Custom Homes
— Custom Builder vs. Production Builder
What are the differences between custom and production homebuilding companies? Here’s a quick rundown from the National Association of Home Builders on how to differentiate the two.

Custom homebuilders generally:
  • Build on land you own. Some also build on land they own.
  • Build one-of-a-kind houses. A custom home is a site-specific structure built from a unique set of plans for a specific client. Some custom builders may offer design-to-build services.
  • Build single-family homes.
  • Are generally small-volume builders (building 25 or fewer homes a year).
  • Build high-end homes.

Production homebuilders generally:
  • Build on land they own.
  • Build using stock plans, but they usually offer a variety of plan choices and customizable options.
  • Build all types of housing—single family homes, condominiums, townhouses and rental properties.
  • Are large-volume builders (building more than 25 homes a year).
  • Build for all price points (e.g., entry level, move up, luxury).

Step 2 – Choose a Lot
By choosing your builder first, you get the benefit of his or her assistance as you make decisions about the lot, the architect and the financing. Have the builder evaluate the lot you’re considering and comment on its appropriateness for the home you have in mind. Working with your builder to select the right lot can help ensure that you don’t discover any unexpected problems or costly modifications that need to be made to it before you start building. Involving your builder upfront also can prevent you from overspending on the lot, building type or size of home you were planning.

Step 3 – Design Plans
Most architects are happy to include builders in the planning process. The design and build team of owner, builder and architect allow all three to comment during the design phase and make innovative suggestions. Your builder can be extremely helpful to you as the plans are being drawn; commenting on construction details and costs to help keep the home within your budget parameters.

Step 4 – Research Financing Options
Once you’ve selected a builder, the lot and the architectural plans, you’ll need a construction or permanent loan to finance their dream home. The banks will reserve the right to approve the builder you choose. Many banks offer loans that initially finance the lot and construction then convert automatically to a mortgage loan. These construction or permanent loans have made it very easy to finance a custom home. Some custom builders may be willing to purchase the lot for you. When the home is completed, you can roll the amount of the home and lot into your mortgage. With some research, careful planning and a little know-how, building your dream home can become a reality.

If this is your first custom homebuilding experience, it’s important to know the steps involved in the process. Once your lot has been cleared and it’s time to begin the construction of your new house, there is a sequence of events that will involve you. By embracing the project and being aware of the steps, you will be a participant and not an outsider. This information is from the custom homebuilding resource, Custom Home Key (

There are several different approaches to foundation; basement foundation is the most common in the Los Angeles area. Other techniques include slab-foundation and pole-and-pier foundations. Slab-foundation is common in areas where soil conditions are not suitable for a basement. Pole-and-pier foundations are found areas, such as coastal states or riverfront property where homes are sometimes built either partially over water or in floodplains.

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