Is building a custom home more expensive? Comparing the costs and benefits

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Thinking about moving, but struggling to find what you’re looking for on the market? If so, you’re likely wondering: “Is building a custom home more expensive?”

The upfront costs of building a custom home may be higher than the costs of buying an existing home, with a lot of caveats (market factors, the condition of the home, and location to name just a few). However, the long-term benefits and personalized touches often far outweigh the initial investment.

Let’s take a look at what goes into designing and building a custom home. We’ll share a few of the pros and cons and touch on some of the big advantages you gain by working with a design + build firm for your custom home.

Understanding the costs of custom home building

Custom homes are tailored to the homeowner’s specific preferences and needs, which inherently involves a more intricate and personalized construction process. Here’s a breakdown of where these costs typically arise:

  • Design fees: Because you’re developing everything custom, a design + build firm will include design fees to create a unique floor plan to suit your budget.
  • Land purchase: Finding and purchasing the perfect lot for your custom home often involves additional expenses, especially in desirable locations.
  • Permits and inspections: Any new construction project requires a series of permits and inspections.
  • Materials and labor: High-quality materials and skilled labor used in custom homes are usually more expensive than those used in standard builds.
  • Customization and upgrades: Personalizing your home with high-end finishes, unique features, and state-of-the-art appliances can also increase costs.

These factors can all contribute to the higher initial price of a custom home. However, the value derived from building a home specifically tailored to your lifestyle and preferences can be immeasurable.

Pros of building a custom home

There are numerous advantages that come with building a custom home, and these increase the value of your investment.

  • Designed and built for you: The biggest benefit of going the custom route is that you’ll move into a home that reflects your personal style and meets your unique and specific needs. From the lot and layout to the lighting and finishes, every aspect of the home can be customized to your liking.
  • Built to last: Custom homes use the latest technology and materials, as well as the skills of highly specialized craftsmen (have you seen the Clemson paw our mason laid into a client’s driveway?). In Northeast Florida, weatherization is particularly critical for long-term durability.
  • Energy efficiency: Here’s another factor that has an outsized impact on Florida homes—modern, energy-saving technologies and materials. Newer homes may have some efficiencies, but those depend largely on the builder and the year the home was built. A custom home can be tailored to the specific way the elements will impact the lot, helping to reduce utility costs and environmental impact over the long run.
  • Location Location Location: When building a custom home, you have the opportunity to choose the perfect location for you. Whether it’s a scenic waterfront community like Waterman’s Bluff, or the beautiful beaches and prestigious golf courses of Ponte Vedra Beach, the choice is all yours.
  • Flexibility: Custom homes can be designed to accommodate your future needs. These could include housing additional family members, improving accessibility, or any number of lifestyle preferences that change with time.
  • Personal satisfaction: At the end of your custom home-building journey you will find a unique sense of pride and satisfaction—an emotional fulfillment that only comes from realizing the home you’ve built is one that is entirely your own. The sense of satisfaction as a homeowner is one we frequently hear from our clients on move-in day.

Cons of building a custom home

While there are many benefits to building a custom home, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks:

  • Potential for higher upfront costs: As mentioned, the initial costs of building a custom home can be higher than the costs of purchasing an existing home—but you need to think big picture here. If you’re comparing the cost of a custom home to existing real estate, are you factoring in the upgrades required to make the older home suitable? What about the costs of major replacements that will inevitably come up over time, such as a new roof, HVAC system, water heater, or major appliances?
  • Timeframe: There’s no way around it—building a custom home will take longer than purchasing and moving into an existing property. If you’re on a tight timeline and need to move quickly, the time involved in building a custom home could be a drawback.
  • Complex decision making: The multitude of choices involved in building a custom home can be overwhelming for some people. From selecting the layout to choosing finishes, the decision-making process requires time and careful consideration. Our principal designer, Dana Merrill, is our clients’ best friend during the decision-making process for everything from floor plans to tile selections. But even with personal guidance, choosing every element of a new home isn’t every home owner’s cup of tea.
  • Financing challenges: Obtaining financing for a custom home can be more complex than for a standard home. Construction loans often have stricter requirements and higher interest rates.

The benefits of building a custom home with John Merrill Homes

Our experienced team will guide you through every step of the search, design, and construction process to create a beautiful, functional home tailored to your family’s unique needs and tastes.

Here are six reasons why building a custom home with us is such a rewarding experience.

  1. Expert guidance: We have an experienced team that will guide you through every step of the process, from selecting the perfect lot to finalizing the design details. We make the complex decision-making process less stressful and, dare we say, more enjoyable.
  2. Local knowledge: Based in Jacksonville, Florida, we have first-hand knowledge of the local market and surrounding areas. Whether you’re looking for a waterfront view or access to world-class golf, we can help you find the ideal location for your home.
  3. Quality assurance: We pride ourselves on using only the highest quality materials and skilled craftsmen to build homes that stand the test of time. Our attention to detail ensures that every aspect of your home is constructed to the highest standards.
  4. Energy efficiency: We incorporate energy-efficient technologies and sustainable materials into our designs to help you save on utility costs and reduce the environmental impact.
  5. Customization: With John Merrill Homes, the possibilities are endless. Whether you want a gourmet kitchen, a luxurious master suite, or home office that makes you feel like you’re on your boat (yup, we’ve done that), we work with you to bring your vision to life.
  6. Systematic process: Through years of designing and constructing custom homes, we have honed a systematic process that ensures your project stays on track for successful completion. Our approach guarantees clear and continuous communication throughout the entire journey, ensuring your dream custom home is delivered on schedule and within budget.

At John Merrill Homes, we are dedicated to making your dream home a reality. Our expertise, local knowledge, and commitment to quality ensure that your custom home-building experience is rewarding and stress-free. If you’re ready to explore the possibilities of building a custom home in Northeast Florida, contact us today. Let’s build the home you’ve always envisioned.

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