Trying to figure out how to get started building a custom home in Dallas? Read these articles to understand what you need to do and when to do it.

1. ASK QUESTIONS AND DO YOUR RESEARCH

Since custom home building requires a myriad of decisions by you, the homeowner, we recommend gathering a significant amount of information before design and construction start. You could leave everything in the hands of the builders and architects, but if you want your new home to reflect your individual desires, you need to be familiar with the options available to you.

A good place to start is with materials. Inquire about design trends, durability, and costs. Then move on to other aspects of your custom home.  If you have trouble finding information, don’t be afraid to contact experts. Ask them everything that interests you…and keep on asking.

2. THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE

Try to make a rough plan of your next few years. How will your new custom home play a role in the next chapter of your life? Ask yourself important questions like: Do I plan to extend the family? Will I retire here? Do I plan to work from home? Should I start prioritizing my health?, etc. 

Plan your budget and the layout of your house based on the answers to these questions. For example, if you want to improve your health, you can build a small gym, private sauna, or a plunge pool. If, on the other hand, you want to have more kids in the near future, you might think about adding an extra bedroom. 

3. INVESTIGATE THE SURROUNDINGS 

Whether you plan to build a house in the city or the countryside, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the features of the area you are considering.

A visit with a real estate professional could uncover any plans for future development in your area.  Has the highway department projected a major expansion affecting your accessibility? Are any large residential developments on the horizon?

Be sure to check out the proximity of grocery stores, the level of care available at the nearest hospital, the response times on EMS and police calls, and the utility providers for water, sewer, gas and electricity.

Often overlooked is the school district of your proposed site purchase.  In Texas the majority of your property taxes come from your school district assessment.  Collaterally, in case of a resale, the school district’s reputation can be a beneficial factor.

A good source is neighbors.  After all, they have experience in your area that no one else has.

4. HIRE A LAWYER EARLY

Building a custom home is a large investment. If something goes wrong, financial trouble is almost inescapable. In order to protect yourself from these unwanted scenarios, it’s best to work with a lawyer as you begin the process. They don’t have to be present during the construction. However, some legal explanations at the beginning of your project, along with the availability of consulting services through to completion will increase your confidence and enjoyment as you build your custom home.

A lawyer will come in very handy for evaluating the construction contract and the building regulations. Apart from working with reputable and experienced building companies, this is the second best way to protect yourself from scams, mistakes, and amateur companies. 

5. CHOOSE YOUR BUILDER WISELY

Like any construction project, your choice of builder should be based on their experience, customer ratings, applicable certifications, and the quality of their portfolio.  More specifically, their experience and portfolio should be in-line with the type of custom home you desire.

For example, If you intend to design a modern masterpiece using exotic materials, you need a builder who is experienced in such designs rather than one that primarily builds traditional structures with traditional materials.

The builder should also be up-to-date with trends and innovations, and should provide materials of your desired quality that are backed by reputable manufacturers. 

The builders should also offer workmanship warranties and have a proven customer service record. There must be clear and transparent communication between you and the company. If you sense that the builder does not understand or approve your vision, feel free to look at some of their competitors.  

Building a house from the ground-up is a tough process, and the custom home building company you choose will determine your satisfaction for many years to come.

6. GOOD COMMUNICATION IS KEY

 Once you have decided on a builder,  discuss the appropriate lines of communication for you to interact during the building process.  Larger companies may have lead project supervisors who they entrust with your project.  Understand how the builder views the role of the person in charge of your job site.  Before you begin, define who the builder authorizes to talk to you and honor that person’s position.

A word of caution:  Don’t interact with the workers at your job site.  They work for the builder, not you.  Your interaction will be a distraction and may delay the timing of your project. Recognize that your contract is with the builder, not the workmen.

You will have questions.  You may have problems.  You might want to change some specifications.  Things will go smoother if you and the builder have agreed at the outset who your contact person is and what level of authority they can exercise.  

If you are considering building your own custom home in Dallas, now is the perfect time. According to the Dallas Business Journal, new home construction in Dallas soared in 2020, even after the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, the construction of new single-family homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area surged by 30% last year. To put that in perspective, that was the highest new construction volume in over a decade

Ben Caballero, the owner of HomesUSA.com, says, “Dallas-area new home sales continue to impress…Builders in the Dallas-Fort Worth market simply can’t build homes fast enough to meet the remarkable demand.”

Let’s look at the local trends to understand why this is happening, the best ways you can (and should) respond, and finally, how you can use this information to have the home of your dreams.

Dallas is Definitely a Seller’s Market: By the Numbers

54% of real estate experts who responded to the latest Zillow Home Prices Expectations Survey predict that DFW will be the sixth-hottest housing market in the country and outperform the national average. Right now, median home prices in the area have reached an all-time high of $330,000, representing an astounding year-over-year spike of nearly 32%.

Realtor.com agrees — their March 2021 Market Hotness Report says that the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington market is “heating up” and that inventory is moving 26% faster, both compared to 2020. On average, homes spend 16 less days on the market than they did last year.  

There are more house-hunters and buyers than there are homes for sale in Dallas. The total number of sales has increased by nearly 9%, while the number of active listings has gone down by over 25%. As a result, inventory is at an all-time low. Right now, the Months of Inventory in Dallas has dropped to 1.2 months. In May of 2020, the MOI figure was 3 months.

What are the Takeaways from All of This?

First and foremost, it means that for existing homes in and around Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, it is absolutely a seller’s market. Existing homes are harder to find, they are being sold faster, and they are more expensive than ever. That is the reality for you as a buyer.

But looked at another way, these challenges present an exciting opportunity. Since it is getting harder and harder to buy a home, more people are building a home in Dallas. According to the National Association of Home Builders, there were 43,844 single-family construction permits issued in DFW in 2020. That makes Dallas #2 among all U.S. metros.

For you, that means that the best way for you to find the home you are looking for is to build it. YOU set your budget, YOU choose the plan and the features, and YOU work with your builder to make your dream home a reality.

