Choosing a Custom Home Builder in Edmonton


September 15, 2021

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When you decide to start building a brand-new home, you’ll soon realize there are a lot of decisions to make – from the community you build in, to the lot location and size, to floor plan layouts, and even right down to the type of cabinets in the kitchen and the style of carpets. It definitely gets overwhelming.

But all of this starts with the most important decision: finding the right builder to work with. Choosing a custom home builder in Edmonton for your home makes all of the other decisions a lot easier, but how do you know if you’ve found the right one?

Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to know before you make your choice.

Production Home Builders vs. Custom Home Builders

Did you know that there are two main types of home builders? Both production builders and custom builders can build you a quality home that suits all of your needs, but some subtle differences can make one or the other better for you. It’s important to know the differences as you make your choice.

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What Level of Customization Do You Need?

We often use the term “customization” when talking about building new homes, and it’s true you get to customize things to meet your needs.

However, there are different levels of customization.

With a production builder, you make your selections based on their current design offerings. For instance, a production builder might have three different layouts for the second floor, and you’re able to choose one of those layouts. 

You wouldn’t be able to ask for something that’s not already on their list of options. Additionally, while you can also customize the design elements with a production builder, you’re limited to the specific offerings they have.

On the other hand, a custom builder can give you more options. You could potentially work with your own architect, then have the custom builder build the home. You can also ask the builder to design more unique elements in the home, such as a library or a walk-in wine cooler. Custom builders also give you complete freedom in selecting materials for your home, which is a big plus for those who have eclectic tastes.

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Counting The Costs Of Customization

Naturally, the more customizations you want to your home, the higher the price you’ll pay. You can expect to pay more for a completely custom home than you would for a brand-new home from a production builder.

Why is this? There are a variety of factors that play into the price, but two of the biggest ones are time and materials cost. When you purchase from a production builder, they already have home plans for you to choose from. You don’t have to spend time and money on things like architectural designs. 

Additionally, since production builders have limited options for building materials, they can buy in bulk and negotiate great prices from the suppliers. Custom builders often need to seek out specialty materials, so they can’t get discounted prices.

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Consider Your Timeframe

How quickly do you need to be in your new home? This plays a big factor in your decision.

With a custom builder, you’re starting completely from scratch. Depending on the complexity of the home you want, it could take several months to complete the architectural plans for a fully custom home and have them approved, then up to a year after that to build it.

With a production builder, the designs are already there, so they’re move-in ready in as little as nine months. 

Production builders also usually have a selection of quick possession homes to choose from. These homes are the same as a brand-new one; they’ve just already started on construction so you can move into the home sooner.

Ultimately, it depends a lot on how much control you want over the design of the home. The less control you need, the faster you’ll be able to move in.

To sum it all up, custom builders will offer you a completely customized home, but it can come at a high price, and it might take a lot longer to build. They’re the right choice for those who have a very specific idea in mind of what they want their home to look like. 

Production builders, on the other hand, still offer you some customization options – usually enough to keep you satisfied – but your options are slightly limited. They’re a good choice for those who want to move in quickly, who have strict budget concerns, and for those who don’t want to have to deliberate over every single decision in the design process.

Cost Plus vs. Fixed Cost

The cost of the home is usually the biggest concern for most families. You want a home you can enjoy, but you also need it to fit within your budget.

That’s why you need to pay attention to the pricing structure that a home builder offers. You might encounter builders who have either a cost-plus structure or a fixed-cost structure.

With a fixed cost structure, the costs are set, so you know what you can expect to pay. With the cost-plus structure, you pay for each individual decision.

Cost Plus Advantages and Disadvantages

With the cost-plus style, you have a bit more control over the cost of various elements in your home. This allows you to spend more on the things that are important to you while saving money on the things you’re not as concerned about. For instance, you might want to spend more on hardwood floors, but less on cabinet hardware.

