Types of builders and which type is best for you

Typically, new home builders are grouped into three or four categories.  The first of these are production builders.

Production builders typically are large companies which build the same plans in multiple neighborhoods usually in several states or regions. Since their plans are reused over and over again they have taken numerous steps to value engineer the plan to increase their affordability while keeping important items to appeal to numerous people. Production builders typically will limit both the quantity of changes to the plans and the availably selections. By limiting these items they further reduce overhead costs by not having to have staff available to make the changes or research the requested product. While customizing a house based on buyer’s wishes is not their forte, they do offer great value in what they do. By working on a large scale with more limited products they can economize the house and its selections to make them more affordable. In Collier and Lee Counties these type homes are usually found in developments where the whole project is run by the builder. Semi-Custom builders make up the next group. These builders are typically much smaller than the production builders and the level of customization will vary dramatically between the builders. In Collier and Lee Counties, these builders will usually have several model homes and other plans that they work from. Depending on the builders level of customization they will make small alterations to the model plans or in some cases make major changes. The available product choices also typically increase with these builders. From a home design stand point, these homes will be less value engineered than the production homes and the available level of finishes will increase these homes costs well beyond production housing. Arthur Rutenberg has taken this concept into more expensive neighborhoods. They will offer product selections from a company owned design studio and also make minor revisions to plans the corporate office has developed. These concepts help them control costs associated with more custom houses.

Custom houses make up the next type of housing. Typically these homes involve an architect or Residential Design firm to create a home for a home buyer. These homes can start from a concept the home buyer has seen elsewhere, pictures of concepts from Houzz or Pinterest, just thoughts the home buyer has. The Architect or Residential Design firm then takes these concepts and creates a custom plan. In some cases the home owner will pay the architect to develop specifications to be used in the construction process, in others the home owner will hire an interior decorator to develop these specifications. However, often the home owner relies on the builder to develop these specifications. Since a true custom home has not been built before it requires a bidding process to determine its final price. Since the price is not determined while the plans are being developed there is the very real chance that the home as designed well exceeds the budget the home owner has in mind. Since the plan is a custom plan developed solely for the home owner, the Architect or Residential Designer is fully paid when the plans are completed. Custom Builders should be the most experienced of the first three types of builders. Since each plan is unique in some way, the builder must be able to understand plans, diagnose potential plan problems or errors, be able to develop a set of specifications unique to each home, be able to comfortably handle the potential unforeseen plan or design errors which can occur in custom plans, and be able to guide the home buyer through the process in a coordinate manner to eliminate delays and owner frustrations as much as is possible. The final type of builder is a Design Builder. In addition to being a custom builder, this type of builder also designs the homes as well. The advantages to a good Design Builder are several. Since the builder is also familiar with costs, there is less chance of the project being well over a discussed price range. This can save not only a lot of time, but also a lot of expense for the architect’s fee as well. Each Design Builder will have slightly varying design agreements. Some will have a certain cost they charge for the process while others will do the design work free of charge. Divco Custom Homes falls into the Design Builder type of builder. In our case we have a simple design agreement that details what we design and the quantity of changes that we will make prior to determining the project is feasible for the home buyer. Up to the feasibility check there is no cost to the home buyer. Once the home buyer has determined the project is financially feasible and if they want to continue to make changes, we have an hourly fee for these changes. Some unusual projects may require engineering to be done prior to a final price being issued. In our case, we work with these projects in two ways. The first is to establish allowances for the structural components that will change based on the engineering. The second involves collecting a deposit for the cost of the engineering, having it completed, and then finalizing the agreement price when the engineering has been fully priced.

Design Builders typically are also fully capable of building Semi-Custom houses as well. We look forward to discussing your project with you.