Does a Custom Home Cost More?

Not necessarily. As a matter of fact, in many cases a custom home will cost less.

Two factors that play a large part in the overall cost of a home are the PLANS and the SPECIFICATIONS.
Here are the reasons why:


Naturally, when you have a custom home built, the people doing the design work need to be paid for their time and effort. It costs more to have a home designed than it does to buy a set of generic plans off the internet for $500 or $600. However, the additional costs that you will likely incur as a result of using generic plans could make building your home significantly more expensive than a home that’s custom-designed and built just for you.

Here are some of the ways that extra costs can add up when you use generic mail-order plans:

  • Higher trade labour costs. Many tradespeople submit higher quotes for jobs based on mail-order plans. The lack of specifications, questionable details and numerous disclaimers shown on the plans usually mean additional work. Trades know that they will be spending more time on the job and a real likelihood of problems that will cause deficiencies, delays and call-backs. They also know that they won’t have the luxury of calling the designer from the job site to discuss details and ask for clarification.
  • A home not explicitly designed for the building site could cost tens of thousands more to build. Homes designed for the building site actually have higher resale value as well.
  • Mail-order plans and plans drawn by designers and architects do not take the cost of construction into consideration. A design-builder can design the plans in such a way that they incorporate the things you want in the most cost-effective way, saving you a significant amount of money.
  • Going through the entire design process will make you very familiar with the plans. Changes will be unlikely after the final construction drawings are completed, resulting in fewer additional and unexpected costs.
  • With only printed copies of the generic plans, it’s far more difficult and expensive to make changes than with custom-designed plans.


Without an informed and organized approach to selecting and documenting the specifications, your building costs will spiral out of control:

  • The ranges of products and finishes that can go into your new home these days are almost endless. Take heating systems, for example. Some of the choices available include geothermal, air-source heat pump, hot water radiant, electric radiant, high velocity ducting, ductless AC, heat recovery ventilation, wood or pellet-burning systems, variable speed furnace fan, or two-stage furnace, among others. Fireplaces alone are in a field all of their own.
  • Which of the wide range of heating products best suits your home, your location and the amount of time you’ll spend in the home?
  • Which components work best together?
  • What are the pros and cons of the various systems?
  • What are the cost differences?

You can learn everything there is to know about heating, plumbing, electrical, cabinets, flooring, siding, countertops, roofing, insulation, drywall, and so on. Or you can find someone who is already an expert and have them put together the right combination of options for you.

Going it alone could cost you more than it should, and greatly diminish the quality of your home and your level of comfort. You need someone who can explain all of the options available to you, document the hundreds of choices made and ensure that everyone involved in building your home has all of the required information so that unnecessary mistakes can be avoided.

It would help if you had someone knowledgeable enough to realize that a change in the heating system may require a change to the electrical or make-up air system, as an example. That person will determine the cost of these requirements, add it to the heating system’s total cost, and include it in the upfront price.

In the end, a custom designed home will probably cost less and it will definitely have a much higher value. The key word is Value and there is no doubt that a custom designed home offers the best value.

Perhaps the most important consideration is how do you calculate the value of living in a home that is ideally suited to you and your family’s needs, tastes and lifestyle – the perfect home?

What does custom mean?

Price per sq./ft. explained

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