October 6, 2022

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Your Dream House

The Best Custom Home Builders of 2022

The Best Custom Home Builders of 2022

The Best Custom Home Builders Options

Photo: jaureguiarchitect.com

When it comes to building a dream home, hiring the right builder is everything. Folks looking to make the most of a fresh start often want specific touches, finishes, and designs that only the best custom home builders can handle. Custom home builders need experience, know-how, and resources that other builders might not possess.

But choosing the best home builder takes more than just performing an internet search for “best custom home builders near me.” This guide will explain the most important considerations to keep in mind when comparing builders, as well as highlight our top picks for some of the best custom home builders.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Haley Custom Homes
  2. BEST IN TEXAS: Jauregui Architect
  3. BEST IN ARIZONA: Cullum Homes
  4. BEST IN CALIFORNIA: Wardell Builders
  5. BEST IN GEORGIA: Storey Custom Homes
  6. BEST IN THE CAROLINAS: Kingswood Custom Homes
The Best Custom Home Builders Options

Photo: jaureguiarchitect.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Custom Home Builders

Custom homes are big investments, and finding someone to spearhead the project isn’t a decision to take lightly. The following sections will explain some of the most important considerations to keep in mind during the search. Understand that some of these factors may be more important than others on a case-by-case basis.

Company Headquarters and Service Area

Finding a contractor or custom home builder that works in the customer’s desired area is one of the first challenges to tackle. For example, custom home builders in Florida aren’t likely to travel to Montana to build a custom home.

Customers will want to start with companies who have headquarters relatively local to the region where the project will take place. It’s wise to make a list of a few potential contractors and start reaching out to them individually to ask about their service area. This is likely the least fun part of the search process, but it has to start somewhere!

Design Process

Before a shovel can break ground, homeowners and custom home builders have to work their way through the design process. Since so many of the individual touches and aspects will be one-offs, there will be a pre-building consultation with an architect. The architect handles the floor plan and overall look of the home as well as the very fine details like structural members and features hidden behind the walls.

Customers can rely on the architect to design the home to their tastes, and many custom home builders include architectural design in their services. In other cases, the homeowner may have to hire their own architect if their chosen home builder doesn’t offer the service.

The plans that the architects create are necessary for the permitting process. Even homeowners who know exactly what they want will need to rely on these professionals.

Construction Process

Buyers might think that they can take their hands off the wheel after the design process is over, but that’s probably not the case. They should plan to schedule walk-throughs and visits throughout the construction process. The goal of these visits is to make sure that everything is on track, according to plan, and on schedule, so buyers will want to ask how frequently they can check in.

Another critical aspect of keeping the project on track is to ask the custom home builder how long the project will take and when payments will be made. For projects of this scale, progress payments are typical, with the builder submitting invoices after certain milestones in the process, but it’s important to know what those milestones are to avoid payment delays or disputes.

Energy Efficiency

One of the most appealing aspects of custom home building is that buyers can add eco-friendly touches from the start. These touches may include oversize framing that allows for better insulation, solar panels and battery banks, and specially designed features that make the most of the sun’s UV rays in the winter without baking the home in the summer.

Also, designing a custom home to be more energy efficient from the start allows for the architect to plan for properly sized appliances like heaters and air conditioning units. By choosing the right appliance for the square footage and the insulation rather than oversizing, homeowners can lessen their dependence on the grid and save money on future energy bills.

Additional Services

Many of the top custom home builders offer other services that may appeal to certain homeowners. These services may include remodeling, renovations, interior design, and even home repair and property maintenance.

Folks who are building large additions onto their existing homes may be interested in finding a custom home builder who can provide these extra services. This is especially the case for homeowners who are building onto early-American or period-specific homes and need that custom touch and experience.

Warranties

Home builders are usually required by law to provide at least a 1-year warranty on their structures. However, the types of warranties and their coverage terms vary.

  • In almost all cases, home builders must provide at least a 1-year warranty to cover labors and materials. This is typically referred to as a homebuilders warranty.
  • Warranties against mechanical defects like electrical, heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems are typically at least 2 years.
  • Manufacturer warranties on system appliances like heaters, air conditioning condensing units, and kitchen appliances like stoves, refrigerators, microwaves will vary based on the manufacturer.

