What is a semi-custom home and how does that differ from a custom home?
When planning your new construction home, you have myriad choices. Making sure you get the home you want, that fits your budget and your timeline goes a long way towards making sure that your new home is the home of your dreams.
Primary among your choices is the type of construction process you’ll follow. New home buyers may choose a production builder, a semi-custom home builder or an architect to help make their dreams reality. If you’ve decided to go with a production builder, read our article about production builders.
Whether you choose a semi-custom or custom home, planning is a major component of the process. Both before you consult a design professional and during the design and building phases. Be clear on your home's features and must haves.
A building lot is required
Semi-custom and custom homes require a building lot (aka homesite) on which the home is to be constructed, so you must own a lot prior to consulting a design professional, or obtain one soon into the process. The home design professional you select will site or place your home for optimal situation on the lot, or will suggest grading and lot preparation to ensure your home is properly sited.
Types of building lots include ones in developments and which have already had all lot preparation performed. Lot preparation includes running all services such as sewer, water and electricity to the site as well as site grading, which means making sure the land is sloped properly for drainage away from the home and that the soils are adequate for the load of the house.
You may also buy raw land and as a component of your new home planning, allowing your architect or design build professional take care of the plans for your infrastructure and grading. This, of course, is additional money to include in your new home budget.
What is a custom home?
A custom home is one tailored precisely for you. An architect or a design build contractor consults with you, learning what your desires are for your new home. The design professional you choose drafts a floor plan to incorporate your hopes and dreams into the envelope of your home.
There are two types of professionals whom you may consult to get your home designed: an architect or a design build contractor.
Differences between a design build contractor and an architect
A design build contractor is a builder who can both design and build your home. These contractors may also bring value engineering to the table to help maximize your budget. Working with a design building professional may help you save time as well as money on your plans, because there is a separate step removed from the process.
An architect is a licensed professional who will begin with your new home wishes to draft your home floor plan completely to your specifications. Architects generally have knowledge of new technologies for construction as well as new materials to help save energy and time in your home’s construction. It is a myth that only the highest price homes may be designed by architects. These professionals work with all types of clients and all types of budgets. Critical to working with an architect is a vision for your new home and a comprehension of how you’d like to live within it.
If you’re working with an architect, you then consult a contractor who provides you a bid to construct your new home based on the plans provided by your architect. Your architect will help send bids to contractors and will help select one with the correct credentials to build the home as designed.
What is a semi-custom home?
A semi-custom home is one which is not completely drawn from scratch. It is one which may be built from purchased plans or adapted from purchased plans. A home builder, contractor or a design builder, will customize the pre-existing or purchased plan for you based on your vision.
The advantage of a customized or semi-custom home is the lowered cost of the design phase. Since you’re not beginning from scratch, there is both time and money saved.
There may be limitations to using a purchased plan. Not every plan will fit your lot and not every plan available for purchase will have all your home design dream features. Knowing what is critical to you is imperative when you select your plans. Changing the plans engineering may be more expensive than beginning from scratch if you have unusual features you want in your new home. However, with the multitude of home plans out there, you will most probably be able to identify one with a majority of your floor plan hopes.
Get what you want in your new home
At the end of the process, the goal is to have the home you envisioned that fits your family and your lifestyle. It’s up to you which path you choose to get there. Our advice to you is to make sure all design and construction professionals you consult have all the proper licensure, credentials and accreditation and have clean records and high customer satisfaction ratings. Happy building!
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