Resource Directory
Custom Homes
Building Your Custom Dream Home

Now that you’re relocating to the Atlanta area, it might be time to consider building a custom home. One good reason is that you can build a larger house with many extras at an affordable cost, particularly compared to building costs on either coast. A regional advantage is the temperate weather, which allows building to take place year round. However, breaking ground and laying foundation are rare during the winter months. Keep in mind that master-planned communities in the area also offer custom homebuilding options, which provide you with built-in community amenities and features.

First, you’ll need to do some research. If you already have a real estate agent, he or she can help by recommending a custom builder. You also can visit the Greater Atlanta Builders Association website at www.atlantahomebuilders.com, and under the For Consumers dropdown menu, click on Find a Member for a builder in your area. There you’ll be able to search all members who are custom homebuilders. To get ideas on what style of home you’d like to build, visit your local newsstand and look for magazines that include custom home designs. Also start thinking about materials you’d like to use for the exterior—brick, vinyl siding or other materials.

HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT CUSTOM HOMEBUILDER
Here are four basic requirements you should expect from a custom homebuilder.
  • Financial Security. You will want to hire a builder who is responsible and financially secure. Does the builder have an established track record? Ask for names and numbers of other clients and call them to ask about their experience with the builder. Contact the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against a builder. Usually, a clean record is a very good sign. Also check with the Greater Atlanta Builders Association (www.atlantahomebuilders.com) to search for custom homebuilder members.
  • Variety in Floor Plans. To get the home you most desire, select a builder who will offer a variety of floor plans and adapt the floor plan to the topography of your lot.
  • Buying Power. The builder should have enough buying power to ensure that you receive the best prices for high-quality goods. You could save money on the purchase price of appliances, light fixtures, flooring and more. Find out if the builder maintains a design center where you can coordinate your cabinetry and other options.
  • Good Warranty Program. The structural integrity of your home is an extremely important aspect, and you will want certain elements to be covered under a suitable warranty. The builder you select should be able to service the completed home and offer a 10-year warranty program on certain elements of your home’s structure.

GETTING STARTED
When you hear the word “custom” associated with the homebuilding industry, you probably think of a one-of-a-kind home with everything you have ever dreamed, right down to the door knobs, at a price reserved for people with large, six-figure incomes. At one time, that was probably correct, but things are changing.

Today, there are myriad custom home options and a variety of different levels of custom homebuilders in the Atlanta area. There’s still the full-time, custom homebuilder who builds a few homes each year. There are higher-volume builders who will customize a home by moving walls or adding square footage. There are even higher-volume builders who offer custom options in just a few areas of the home, such as kitchens with sunrooms or kitchens as part of the family room.

Keep in mind that a custom feature is not the same as an optional feature. Options are usually standard features that are perceived as adding value, such as built-in cabinetry, granite countertops, crown molding or finished basements. Custom features are very personal. What one homeowner likes, another may detest. So the added value literally is in the eye of the beholder. This is one reason why most builders will ask for you to pay for custom features upfront.

By expanding the definitions and boundaries of custom homebuilding, builders have given homebuyers more opportunities to build their dream homes without starting from scratch. To customize or not to customize hinges on two things: what you want and how much you are willing to spend.

If you know what you want, have a budget in mind and do decide to proceed, consider these four important steps at the beginning of the process.

Step 1 – Custom Builder Selection
The first step is to decide on a builder. You can begin by interviewing several builders who have been recommended to you by friends and associates who have built custom homes. Contact your local homebuilders association for a list or recommendation of custom builders in your area. Be sure to talk with the builders’ referrals and look at their work. Any builder should be willing to show off custom work they’ve done in the past. Make sure you feel completely comfortable with your builder before you tackle such a large project.

Step 2 – Choose a Lot
By choosing your builder first, you get the benefit of his or her assistance as you make decisions about the lot, the architect and the financing. Have the builder evaluate the lot you’re considering and comment on its appropriateness for the home you have in mind. Working with your builder to select the right lot can help ensure that you don’t discover any unexpected problems or costly modifications that need to be made to it before you start building. Involving your builder upfront also can prevent you from overspending on the lot, building type or size of home you were planning.

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