Stock Plans or Custom Plans – building your dream home

The seemingly overly large and extravagant homes that many production builders were building at a break neck pace in recent more prosperous years have been coined the negative term “McMansions”. Even some more modest homes being produced seem to be unnecessarily large. Yes, some of this can be attributed to banks being a little too generous in their lending practices, allowing people to get into more home than they can really afford. Some of these homes can be attributed to a buying market that has been preached square footage to the point that is the only question they know to ask a builder about a new home. Truly though, the blame goes to poor design.

In an effort to build a speculative product as quickly as possible that appeals to as many people as possible, builders and designers have gone with plans that try to accommodate everyone’s needs and wants in a single floor plan (though even with extra square footage, adequate storage space is often overlooked). This sounds ok, but the result is a lot of wasted space (and cost and waste of resources) for square footage that an individual buyer may not need. Even if the buyer is aware they don’t need certain spaces, the products on the market leave little choice, but to buy too much house.

The only other option is fairly obvious, have a Atlanta custom home designed and built. Many buyers shy away or flat out don’t consider this option as they believe it will be too expensive. They are mistaken for a variety of reasons. While large production builders tend to discourage change, often by ridiculous fees to make the changes they are willing to make. This is just because they have a system down and don’t want to rock the boat. In reality, changes, when made with proper notice, shouldn’t be overtly expensive. Smaller builders are in a position where they are less burdened by corporate red tape and can adapt and change to their client’s needs more effectively and cost efficiently. The cost difference for me to build a home to corporate set of standard selections every time versus building the home to the homebuyer’s personal selections is minimal. There shouldn’t be an up charge to get what you want.

The only additional cost that is valid, is the time paid to a designer to custom design a home. These fees often seem too high to be justified to a potential buyer. Keep in mind though, that even on a production home, someone designed that home and the builder is paying for those plans, the costs are just hidden. Without argument though, it does cost more to custom design a home. However, if you can pay (hypothetically speaking) $5,000 to a designer to custom design a home, the result may very well be that you have a home that truly fits your needs without additional wasted square footage. Assuming that you save only a measly 50 square feet of space, at a modest cost of $100 per square foot, you’ve paid for the design services already, not to mention that you wind up with a house that is truly yours and fits your lifestyle, not one just like the one across the street.

The recent economic downturn has many thinking that home design will be shifting back to more modest size housing, like many of us grew up in. Good. I have no problem building large homes for those who need and can afford them, but I hope that there comes a movement away from the production homes that have dominated the market for so long towards designing and Atlanta building homes for the individual buyer. Like in an era in decades past, designers, homebuyers, and builders need to once again learn to work together to produce desirable, cost effective, and resource friendly homes . The cookie cutter needs to go, and cost is not an excuse to keep it.

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