Buyers will want to discuss these warranties at the very beginning of the design process to ensure they know exactly what they’ll be receiving.

Awards and Accolades

For many custom home builders, each structure is a work of art. Builders who are recognized for their masterpieces with awards and accolades can let prospective buyers understand a bit about the quality of their work. These awards are often listed on company or trade websites.

Even if the property itself isn’t the company’s opus, awards recognizing the builder for customer satisfaction, quality, and business practices are worth taking note of. Knowing that the company has a reputation for customer satisfaction could be the deciding factor between two competing custom home builders.

Customer Reviews

As with anything, it’s a good idea to scour the internet for customer reviews about the builder. These reviews can be an invaluable resource for prospective customers as they can learn from other buyers without the risk of hiring the contractor.

Some places to check for reviews include:

  • Better Business Bureau
  • Yelp
  • Houzz
  • Facebook
  • Google

Remember that most folks are far more willing to leave a negative review than a positive one. The internet is full of slighted customers ready to shout their experience from the rooftops, so read reviews with reasonable expectations.

Our Top Picks

With all of the background on how to choose the best custom home builders behind, it’s time to talk about some of our favorite companies. The following are some of the top-rated custom home builders across the country.

The Best Custom Home Builders Option: Haley Custom Homes

Photo: haleycustomhomes.com

Why It Made the Cut: With its commitment to eco-friendly building practices, net-zero construction, and a refreshing approach to communication, Haley Custom Homes grabs the top spot.

Custom home builders often have the ability to customize not only their structures but also the way they do business. Haley Custom Homes has done just that. This company, based out of Denver, Colorado, adopted a construction management system that assigns one supervisor per project, giving the customer one point of contact who knows every detail of their project.

This custom home builder has developed its own Accelerated Precision Building System, which is a progressive approach to building that focuses on efficiency and minimizing waste in both time and materials. Haley Custom Homes also values energy efficiency and eco-friendliness, producing net-zero structures that produce more energy than they consume. It’s apparent this system works, as the company is the recipient of several design and building awards.

All of the designers and engineers Haley works with are third-party contractors, not employees. A buyer is able to use their own architect, however, and Haley will work with that professional to ensure the project goes according to plan.

Specs

  • Company headquarters: Denver, Colorado
  • Additional services: Remodeling
  • Awards and accolades: 2022 LUXE Magazine Gold List, 2022 Best of Houzz Design, 2022 Best of Houzz Service, 2022 Three Best Rated Best Business

Pros

  • Proprietary building system reduces costs and construction time
  • Eco-friendly building practices and reduced construction waste
  • Net-zero construction and energy-efficiency features
  • Streamlined project management and clear communication with clients

Cons

  • Third-party architect services required
The Best Custom Home Builders Option: Jauregui Architect

Photo: jaureguiarchitect.com

Why It Made the Cut: Jauregui Architect offers a full-fledged design, build, and decor process, which allows new homeowners to move into a completely finished and furnished home.

Some companies take custom to the extreme, and Jauregui Architect is one of those builders. This Texas-based design-and-build firm creates completely custom homes. Jauregui starts the process with the initial design and then carries the project all the way through to interior decoration, which allows homeowners to move into a completely finished custom home.

Folks considering Jauregui Architect have access to the company’s extensive portfolio of projects, both completed and in-progress. Buyers will be able to peruse the different styles and structures this marriage of architects and builders can produce. With so many architectural styles well within Jauregui’s capabilities, many buyers will be able to find exactly what they’re looking for.

While the construction process can be relatively long (18 to 20 months as compared to the 6- to 16-month average) for this Texas custom home builder, the fully customized approach and luxury-level products that Jauregui produces are worth the wait. In fact, the litany of awards from Houzz, the American Institute of Architects, and others prove it.

Specs

  • Company headquarters: Austin, Texas, and Houston, Texas
  • Additional services: Interior design
  • Awards and accolades: 2018 Best of Houzz, 2016 Texas Custom Builder of the Year, 2017 American Institute of Architects fellow

Pros

  • Comprehensive home building and design process
  • Extensive portfolio of completed and in-progress homes
  • Wide range of architectural styles showcased

Cons

  • Construction time may be relatively long
The Best Custom Home Builders Option: Cullum Homes

Photo: cullumhomes.com

Why It Made the Cut: Cullum Homes involves the customer in the design and construction process with the buyer’s lifestyle and goals in mind.

