usually comes with a handful of exterior design options, called elevations. Each elevation offers minor differences, like window placement, rooflines, and porch styles. At this point, a sales contract is signed and deposit collected.

The next step is working with a builder representative in the design center. This is where you’ll be presented with a menu of options for paint colors, cabinets, appliances, countertops, flooring and finishes.

The time to build a production home tends to be shorter than a custom home. With limited variation in floor plans, subcontractors can construct a home quickly and move onto the next homesite. About a week before closing you’ll be able to walk through your new home and note any items to be corrected. The intention is to catch and fix any problems prior to taking possession of the house.

Collection of Construction hats

Building a custom home

The process to build a custom home starts off with either owning or purchasing a lot to build your home on. Before you purchase, make sure to research state and local zoning limitations, building codes and deed restrictions.

The next step is hiring an architect and a builder. Which should come first? There’s no rule, but one option is to find your builder first. Since builders are hiring subcontractors and buying materials every day, they have a very realistic idea of how much it costs to build a home. If your budget is just as important as the home design, a builder can refer you to and collaborate with the architect to design a home that not only looks great but keeps your budget in mind too.

During the design phase you’ll meet with your architect about what you’re looking for in your new home. This is when you can be free to create spaces true to you and your lifestyle. The architect will supply your builder with the full set of blueprints.

Once plans are finalized, the builder will present you with a building contract that lays out the budget, timeline and expectations of your new home. Your custom home builder will also provide you with a selections schedule, a timeline that ensures each selection is made within a certain timeframe.

Although you’ll be able to choose all of the finishes of your new home, your builder has put together a budget for each of your selections to keep you on track. For example, a general flooring budget will be created based on the type and amount of flooring you’ll need. Your custom home builder can arrange meetings with trusted vendors to guide you through the selections process. This way you stay on schedule, keep within your budget and collaborate with design professionals. Your home may be custom, but you’ll receive plenty of guidance.

Based on your construction contract, you’ll be required to submit progress payments to your builder. If you’re using a construction loan to build your home, your lender will make the progress payments to the builder based on a draw schedule.

Custom homes take more time to build than production homes. The custom home process requires a unique set of plans to be drawn which adds time. Because of the highly personal nature of custom homes, each detail falls under more scrutiny by both the builder and the customer. Once construction is finished, you’ll be able to walk through your new home and note any items that need addressing prior to submitting your final payment to the builder.

Before you interview any potential home builders, check out this list of questions to ask your home builder.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose a production builder or a custom builder for your next home, your decision should take into account your budget, timeline and ability or desire to make decisions.

Those who shy away from decision-making and are easily overwhelmed should consider a production home builder. For those who want the freedom to create a truly personalized home and have an active part in the building process consider working with a custom home builder.


Looking for design inspiration for your next home? Check out this Coastal Traditional Home

Contact Us to discuss your Custom Home Build