As you plan to build a new home, you will be faced with the question of who do I build with? Do you choose a project home builder who is offering really low prices or do you choose to go with a custom home builder, who has experience and knowledge of the local area, provides a unique, one-off home design, but costs a little bit more!
Unfortunately, we have a tendency for choosing the cheaper option, but as with most things, the saying “you get what you pay for” holds true when it comes to building your home.
In this article we are going to outline the differences between a custom home builder and project builder, then you can decide which is better for you
Project Home Builder
A Project home builder offers you a set of pre-designed house plans to choose from. This means the plans are usually designed for flat, rectangular blocks and don’t take into consideration difficult sites, bush fire regulations, views, natural lighting and your lifestyle. In other words, their house plans are designed for the mass market and are not “site specific”.
But can’t I just change the plan?
Yes, you can! Project home builders, will let you make minor changes to their plans, but keep in mind that these changes will be charged to you, usually with an overly expensive mark-up. The key to using a project home builder is to know what exactly you are getting for your money. Be very clear as to what is and isn’t quoted for in the contract.
Advantages of Project Home Builder
- Have bigger buying power – because project builders have a higher volume in house builds, they can usually negotiate better prices for materials. These savings are generally passed on to you.
- Offer a range of plans to suit the first-time, the middle class and luxury home owners.
- Offer house and land as a package
Disadvantages of Project Home Builder
- Purchasing building materials in bulk – means you have limited choice when it comes to materials and fixtures used, making it hard to add your “personal touch”
- House plans are not site specific, making it hard to get a solar passive design. This means you will pay more in the long term to heat and cool your home.
- Market house plans to be irresistibly cheap, but have display homes with expensive upgrades, leading to consumer confusion of what is actually allowed for in their quote and the overall quality in finish of their home.
- Any small changes are charged at exorbitant prices.
- Don’t always provide a complete turn-key solution – meaning there are items not included that will be needed for council compliance.
- Tradespeople and sub-contractors are usually not local, are often poorly paid and on a strict time limit, leading to compromise on the quality of the build
Custom Home Builder
Building with a custom home builder will give you the most flexibility when it comes to your house design and choice of materials and fixtures used.
A custom home builder creates a unique, one-off home that is very site specific. The home designed for you will take into consideration your particular block, slope, any bushfire/ zoning regulations, the aspect and views of your block and will factor in all of your individual needs. The house plan will be designed around solar passive principles, maximising natural light and airways.
If you already have a plan drawn up by a drafts-man or architect, no problem. A Custom home builder will still be able to build your home for you.
Custom home builders generally focus on high standards in the design principles and construction of your home, meaning you will have a quality built home with a high quality finish. Like a unique artwork, custom designed homes usually cost more than a massively, reproduced project home. The key to working with a custom home builder is to establish a realistic budget and to stick to it, even when you’re enticed by the higher-cost options.
Disadvantages of a Custom Home Builder
- May cost more than a project home builder due to complexity in design, choice of materials used and the time and skills required for quality assurance.
Advantages of a Custom Home Builder
- A unique, one–of-a-kind home, designed specifically for your needs.
- A house plan, designed to suit your block of land and your budget.
- A solar passive designed home, meaning it will cost less to heat and cool in the long term.
- Flexibility to choose building materials used.
- Flexibility in choosing appliances, fixtures, tiles and paint colours.
- You can supply your floor plan.
- Custom home builders are local people, they know the area, the land and all of the local building regulations.
- Most will offer a free concept plan.
- Most have qualified drafts-people.
- Provide an excellent level of one-on-one customer service.
- Most maintain strong relationships with past clients, so you may be able to visit a home they have previously built.
- Deal with the builder directly.
- Use highly skilled, local tradespeople.
- Have a very high build quality and finish.
- No hidden costs.
- Provide a complete turn-key solution, meaning upon completion your house will comply with all government regulations. All you will need to do is move in.
If you have a flat block with no harsh bushfire or zoning regulations, don’t want a unique, one of a kind home and you want the cheapest price, while maybe compromising on quality of build, then a project home builder is best suited for you.
However, if you want a unique, one-of-a-kind home, designed to take advantage of the views, aspect, slope or shape of your specific block and you want as much input as possible into the design, look and feel of your home and you don’t want to be limited when it comes to choices of material used and you are looking for a high quality finish, then a custom home builder is definitely the best choice for you.