Production Versus Custom Home Builders: What’s the Difference?


Production Versus Custom Home Builders: What’s the Difference?When beginning the process of purchasing a brand new home, it’s important to understand the distinction between a custom home builder and a production home builder. What do these terms mean and how can you as a buyer determine which is the best choice for your circumstance? Here are the key points to know about the two types of builders.

Custom Home Builder

  • What is a custom builder?
    A custom home builder, as the name suggests, builds a home to the buyer’s specifications. While there may be an initial set of builder-proposed specifications, they serve more as a starting point from which the custom buyer can begin to budget and design their project. The home can be built on land the buyer already owns or may acquire. The floor plans may either be supplied by the buyer or commissioned from the builder. Homebuyers have the option of working with separate companies for architecture and construction, or with a design-build company that handles both. With a custom home builder, the homebuyer is more involved in the overall process and has the opportunity to make many decisions along the way.
  • What is the process of working with a custom home builder?
    A custom home starts with a clean slate, allowing for the freedom to create the home you choose. Budget, building codes, and zoning regulations are more or less the only restrictions. Establishing a realistic budget (and sticking to it) is an important first step. Purchasing land may come next. Work with an attorney to clarify all restrictions and get an estimate on all site work. Research, along with the builder or architect, any zoning or deed restrictions.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages?
    Custom home builders work to create the exact home the buyers desire on the land of their choosing. They are adept at mixing plans and styles to meet a buyer’s specific needs, tastes, and lifestyles. Homebuyers have the opportunity to provide input throughout the building process, which most often results in a truly unique home.

Custom homes are more expensive because custom builders don’t have the economies of scale or labor efficiencies of production builders. The flexibility, creativity, and all the necessary decisions associated with a custom home can mean more time to completion and more unforeseen costs as the project unfolds.

Personalized Production Home Builder

  • What is a production home builder?
    A production home builder typically offers the home and land together. The builder may have multiple lots in a development — often in large master-planned communities — and a few sets of floor plans with several layouts and elevations from which to choose. Homes may be priced for first-time, move-up, or luxury buyers.
  • What is the process of working a production home builder?
    The first step is selecting the lot and the floor plan from the available choices. While the plan itself cannot usually be changed, production builders may offer some flexibility. The elevation, finishes, home styles, colors, appliances, flooring, cabinets, and countertops may be selected by the buyer from a predefined set of selections at the builder’s design center.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages?
    Production homes are available in a range of price points, but typically offer great savings for homebuyers at any level. Costs are more predictable because these builders build hundreds of homes a year. They have relationships with contractors and suppliers that allow them to negotiate bulk deals on materials and services. With fewer decisions to make, the process of building a production home is more streamlined than for a custom home, so homes are built more quickly with less risk of surprises that can cause delays. The experience can be less stressful for the buyers.Less personalization can mean buyers have to make more compromises in terms of what they truly want. Production homes can have a cookie-cutter feel despite some variation in elevation, styles and floor plans.

Sheffield Homes has been building custom homes in the Denver metro area and Northern Colorado since 1978. If you are in the market for a truly custom home, contact us today. We guarantee to exceed your most stringent expectations.



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Arvada, CO 80003