Our checklist will help you decide which is best for you.

One question our builders at SBR Group often get asked is ‘what is the difference between a custom home build and a project home build?’

This is an important question to understand from the outset.  It can help you decide the type of build which is perfect for your circumstances and one that considers the result you are wanting from your new home.

You want to get your new home built right the first time.  So let’s get started on helping you choose whether you should build a custom home or a project home.

What is a custom home build?

A custom home is a one-off house. It is a home that has been built specifically for you, your requirements, and your block of land. An architect or draftsperson has designed the home complete with plans ready for a builder to construct your unique home.
The purpose of a custom home build is to design and build a house that suits the needs and lifestyle of the homeowners, the block it is situated on, as well as tailored to the neighbourhood and meet council regulations.
The result is a home that is built to your specifications – no one else will have a home like it!

What is a project home?

A project home is a selection of ready-designed homes which are reproduced and built on numerous sites with limited variations.
Homeowners choose an existing home design from a range of set plans and project home builders build a significant number of these houses. Changes can be made to the original plans however, you are limited.

Which takes longer to build – a project home or custom build home?

This really depends on the size of the home to be built and if any unforeseen circumstances occur during the build.
Generally speaking, a project builder is building several homes at the same time and juggles the trades between them, forcing some delays if there is a backlog.
A custom builder has a team of trades to call on to minimise delays in building your custom home. Each custom builder will work differently, however, on our custom home building sites, our builders carry licenses for plumbing, electrical and other appropriate trades as back up, to ensure their builds do not fall behind.
It is wise to speak to your building company about schedules before signing any contracts, so you know what will happen if delays do occur.
We also recommend you speak with past clients how the building company dealt with build delays.

Is the quality difference between custom homes and project homes?

Australia has strict building codes and regulations every builder must follow as part of their licence holding.
A home builders’ reputation is built on their workmanship, so many will work hard to ensure they build quality homes.
The quality of your fittings and materials will depend on your choice and budget. A higher budget will see you able to choose better quality items than say a lower budget.
Remember, there are lots of ways to save on different materials. SBR Group’s interior designers are able to help you make wise choices, so you can afford your favourite more-expensive inclusions and choose other less expensive items where quality is not affected.

Is the building experience different?

There are great project home builders and great custom home builders in the industry.
With a project home, you may need to work hard to adapt the plans to suit your lifestyle, your dreams and the site, in the planning stage. If the project home fits perfectly with your block, then that’s a time saver.
A custom home architect can design your house plans to include your dreams, lifestyle, individual preferences and advantages of your block to its fullest.
Every builder and building company has different working styles. It is best to choose, not just based on cost, but also the builder you have a good, open relationship with, and you feel listened to your needs and concerns.
The building can be stressful with the disruption to your living circumstances, the great number of decisions you will need to make and the cost of the build. A builder you get on well with will make the whole experience that much smoother and happier.

Are custom-built homes more expensive?

The idea of a project home is that you save on the cost of architectural plans and designs, as the cost of these plans has been absorbed. However, if you need to make changes to the project home to fit your block or your lifestyle needs, the cost savings could be diluted.
Project homes have a limited range of selections to choose from, in different budget packages. It is easy to stay within budget with their selection packages, but your choices within each package are narrow and cannot be varied.
A custom builder can be cost-effective especially when your custom builder designs and builds your home to suit the site rather than selecting a house that just fits the block. It would be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, too many variations can ruin the flow and plans for your house.
Let’s talk about variations. Needless to say during a build, you may need to make variations to your home. Most project home builders do not allow you to make variations. Some builders, both project and custom builders, can charge extra just for you to make changes PLUS the cost of the variations – yes, you read that right, they make money on your changes.
We don’t think this is fair, as sometimes changes become apparent during the build and need to be made. At SBR Group we don’t charge you to make any changes, we simply pass on the cost (or savings if the variation is cheaper!).

What is included in quotes for project homes and custom homes?

Custom home builders can quote on everything you need and nothing you don’t need or want.
A project home builder has specific inclusions and exclusions in their quote. For example, most project builders do not include demolition or excavation of your block, so you will need to add this to your budget. Also, project builders do not include the cost of landscaping and driveways. You will need to get other quotes and arrange contractors for this type of work.
Remember there is no right or wrong answer whether you should build a custom home or a project home – the only answer is what is right for you and your family.
If you are still having trouble deciding whether you want to build a custom home or project home, please do not hesitate to call our builders. We are only too happy to answer all your questions. Alternatively, keep reading below as we have included a checklist to make it easy for you to decide which build type to choose.

Here’s what SBR Group builders recommend you do before starting to build

  • Budget.

    Be clear on how much you can spend on your new home before you start looking. If you are financing, go to your bank and get final numbers on what you can borrow.
    We urge you to look at some of the materials and fit-outs you are wanting in your new home to get pricing for your favourites. This will help you decide if you have enough money to afford the things you want.

  • Do your homework.

    Like all big commitments in time and money, we urge you to do your homework. Scroll through Instagram and Pinterest, and search the internet. The more time you spend researching the more it will become apparent what you need and what you like.
    Ask your family and friends and neighbours what they think. If they have built in the past, ask them what they learnt from their home building experience.
    Speak to architects for their advice on your new home build based on what you would like and what’s suitable for your site.

  • Look around your neighbourhood.

    Walkthrough your neighbourhood, and look at the types and styles of houses. Point out the materials and styles that you love (and dislike!), to give you a better idea of what these types of fit-outs look like when featured in a house.
    Also, have a look at real estate prices of similar houses and house sizes that have recently been sold in your neighbourhood. The biggest mistake rookies can make when building their first home is to over-capitalise.

Checklist to see if a custom build or project build will suit me

We have created this list to help our clients decide whether they should build a custom home or a project home. This may help you decide too!

  • Does your block have complexities that need to be taken into consideration?

    For example, narrow or long, wide and short blocks, a steep block or a battleaxe? Yes? We would recommend a custom builder. The result in most cases is they would be able to build a house to suit the block, rather than making a design fit your block.

  • Do you plan on living in your home for years?

    You want to create a home that is comfortable to live in, beautiful to look at and feels like a home. It may be worth looking at a custom home build to get the home you really want if you are going to be living in it for many years to come.

  • Do you want to capitalise further on your block and home?

    You not only want a beautiful new home for your family to enjoy but you also want to make good use of the site, add features/rooms that will hopefully, add value to your biggest asset.

  • Do you want a home unlike anyone else?

    If you truly want a unique home or have some unusual requests that you want to incorporate into your new home build, then a custom home may be the way for you. For example, you want a cellar under the house, you love a steeply pitched roof, or you want to use non-standard materials. Custom home builders can incorporate all your ideas into the design.
    Watch our video of our beautiful custom home build in Pemulwuy – you will be amazed at what can be achieved!

  • Do you want to choose all the inclusions?

    If you have specific materials and fit-outs you want in your new home, a custom home is for you.
    Bobby, our client for our Northwood custom home build, wanted a moody Eastern style home and had some antique inclusions he wanted to be installed during the build.
    Need some inspiration? Check out our Projects page of different custom home styles you could incorporate into your new build.
    Our builders are just a phone call away. Have a chat and we can help direct you as to the next step for your new build home.