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It’s a new year, with a new decade ahead of us.  Maybe it’s also time to consider the business of that dream home that’s been in your imagination for so long.

Shea Whitmire is the President of Whitmire Homes, a home builder in Georgia. The Whitmire family has been building custom homes for more than 30 years and has a proven track record of helping people find a way to make their dream home a reality. Today, Shea talks about the realities of building your own home to help you inject some knowledge into your decision.

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Building a new home is not for the faint at heart. Let’s face it: there are lots of decisions to be made.

And, there is one decision that can, in a sense, pave the way for future decisions in the home-building process: the decision to build a custom home or a semi-custom home.  This decision largely impacts the choices you will make down the line from light fixtures to flooring to bedrooms.

But what is the true difference between custom and semi-custom homes?

Custom homes
Custom homes give you, as the homeowner, full control over the quality and function of your new home. These homes are unique; they are designed specifically for you and the piece of land on which you want to build. Those desiring a custom home often purchase a piece of land on which they plan to build, and then they hire an architect or a professional home designer to design a home that is tailored to meet personal specifications. Because of their originality, custom homes require you to make many decisions, and large amounts of time will be spent researching products and visiting stores that sell these products.

Semi-custom homes
With semi-custom homes, the builder provides you with pre-designed house styles and floor plans, and you pick the one that best fits your housing preferences. Often times, these existing designs will be modified – either slightly or significantly – to fit personal specifications. Modifications might also be made for a specific piece of land on which you want to build. Similarly, there is some flexibility in the products and features that you choose for these houses; however, the home builder usually sets a budget for various products and features.

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For instance, you may be allotted a certain amount of money to spend on kitchen appliances. If you spend over this designated amount, then you must pay for the difference out of pocket. You may even have the opportunity to select certain building features including attached garages, family rooms and unfinished rooms.

Advantages of custom homes

  • When building a custom home, you have full control over each aspect of your home.
  • Ultimately, you decide every product and feature in the house; therefore, you can certainly set your own budget and work within it.
  • As a custom home owner, you live in a unique home and can appreciate each of the choices you made during the building process.
  • The functionality and quality of your home is to your standards.

Disadvantages of custom homes

  • Building a custom home may have a hefty price tag on it depending on the products and features you choose.
  • The unique products and features in some custom homes are not purchased at bulk rate costs; therefore, you often pay more per square foot.
  • Typically, custom homes take the longest to build.
  • If your builder is not also an architect, you will have the added expense of hiring an architect to design a blueprint.
  • Financing a custom home is difficult, since many banks will not approve construction loans.
  • These homes may depreciate faster than traditional homes.

Advantages of semi-custom homes

  • You receive a house that reflects you, but you do not have to deal with the hassle and expense of an architect developing a blueprint from scratch.
  • While working within your builder’s pre-set budgets, you can often choose quality features and products and not go over your home-building budget.
  • Some products and features, though not as unique as those in some custom homes, may be purchased at bulk rate costs; therefore, the cost per square foot is less.
  • By beginning the home-building process with a pre-designed home style and floor plan, some people feel more confident in their ability to build a house that fits personal wants and needs.

Disadvantages of semi-custom homes

  • You may have to make significant sacrifices on products and house styles.
  • Quality and functionality may be compromised.
  • Multiple modifications to these homes may cause you to spend more money than was originally anticipated or budgeted.
  • Homebuilders set budgets that may rule out some high-end home products and features.

While there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of homes, it is important for those looking to build a home to accurately assess their desired home specifications. How important is uniqueness? What is your budget? What is your construction time frame? Asking these types of questions can greatly aid you in making a decision on the type of home to build and better ensure that you enjoy one of the largest investments you’ll ever make – your new home.

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Thanks, Shea!

Cheers!

Rob.

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.