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  • Carmel Homes

What is a Custom Home and Why Build a Custom Home?

Updated: Apr 11

As custom home builders, we take great pride in our tailored approach and the quality of the work we do. However, we appreciate that not everyone knows what a custom home is or what sets it apart from other options. We also understand that this makes it difficult to choose between the different options when planning your new home build.

To make this a little easier, we want to explore how what we do differs from other types of builders. As part of this, we will consider the unique characteristics of a custom home and why homeowners find them appealing. We will also share our advice on working with a custom home builder and making the most of the process.



What makes a home custom?

As the name suggests, a custom home is specially designed to suit the homeowner’s specific tastes and requirements. This means that when you build custom, you get to choose everything from the floor plan to the fixtures and finishes. It also means that the design and build process will be bespoke and tailored to fit your exact plans.

While the purpose of a custom build is to create a bespoke space, the design is really guided by the homeowner’s requirements. As such, standard materials and building techniques are generally used, but usually in new and interesting ways. Custom homes often also include standard features that serve a special purpose or help tailor the space to suit the homeowner’s lifestyle.

This is quite different to the other main type of builder, volume builders, who have a clear focus on standardisation. Most volume builders have a suite of set designs that they build and charge a premium for customisations. This approach is designed to help keep the costs down and make the build timelines as short as possible.

It is worth noting here that while volume builders are generally considered the more cost-effective option, this is not always the case. In fact, a custom build allows you to choose what to spend your money on and where to make savings. As such, it may be the best option if you have a fixed budget, particularly if you have specific requirements.



The benefits of building custom

There are many reasons homeowners choose to go custom when building their new home. There are also a few key advantages custom homes have of volume builds. Specifically, custom homes:


  • Give you more control: As noted above, both the design and build of a custom home is tailored to suit your unique requirements. This means you choose everything from the size, shape, and style of the home to the colour and material palette. It also means that you can make sure your new home perfectly fits you, your family, and your lifestyle.

  • Provide a greater sense of ownership: There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing you played a key role in creating your new home. A custom home can give you this as it allows you to have a hand in every design decision. This can help you feel connected to the property, which generally makes the process of settling in much smoother.

  • Allow you to optimise functionality: As you design the floor plan and flow between different spaces, you can make sure this supports how you live. This means you can check you have enough space for your family’s daily routine and minimise any underutilised areas. You can also include any unique features you feel would save you time or improve your quality of life.

  • Allow you to bring together different design styles: While volume builds usually adhere to one architectural style, your custom home design can pull inspiration from multiple sources. For example, say you are a big fan of both French Provincial homes and more modern home designs. When you build custom, you can combine your favourite elements of each style to create your own unique design.

  • Can feature your favourite colours and materials: While most volume builders will use standard material sets, most custom builders will let you choose any finishes you like. So, whether you want materials that scream luxury, materials you love, or materials that are responsibly sourced, the choice is yours. Similarly, you set the colour scheme and can make your new home as vibrant or as muted as you like.

  • Can be designed with the future in mind: How you live in your new home will likely change and evolve, particularly if you live there for many years. As such, your design needs to be flexible enough to meet your needs in both the short and long term. A custom home is good for this, allowing you to develop your plans based on your current and future requirements.

  • Support sustainability: Maximising the energy efficiency and minimising the environmental impact of your new home requires careful consideration of many different elements. If this is important to you, your custom home plans can be tailored to suit your sustainability goals. Best of all, this can generally be done without significantly impacting the liveability or functionality of the design.

  • Are great for knockdown and rebuild projects: If you are planning to knockdown and rebuild an existing structure, you may need to design around certain restrictions. A custom home supports this, allowing you to make the most of the existing building footprint and meet any relevant planning requirements. Custom homes can also be designed to account for any significant quirks in the site, like steep slopes or easements.

  • Could be the cheaper option:As noted above, while many custom homes are quite high end, you can build custom on a budget. In fact, building custom should give you tighter control of your spending, allowing you to cut costs on less important elements. Also, if you have specific requirements, a custom home will allow you to tailor your design accordingly without blowing out your build budget.


Key considerations when working with a custom home builder

If you do choose to build a custom home, there are several things you will need to be aware of. Most significantly, you will need to find a builder with previous experience working on projects similar to yours. This will usually take careful research and may require you to meet with multiple companies before finding the right one.

Most custom home builders have display homes, which are great for getting a sense of the quality of their work. It is also worth reviewing the portfolio of each company you are considering, paying close attention to projects similar to yours. You should also ask to speak directly to previous clients of each builder and question them about their experience.

We also recommend looking for a full service builder that has both design and build capabilities. Such a company will be able to work with you throughout the whole process, guiding you through each step. This should make moving between the different stages much easier and your overall experience much more straightforward and less stressful.

Most design and build companies also use the same core team for all their projects, bringing in specialists as required. This means they should have an established project management and communication approach, which should further streamline the whole process. They should also know how other parts of the team work and be able to plan around their strengths and limitations.

Whether you choose a traditional builder or a design and build company, you should start by thinking about your requirements. This will allow you to go into your design consultations with some ideas about what you want to build. It will also give your designer something to work with and should make your first session more productive.

Ideally, you should also have some thoughts on the overarching design style you want and the specific features you like. For example, say you are thinking about a French Provincial home. Consider which characteristics you are particularly interested in. Maybe it is the iconic façade, the generously proportioned rooms, the natural material palette, or all of the above.

This is particularly important if you want to pull influence or include specific features from several different architectural styles. For example, if you also like modern home designs, consider the characteristics of this style you also want to incorporate. This will allow your designer to recommend creative ways to combine your influences and create the look you are after.

Want to discuss this further?

If you are still not sure whether a custom home is right for you, give Carmel Homes a call. We are experts in designing and delivering high-quality bespoke homes, tailored to suit the homeowner’s taste and lifestyle. We can also work within a fixed budget, achieving the look and fell you want for the price you need.

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