Cullum Homes offers its customers a highly comprehensive and collaborative design and building process. This custom modern home builder based out of Scottsdale, Arizona, works closely with its customers to develop a home that meets their needs, lifestyle, and goals. The company’s goal is that every aspect of the project takes inspiration from the homeowner, site, and environment around it.

Cullum provides its customers with a web-based portal to connect them with the builders. This proprietary software allows access to contract documents, plans, specification sheets, selection confirmations, photos, and approvals, and it’s all available 24/7 from any web-enabled device.

While Cullum’s online gallery is relatively limited, users can check the company’s available homes to get an idea of the company’s abilities. Also, Cullum offers Home Concierge services, which is a maintenance-based service that takes care of the property at regular intervals to protect the customer’s investment.

Specs

  • Company headquarters: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Additional services: Interior design, remodeling, repairs, maintenance
  • Awards and accolades: 2022 Best of Houzz Design, 2018 National Custom Home Builder of the Year

Pros

  • Ongoing assistance for maintenance and repairs
  • Proprietary interactive software connects homeowners and builders
  • Comprehensive home building and design process

Cons

  • Relatively small online gallery
The Best Custom Home Builders Option: Wardell Builders

Photo: wardellbuilders.com

Why It Made the Cut: Wardell Builders offers multiple home styles and sizes, and it provides ongoing assistance for maintenance and repairs down the road.

California custom-home buyers who want a fully custom home with luxury touches will appreciate Wardell Builders. This Solana Beach, California-based custom home builder constructs homes in a wide range of styles and finishes. Although the company’s website doesn’t seem to be frequently updated, the project galleries truly showcase the custom touches Wardell can offer.

It isn’t just building that Wardell Builders can handle; the company can handle remodeling projects and repairs and maintenance of the home. This allows buyers to put their investment in the hands of the company that built it. Wardell determines maintenance intervals based on the systems in the home, and the crews will work with the homeowner’s schedule.

Specs

  • Company headquarters: Solana Beach, California
  • Additional services: Remodeling, repairs, maintenance
  • Awards and accolades: 2017 Best of Houzz, 2016 National Association of Home Builders Baths of the Year

Pros

  • Ongoing assistance for maintenance and repairs
  • Wide range of architectural styles showcased

Cons

  • Website not frequently updated
The Best Custom Home Builders Option: Storey Custom Homes

Photo: storeycustomhomes.com

Why It Made the Cut: Storey Custom Homes offers award-winning design and a value-minded take on custom homes.

Buyers shopping for a custom home builder in Georgia that understands the balance between cost and return on investment will want to consider working with Storey Custom Homes. This home builder based out of Duluth, Georgia, makes the most of its customers’ investments by using the latest materials and fixtures combined with efficient planning. This ensures that every dollar a customer spends is maximized.

The website features an online gallery of its homes, but the design is relatively user-unfriendly. Storey Custom Homes is the winner of several awards and has been recognized locally for its custom home builds.

Specs

  • Company headquarters: Duluth, Georgia
  • Additional services: Not specified
  • Awards and accolades: 2021 OBIE Award, 2019 Greater Atlanta Home Builder Silver Award, 2018 Best of Gwinnett

Pros

  • Home value maximized through the use of the latest materials and fixtures
  • Award-winning and locally recognized homes

Cons

  • Somewhat user-unfriendly online home gallery
The Best Custom Home Builders Option: Kingswood Custom Homes

Photo: kingswoodhomes.com

Why It Made the Cut: Kingswood Custom Homes has a staff with centuries of experience, providing award-winning custom homes in North and South Carolina.

North and South Carolina home buyers looking for a custom home built by an experienced team might find the perfect match in Kingswood Custom Homes. This home builder completes impressive builds with a small staff that has over 300 years of collective experience. And many of those staff members are award winners in their fields, including construction and interior design.

Kingswood Custom Homes has headquarters in Pineville, North Carolina, and Johns Island, South Carolina. It’s the winner of many awards, specifically for individual homes the company built, as well as outdoor spaces it designed. Prospective buyers will have to contact Kingswood directly to get a bit more information or to ask questions, but working with this builder in the Carolinas will likely be worth the effort.

