When building a home, the advantages to large builders are well-documented. Big builders have “deep pockets.” They can exploit economies of scale, leveraging this into supply-chain influence and getting discounts on materials (ideally, passing these savings along to the buyer) as a result.
But to acknowledge these facts without pointing out the advantages of working with small builders – also known as custom home builders – is to give them short shrift. There are several very good reasons to have your home built by a custom builder rather than by a volume builder. Outlined below are five of the biggest.
1. Custom home builders can build your new home where you want it
Custom builders are usually working on only one project at a time. As a result, they are not afraid to look into options such as urban infill lots, allowing you more choice of where you want to build.
By contrast, big builders think big. This means they’re not thinking in terms of houses, but in terms of developments. To build a development, the big builders must locate and acquire large tracts of land. The location of your house is restricted to these. These tracts are rarely available near urban centres, meaning that if you don’t want a long commute, a big builder may not be your best option.
2. You are an individual and you’d like your house to be as well
As a rule, you can expect almost complete customisation from a small builder. To begin, a custom builder is working with a greater range of design options, often built on a single lot. This allows you to select most details of your new home. Additionally, by definition, a small builder will have fewer employees, meaning that he will nearly always be on site. You will have ample opportunity to change things you dislike. Your builder is also very likely to accommodate you in such areas because he is likely to live in the area where he works and his professional reputation depends, in no small part, on your satisfaction.
Volume builders build homes, generally many at a time, based upon a more limited library of home plans. They will have purchased most of the materials and pre-determined most of your house’s design elements well in beforehand. You can “customise” your home with your selections of appliances, countertops, etc., but the builders are on a very strict schedule, and aren’t necessarily inclined to make all of the small changes you’d like to see. If you’re building in a niche location, perhaps on a hill or on a narrow lot, the bigger developers may not share your vision.
You may have bought that property on a hill specifically with a view to putting your house atop it, but your volume builder may disagree, preferring to dig into the hill and create a flat block on which to build one of their pre-created designs.
3. Smaller builders can be more knowledgeable
A smaller, local builder will be more likely to have built on similar terrain. Having built in your area, a custom builder will be able to tell you with confidence that, for instance, there is rock near the surface of the ground in your area, making excavation impossibility. This sort of prior knowledge can end up saving you money in site costs.
In some cases, volume builders will move across the state or even the country between projects, never learning the subtleties of the local landscape.
4. Custom builds often are of higher quality
One way that large builders keep their prices so low is by having portions of homes built in a factory, then brought to the site, negatively affecting both the quality and the materials themselves.
Custom home builders are far less likely (or able) to engage in this practice, often resulting in a better built home.
5. Smaller builders know how much house you need
A volume builder can likely build you a “McMansion” comparatively cheaply, but the future costs of heating, cooling, and furnishing it (not to mention the burden of cleaning it) are left to you. A builder who lives in your area will be more familiar with local energy costs and other such issues, and again, will have a professional interest in your satisfaction.
To conclude, bigger builders do carry the advantages of working quickly. They can offer larger homes for smaller prices, but this comes at the cost of the individualisation that likely drove you to build, rather than buy, a home in the first place.
A custom builder can be the best way of making sure that you’re buying the house of your dreams–and not of the developer’s.