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What You Need to Know About Building a Custom Home

If you’re thinking about building a custom home instead of purchasing an existing property, there are many factors to consider before you make a decision. You’ll want to find the right builder, understand the custom home building process, know when to sell your current home, and figure out where you can stay while waiting for your new house. Below, we break down everything you need to know about building a custom home!

Choosing the Right Custom Home Builder

The most important step when buying a custom-built home is deciding on a builder. This decision will impact total cost, amount of customization options, construction timeframe, and your overall stress level.

Do Your Research

When choosing which custom home builder to go with, it’s important to do your research first. Find out each builder’s experience, diversity of their portfolio, the strength of team members, level of quality, organizational ability, and communication style. This will help you narrow down your search to your top two or three choices.

Have a Budget in Mind

When searching for custom home builders, it’s good to have a price range in mind. How much does it cost to build a custom house? With custom projects, a home build could run you anywhere from $350,000 to $1.5 million (or more). It’s hard to say exactly because there are so many factors that can affect the cost, such as home size, materials used, and location. In general, custom homes cost between $100 and $500 per square foot.

Know What You Want

Start by planning out what custom home features you want. Create a list of ideas before you seek estimates from home builders. You’ll get a more accurate estimate if you can be specific about what you want to include in your home. Even larger details like the size and type of home you want can narrow down which custom home builders to consider.

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Seek Trustworthy References

Ask friends, relatives, or coworkers who have built custom homes for their advice and gather all the information you can. You can also talk to people in your neighborhood or employees of local hardware stores if you don’t know anyone with a custom home. Many home builders will share customer referrals as well, if you ask for them.

Interview Multiple Home Builders

Even if you personally know someone who works in custom home building, it’s best to interview several custom home builders for your upcoming project. This allows you to compare bids and learn more about the overall custom home building process. The more options you have in front of you, the better.

Understanding the Home Building Process

Custom-built house exterior. Photo by Instagram user @adhouseplans

Photo via @adhouseplans

How long does it take to build a custom home? According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average completion time of a single-family house is around seven months, which includes about 25 days from authorization to the start of construction. Of course, your custom home build project could take longer depending on where you live, what types of materials you’re using, and how big the home you’re building will be.

As carefully planned as these home projects are, some aspects can still be unpredictable, so it’s important to be flexible with your home construction timeline. There will most likely be delays caused by weather issues, such as rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. That said, a good custom home builder will factor potential delays like this into their overall timeframe to give you a better estimate of the project completion date. You should visit your home during construction with your home builder to see the progress and communicate any differences you may have in the budget, schedule, or quality of finishes.

Another thing that can impact completion is design change. Whether you have a change of heart about a home feature, your home builder recommends a different material, you run into city ordinance issues, or you need a landscape adjustment, these design changes can slow the custom home building process and lead to additional expenses.

Knowing When to Sell Your Current Home

Exterior of brick single-family house. Photo by Instagram user @photosbyspeed

Photo via @photosbyspeed

When building a custom house, you’ll eventually need to put your current home on the market. Depending on your situation, you might decide to sell your home sooner rather than later to save money. Or you might live in your current house up until your new house is ready. Regardless, when the time comes for you to put your home up for sale, you’ll want to sell quickly.

Once listed, it takes about 70 days to sell a house and an average of 50 days to close. Real estate markets can vary widely by location and season, so be sure to speak with a local realtor to get a feel for the market before listing. Also, there are a few things you can do to help your home sell faster, such as:

  • Hire the right real estate agent
  • Price your home correctly
  • Clean your home and reduce clutter
  • Have your home professionally staged
  • Upgrade curb appeal
  • Make simple interior upgrades
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Finding Temporary Housing Between Homes

If you end up selling your current home before your custom-built home is ready, you’ll need somewhere to stay. The type of temporary housing you choose will ultimately depend on your budget and how long you need to live there. Below are some common options for short-term living arrangements.

Extended Stay Hotels

If you want flexible stays, an extended stay hotel is an ideal solution if you’re looking to have a kitchen and access to hotel amenities. Learn more in this temporary housing pros and cons guide.

Short-Term Rentals

If you need temporary housing with more space for your family, an apartment or house rental might be your best option. See why short-term rentals could be the right fit for your needs.


Mostly known as a hotel alternative for overnight stays while traveling, Airbnb can also accommodate those who need temporary living arrangements. Find other unique temporary housing ideas.

Staying with Family or Friends

As long as it’s an option, it can be tough to beat the convenience—not to mention the cost—of living with family or friends while between homes. This budget-friendly choice does have some negative aspects to it, though, so make sure you weigh the pros and cons first.


Need somewhere to store belongings while transitioning to your new custom-built home? Extra Space Storage has storage facilities throughout the U.S. that can make your transition easier. Find a storage rental near you!

Pinterest Graphic: Building a Home: Your Guide to Custom Homes