Specs

  • Company headquarters: Pineville, North Carolina, and Johns Island, South Carolina
  • Additional services: Not specified
  • Awards and accolades: 2022 Axios Charlotte Best Lake House, 2022 Axios Charlotte Home of the Year, 2022 Charlotte Home Builders Association Best Landscaping, 2022 Charlotte Home Builders Association Best Outdoor Living Space, 2022 Charlotte Home Builders Association Custom Home of the Year

Pros

  • Award-winning and locally recognized homes
  • White-glove service from professionally acclaimed staff

Cons

  • Relatively little information readily available online

Our Verdict

Between its proprietary building system and net-zero structures, Haley Custom Homes takes our top spot for customers in Colorado. Home buyers in Texas can take advantage of the end-to-end home building and design services of Jauregui Architect.

How We Chose the Best Custom Home Builders

Developing a list of the best custom home builders was a challenge. We had to find the states in which the most custom homes were being built. Then we focused on local and regional builders from those areas, giving us a baseline of builders to start with.

Next, we compared each of the builders’ awards, accolades, accomplishments, customer service, and building techniques. We opted for companies recognized within the industry and those that provide the best customer service possible. Any proprietary software, building techniques, or design approaches were also factored in. The builders that offered the most value were then given awards based on their regions.

Before You Hire One of the Best Custom Home Builders

Hiring a custom home builder might not be ideal for everyone. These homes are typically very expensive and for folks who don’t need a lot of customization or high-end finishes, it could be a waste of money. For those folks, traditional builders or even modular construction may be the way to go.

Custom home building is a very involved process that takes a lot of patience and trust in the builder; there are many design meetings and inspections involved along the way. Buyers who aren’t interested in answering lots of questions or being part of the design process may also want to consider going with another type of home.

Cost of Hiring One of the Best Custom Home Builders

The cost of hiring one of the best home builders varies so wildly that it can be impossible to give a range. A small affordable custom home builder may charge a few hundred thousand dollars for a home, while buyers working with a luxury custom home builder may be looking at spending several million dollars. A custom tiny home from one of the best tiny home builders or best custom small home builders might cost under $30,000. It all depends on the region, the design, and the materials involved.

Also, buyers will want to consider all of the costs involved with building a home. The price of the land, any improvements that are necessary (such as electrical, well, or gas), and landscaping will have a dramatic impact on the overall price. Some custom home builders will help clients find the property and wrap all of the costs up into the price of the home.

The Advantages of Using One of the Best Custom Home Builders

The best custom home builders have the experience to take an idea and make it happen. They can help a customer develop a design, but they also know the structural members, capacities, materials, and specifications necessary to make that custom touch happen.
Some of the best custom home builders handle the entire process from design to building to maintenance. Keeping everything in-house can allow for a more streamlined approach to building a large project.

Custom home builders can give the buyer exactly what they’re looking for. Rather than adapting an existing floor plan and shell to a customer’s needs, custom builders can start from scratch, allowing a homeowner to build the home of their dreams without having to compromise.

  • Custom home builders have the knowledge to make complex ideas a reality.
  • Custom home builders are able to keep everything in-house from the design to the building to the maintenance, which can streamline the process.
  • Custom homes are sure to fit homeowners’ needs and ideas.

FAQs

That is a lot of information on the best home builders. But even with that extensive background, prospective home buyers may still have some additional questions. The following includes some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.

Q. Do custom home builders pay real estate agents?

In most cases, a custom home builder will pay a real estate agent to represent the home buyer during the home-buying process.

Q. How do custom home builders charge?

There are a few different ways that home builders may charge. Two of the most popular methods are fixed price (which is where they provide a price at the beginning of the job and then collect progress payments during the project) and cost-plus (when they add a percentage to their costs to complete the project).

Q. Is buying a new build a good investment?

It depends. While the cost of building is not minuscule compared to the finished value, the fact that the home is free from problems that older homes are so prone to can save the buyer money.

Q. Can you negotiate the price on new build?

Some aspects of the home-buying process are negotiable. For instance, the homeowner may be able to convince the builder to pay for closing costs. Or, they may be able to get extra items added in if the builder is willing to pay the asking price. These items may include decks, fences, or upgraded appliances.