Custom Homes Vs Spec Homes: Which is Right for You?

There are few things as satisfying as moving into a brand new home. The house is a blank slate upon which you can create your ideal environment for the way you and your family live and the things that are important to you.

If moving into a newly constructed home is something you dream of doing in the future, you have a few options to consider that will affect how personalized your space will be. Namely, you must decide between buying a custom home or a spec home.

What is a Custom Home?

A custom home is exactly what it sounds like. It is built to suit one specific client at a specific location, which is usually on a lot that the client already owns. The house plans are commonly created by an architect or professional home designer who works closely with the client so that the home meets the wants and needs of that individual and their family. Many custom home builders also have many floor plans for you to choose from so you don’t have to start completely from scratch.

Why Build a Custom Home

The most obvious benefit of building a custom home is that you are able to control an endless number of factors including the layout of the home, accessibility, and the orientation of the building on the lot. Aside from functionality, you also control the aesthetics by choosing only the colors, materials, and fixtures that you love. Upon completion, the house should help facilitate your lifestyle and values—whether that’s entertaining friends, spending time with your family, or prioritizing relaxation and comfort. The home can be 100% unique and the creative possibilities are only restricted by your budget.

Many find that building a custom home actually makes more sense financially, because you will have control over every line item and therefore the bottom line cost. You are able to forego features and amenities that you don’t want or need, so you are able to spend your budget only on what you really want. Won’t use the three fireplaces outlined in a generic home plan? You can skip them and use the money to add smart home features instead!

This control also allows you to add in features to your home that can save you operational costs in the long run, such as ENERGY STAR appliances, windows, and doors—which will lower utility bills and can qualify you for federal tax credits.

When it comes to financing a custom home, many home builders require you to secure a construction loan before construction can begin. As the home is being built, the homebuilder draws on this loan while you make the interest payments. Construction takes time, and when it comes to loans, time is money.
This is not the case at Madison Homebuilders. At Madison Homebuilders, your house is built on the strength of the company, so qualified landowners do not pay any construction costs until their home is complete. That means no interest payments. In addition, Madison Homebuilders agrees to pay your standard closing costs and the appraisal fee on your loan. All of this adds up to thousands of dollars in savings, as well as a simplified homebuilding process. This is not done everywhere and is something you must discuss with the builder of your choice.

As a general rule, custom home builders are more focused on quality, because each project takes so much individual planning and time. While creating a plan for a truly unique, custom home is an expense that you don’t have when purchasing a spec home, it is a relatively small investment when you consider that you are building a house that is perfectly suited for your needs and will be in your family for generations to come.

The most important step you can take when building a custom home is to find the right builder. Make sure you communicate clearly with your builder regarding financing, timelines, and other important details.

What Does Spec Home Mean?

Spec home is short for speculative home for sale. Home builders build spec homes on lots that they own, finalizing plans and starting construction without a specific buyer in mind.

These homes are referred to as speculative homes because the builders are speculating that a buyer who is interested will come forward to purchase the home upon completion.

You may think there is more risk involved for builders when constructing homes speculatively, because there is no guarantee that the house will meet the needs of someone who is willing to pay the asking price for a new home they had no hand in planning. However, builders that specialize in spec homes are usually skilled in predicting what will appeal to a wide range of people, constructing fairly generic homes in good marketable neighborhoods.

Why Buy a Spec Home

Purchasing a spec home is more convenient if you and your family need a new house in the short term. Not everyone has the time to be involved in the process of customizing a home and overseeing the construction, and some may find it reassuring to see the finished product and know exactly what they’re getting before investing any time or money.
Spec homes don’t require you to be involved with the design and build process at all, so if you think you would be overwhelmed by the decisions that need to be made or the building process, buying a spec home relieves you from that responsibility. In some cases, you may find a spec home you’re interested in before construction is complete and therefore have time to request certain finishing touches like paint color.

Lastly, if you don’t have very specific aesthetic or functional preferences for your home, there may be no need for customization and a spec home will serve you just fine.

One drawback of spec homes is that since you have no control over the plans, you may end up paying for amenities or features that you don’t need instead of mindfully allocating line items in a budget.

Interested in learning more about building a custom home on your lot in either North or South Carolina? Start by downloading your free home plan book today!