If you have never had a home built before, let’s look at some of the hottest trends in Dallas custom homes.

Location, Location, Location: Where to Build Your Dallas Custom Home

Obviously, you need land to build your home, but it can be difficult to find undeveloped land for sale or a vacant residential lot within the city limits. You can stumble upon such a location from time to time, but not in any specific neighborhood, and not with any regularity

This issue has led to a suburban boom that is happening across the country in general, but in the Dallas area in particular. In fact, just a few years ago, Realtor.com ranked Dallas #2 in the country among cities with the fastest-growing suburbs. The standouts include:

  • Richardson (12 miles away): Population 121,323. Growth since 2010 +22%

For over a decade, Richardson has been included on a wide variety of annual “Best of” lists, including Places to Live, Safest, Places to Raise Kids, Workplace for Commuters, Happiest, Suburbs for Young Professionals, and Best Real Estate Market;

  • Carrollton (15 miles): Pop. 139,248. +17%

In 2020, personal finance technology company SmartAsset named Carrollton one of the Most Livable Cities in the U.S. and one of the Best Places to Do Business in Texas. In 2021, the company also named Carrollton as one of the Top Safest Cities Nationwide.

  • Plano (17 miles): Pop. 287,677. +11%

Over two dozen Fortune 1000 companies have corporate headquarters or major regional offices in Plano.

  • Allen (20 miles): Pop. 105,623. +25%

In 2017, CNN Money ranked Allen #2 in both its Best Places to Live and Best Places to Launch a Career lists.

  • Forney (21 miles): Pop. 27,236. +86%

Homes.com ranks Forney #2 on its list of the Best Suburbs to Move To in 2021.

  • Wylie (24 miles):  Pop. 53,067. +28%

In 2016, NerdWallet ranked Wyle as the #1 Small City for a Family.

  • Frisco (25 miles): Pop. 207,748. +78%

WalletHub ranks Frisco #6 nationally and #1 in Texas on its list of the Fastest-Growing Cities in America.

  • Little Elm (28 miles): Pop. 53,126. +105%

In 2013, the FBI proclaimed Little Elm to be the Safest City in Texas.

  • McKinney (32 miles): Pop. 199,177. +52%

In 2014, Money magazine rated McKinney as the Best Place to Live in America. 

  • Prosper (34 miles): Pop. 31,700. +264%

Conveniently, the North Dallas Tollway runs through Prosper, making for an easier commute.

  • Denton (40 miles): Pop. 141,541. +25%

Denton is home to two colleges: the University of North Texas and Texas Women’s College, with a combined enrollment of over 45,000 students.

  • Melissa (40 miles): Pop. 12,117. +158%

Melissa students graduate at a higher rate and score better on standardized tests than the state average.

Looking at the population explosions in these DFW suburbs, you can see that the top custom housing trend in Dallas is that people are flocking to the suburbs, more than happy to trade a daily commute for a happier overall lifestyle. 

What About Planned Communities?

Another growing trend that affects custom home building in the Dallas area is the expansion of master-planned communities. Because the development process takes years, these communities often have hundreds of empty lots available. Right now, there are dozens of master-planned communities in the DFW area, with tens of thousands of opportunities available. 

Although they are often thought of only in terms of pre-designed “cookie-cutter” houses, in reality, most master-planned communities do allow custom-built homes that stay within their architectural guidelines.

It’s the best of both worlds — the home builder adheres to standards set by the community and the owner gets the custom-built home of their dreams.

How hot is this particular trend locally?

According to RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, 4 of the top 50 fastest-growing master-planned communities are here in North Texas, each within commuting distance of DFW.

  • Woodcreek Fate (Little Elm)
  • Union Park (Little Elm)
  • Silverado (Aubrey)
  • Pecan Square (Northlake) 

Landscaping: Your Public Face and Private Space

For most people who build a custom home in Dallas, their landscaping is somewhat of an afterthought. They focus so much on the house itself that they do not give enough consideration to the flora and fauna of the surrounding grounds. 

That’s unfortunate, because your landscaping acts as your welcome mat to the world for both visitors and even passers-by, by expressing your personality and your pride of ownership. For yourself, your landscaped areas represent beauty, relaxation, and recreation, whether it’s for gardening, cookouts, or just getting in touch with nature.

Look at it this way — on average, Dallas enjoys 234 sunny days a year. That means you are going to be spending a lot of time outside. In other words, your landscaping matters.

And, if you ever decide to sell your home, the right landscaping can have a huge positive impact on the all-important curbside appeal to potential buyers. In fact, Turf Magazine says that upgrading your landscape from “average” to “excellent” can increase your home’s value by as much as 12 percent.

Longtime Dallas real estate professional Diane Bearden Barrett says there are 5 landscaping trends to watch out for in 2021:

  • Low-Maintenance Options: If you don’t relish the idea of spending hours maintaining your yard and plants, try incorporating no-fuss landscaping ideas such as lighting, rocks, statuary, or even potted plants, which typically need less care than in-ground plants.
  • Native Plants: Not every plant can thrive in the North Texas climate. Instead, opt for native plants like White Honeysuckle, Maximilian Sunflowers, Engelmann Daisies, Indian Paintbrushes, Post Oaks, and of course, Bluebonnets.
  • Multi-Season Plants: With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy flowers and greenery year-round. This means that your garden should have a mix of flowers and other plants that bloom during different seasons.
  • Pollinator Gardens: One of the most eco-conscious trends is to include plants, vegetables, and flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. This is an important contribution you can make, because in some parts of the world, 40% of butterflies and bees are threatened or have declining populations.

Outdoor Living Spaces Blur the Lines

Social distancing during the pandemic highlighted the importance of maximizing your home’s potential. Following this trend when planning your custom home could include building a gazebo, deck, pergola, firepit, or pergola to create an extra “room”.

