Custom vs Production

What to consider when building a home?


When building a home, consideration should be given to a Custom Builder verses a Production Builder and the selection of your builder. With so many types of home building companies available to you, it could be a little confusing to figure out who does what, who builds what and what to look for in a builder. To begin your process, I have identified points of difference between custom and production home builders as well as how to select your builder.  


Custom home builders generally:

  • 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 on land you own. Some custom builders also build on land they own.
  • 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 generally:

  • 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.

For those interested in personalizing their home beyond the basics, custom building is the answer. Have special requirements or special needs? Custom homes afford consumers the opportunity to control layout, lot size, and accessibility. 

Use this checklist to help you select a builder to build your home:

  • Does the builder have a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers?
  • How long have they been in the building business? It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business. Will they be around after the construction is complete to service any warranties?
  • Have you called your local Better Business Bureau? They can alert you to any complaints.
  • Does the builder have sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance? If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
  • Will the builder provide you with names of previous customers? Ask them if they would hire the builder again.
  • Have you seen the builder's work, both completed and in progress? Check for quality of workmanship and materials.
  • Are you able to communicate with the builder? Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your new home.
  • Will the builder provide you with a complete and clearly written contract? The contract will benefit both of you. Review it carefully.
  • Be cautious of unusually low-priced bids. If the builder is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this may indicate a potential problem.

Contact the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association for the names of member builders.