Building a new Home? There’s a lot to know.

couple and dream home-workMoving to a new area and building a new home in a strange place, where do you start? Which type of builder do you need? We have them all – Production Builders, Semi-Custom Builders and Custom Home Builders.

When does it make sense to step up to custom or semi-custom?

  • When you know just what you want
  • When what you want is not being offered by production builders
  • When you realize that you might spend as much and not get exactly what you want
  • When you found your dream lot where there’s No Builder Tie-in

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In each category, there is no one answer.

Production Builders
Not all production builders are created equal. What I mean is that some production builders offer such a wide range of options and upgrades that it borders on customization. They call it personalization, however, you are selecting from the options and upgrades that are specifically offered for that model.

For most people, production builders offer enough choice to give them what they want for a price they can afford. They often build in communities that also offer a clubhouse, pool and other amenities.

Production homes are built in a range of price points, so production homes can be found in entry level, move up and luxury price ranges. The home is generally built in a fast timeframe, since the builder has already obtained the necessary permits for the plans. However, making alterations to structural elements, such as the foundation walls is typically not an option.

Some production builders have a Design Center of their own where the buyer gets to make so many choices and select so many options however that it can add 30% to 50% to the base model cost of the home or more.

Semi-Custom Builders
The higher end of production homes and semi-custom homes can have a lot in common at the beginning. A Semi-custom builder can often present multiple floor plans as a starting point. But your selections from that point forward can be as flexible as your budget allows.

This type of builder will have allowances in their price model for appliances or for cabinets or flooring, for example. If you say that your kitchen has to feature a Viking range, and that means that the cabinet layout has to be changed, a semi-custom builder can do that. And, if you tell them you are bringing your full size Sub-Zero wine fridge with you, they’re good with that also. A production builder cannot accommodate those requirements.

Another thing I’ve noticed recently is that a semi-custom builder is more easily able to move interior walls to make one room larger or rearrange the interior layout. They can do that because none of the interior walls are load bearing! I learned that when my husband designed and built our own new home. It takes a different truss system, but it allows for more flexibility.

But even semi-custom builders have their own ideas that may or may not include things that are important to you. One really good example is how they handle custom requests for things like a curbless shower and a no-step entrance. Even Baby Boomers are beginning to realize that their next home should incorporate features like this to enable them to “Age in Place” rather than face having to sell and move again down the road.

Custom Builders
In Coastal Delaware we are fortunate to have a lot of choice when it comes to custom home construction. Once our local market had recovered, we could see evidence wherever we went that people were again buying lots or older homes in great locations and then hiring a custom builder to build their dream home. There are also communities with no builder tie-in and those with remaining lots are selling quickly. We love riding through communities in Lewes, like Hawkseye, to get great ideas from all the custom builders who have built homes there. We definitely stole a few ideas for our new home.

Some custom builders will work with your architect while others focus on Design/Build. That means they have a CAD designer or architect on staff that takes your ideas and designs a home to your specifications. Then there is the Interior Designer that reviews the design for practicality and a Project Manager who keeps the project on schedule and on budget. The benefit of working with a Custom builder is that you are often working with one of the business owners who is involved in the actual building of your home.

Just like we tell our clients, there is no “one size fits all” home or community.

Know When to Act

Moving to a new area, where you are not familiar with local builders, how do you know which builder to choose? All of them – Production Builders, Semi-Custom Builders and even Custom Home Builders have a marketing budget that will compensate a Buyer Agent that brings them a client. So, working with a knowledgeable REALTOR who has local knowledge and understands the process is invaluable especially to someone who is relocating. We don’t just work with one builder, we make it our business to know them all. We know their similarities and their differences and can help you select the right builders talk to and help determine just who the right builder will be for you.

Now, a new community has opened for sale in Lewes called Showfield, and it has no builder tie-in. A selection of some of our finest custom and semi-custom builders have committed to this community and currently have homes under construction. This gives us a tremendous opportunity to see some of the best local builders and even walk through some of their homes under construction.

Let me share a little bit about a few of these these builders from a Q&A session at a recent Sales Meeting with all of our agents –

“Many of our homeowners are active adults from out of state who are retired/planning to retire in 5 years. We are either building their soon-to-be retirement home, retirement home or a secondary home for them to enjoy with their families leading up to their retirement and into retirement. Our homeowners are comforted by our experience and expertise in planning/designing/building for aging in place (not something that everyone has thought about but glad that we did) – and they love that they can get it in a home built with the quality of craftsmanship, unique design and attention to detail that Garrison Homes is known for!” Eric Brough, Vice President, Garrison Homes.

Lessard Builders is a family-owned construction company which has been building homes for 50 years. What we just learned is that the Lessard family moved here from Long Island like so many of our clients do. Brian Lessard, the owner since 1991, began building with his father Adelard at Addie Lessard and Son in 1978 when the company relocated to Delaware.

And Mark Fitzgerald, who has spent many years in Project Management and Senior Management for two of our largest production builders is now the owner of Canalfront Homes. He plans to keep his company small so he can deal directly with each client and guide them through the design and build process, something he really missed as his previous employers’ companies grew.

No Matter What You Decide. We Can help.

So, whether Showfield is the community for you or The Peninsula, or Bayside or a lot you already own or that we’ve discovered anywhere in Coastal Delaware, our Team at Active Adults Realty is on your side from the beginning through the design and build process, right up to the final inspections and settlement.