The Difference between a Custom Home and a Semi-Custom Home


Building a new home is both exciting and challenging. On one hand, you have a blank canvas to start from. On the other hand, you’ve got many decisions to make. It all comes down to a starting point; your creative inspiration and ideas that will turn into your dream home.

To help you find your starting point, let’s look at the differences between building a custom home and building a semi-custom home. Each gives you plenty of choices to build a beautiful new home, but as with many things, they can also have their limitations. To help you narrow down your starting point, let’s take a look at what the differences are.

Custom Homes

Building a custom home can be best described in one word: Freedom. A custom home is truly unique with almost limitless possibilities. Nothing is out of bounds as long as the materials and craftsman are available to make it happen. You can build it as big as you like, move things around and change every detail to suit your needs.

Often your custom home starts with an idea, and that idea is developed with the help of your architect.  Together your custom home plan pulls together your ideas, lifestyle, space and family needs, location, and more. Not sure what you want in the beginning? No problem. One significant advantage to building a custom home is that you have the ability to make changes to your selections during construction at any time, even after construction starts on your new home.

The quality of materials and workmanship that goes into your custom home is limited only by your budget. Here you have the opportunity to show your taste, picking materials and accessories that fit your needs, wants and budget. You will start out with your target budget of course, but that can easily change. Your architect and custom home builder will help you decide the level of quality that goes into your new home and are experts and are experts at choosing materials that blend perfectly.

A custom home also gives you freedom of location. Your builder can help you choose locations from their own land inventory, lots available in select communities, or by enlisting the help of a Realtor that specializes in land suitable for building a custom home. As long as the land is suitable for the home you are planning, it can be built just about anywhere.

Time and cost are major considerations with a custom home. You will have targets for both when you start, but either one can change as you begin the process. Nothing is set in stone when building a custom home, but don’t worry. Your architect and builder both know things change, and have both the processes and patience to bring your ideas to life.


Semi-Custom Homes

A semi-custom home is a great choice if you are limited by time or budget. You may even find you simply don’t want to deal with all the choices you have to make with a custom home. Even with the loss of freedom, you’d be surprised to find how much choice you still have with a semi-custom home.

Semi-custom home construction starts with pre-designed home plans that can be customized to meet the needs of you and your family. Your needs and tastes are reflected first by the plan you select, and can then be expanded on with the configuration choices you make. This can include room size options, extensions, and various other options. While you still get to customize many things, you are still working within a certain set of parameters, making this perhaps the biggest difference from a custom home.

The location of a semi-custom home is often in a community, either on a lot owned by the builder or as part of a community with “approved builders”. Sombra Homes also has pre-designed home plans that can be located on your own lot, giving you even more location choices.

Time can be a major advantage to building a semi-custom home. Where a custom home can take several years to plan and build, a semi-custom home is much faster. The initial work is already done, so there is no plan approval process or lot preparation to wait for. The builder may have already started on some homes, ready for your choice of options. They may even have some spec homes already built, which is a great option if you don’t have much time to find a home and still want the level of quality that comes with a semi-custom home.  

The cost of a semi-custom home is less than what you’d pay for a comparably sized custom home for many of the reasons above. Many efficiencies are gained by using pre-design plans, building in developed communities, and limiting your options.

Perhaps the best way to compare the two is by looking at some examples of home we’ve built!