Volume Builders vs. Custom Builders: Why It’s So Important to Build Your Own Home

Volume Builders vs. Custom Builders: Why It’s So Important to Build Your Own Home

Purchasing a home is one of the most important financial decisions of your life. That’s why it’s important to have the right information upfront to make that decision a sound one. One factor you’ll want to consider is whether to work with a volume builder who offers a simple, hands-off process and low pricing or a custom builder like Busby Homes who constructs unique, tailor-made homes. In this article, we’ll take a close look at some of the factors you’ll want to consider when deciding between the two.


The Difference Between Volume Builders & Custom Builders

Let’s begin by examining what makes each of these two types of builders an interesting choice:

  • Volume builders, also known as project builders and production builders, construct hundreds to thousands of homes each year. Because they buy in bulk, they can negotiate lower costs for materials, which translate to lower home prices. For customers who want to keep costs low, purchase their lot and home for one price, and are happy to choose a predesigned home, a volume builder can be a viable option.
  • Custom builders are often builders with local knowledge of the area. Custom builders generally provide a full-service design and build, but they can also work from an architect’s plans, A custom builder constructs far fewer homes per year — but built to the customer’s exact specifications as defined by their particular needs and requests. If you have a home design in mind with a particular look or layout, or have special design requirements, a custom builder should be your first choice.


Key Points to Consider When Choosing Between a Volume Builder & a Custom Builder

Now, let’s compare each type of builder across these key points that are important to many discerning new homeowners like yourself.


Get the flexibility you want for your new home

Right from your first contact with a builder, you’ll want to ask yourself if this is someone who’s flexible enough to work with and takes all your needs into consideration. When you work with a volume builder, you’ll most likely be interacting with a sales person who will walk you through the process and show you the available home designs. While you can request modifications to the designs, it’s important to understand that any changes come at an additional cost. For example look at the advertisements in the Saturday real estate lift outs that say things such as “… from$350,300; as displayed $618,032…” or “… from $277,900; as displayed $420,000…” (actual examples, as of Feb 2018). And, often these quoted prices do not always contain all the costs such as site costs. Of course, this is not a problem if you’ve factored those expenses into your mortgage.

Working with a custom builder entails a different process. You receive personalised attention to determine exactly what you’re looking for in a home. The builder’s design team then works with you to draw up a design for your new home. Once these are formalised and approved, you’ll be presented with the total cost of building your home. Next, you go though a detailed process of selecting the colours, fittings and fixtures. Most custom home builders have an Interior Designer on staff to assist you with this process. One your unique design is finished and the contract drawings and contract specifications are signed, the actual construction commences. During this entire process, your input forms the cornerstone of constructing a unique home that’s built to meet your expectations. That means your feedback will be welcome at every step of the design process.


Balance speed and efficiency for a high-quality house

If you prefer a fast, hands-off process, working with a production builder might make sense for you. From home styles to floor plans, the predetermined selection a volume builder offers could support efficient decision-making.

However, if you have specific requirements for your home such as it being built on a steep hillside (for a magnificent view), or that it should be a split-level home, or has a layout that facilitates your lifestyle, working with a custom builder might not just be an efficient choice; it might be your only choice.

In addition, the investment of your time and the time it takes to complete your home can also be a factor to consider. With project builders, you have a very low investment of your time in the design stage and it may be as simple as choosing fittings and fixtures packages and standard colour palettes. In addition, with project builders, master scheduling and standard designs usually mean construction is relatively quick.

Working with a custom builder will generally be slower than a volume builder depending on your availability to attend design meetings and your willingness to make decisions. You’ll need to engage with the design consultant to jointly craft the look and layout of your house from scratch. And even after the design is finished you will probably think of changes or variations right up until the contract is signed and construction commences. You will also, with the help of the interior designer, have to complete your selections and colours.

Quality is another factor to consider. Volume builders produce acceptable to good quality houses, depending on the selections and finishes chosen. But, they do have master schedules to follow and they need their subcontractors to work fast to maintain those schedules or the whole process gets out of sequence. A construction supervisor working for a volume builder may be responsible for supervising the build of 20 to 35 houses at a time. Custom home builders are building fewer houses with selected subcontractors who have proven that they can produce quality work. A supervisor for a custom builder may supervise between 7 to 12 projects depending on the mix of difficulty in construction and size. This means that the construction supervisor has the time to ensure things get done right the first time and at the highest quality possible.


Move in the house you have always wanted – with your personality and preferences

To consolidate costs and build the highest number of homes, volume builders work from a small number of designs and look for the most cost-efficient use of materials. For example, they typically group plumbing together, which limits where and how you can locate everything from bathrooms to laundry and kitchen appliances. But if you have very specific ideas about how your house ought to reflect certain aspects of who you are, such as oversized windows, an open living space, and energy-conscious solutions, then a custom builder will be the one who can bring out your personality in the finished product.


Obviously, when it comes to building the house of your dreams, you need to ask yourself how much of those dreams are open to compromise. If you have a limited budget, are happy choosing your home’s design from a predetermined selection of houses, and want a low personal commitment to the process, then a volume builder is an excellent choice.

But if you picture your house, and where it will be located, as an extension of who you are, then contacting a quality custom builder to learn how your dream house can become a reality is clearly the smart choice to make. Get in touch with Busby Homes to make this dream come true in Melbourne.

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