Size (square footage) x Architecture (style of house, level of finishes, complexity of design). All Custom homes are unique. Trying to wrestle a custom home into a fixed price is like pulling a fox out of the hat. There are no formulas other than very general ones where the price of the land x 3 gets you in the ball park. For example, if you pay $500,000 for a lot of land, you may spend $1,500.000 for construction costs. Add the two numbers together. This totals $2,000.000 representing total cost. The best possible approach to determine the price of a new home is for the builder to bid out every element of construction specific to your design, based on your design selections. This process takes time but is truly representative. Many times a budget estimate will be assigned to some of the construction. The Builder will base the budget numbers on historical or known costs from prior projects. If the owner should choose to, it is then possible to upgrade or change a specification paying the difference in cost.


A custom home with an average of 5000 square feet will take a year or so to build. Assuming you are building on flat land, all your design selections are completed before construction starts, and you don't make changes along the way. If it is a simple home the time can be reduced and the work can be scheduled rapidly. But what needs to be considered in calculating the time equation is all the upfront work needed for architecture, engineering, interior design and permitting. A custom designed home starts with Architecture. Presently, we spend between 60-120 days in Architecture. Permitting can take between 30-60 days. Add this time to what it takes to build the house in the field, and now one can get the true sense of how long it takes to build your Custom Home.


This question will be resolved by you and your Architect. If you have design elements you want incorporated into the home, or have specific space requirements, (such as an artists studio) state it right up front. If you have a target square footage you want in your home, the architect's responsibility is to create a design sensitive to your interests. In designing a custom home it always better to start off with everything you want, otherwise why build custom? You will have the opportunity at a later time to cut or reduce if there is a need to. Remember, that at some point the architect will require you to sign off on the design. At this juncture, the design goes hard, and the working drawings are produced. Changes after this will cost money. Please make sure your builder is given the opportunity to review the plan with you at an early stage to flush out any obvious issues which may be apparent only to the builder. In this case, as in all cases, the builder is you ally, a friend to help you through the process. So build as big as you can afford to, and fulfill the dreams and desires you have for your beautiful new home.


What do you like? Is there a house you can think of that every time you see it you say to yourself, "I like that House!" Try to distinguish the elements that interest you visually such as exposed beams or corbels, stone details, or a red tile roof. Is there a certain color of stucco or a courtyard that particularly interested you? Is there a place in your travels that sticks in your mind as beautiful? Compile a list of specific features you like. This is a good starting point to help you and your architect decide what style of home you want to build.


Yes and no. Architecture drives the style of roof and frequently when designing a Custom Home there will both flat and pitched roof areas as a way to create Architectural interest. The problems associated with a flat roof are sometimes seen as advantages, depending on who you are talking to. For example, it's a lot easier to walk around on a flat roof, particularly when you are servicing the home. Flat roofs actually are not flat. There is a low pitch that directs the water off the roof through openings in the parapet. Urethane foam is sprayed over the plywood roof deck to a uniform 1" thickness. This serves as both waterproofing and a layer of insulation. An elastomeric coating is applied over the foam as a UV protector. The foam will breakdown if exposed directly to the suns' rays. The warranties offered by a roofing company will vary between 5 and 10 years depending on the thickness of the elastomeric coating. The roof will last much longer than this if simple maintenance is attended to; i.e. recoating periodically. In contrast, a pitched roof, whether it is clay, concrete, slate or other product, has a longer warranty. For this reason you could say the pitched is better. A pitched roof is dried in with several layers of roofing paper and covered with your selected material. The roofing material itself is not 100% waterproof. What keeps the roof dry are these layers of moisture proof paper under the tile. Your warranty will be based upon the number of layers, the thickness and type of paper, and the selection of tile. Some tiles can leak more than others while some are more porous or absorbent. The obvious advantage of tile is its' natural beauty, and the longer warranties. Disadvantage are that it can be difficult to walk on tile and sometimes will break, making it hard to provide service if required. Also, birds and insects will sometimes live in the eave of the tile.


Finding a good builder is not so difficult. Locating an established builder in the area is one approach. Just drive around and look for signs. Another is to talk to an Architect or Real estate person for a recommendation. Other times a friend or family member may know of someone. Ultimately you want to match up with a builder with whom you have good communication with. Do they understand you and have the knowledge you seek to look after your interests during the construction process. Will the builder take care of any warranty issues after you move into your new home? Looking on the Web is also a good starting place. You can scan web sites for the type of builder that may suit you. You can search through past projects, styles of architecture, find references, and much more. Remember that bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to builders. High quality people come in smaller packages and the benefits can be great. Large builders have the advantage of stability and deep resources, but the trade off is that you are just one of many projects, and management is only as good as the personnel assigned to your job. A smaller builder who is involved in the construction process typically will keep a close eye on the details and be very responsive to your needs. In the end your selection will be based on three elements- trust, communication, and value.


Architects work in general areas of specialization and frequently you can find a name posted on a job site nearby. Referral is also a good starting point. Always interview more than one and ask pertinent question such as; what is your area of expertise, what are your fees, and can you design within an approximate square foot cost of construction? How long will the design process take and what documents do you provide. Will the plans be ready to go through the city permit process. Do you handle that process? Are there any additional costs such as engineering. Do you include pool and guest house design in your base fee. A really good architect will be in demand and will charge a high fee for their services. Builders often know who is good out there and who is not.


You start with the commitment to build a house. Once you decide where and acquire the land then you are ready to contact an Architect to begin the design process. Soon after, selecting a builder is important, because the builder can assist in the design process providing timely advice and feedback to the owner and Architect, flushing out problems at an early stage avoiding costly problems down the road.


A builder is usually very familiar with what it takes to get the job done to do it right. The initial quote a builder provides for his services will reflect the costs of the job and a percentage for profit, above actual costs. This profit margin is the area that is negotiable. Depending on how the company is structured and calculations for overhead, sometimes the profit margin pays for some soft costs, such as office management and personnel. For others these costs are structured into the hard costs. The best rule of thumb is to ask. If you like one builder over another but the percentage they are asking is higher, just simply ask if the percentage rate is negotiable. To the builder it means that you interested in the company and may hire them if you can work out the terms. The hard costs to build the project are the same for whatever builder you hire. So the best approach is to negotiate.


The answer is yes. The client is always right and should have the house they want. What the client needs to understand is that once you have started construction, making changes can be an expensive decision. A builder will charge a fee to make a change to the plans that have been set in motion. By the time construction starts hopefully all the changes you want have been incorporated into the final plan set that has been approved by the city building department. It is not uncommon when a change is made that it affects many other things, requiring a revision to the plan that has to go back to the city for approval. This is not always the case. But be aware that when a change is proposed it goes through the change order process. This can be simple, done with the builder for an agreed to sum, or it can be elaborate, requiring architectural revisions, structural details, etc. Typically the changes are priced out and paid for up front before the change order will be started. Try to be thorough in the design process to avoid the need to make changes later.


In the State of Arizona the current warranty period runs for 2 years after the time of move-in. Many builders will continue to service their clients concerns for years past this time period, but there are no statutes demanding this extended service. What the homeowner needs to know is that all the components and equipment in their home are covered for varying periods of time. For example, the air conditioning compressor will have a 5 year warranty on parts. The stucco has a warranty. The roof, windows and doors, appliances, garage door openers and so on, throughout the house. After 2 years the homeowner should contact the subcontractor directly for service work, but as I mentioned earlier, the good Builders prefer to be contacted first. This keeps them in the loop and in good standing with their clients. The builders' group of subcontractors are his life line to success. This why we hire only qualified subs because we know their work and they probably will be around when they are needed years later.