There are three types of home buildersin America today. There is the “high-end custom home builder,” the “production builder,” and the “small, hands-on builder.” While there are variations and hybrids within these three categories, these are the basic types at work today. The prospective buyer’s trick is to identify which one is the best match for their pocketbook and home-style demands.
The High-End Custom Home Builders typically work out of expensive offices and drive new vehicles and maintain all the trappings of success and professionalism that the upper class feels comfortable with. They tend to be very good at what they do, but their overhead and expertise come at a high price.
A custom home’s plan is often drawn by an architect who spends a lot of time interviewing the customer, drawing rough drafts, and making revisions before coming up with a final draft. Usually, a professional designer will be part of the decision-making process involving colors and finishes.
The customer usually secures the construction loan and land. The building process is always lengthy and requires a lot of focus on the builder’s part to assure quality and coordination. In other words, it is not something most new home buyers can afford.
What they can afford is some variation of a Production Home Builder’s model homes. This is the way it is now and always has been in modern America. In the old days, Sears and Roebuck sold thousands of homes by way of mail-order catalogs.
There is nothing wrong with the system; it enables the masses to afford the American Dream. Customer dissatisfaction commonly occurs because buyers often want and probably deserve more attention paid to their home.
The problem is not that Production Home Builders are not good at building homes that follow routine building procedures within their system. They have become proficient at it, and the chances are that a new home buyer will end up reasonably satisfied if they stick to the builder’s stock plans and options. Most builders that build more than 15 or 20 houses a year are that they are not good at making changes outside their box.
Many Production Home Builders are aware of their limitations in customization and their strengths in production homebuilding. The popular term “pre-sold home” is commonly used to get the notion of “custom” out of the buyer’s mind.
The buyer is allowed to buy the builder’s product any time before completion and select from a list of options when possible, but it is the builder’s home until the customer pays for it with their final mortgage loan. It is a fair way of doing business.
Trouble often arises when Production Home Builders ignore their limitations and attempt to customize a home outside their comfort zone. Most Production Home Builders started their careers building just a few houses a year and were able to build anything that came along, and so they reason they should still be able to even though they are no longer “hands-on” and have to work through their staff.
They also want to give their customer what they want, and so they bend their rules to make the customer happy and get the sale.
The customer wanting special features or techniques in their new home are often frustrated with the Production Home Builder’s parameters. They would be better served to look outside the big new sub-divisions where Production Home Builders have all the lots tied up and search for the Small, Hands-on Home Builder.
Some of these builders are new and maybe on their way to becoming production builders, but most seasoned builders prefer to build as few as 3 or 4 houses a year. They are not interested in running a big business but instead want to make a good living doing something they are good at and enjoy doing.