When you decide to build a home, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to go with a project builder or a custom builder. But before you make this important decision, you need to understand the differences between the two, and the pros and cons of each.
What is a project builder?
Project builders usually provide a selection of set home designs. Typically, they build on a large scale, with most project builders constructing hundreds of homes a year. By limiting the design input required for each home and negotiating bulk discounts, project builders offer excellent value, making them a very popular choice for many Australians.
What is a custom builder?
A custom builder will essentially build whatever you want, but because of the individual attention required to create each design, the cost can be much greater. Custom builders are completely flexible and can build specifically to your brief and stage of build required – from a fully completed turnkey home, to a lock-up only – or any stage in between.
Here are some of the important factors you should consider when deciding whether to go with a project builder or not.
How is pricing determined?
Project builders usually have a systemised building process, which allows them to provide a number of options to suit different budgets. However, every project builder has a different method of pricing and different standard inclusions, so you need to do your homework, and most importantly, make sure you compare apples with apples.
Project builders often have a base price and a selection of upgrade packages to choose from. Or, they may have a more basic range of homes and a ‘higher spec’ range of homes. Some only include basic finishes such as tiling to the wet areas only (not to the ceiling), laminate bench tops, and a limited range of fittings and fixtures.
Even if you select the more expensive option, the choice may still be quite limited, as the builder has probably negotiated with certain suppliers to secure the best price. This can result in substantial savings, but if you don’t like having your choices limited, this option may not be for you.
Custom builders quote each project individually, based on what you want and the budget you have. Therefore, the choice is virtually endless, but the price is usually much higher.
Can you make changes to a project builder’s home designs?
Ultimately, it depends on what the project builder is prepared to do, but if you don’t go with one of their standard designs, you probably won’t benefit as much from a cost point of view. A project builder is a great option if you’re looking for a faster, easier design process, without a lot of personal involvement. Making changes to the original design will come at a cost, as it interrupts their system flow. It really depends on how many changes you want to make to the standard design, and how the builder costs these changes.
Do all builders have display homes?
Project builders generally have display homes grouped together in a display village, so you can inspect numerous project builders in one visit, and then compare them. This gives you the opportunity to see the end result, including the quality of finishes and the design layout. Although custom builders usually don’t have display homes, you can still look at other builder’s display homes, search the internet, visit kitchen showrooms and tile shops to make individual choices for your new home. This can be very time consuming, as there are literally dozens of choices and decisions to be made. So if you’re the kind of person who may find this overwhelming, a project builder may be a better choice for you.
Insider Tip: Display homes are often built to much higher specifications, and usually come with a much bigger price tag. So make sure you clarify this with each builder before you make a commitment.
Does build time vary?
Custom builds generally take longer, simply because they are ‘one-offs’. Because project builders know exactly what they’re building, and they have the systems in place to do it over and over again, the build is generally finished in a much shorter timeframe. However, there are many other factors that can affect the timing and duration of your build such as approvals, the weather, availability of materials, plus much more. So make sure you discuss the building process and ask for an estimated build duration, before you make your final decision on which builder to go with.
It pays to compare builders
There really is no right or wrong decision when it comes to choosing a custom or project builder – you just need a builder that suits your needs and your budget. All builders offer different results, services, pricing and time frames, but in the end, they all build to the same building code standards. What sets builders apart is the entire process, the ease of the build, the relationship you develop with them, and the ability to get what you want. If building seems daunting and you want the process to be more structured, then a project builder might be the right option for you. If you want unlimited choices, total design freedom and budget is not so much of an issue, then you may prefer a custom builder.
At Hallmark Homes, we build trust
As a family-owned project builder with over 35 years experience building quality homes, Hallmark have a proven build process that really works. If you’ve never built a home before, it may seem a little overwhelming at first. But Hallmark Homes’ 10 Step Build Process breaks it down into easy-to-understand stages, so you know exactly what’s going on at all times. To find out more, you can download Hallmark’s Build Process brochure here