The downside to the cost-plus structure? For many people, the budget becomes more of a target than a fixed number. Yes, you have control over where you spend your money, but little things can start to add up. Before you know it, you could be exceeding your budget.

Fixed Cost Advantages and Disadvantages

With a fixed-cost pricing structure, you know exactly how much you’ll be spending from the start. You still get some choice in the design of the home, but you don’t have to worry about making major sacrifices to stay within your budget.

The downside to this structure is you have less control over the design elements. For instance, rather than being able to choose from any type of flooring imaginable, you might only be able to choose from a few different colours in a few different styles. Fortunately, you’re usually able to find things that fit your ideal image.

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Questions to Ask When Choosing a Custom Home Builder

Builder style and cost structure are two of the biggest criteria for selecting a builder, but the devil is in the details. You need to answer the following questions honestly so that you can find a builder that’s going to be able to build the home that you want.

The following questions should put you on the right track.

What materials do I want my dream home to be made of?

Builders typically have several different options to choose from, especially when it comes to popular options like granite countertops and vinyl plank flooring. However, if you have some specific ideas, you want to be sure the home builder offers that as an option.

Where do I want to live?

This is important because some builders have restrictions on where they can build. For example, if you just know that you want to live in southeast Edmonton, you have some flexibility in builder choice. But if you want to live in a specific community, you’re going to be limited to the builders who have permission to build there.

Which features are most important to me and my family?

Think about the must-have features you’re going to want in your home. We’re talking about things like a mudroom, a spice kitchen, or a backyard patio. Whatever it is, make sure that you choose a home builder who offers these features. If you’re not sure, ask.

How long am I willing to wait for my new home to be built?

It will take several months for a new home to be built. As we mentioned, using a custom builder means your home can take more than a year before it’s completed. You can reduce that time when you choose a production builder. It’s also possible to get a brand-new home in just a few months if you’re willing to sacrifice control over the design process.

In short, there’s a home for everyone, but you need to find the home builder that’s going to have the home ready when you need it.

How much am I willing to spend, and do I have a plan for going over budget?

A good home builder will be able to give you a quote on the home you want before you commit to the purchase. However, in some cases, the price can creep up as you make various decisions in the design of the home.

Make sure you understand their pricing structure. If the budget is tight, you need to be upfront with the builder so there are no surprises. 

Am I able to pay for the mortgage on my current home whilst also paying for the new construction of my home?

People don’t always realize that they’ll have to start making payments on the new home’s mortgage during the construction period. This often means making two mortgage payments (or a mortgage and a rent payment) for several months. You need to be sure that you have the money to do this. If things are tight, you will need a builder that has a shorter building period. The sooner you can move into your new home, the sooner you’ll be able to drop down to one mortgage payment.

Choosing the right home builder for your needs is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in the home building process, and finding the perfect builder to suit your needs right at the beginning will make the entire process run a lot smoother.

Be sure to do your homework so you can be confident about what you want in your home before you start your search. Once you start contacting Edmonton home builders – be it custom or production – be sure to ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to say no to anyone who’s not a perfect fit for you.

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At Sterling Homes, our mission is to provide the opportunity for affordable homeownership without compromise. Over the last 70 years, Sterling Edmonton has quickly become one of Edmonton’s most popular builders. We bring more than seven decades worth of exceptional customer service, superior design and unparalleled craftsmanship to the greater Edmonton area. As a member of the Qualico Group, Sterling Homes focuses on greater Edmonton’s finest family communities, while being able to offer some of the region’s most family-friendly prices thanks to volume purchasing power for materials, trades and land. This has not only made Sterling one of Edmonton’s bestselling, move-up builders, but also one of the industry’s most respected home providers. It is through our uncompromising commitment to our customers that we proudly deliver the Sterling Advantage – that’s why each and every home we build includes a 10-year home warranty, a completion guarantee and new home warranty excellence rating. Our Advantage is our pledge that, when you build your dream home with Sterling, we will deliver a timely, well-built home you’re sure to enjoy for years to come.
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