In fact, multiple experts predict that outdoor kitchens and dining areas might be the next big thing in custom home design. What used to be as simple as setting up a grill and a picnic table in the backyard has evolved into a much more elaborate, yet-popular addition increasingly seen in new constructions.

An outdoor kitchen is exactly what it sounds like — the top setups will have virtually everything your interior kitchen has, including appliances, refrigeration, lighting, electrical outlets, plumbing, countertops, and cabinetry. The biggest difference is, in an outdoor kitchen, everything also has to be weather-resistant and able to stand up to the elements. 

Your Custom Home’s Interior: Spending Quality Time

In many ways, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forever changed our lives, including how we view and use our homes. Now, we expect more of our living spaces, demanding better comfort, functionality, versatility, and aesthetic value, and those expectations are reflected in these 2021 design trends for custom homes in Dallas.

The Home Office is Now a Necessity

According to Fixr’s 2021 Single-Family Home Trends Report, home offices are the most-requested additional spaces in new construction projects.

Even before the pandemic began, remote jobs in Dallas-Fort Worth were on the rise. Between 2005 and 2017, the number of full-time telecommuters soared 123%, to a then-total of over 160,000 people. In fact, pre-COVID-19, the Dallas-area remote job share was already above that of the average of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas…and still climbing.

In 2016, FlexJobs named Dallas as one of its Top 5 Cities for Remote Work.

Because of social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates, working from home became the new normal. Consider these statistics about telecommuting and COVID-19:

  • 97% of U.S. companies cancelled their work-related travel plans.
  • 88% of businesses asked their employees to work from home.
  • Companies had 38% fewer employees actually in the workplace.
  • Having worked from home, 77% of employees now want to have a hybrid telecommute/workplace schedule.
  • Only 12% want to go back to the way things were.
  • Even with the vaccine and the ability to physically go back to work, it is predicted that by the end of 2021, up to 30% of employees will work from home at least one day a week.

Of special relevance, 29% of people who work from home find it hard to achieve a good work/life balance. 54% of remote employees feel stressed during any given workday, and 45% feel extremely anxious.

Part of the problem is that most people do not have a dedicated distraction-free workspace in their home where they can focus on their job. They end up working on the couch, the kitchen table, or in their bedroom, all places where they are sure to be interrupted. Including an office in your home design plans solves that problem.

Work Out Without Going Out

Similarly, the coronavirus outbreak changed Americans’ exercise habits. Sheltering in-place meant people had more time on their hands, and many decided to use that time productively. By June of 2020, 60% of people polled said they were meeting the physical activity recommendations of the World Health Organization. That was a significant 11% increase over their pre-pandemic fitness routines.

That is good news for local residents, because in 2019, the American College of Sports Medicine released their annual list of the Fittest Cities in America, and Dallas did not score very well, ranking #61 among the 100 largest cities in the country.   

COVID-19 also interfered with people’s ability to go to the gym, and many were afraid to even perform solo fitness activities like cycling, walking, or running. Stuck at home for months, exercise enthusiasts became accustomed to working out in-place.  

Now that lockdowns have ended, people want to keep enjoying the convenience of exercising at home, but they want their bedrooms, living rooms, and garages back. This is why there is a growing demand for dedicated fitness rooms where people can set up home gym equipment like weight benches, treadmills, stationary bikes, yoga mats, and other fitness products.

How hot is this trend?

The Washington Post reports that revenue from health and fitness equipment more than doubled between March and October of last year, climbing to $2.3 billion. Treadmill sales jumped 135%, and stationary bike sales nearly tripled.

Having It Your Way with an Open Floor Plan

In a poll of the building and design industry’s leading experts, 91% responded that open floor plans are the most popular option for new custom homes.

Again, this trend was influenced by the pandemic, as we all had to rely on our homes more than ever before. They needed to be not just our homes, but also our restaurants, schools, gyms, theaters, playgrounds, offices, and libraries.

Only one floor plan is this versatile. By design, an open floor plan is adaptable so the interior spaces of your home can fulfill whatever needs you and your family have at any given time.

Open floor plans are particularly popular with larger or growing families with hectic schedules. For example, on busy mornings when everyone is rushing around trying to get ready for school or work, the “traffic” moves a lot smoother within the great room common area than it would with the walls and doors of a closed floor plan.

Open floor plans also make it easier for family members to communicate and be together, even when they are doing their own thing. Because they aren’t separated by barriers, family members can talk with each other, parents can keep an eye on young children or pets, and everyone can interact, even while they might be individually cooking, working, studying, or playing.

Bigger is Still Better, But So is Versatility

With the aforementioned increased demand for home offices and fitness rooms, it is no surprise that most experts believe that new homes will be getting bigger. In fact, take a look at what people are requesting, in order of preference:

  • Home Offices
  • Extra Storage (closets, pantries, etc.)
  • Playing Spaces
  • Home Gyms
  • Learning Spaces
  • Disinfection Spaces
  • Meditation Spaces

Although some of these will most likely be separate rooms, in other cases, you can have your individual needs met by having multi-use rooms. For example, with the right storage, a learning space can easily convert to a playroom when lessons are done, or your meditation space can be in your fitness room. 

But either way, homes ARE trending bigger, in terms of both number of bedrooms and the overall square footage.

According to Today’s Homeowner, 89% of new single family home construction projects have 3 or more bedrooms. Even more telling, in 2010, only 35% of new single-family residences had 4 or more bedrooms, but today, that number has climbed to 43%.

The Bottom Line About Custom Home Trends in the Dallas Area

Ultimately, the choice of which trends, if any, you choose to follow when you build your Dallas custom home will depend on your preferences, your family’s needs, and your budget. We hope this information has served as a good jumping-off point that has given you something to think about as you start the process of designing and building your dream home here in the DFW area.

At the same time, we want to hear from YOU about your experiences during the whole process. Please leave any comments or questions and feel free to reach out if there is a specific topic you would like to see addressed.   

