Choosing a Home Builder: Comparing Custom Building and Production Building

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 15 Jan, 2013
The typical home buyer may not understand builders are most often classified as either a custom home builder or a production builder. Some definitions: Custom: (custom-built) custom-made: an item made to the customer’s specifications. (via Princeton University) Production: (also called mass production): the manufacture of goods in large quantities, often using standardized designs and assembly-line […] The post Choosing a Home Builder: Comparing Custom Building and Production Building appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
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The typical home buyer may not understand builders are most often classified as either a custom home builder or a production builder.

Some definitions:

Custom:(custom-built) custom-made: an item made to the customer’s specifications. (via Princeton University )
Production:(also called mass production): the manufacture of goods in large quantities, often using standardized designs and assembly-line techniques. (via The Free Dictionary )

A little history lesson:

Production builders accounted for little of the home building market before the 1950s. When the population boom occurred during that time period, home building changed. Before the 1950s homes were built one house at a time, for one customer at a time. But as the population grew, and more people required homes at a greater rate, some home builders began changing their model to mass production. Because of the volume of the houses production builders built, along with their cheaper means of production, they were able to offer homes at prices below what custom builders could. Production builders formed home building corporations, focusing more on the amount of homes they could build and sell, instead of focusing on individual buyers.

But how do you know the difference?

While the difference in the definition of custom vs. production is fairly clear, with the amount of home builders on the market, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out exactly who does what.
The National Association of Home Builders provides these tips to help you tell the difference.
Custom home builders:
  • Build on land you own. Although, some custom builders also build on land they own.
  • Build one-of-a-kind houses. A custom home is a site-specific home built from a unique set of plans for a specific client. Some custom builders may offer design/build services.
  • Build single-family homes.
  • Are generally small-volume builders (those that build 25 or fewer homes a year).
  • Tend to build high-end homes.
Production home builders:
  • Build on land they own.
  • Tend to use stock plans, but usually offer a variety of plan choices and options.
  • Build all types of housing — single-family, condos, town houses, and rental properties.
  • Are large-volume builders (those that build more than 25 homes a year).
  • Generally build for all price points — entry level, move up, luxury, etc.

What does it all mean?

Custom building is for those home buyers desiring to personalize how their home is built. In custom building the homeowner is usually much more involved in the process, and the builder focuses on working closely with the client. Custom homes are typically thought of as more expensive, but not necessarily. If you were to make all the changes you desire to a production home – which most production builders will not allow – the cost would be equal, or even cost more. With a custom home, buyers are investing in a home specifically suited to their needs and lifestyle.

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