Sims Luxury Builders Blog

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We LOVE what we do. We’re in the business of building beautiful homes where beautiful families will make memories for years to come. The fruits of our labor are unique, tangible, and meaningful. 

We’ve got so much gratitude for the privilege of our life’s work that we’ve also made it our mission to share our knowledge and passion with EVERYONE embarking on their own custom homebuilding journey. In that spirit, this blog article shares our answers to the five most common questions we get from people hoping to build a custom home.

What is the custom homebuilding process?

The custom homebuilding process can be extraordinarily rewarding and enjoyable. It can also be difficult, stressful, and overwhelming at times. The trick is to start out by choosing just the right custom builder who can take you from start to finish, all the while solving problems, communicating effectively, and maintaining a positive attitude.

As you can see in our Custom Home Process Map, the journey can be broken down into six main steps. You’ll want to build your dream team upfront by selecting your builder, architect, and interior designer. From here, you’ll jump right into your architectural design phase where your team will collaboratively design a home that fits your desired aesthetic and budget. During the pre-construction phase, your builder will secure HOA approvals, permits, and subcontractor agreements, while you secure lending and work with your interior designer to make the first phase of selections. The construction phase is when things really start getting exciting as your builder coordinates all tradesmen to bring your dream to reality. During the construction phase, you’ll continue making finish selections, have regular site meetings with your custom builder, and enjoy watching your home take shape. Following final inspections and walk-throughs, your family will finally be able to move in! This marks the beginning of the warranty phase, where you’ll continue a close relationship with your builder as you rely on them to help you settle into your new home and work out any kinks.

Hoping to learn more about the custom homebuilding journey? Download our FREE Essential Guide to Building Your Custom Home.

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How much will my custom home cost?

As you can imagine, this is a very complicated question to answer. Construction costs will vary significantly from home to home, depending on the following:

  • Size of the home
  • Architectural style of the home
  • Efficiency of the architectural design (two-story stacked vs. one-story, limited hallways/galleries/nooks/courtyards/etc.)
  • Ratio of inexpensive vs. expensive SF in the home (bedrooms vs. bathrooms/kitchens)
  • Desired level of finishes in the home (tile, flooring, trim details, countertops, fixtures, etc.)
  • Costly architectural features in the home (fireplaces, technology, beams, steel window/door systems, etc.). 

Because of this wide range in variability, custom homes can be built in Houston for as little as $225/SF to as much as $600+/SF. Luckily, homeowners have a high level of control when it comes to the cost of their home. There are finish materials along a wide quality and cost spectrum. A great custom builder (and an interior designer) can assist in finding materials that fit your desired budget and aesthetic.  

Most importantly, an experienced builder can also work with your architect to ensure that the design and layout of your home is efficient. This will allow you to allocate less of the total cost to the structural/mechanical elements of the home (foundation, framing, drywall, roofing, HVAC, plumbing, exterior material, etc.) and more costs to incorporating the features and finishes you want to make the house truly your home.

For tips on how to evaluate and compare builders’ budgets, download our Essential Guide to your Custom Home Bidding Phase.

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How long will my home take to build?

This is also a difficult question to answer, given the wide range of custom homes. For example, we’ve built 4,000 SF custom homes in as little as 8 months, and 30,000 SF estates in as long as 2.5 years.

The factors that most influence custom home construction durations are:

  • Home size
  • Complexity of architectural design
  • Your builder’s organizational ability and sub management skills
  • The quality and reliability of your builder’s sub base
  • Homeowner decisiveness when making selections
  • Weather delays during construction
  • Availability of construction materials
  • Current conditions of the subcontractor labor market

While some of these factors may seem out of your builder’s control, they should never be an excuse for significantly exceeding your initial construction schedule if no major scope changes were made during the project. Experienced custom builders should always do their best to mitigate potential construction delays with strong organization, planning, and communication throughout construction.

To find out what the biggest cause of custom home construction delays is, visit our previous blog post here.

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How can I be sure I end up with a high-quality home?

This question is so important, especially in a place like Houston where humidity and heat can wreak havoc on a home over time. The first (and most important) line of defense is to partner with a builder who has years of experience successfully completing complex, one-of-a-kind custom homes.

It’s imperative that your builder work closely with a building science specialist to provide a holistic assessment of your home and how all of its elements and systems will perform in tandem over time. Using proper building materials and methods can positively affect everything from indoor air quality, energy efficiency, the performance of the home’s shell, and the effectiveness of the mechanical systems within the home. Instead of building the home THEN dealing with whatever issues may arise down the road, it’s always better to take a proactive approach. Together, your custom builder, architect, engineer, and building science specialist will ensure that your new construction will result in a finished home that is well-designed, structurally sound, and high performing for decades to come.

In addition, you’ll want to be sure that your custom builder’s quality assurance controls during construction are tight. Does your construction manager have an extensive background in high-end custom residential construction? Are they on your jobsite daily to ensure subcontractors are using high quality materials and methods to build your home? Are their subcontractors thoroughly vetted for quality, value, and reliability before they ever become part of your builder’s sub network? Do you feel confident that everyone involved on your project stays up-to-date on ever-evolving building science best practices?

Lastly, you’ll want to know that your builder has a history of standing behind their work. Talk to past clients, ask about the builder’s warranty process, and look for clues as to whether they will remain responsive to your needs long after you move-in. 

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How do I choose the right builder for my custom home?

Well, to begin you’ve got to know that in the state of Texas anyone can be a builder. There are no licenses or certifications required by law here like there are in many other states. Because of this very low entry barrier, there are hundreds of homebuilders in and around Houston. Take this into consideration when choosing a custom builder. Do as much homework as you can to assess how experienced and capable your builder candidates are when it comes to homes like yours. Interview them. Request to visit a home or jobsite with them. Speak to their past homeowners. Learn their processes to confirm they are organized and effective. Make sure they are a good fit for you and your family. For questions to ask potential custom builders and their references, visit our recent blog post here. The truth is, choosing the right builder will have the greatest impact on how successful your project ultimately is. The right builder will take your vision and goals and make them a reality, all the while creating a smooth and enjoyable experience for you.

Be sure that your builder candidates allocate a construction manager and project manager team to only 2-3 jobs at a time because these types of projects require close supervision and high-quality management in order to complete them successfully.  

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There’s a good chance that reading this blog post has brought up additional questions in your mind. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We know that embarking on your custom home journey can feel a bit daunting at first, so we’re happy to help any way we can.

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Marie Sims
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Marie Sims

As a veteran team member of Sims Luxury Builders, Marie enjoys sharing what she’s learned with the world. If you have any questions about building or renovating your own custom home, give her a call today!

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