SOURCES:

Dallas-Fort Worth new home construction soared in 2020 despite COVID – Dallas Business Journal (bizjournals.com)

Dallas-Fort Worth new home sales hold strong, but market is tightening – Dallas Business Journal (bizjournals.com)

Zillow Q1 2021 Home Price Expectations Survey – Summary & Comments (economicgreenfield.com)

Market Hotness Index – Realtor.com Economic Research

Texas Quarterly Housing Report – Texas REALTORS® (texasrealestate.com)

Dallas Housing Market: Prices | Trends | Forecast 2021 (noradarealestate.com)

Dallas nails ranking as second busiest home construction spot in U.S. – CultureMap Dallas

Where are Texas’ fastest-growing cities? Check the suburbs | The Kinder Institute for Urban Research (rice.edu)

Dallas Ranks #2 For The Fastest Growing Suburbs – Destination DFW – Dallas Fort Worth Relocation Guide

The Best Small American Cities For Families (forbes.com)

Fastest-Growing Cities in America (wallethub.com)

FBI Names Little Elm The Safest City In Texas – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth (cbslocal.com)

Allen, Texas: MONEY’s # Best Place to Live in 2017 | Money

Carrollton Ranks as One of the Most Livable Cities in the U.S. | Latest City News | City of Carrollton, TX

The Best U.S. Suburbs to Move to in 2021 | Homes.com

DFW Dallas Fort Worth Master-Planned Communities (texasnewhomerebates.com)

North Texas Master-Planned Communities Among 50 Fastest-Growing in U.S. – CandysDirt.com

The Top-Selling Master-Planned Communities of 2020 (rclco.com)

How Much Does Landscaping Really Add to a Home’s Value? – Turf Magazine

Trends in Landscaping | Diane Bearden (dianebeardenrealestate.com)

Pollination and Pollinators (psu.edu)

The 8 Major Home Design Trends That’ll Be Big in 2021 – Redfin

https://comfyliving.net/work-from-home-statistics/-

Dallas works its way up the work-from-home ladder, report shows – CultureMap Dallas

Work from Home Before and After the COVID-19 Outbreak – Research Dept. Working Paper No. 2017 – Dallas Fed

Hottest home design trends for 2021 (globalsources.com)

Study: People in U.S. exercising more, but less intensely, during pandemic – UPI.com

Here’s How Dallas Ranks For Physical Fitness | Dallas, TX Patch

Home-fitness gear surges during pandemic – The Washington Post

Single-Family Home Trends 2021: Construction and Remodeling Report (fixr.com)

10 Different Design Trends That Will Be Everywhere in 2021—and Beyond (realtor.com)

Characteristics of New Housing (census.gov)

Trend Reversal:  Homes are Getting Bigger Again (inside.lighting)

2021 AIA Home Design Trends Survey – Q2 Home and Property Design

New Homes Bigger Than 10 Years Ago but Apartments Trail Behind (storagecafe.com)

Of all the decisions you will make on your journey to your dream home, choosing your builder is probably the most important.

If you make the right choice, you will have a genuine partner who will take your dream from concept to reality. By contrast, choosing the wrong builder can be a disaster.

As we are currently going through the process ourselves, we are documenting the steps and details involved in building a custom home, and sharing objective information so that other aspiring home owners can make informed decisions. 

The information in this article is intended to make the process straightforward for you, so come along as we share our checklist for choosing an experienced and affordable custom home builder in Dallas (or anywhere in the world). 

Why you need a custom home builder

If you’re still undecided about the importance of hiring a custom home builder, you should read this section.

Hiring a custom home builder is a smart choice for the following reasons:

1. Years of Experience & Knowledge in Home Construction

When you hire an experienced custom home builder, you are leveraging their expertise and experience to build your home. And, you’re saving yourself the stress of handling things and the risk of making a mess of things. 

Building a custom home is difficult and complicated.  It requires a great deal of knowledge, talent for construction and a wide network of solid industry contacts and relationships. 

When you engage the right custom home builder, you get a team of professionals who fully understand every aspect of building a home. 

Your custom home builder will be responsible for sourcing the materials, managing the process, and ensuring that construction is completed on schedule, accurately, and professionally.

2. Custom home builders have greater negotiating power

If you want the best products, labor and materials at the best prices available, consider hiring a well-established custom home builder. 

These expert home developers build several homes each year and have made strong connections with manufacturers and building material suppliers over the years.  

They are able to buy many components and materials in bulk, which allows them to negotiate lower prices, which benefit you.

3. Custom home builders work with dependable subcontractors

With a good custom home builder in charge of your home building project, you can be confident that they collaborate with top subcontractors in your region who can build your home to standard and on schedule.

4. It takes time and a lot of effort to build a house

Custom home construction requires time, dedication and construction expertise. 

Construction isn’t something you can do in your spare time. It requires active involvement, hands-on management, and your physical presence on the job site.

Choosing a custom home builder relieves you of the burden of managing all parts of your home’s construction, allowing you to focus on other priorities in your life.

5. Established and Proven Timeline Management

A custom home builder will manage your home construction project based on the specified delivery schedule. 

Professional home builders have perfected their skills through many years of trial and error. Consequently, builders have the necessary expertise to manage the development of your dream home.

They will schedule the subcontractors, check up on their work, and adhere to your deadline to guarantee that everything is completed accurately.  

Also, a good builder is capable of managing any delays that may have an impact on your construction financing. 

When to hire your custom home builder

The best time to select your builder is before you begin the design process. Bringing a builder on-board early in the design phase ensures that your house plan and budget remain consistent. 

