3 Types of Custom Home Builders (Which One is Right for You?)

March 31, 2016

“Custom home builder” is a pretty loose term. It can mean a lot of different things to  a lot of different people. Your expectations of what you want from a custom home builder may be very different than what a builder specializes in. While there is a right customer for almost every type of builder, not every builder is right for your project, your budget, and your expectations. Here are three different types of custom home builders and the pros and cons of each one.


The personalized home is just that – an existing floor plan within a predetermined neighborhood that you can add your own personal touch to. While some customization may be possible, typically your design choices are limited to fixtures and finishes such as flooring, cabinetry, counter surfaces, lighting, and hardware.Pros: This is a good choice for customers who are budget-conscious, don’t want a lot of involvement in the design process, or need to move into a new home more quickly.

Cons: Be prepared to make trade offs in your home. Customizations such as making rooms larger, ceilings higher, or adding and moving windows typically aren’t allowed.


An on-your-lot builder will typically have a selection of floor plans that you can choose from to build on land you own. Like a personalized home, an on your lot builder will have a variety of selections for you to choose from to make your home truly your own. What sets an on your lot builder apart is that often they will also allow additional customizations such as expanding square footage, adding a kitchen island, or including a third garage bay. The floor plan remains essentially the same, but you have the freedom to add a bit more space or a few more features than in a personalized home.Pros: An on your lot builder can save you time by limiting the number of design decisions you need to make in your new home. You simply find the floor plan that best fits your needs and make a few modifications.

Cons: An on your lot builder is more likely to have relationships with a select number of suppliers. This means that you may not have as many options for fixtures or finishes as you would have with a design build firm. Also, if you envision a home that’s different than the floor plans available you may need to make compromises in your home design.


A design build firm offers the freedom to build whatever you want, wherever you want to build it. Many design build firms (like ours) have an on-staff architect and design team to simplify the process of building your home exactly as you envision it. While a design build firm does have existing relationships with trusted suppliers, you can also choose fixtures and finishes from a larger selection of suppliers. This gives you the opportunity to create a home without compromise.Pros: Your home is completely unique and tailored for your lifestyle. You have complete freedom with floor plan design, fixtures, and finishes.

Cons: There are more design decisions to be made with a design build home. This may lead to a longer design process and build time (typically 8-10 months for design and build).

Which type of builder is right for you? Download our free guide “How to Choose a Custom Home Builder” for more information about how to research, interview, and check references for custom home builders. Get it now. Ready to get started? Simple complete a Project Analysis request and tell us about the home you envision. As Western Washington’s premier design build firm, we can help you design and build a home you’ll love.

Estes Builders is an award-winning design build firm that specializes in custom homes in Western Washington. We have earned more than 130 customer testimonials and a reputation as Western Washington’s most trusted custom home builder. We build custom homes in Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Port Ludlow, Bainbridge Island, Kingston, Silverdale, Port Orchard and surrounding areas. Contact us for a FREE Project Analysis to discuss your project.