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Custom homebuying – Do you have what it takes?

My parents built their own custom country home a few years back. It started off as 6 sticks that my mom stuck into the ground in a vaguely rectangular shape. She and my dad would walk up to the lot and picture their future house. My dad jokes that every time they went the sticks “somehow” got further apart, thereby making the house bigger. There is plenty of room in custom construction for things to go wrong. A plan is created and it is obviously the ultimate goal to stick as close to that original plan as possible – not always easy when personalities and different agendas get in the way. I have seen plenty of successes and have tried to summarize what makes a custom build ultimately successful below.


If you are the type of person that needs to physically walk through a home, or see something concrete in front of you, custom building may not be a good fit. There is no model house to see, just blueprints, specifications and a contract. Yes, it’s a leap of faith, but you’ll end up with a house that is one of a kind, and fits the needs of YOUR family and day to day lifestyle. Even if there are other completed homes done by the same builder that you are able to walk through, your house will not be the same. This can be a difficult challenge to overcome for some buyers.


Have you got a picture in your mind of the perfect kitchen, or an idea for the kids playroom? Maybe you’re just frustrated with the “cookie cutter” subdivision homes and want something totally unique. Perhaps you’re a Pinterest junkie and have created a board of “dream home ideas”.  If so, you are the perfect type of person to custom build. You will get to meet with the builder and architect and tell them your ideas, needs and wants – then they draw it, and build it.


Custom building can be a part time job. There will be a lot of items to select, from light switches to flooring, to door knobs, shower heads, kitchen cupboards, trim, windows and many, many more. Going to see showrooms, meeting with kitchen designers, site walkthroughs to plan where you want your electrical outlets and light switches … all of this takes time. Your time. If you don’t get your kitchen selections made in time, it could delay the closing date. Having the time to make these very important decisions is crucial.


There are lots of builders out there that charge many different prices, but when you’re custom building a home in the country, you’ll need a decent chunk of change to work with. For starters, a custom build will more than likely be more expensive than a home of similar size by a “production builder”. The big guys get volume deals on everything from lumber to tiles to trades. A one off custom home builder will not enjoy the same economy of scale, and that cost is likely passed down to the end consumer. Payment structures can vary as well … Some builders will want ⅓ of the total price up front, another ⅓ at an agreed upon stage of completion, and the rest on closing. Others are happy to take a deposit and wait for the closing date for to receive the rest. Either way, if your budget is very tight, other options may be a better choice. More things to consider are landscaping, appliances, draperies … items usually already done, or sold with a resale home, but not in a brand new custom build. These items will add up, so make sure they’re budgeted for accordingly.


This will not happen overnight. In fact, it could easily take 6 months or more from first contact to moving in. If you need a house right now – custom building is obviously not the right choice. A spec home or a resale home would be a much better fit. Plans will need to be revised, sometimes multiple times. Patience is a virtue in many things, and custom building is definitely one of them!

At the end of the day, Custom Building can be a very rewarding experience, where you get the house of your dreams, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. If you think you’ve got what it takes, give us a call and we can help make your “sticks” into reality.

We have a number of unique custom building opportunities right now in the Puslinch township. I would be happy to sit down and walk through your options at any time.

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