During the house plan design process, a professional custom builder will ensure that:

  • The house plan can be built with your budget
    • When choosing a house plan, you may be tempted to build a castle for a home. Your builder will tell you what you can and cannot afford.
  • The design is structurally achievable
  • The house design is allowed by local building ordinances and property owners associations (usually Home Owners Associations, referred to as HOAs for short)

How to Find and Hire a Reliable Custom Home Builder in Dallas, Texas

Before we start, you should be aware that anyone can work as a builder in the state of Texas. State regulators in Texas don’t require residents to earn a license or certificate to work as custom home builders, as in some states

The downside to this fact is that people without experience can parade as top home builders, when in reality they are usually general contractors looking to make extra commissions on a deal. So, you shouldn’t accept any builder’s claims until you have verified them, and you have investigated their prior projects and resume.

Find a custom home builder in Texas through referral

If it is possible for you, this is hands-down the best way to hire a custom builder in Texas, or anywhere for that matter. 

If you don’t know anyone who has a referral to a builder in your desired area, you might spend some time knocking on doors.  Find attractive homes in the area and ask the owners who they would recommend.  

Find a custom home builder in Texas using the internet

You can find great builders on the internet as long as you know what to look for, and how to filter candidates.  There are rules to follow when using the internet to find your builder: 

Rule no. 1: Make your search as detailed as possible

Instead of searching for “Dallas custom home builders,” try searching for “award-winning custom home builders in DFW” or “Best custom home builders in North Dallas” (or any area you are interested in). Be specific about the location and caliber of expertise you want to build your home.

Be prepared to review dozens, if not hundreds, of companies who will show up in your search results for Dallas and Fort Worth, and other surrounding areas.

Rule no. 2: Filter by reviews and ratings

Reviews and ratings are good indicators of expertise and experience.  Start by ranking candidates based on their online reviews.  Try to narrow your list of potential builders to the top 10 companies through this process, then be prepared to dig deep to verify the reviews and ratings as well as other details about the prospective builder.

Rule no. 3: Investigate thoroughly

Trim the list of prospective builders to your top two or three by conducting extensive internet research and contacting them directly via their website or phone. Look for responsiveness, organization, and a physical address. 

If a builder responds within 24 hours of sending an inquiry, they are likely available to work, or provide great customer service, or both. 

Also, pay attention to custom builders with a physical office.  Although not absolutely necessary, having a formal office lends a degree of legitimacy and implied stability to a prospective company.

Online research tip:

Do as much research as possible to assess each builder’s experience, portfolio, team strength, communication style, values, industry reputation, and reach. If the builder checks all the boxes impressively, you should consider hiring them.

Helpful hint for reaching out:

Call the builder’s office or fill out the “Contact Us” form on their website. The communication that follows will give you a sense of their team’s responsiveness, professionalism, and eagerness to assist you.

Making the Final Decision

This will be the most time-consuming but vital element of the hiring process. You should organize a face-to-face appointment with each builder and ask to see a completed home or visit a current job site with them.

A face-to-face meeting will allow you to evaluate:

  • If their procedures and processes are organized, effective, and transparent
  • Their team’s strength and relevant experience
  • The builder’s communication style and personality

Visiting a worksite will help you evaluate:

  • If their construction and finishes are of high quality
  • Professionalism, cleanliness and safety precautions on the jobsite
  • How informed and hands-on the builder is with their clients and projects

Other indicators of the caliber of builder you are interviewing:

  • Are they on time for meetings, fast to reply, well-organized, and have sound business judgment?
  • Do you have the impression that you are their valued customer and a top priority?
  • Are they willing to provide detailed answers and clarifications to all of your questions?
  • Do they disclose any concerns openly and transparently while also suggesting workarounds?
  • Pre-construction services – An expert custom home builder will provide you with a full cost estimate (several pages that cover everything – even the brands used) for a fee. Pre-construction services such as this take time, so it is reasonable that a professional, established builder would want to be paid for their time. Not charging for such services may be a red flag. The builder may be either inexperienced and don’t know their worth, or they may be trying to make it too easy for you to commit to them because they don’t have clients.
  • Check to see whether they have insurance to cover workplace hazards and accidents. This cannot be overemphasized as construction comes with a high degree of accident risk. If the builder does not have liability protection in the form of insurance covering their workforce, then you may be held accountable for damages, medical costs, missed payments and even lost wages.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any allegations or complaints have been filed against the builder.  Keep in mind that companies can change their names easily and often, so ask if they’ve previously done business under other names, as well. 

Digging Deeper – Top 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Custom Home Builder

  1. Do you have experience building the style and quality of home that I want?

While this may seem to be an obvious question, be sure to ask it and ask for specific examples of their work.

This question is vital because each house style has unique challenges, so it is better to hire a custom builder with in-depth experience building the house style you want. You want to be confident that your builder knows how to deliver a finished home without cutting corners or trying something new.

And if possible, ask for a walk-through of a completed project or ongoing construction of your style of house.

  1. Do you have an estimating process?

Most experienced builders will provide a preliminary estimate for the cost of your finished home, based on historical hard costs and current market trends.  One such example is the price contrast between the pre-Covid years (historical data) and the Covid years (current trend). 

Later, they will provide you with a detailed budget estimate which is prepared after the house plan and specs are completed.  As this estimate will be based on bids from suppliers, you should ensure that your builder obtains multiple bids from reputable vendors for each cost component at this stage of the estimation process.

  1. How long will it take to get an estimate for my home?

When shopping for a custom builder, you will contact different builders and ask for the same information for comparison. This is an opportunity to measure availability based on response time. 

You should ask the builders on your interview list for a timeframe to provide an estimate for your home. 

Builders that are swamped with work may give a long turnaround time, which could be an indication that the builder may not have time to get involved in the details with you or pay specific attention to your project. However, it can also indicate that the builder is in demand due to the high quality of their work. 

If you believe this to be the case, and you’re interested in hiring the builder, you can ask for their work calendar to manage a timeframe that works for both of you.

  1. Do you charge a fee for your pre-construction services?

This question is important to understand if you will be charged up-front for certain services, or if there will be an add-on cost during the construction phase. 

Pre-construction services are quite tasking and time-consuming, because a builder has to pore over the details of your house plan to identify cost-saving opportunities, review quotes from suppliers, and more. 

