When it comes to building a dream home, hiring the right builder is everything. Folks looking to make the most of a fresh start often want specific touches, finishes, and designs that only the best custom home builders can handle. Custom home builders need experience, know-how, and resources that other builders might not possess.
But choosing the best home builder takes more than just performing an internet search for “best custom home builders near me.” This guide will explain the most important considerations to keep in mind when comparing builders, as well as highlight our top picks for some of the best custom home builders.
Custom homes are big investments, and finding someone to spearhead the project isn’t a decision to take lightly. The following sections will explain some of the most important considerations to keep in mind during the search. Understand that some of these factors may be more important than others on a case-by-case basis.
Finding a contractor or custom home builder that works in the customer’s desired area is one of the first challenges to tackle. For example, custom home builders in Florida aren’t likely to travel to Montana to build a custom home.
Customers will want to start with companies who have headquarters relatively local to the region where the project will take place. It’s wise to make a list of a few potential contractors and start reaching out to them individually to ask about their service area. This is likely the least fun part of the search process, but it has to start somewhere!
Before a shovel can break ground, homeowners and custom home builders have to work their way through the design process. Since so many of the individual touches and aspects will be one-offs, there will be a pre-building consultation with an architect. The architect handles the floor plan and overall look of the home as well as the very fine details like structural members and features hidden behind the walls.
Customers can rely on the architect to design the home to their tastes, and many custom home builders include architectural design in their services. In other cases, the homeowner may have to hire their own architect if their chosen home builder doesn’t offer the service.
The plans that the architects create are necessary for the permitting process. Even homeowners who know exactly what they want will need to rely on these professionals.
Buyers might think that they can take their hands off the wheel after the design process is over, but that’s probably not the case. They should plan to schedule walk-throughs and visits throughout the construction process. The goal of these visits is to make sure that everything is on track, according to plan, and on schedule, so buyers will want to ask how frequently they can check in.
Another critical aspect of keeping the project on track is to ask the custom home builder how long the project will take and when payments will be made. For projects of this scale, progress payments are typical, with the builder submitting invoices after certain milestones in the process, but it’s important to know what those milestones are to avoid payment delays or disputes.
One of the most appealing aspects of custom home building is that buyers can add eco-friendly touches from the start. These touches may include oversize framing that allows for better insulation, solar panels and battery banks, and specially designed features that make the most of the sun’s UV rays in the winter without baking the home in the summer.
Also, designing a custom home to be more energy efficient from the start allows for the architect to plan for properly sized appliances like heaters and air conditioning units. By choosing the right appliance for the square footage and the insulation rather than oversizing, homeowners can lessen their dependence on the grid and save money on future energy bills.
Many of the top custom home builders offer other services that may appeal to certain homeowners. These services may include remodeling, renovations, interior design, and even home repair and property maintenance.
Folks who are building large additions onto their existing homes may be interested in finding a custom home builder who can provide these extra services. This is especially the case for homeowners who are building onto early-American or period-specific homes and need that custom touch and experience.
Home builders are usually required by law to provide at least a 1-year warranty on their structures. However, the types of warranties and their coverage terms vary.
Buyers will want to discuss these warranties at the very beginning of the design process to ensure they know exactly what they’ll be receiving.
For many custom home builders, each structure is a work of art. Builders who are recognized for their masterpieces with awards and accolades can let prospective buyers understand a bit about the quality of their work. These awards are often listed on company or trade websites.
Even if the property itself isn’t the company’s opus, awards recognizing the builder for customer satisfaction, quality, and business practices are worth taking note of. Knowing that the company has a reputation for customer satisfaction could be the deciding factor between two competing custom home builders.
As with anything, it’s a good idea to scour the internet for customer reviews about the builder. These reviews can be an invaluable resource for prospective customers as they can learn from other buyers without the risk of hiring the contractor.
Some places to check for reviews include:
Remember that most folks are far more willing to leave a negative review than a positive one. The internet is full of slighted customers ready to shout their experience from the rooftops, so read reviews with reasonable expectations.
With all of the background on how to choose the best custom home builders behind, it’s time to talk about some of our favorite companies. The following are some of the top-rated custom home builders across the country.
Between its proprietary building system and net-zero structures, Haley Custom Homes takes our top spot for customers in Colorado. Home buyers in Texas can take advantage of the end-to-end home building and design services of Jauregui Architect.
Developing a list of the best custom home builders was a challenge. We had to find the states in which the most custom homes were being built. Then we focused on local and regional builders from those areas, giving us a baseline of builders to start with.
Next, we compared each of the builders’ awards, accolades, accomplishments, customer service, and building techniques. We opted for companies recognized within the industry and those that provide the best customer service possible. Any proprietary software, building techniques, or design approaches were also factored in. The builders that offered the most value were then given awards based on their regions.
Hiring a custom home builder might not be ideal for everyone. These homes are typically very expensive and for folks who don’t need a lot of customization or high-end finishes, it could be a waste of money. For those folks, traditional builders or even modular construction may be the way to go.
Custom home building is a very involved process that takes a lot of patience and trust in the builder; there are many design meetings and inspections involved along the way. Buyers who aren’t interested in answering lots of questions or being part of the design process may also want to consider going with another type of home.
The cost of hiring one of the best home builders varies so wildly that it can be impossible to give a range. A small affordable custom home builder may charge a few hundred thousand dollars for a home, while buyers working with a luxury custom home builder may be looking at spending several million dollars. A custom tiny home from one of thebest tiny home builders or best custom small home builders might cost under $30,000. It all depends on the region, the design, and the materials involved.
Also, buyers will want to consider all of the costs involved with building a home. The price of the land, any improvements that are necessary (such as electrical, well, or gas), and landscaping will have a dramatic impact on the overall price. Some custom home builders will help clients find the property and wrap all of the costs up into the price of the home.
The best custom home builders have the experience to take an idea and make it happen. They can help a customer develop a design, but they also know the structural members, capacities, materials, and specifications necessary to make that custom touch happen. Some of the best custom home builders handle the entire process from design to building to maintenance. Keeping everything in-house can allow for a more streamlined approach to building a large project.
Custom home builders can give the buyer exactly what they’re looking for. Rather than adapting an existing floor plan and shell to a customer’s needs, custom builders can start from scratch, allowing a homeowner to build the home of their dreams without having to compromise.
That is a lot of information on the best home builders. But even with that extensive background, prospective home buyers may still have some additional questions. The following includes some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.
In most cases, a custom home builder will pay a real estate agent to represent the home buyer during the home-buying process.
There are a few different ways that home builders may charge. Two of the most popular methods are fixed price (which is where they provide a price at the beginning of the job and then collect progress payments during the project) and cost-plus (when they add a percentage to their costs to complete the project).
It depends. While the cost of building is not minuscule compared to the finished value, the fact that the home is free from problems that older homes are so prone to can save the buyer money.
Some aspects of the home-buying process are negotiable. For instance, the homeowner may be able to convince the builder to pay for closing costs. Or, they may be able to get extra items added in if the builder is willing to pay the asking price. These items may include decks, fences, or upgraded appliances.