There were over 1, 682,000 single family homes built in 2005 according to U.S. Census data. In 2014 the estimates are that there were over 630,000 single family homes built. Estimates for how many custom homes are built annually range from a low of 3% to a high of 10% of the total built. Probably 5% is a fair estimate for general discussion purposes.
Custom Homes are generally homes built from a unique set of architectural drawings which have been commissioned either by the home owner or the builder. In most cases the home owner has significant direct input into the design and is often highly involved in the construction process, picking out materials and final design elements.
Custom Homes are usually built on land that the home owner has purchased in advance, versus being built on land owned by the builder. In many cases the custom home owner has purchased the land many years previously and has waited to build their ‘perfect’ home until their financial condition reaches the point where they can afford to make the investment.
Custom Homes are generally high-end homes with prices starting, in most cases, at or above the $400,000 level just for the construction costs. Many Custom Homes have prices well above $1,000,000 without considering the cost of the land.
Custom Homes are not just designed with the specific needs of the home owner in mind, but are often designed specifically for the site where they will be built. This is usually to take advantage of special features of the site such as the street access, land slope angle and topography, drainage issues, views, vegetation, etc.
Most Custom Home Builders are small volume builders, usually building less than 30 homes per year, and in many cases building just 2-5 homes per year. Personal attention to the needs of the home owner, and intensive monitoring of the construction process, are the hallmarks of a Custom Home Builder. Custom Home Builders often have margins between 10% and 20% of the finished price of the construction costs which are sufficient to make attention to detail worth their time. After all, building a custom home means that you want the details done right the first time… and you should be able to afford to pay the builder to make sure that those details are attended to correctly.