Every part of this process requires time and focus, so you should expect a fee for this service. 

Tip: Request pre-construction services when you’re satisfied with the builder’s portfolio, reviews, and response to interview questions.

  1. What is your project management-communication process; how will my requests, concerns, and questions be handled during construction?

During construction, you may observe house features that don’t fit your style or wish to add a specific feature to improve aesthetics. 

If your request takes the project outside the scope of work agreed upon, the builder’s project management process will help you understand if in-project changes are allowed and how such changes will be handled. 

A good home builder should have a process to accommodate requested changes, although they may add extra cost.

  1. Will my project be under direct supervision or assigned to another builder during construction?

Most custom home builders work as an organization, with multiple team members on-staff. As such, several people within the organization may handle the actual construction of their homes in process. So, your project may be managed by another builder on the team, different from the person you are interviewing.

There shouldn’t be issues if both builders are on the same team, but it is better for the builder in charge of costing and pre-construction preparation to manage the construction process. This way, you can be confident that the builder understands your vision from the beginning, and can deliver the vision you both agreed upon.

  1. How long do you expect the construction of this home to last?

After you are satisfied with the builder’s projected cost of building your custom home, you should ask about the timeframe. You want to know when you can move into your home and plan your transition accordingly. 

The response will vary based on the size and detail of your home, and it can take anywhere between 6 – 24 months to complete a custom home. 

Also, ask about the builder’s process for managing challenges during a project. Challenges could include a change to your home’s features, a shortage of materials, an on-site accident, etc. 

A good builder should have a process for handling such challenges with the agreed project completion date in mind.

  1. Do you offer cost-plus or fixed-price contracts?

To put things in perspective, let’s define these contract types:

A fixed-price contract means that a price for products and services has been determined and your pricing will remain constant, independent of actual production costs.

Cost-plus pricing refers to a contract in which the price is based on the actual cost of production, plus an agreed-upon profit or fee.

Each model comes with its own set of risks and rewards for both buyers and sellers. Some builders offer fixed pricing contracts when they can make cost predictions with accuracy and the outcome is defined, while other builders use cost-plus pricing because it mitigates their risk, and it is simple to understand and calculate.

  1. Do you have a work portfolio and customer references?

You should expect the builder to put their best foot forward by providing references. If they are not offered you should definitely request them, and specifically ask for clients who built a house similar to your design.

The builder may have to reach out to their past customers to get permission to share their information. However, if there is a hesitation to share references, consider it a red flag. 

  1. Finally, contact the references!

Make sure you contact the references provided by the builder. Expectedly, the references will be clientele who had a good experience with the builder. Still, these chats can be useful in determining the builder’s strengths and flaws.

Questions to ask your references include:

  • Did you have a good time working with this builder?
  • What do you think their strengths are?
  • Were they able to complete your project on time? If not, what were the causes of the delays?
  • Was the builder’s schedule communicated clearly?
  • Did the builder implement requests promptly?
  • Were you satisfied with your initial budget estimate?
  • How accurate were the builder’s budget estimates?
  • Was the project completed on time and within budget? What were the causes of the overages?
  • Did the builder make the costs clear and transparent?
  • How did the builder handle tense situations?
  • What role did the builder play after the project got underway?
  • Who worked on your project specifically? 
  • Who would you hire if you had the opportunity to build another custom home?
  • Was the project tidy and well-organized?
  • Were there any subcontractors on your project that you would strongly advise against or strongly recommend?
  • Since you moved in, how has the builder handled warranty issues?
  • Would you choose this builder again if you were building a new home?

General Contractors vs. Custom Home Builders 

The roles of a general contractor and a custom home builder are similar, but fundamentally different. 

As the title implies, a general contractor is responsible for the general management of the many sub-contractors or vendors working on a building project.

Simply put, a general contractor is the traditional team lead. They put together the team needed for a project, supervise the building process and ensure it meets your specification.

By contrast, a custom home builder is usually a construction business with an organization that specializes in developing and building custom homes from start to finish.

Custom home builders have the experience and capabilities to take on the entire project, from drafting to final finishing (consequently, custom home builders are also referred to as “design-to-build” firms). 

Advantages of working with a custom home builder vs. a general contractor

No subcontractor delays: When you hire a custom home builder, you get the full team for the project. You won’t have to wait for the custom builder to gather a team of subcontractors for the project, and that is a primary advantage of a custom home builder over a general contractor.

No bidding war: Possibly the most mind-numbing and frustrating part of working with a general contractor, rather than a custom home builder, occurs before the project is actually started. 

After the house plan has been approved, a general contractor has to show the plan to different sub-contractors to get bids. This opens the floor for a bidding war, as you and your contractor have to review every bid to ensure it is comprehensive and authentic. 

There is so much paperwork, price cross-checking, background checks, and interviewing involved that it can easily become an overwhelming experience. 

And while this may seem like a good way to control costs, keep in mind that low prices don’t equate to high quality.

By contrast, you won’t have to deal with this process or evaluate bids with a custom home builder. The entire project cost will be made available as soon as the house plan is ready, because the custom home builder will work only with his trusted sub-contractors and knows their prices.

Direct and streamlined communication: Another advantage of working with a custom home builder is simplified communication. As the property owner, you will interface with only the home builder. 

When you want something done or need changes, you simply send an email or put a call in to the builder, who will take action. 

With a general contractor, communication isn’t always streamlined. You may have to juggle communication between your general contractor and subcontractors. However, a general contractor can offer streamlined communication if they have excellent relationships with their subcontractors, so you must look closely at their customer reviews and contact their referrals to verify they communicate well.

Better Quality: With a custom home builder, the construction process works smoothly and more efficiently. A team of custom home builders will likely work seamlessly compared to a team put together for a project by a general contractor.

If you’ve led a group or party at any level or industry, you will understand the initial challenges an ad-hoc team faces in the beginning. So it follows that a team of custom builders will work better and produce excellent results faster because of their close work experience.

