Custom Homes and Semi-Custom Homes: What’s the Difference
When you’re building a new home in Connecticut you probably want that home to reflect your personality and match your family’s lifestyle as closely as possible. But just how far do you want to take that process? Will you be happy with a production home? Should you opt for a semi-custom home? Or should you hold out for a custom home? When it comes to custom homes and semi-custom homes—what’s the difference?
Production homes are built from standardized floor plans. You’ve seen new housing developments where there may be four or five different floor plans used. Each house that uses the same floor plan is virtually identical inside and out. There may be slight differences in color or elevation, but essentially the homes are the same.
A semi-custom home may start with an existing plan that is then modified ("customized" if you will) to meet specific specifications and desires of the homeowner. Room sizes may be modified. Placement of specific elements within the home can be different from the original plan. Generally, the finish materials (floors, cabinets, hardware, appliances, etc.) are upgraded from the materials you'd find in a production home.
According to The National Association of Home Builders, custom homes are “one-of-a-kind, upscale creations that come with luxury upgrades and unique architectural design. In addition to flexibility in home design and architecture, buyers typically choose their ideal location and environment. As a result, custom home design often incorporates elements of the local landscape . . .”
As a rule of thumb, the more customization is required, the higher the price of the home. That difference in price is driven by the cost of materials and by the extra labor involved in designing and building something that’s unique.
That customization has additional implications for you as a homeowner. In addition to paying more for customization, you’ll also be much more involved in the building process. With a production home, you basically accept what the builder has built (or is going to build). When you begin to customize, you will be making many more decisions about how your home will turn out. Here’s an article that goes into more depth about how the custom home buying process is different.
What’s Right for You?
So what’s the right choice for your new Connecticut home? The answer really depends on what makes you happy and what you’re willing to spend. If your budget is limited, you’ll want to shop for a home/floor plan that meets as many of your needs and wishes as possible. If there are certain features and finishes that are really important to you, you may want to select a basic floor plan that matches your needs and then make modifications. You may want to focus on customizing those rooms that are most important to your family. The more you modify, the closer it will match your wishes (and, most likely) the more it will cost. If you have very specific ideas and demands (and the cost is less of a factor) you may want to choose a fully custom home—that includes a lot of your choice, and specific design elements that you won't find anywhere else.
Often, a good place to start the process is to evaluate what’s really important for you. Here’s a post that can get you started on determining your “custom home personality.”
Once you’ve determined that, you’ll have a better idea of how far to take your customization.