Red Flags to Check For When Choosing a Custom Home Builder

We have discussed the positive qualities to look for in a builder at length. Now, let’s specifically take a look at the red flags to check for when choosing a custom home builder:

1. They are unwilling or unable to answer your inquiries: If a builder is unable to answer your questions or unwilling to share information about cost, delivery timeframe or process, these are indicators that they don’t have the knowledge needed, or they are not sufficiently organized (or worse – might be a shady operation).

Whatever the cause, don’t use an unresponsive builder that avoids vital questions. You should be able to ask questions about anything concerning the service delivery.

2. They are late for meetings and take a long time to answer you: This is an indication that their priorities are elsewhere. You may be better off working with another builder if your preferred builder does not give you the attention you need. 

3. They always recommend cheaper materials: This could be a red flag depending on your perspective. Sometimes, a custom builder will recommend more affordable alternatives for a project because the client is overly cost-conscious. 

If that is not the case for you, then such behavior is a red flag. Your builder should provide the best materials that will make your home stand the test of time, and only look at cheaper materials if they offer better or different benefits.

4. They provide you with free quotations and hazy, one-page estimations: Nothing beats a comprehensive breakdown to show what is being purchased and the price. Anything short of a detailed quotation is suspicious. 

A good builder will take the time to explain costs because they understand that finance is a sensitive part of the business. You want to be confident that your builder has your interest at heart.

5. Their prices are out of line with other builders: Most builders source their materials from the same manufacturers or tap into the same labor community when hiring subcontractors or workers. 

So, the price differences between quotes shouldn’t be outrageous. If you find a really low quote (low-ball offer) compared to others, it is possible that the builder will cut corners to meet the cost, or perhaps they are using the quote as bait to get you to the discussion table. 

The latter is understandable, but you shouldn’t agree to work with a builder who will cut corners to meet a quote. 

6. They request a deposit or retainer above 10%: This is a sign that they may not have many clients or aren’t doing well. A deposit is only a security measure and, unless special circumstances merit, should rarely exceed 10%.

7. They are pushing for a commitment without showing sufficient proof of work or building trust: If you feel pressured by the builder to make a financial commitment, this is a red flag.

A well-established and highly regarded custom home builder will have plenty of business in their market, thus will not need to use pressure tactics to make sales.

8. Your “gut feeling” disagrees: “Gut feeling” is an important factor in human relationships, business, and decision-making in general.

A gut feeling can be described as your 6th sense. If something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right.

If a builder checks all the boxes on your hiring checklist, but you still feel a level of uneasiness hiring them, you should step away from the deal for a while to reassess the situation. 

Conclusion 

This guide is based on our experiences through the process of choosing a builder, so feel free to add your own criteria or requirements to your personal list to help you make the best choice possible. Building a custom home is possibly a lifetime commitment, so you want everything done right. And, if you decide to sell in the future, you want your home to be built well so that it holds value and sells as quickly as possible. 

Start your journey to a great home by choosing an experienced builder who meets or exceeds all of your requirements.

There you have it—a comprehensive checklist for choosing an experienced and affordable Dallas custom home builder. Of course, you can use this information anywhere in the country and around the world. 

Building a new home comes with all kinds of costs, some expected and some unexpected. These costs start to show when you’re in the early design phase of building your house, and will grow as you begin to add more features. 

Recognize at the outset that builders may offer a “customizable” home by offering upgrades to the basic features of their standard house plans.  Implicit in each upgrade is an upcharge. In the interest of helping all new home customers save money, we’ve compiled a few areas to consider, particularly in the early design stage.

Paint

As part of their initial cost offering, builders will usually offer a template of various neutral paint colors. These are typically referred to as “level 1” paints and will almost always be included in the cost of the house.

However, builders will may also provide other options for paints that will cost additional money. These options are usually referred to as “level 2” and above. Choosing upgraded paints can run up costs significantly.  There may not only be an additional cost for the upgraded color itself, but there may also be an additional charge for the labor to apply your unique color choice.

Repainting is relatively easy, and can be done at any time. If you want to save your building budget for other upgrades, consider going with the level 1 paint options offered by your builder and repainting later, on your own schedule and with your own paint choices.

Carpet and Flooring

Similar to the paint component mentioned above, builders will customarily offer options for carpet and flooring in a system of levels. With flooring options, level one will almost always be a least-expensive carpet option.

As with paints, flooring can easily be upgraded at any time. If budget is an issue, you can go with the builder’s low-cost option and make changes later- often for less cost than what the builder would have charged for similar upgrades. 

Granite Upgrades

Granite features will often be offered as an upgrade to standard materials. An interesting point to note here is that the difference in finished look and quality between the various levels of granite offered is not entirely noticeable to most people.  And, realtors will typically agree that it doesn’t matter so much what “level” of granite fixtures you choose.

Upgrading to any level of granite over standard materials might be a good choice up front, as upgrading later is not as simple as repainting or upgrading your carpet, and involves tearing out existing counter tops and fixtures.

Lighting Fixtures

Upgrading your lighting fixtures can be a great improvement to the overall aesthetic of your custom home, but can also be very expensive. As with other upgrade options, if budget is an issue, remember that you can always go with a lower-cost option now and then do your own upgrades in the future.

Having said that, there are a few cases where it can be better to upgrade lighting fixtures during the initial construction with the builders. These are cases where it may be difficult to upgrade certain fixtures yourself due to their complexity, or if they are relatively inaccessible after construction is complete.

Appliances

Pay close attention to which appliances are included in the cost of your home, and the cost of any upgrades offered.

Be sure to compare the costs of any upgraded appliances through your builder to those same or similar appliances available at stores where you could purchase them yourself. The cost difference can be huge, and may be the difference between spending $5,000 or $1,400 on a refrigerator, for example.

It is almost always more cost-efficient to purchase and install upgraded appliances on your own. 

Elevation

Elevation typically refers to the structural design for the exterior of your home, and changes can be very costly.

However, some elevation options such as larger windows, which allow more natural light into the interior, may be worth paying for during construction as they can be costly- and maybe impossible- to change later.

In other cases where the elevation choices are merely cosmetic, consider carefully whether it is worth spending the extra thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars, understanding that these choices may not be adding any real value to the livability of your home or resale value.

Every week thousands of people across the nation are searching the web for information on moving to Dallas and the North Texas area in general. Companies and individuals are moving here in droves due to our booming economy, laissez-faire government, low taxes and central geographic location.

Those who land on our blog are clearly contemplating building rather than buying a home here.  And while people read our articles for all kinds of related information, all of our readers want to know the same thing: 

How much does it cost to build a custom home in or around Dallas?

Whether you’re here because you can’t find an existing home to buy, or because you’re truly passionate about building your own custom dream home, understanding the process is essential to understanding the costs.

So, we decided to provide you with this comprehensive review of the costs, complexities, and inherent risks in building a custom home in Dallas or anywhere in North Texas.

Overview

Texas is a great place to build and live. There are practically limitless opportunities to develop private property, including building a custom home, in the state’s demanding but lucrative housing market.

According to current reports, formalized in a December study by Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center, the number of existing homes available for purchase in the Texas market is at a historical low. Homes are being sold as soon as they are listed, often at above-listed prices, creating scarcity and making new customers bid for a limited number of available homes. 

At the same time, there has been a surge in demand for new, custom-built homes. The Texas A&M analysis further revealed that Texas has experienced a steady increase in applications and approvals for single-family building permits. The state’s five largest cities approved 11,818 permit applications in October 2020 alone (the most current month measured in the study).

In other words, you will be in competition with many others desiring to build a custom home, well into 2021 and beyond.

When you plan for building in 2021, be aware of the Covid pandemic’s increasing ripple effects on supply chains and the construction industry in general. For example, last fall, supply chain problems caused the price of lumber in Texas to nearly triple until a tariff was imposed to restore equilibrium. However, current prices remain at historical highs, and if unpredictable price spikes occur, thorough analysis of pricing options and a flexible building plan are your best protection against overpaying.

With all of this taken into consideration, this article reviews the possible costs of building a new home in Dallas, covering every aspect of the building process and the information you will need.  Bear in mind that the following analysis and suggested costs are an attempt to capture “average” costs of “average” new houses being built in Dallas and North Texas in general. Your individual preferences and budget for your custom home design will determine final costs.

Land Prices in Texas

Before you start to design your custom home, you need to know where your property will be located, because location will affect both the overall price of your custom home as well as the flexibility you have in your house design.

On average, a 0.25-acre of land should be enough to build a family home with room for a garage, garden, and lawn space. 

You must check with the community in your preferred location to know the restrictions and allowances for building a family home, as many communities today are creating rules for lot size, building specifications, and usage to protect their community and maintain aesthetics. 

As with many metropolitan areas, the average cost of land in and around Dallas (and Fort Worth, its twin-city 30 minutes west) varies widely by location.  You can expect to spend anywhere between $2500 – $3,000 per acre for undeveloped land around the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  However, in areas where development has already started, land cost may be much, much higher.

Just two years ago, the median price for an acre was $2411, inferring that land costs are rising over 10% each year.

When buying land, keep in mind that there are two types of plots:

  1. Subdivided lots

A subdivided lot is a larger piece of land that has been subdivided into smaller lots by an individual or developer. As this category of land is intended for development, you may find amenities associated with  the property, such as highways or other infrastructure, shared community facilities like pools, parks and playgrounds, or a gated security entrance to the development.

A subdivided lot is registered at the county level, and it may be subject to deed limitations or a Home Owners Association (HOA) – more on home owners associations later.

  1. Unplatted or undeveloped land

Compared to subdivided lots, an unplatted property is usually less expensive per acre, but more expensive to build on. This is primarily due to the sizable costs you will incur for grading, infrastructure, driveways, utilities, etc.

Choosing a House Plan

Once you’ve chosen your location, you can choose your home’s design and specifications. As you do, don’t overlook the following considerations:

Budget

Note that we discuss specific costs to help you calculate your budget in the sections below.

While this is the exciting part of building a custom home because you get to decide the look and feel of your design, it is important to make the decision with your budget in view. 

If you don’t correctly forecast your budget, loan financing, and the total cost of building a particular house style, with all of your specific upgrades and amenities, you may outstrip your resources to finance the project. 

Restrictions and Limitations

Another consideration before choosing a house plan is the restrictions that may be imposed by deed and by any property owners associations your land may be subject to.  

  • Deed limitations

A deed may contain restrictions on  how you can use your land. Deed limits will control what you can and cannot do on your property, as well as what you can build on it. 

  • Property Owners or Home Owners Associations limitations

If applicable in your home’s location, a property owners association (usually the Home Owners Association or HOA for short) in your neighborhood may play a huge role with additional regulations, usually found in the association’s bylaws. Over the last 40 years, the influence of Home Owners Associations across America has skyrocketed, and this is true in Texas. It is estimated that 75 million residents in the United States live in areas governed by HOAs, which have  building standards and rules which are created maintain the character of the community, and which homeowners are legally obligated to follow.

Costs by House Type 

Unless you’ve got a rich budget and an exceptional architect, at the end of the day your custom-built home will be based off of one of the following styles of houses.  And, while all of the home styles detailed below offer endless possibilities for customization, it pays to keep your design in-line with conventional standards if are concerned about resale value. Extreme designs appeal to fewer potential buyers, while more conventional designs appeal to more potential buyers.

With that in mind, let’s review the top 7 types of house plans in Texas.

Top 7 Types of House Plans in Texas

1. Ranch-style house

Texas is known as the Cowboy Capital of the World, so it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular house styles in the state is the  “Ranch” style house. 

The ranch-style house, which dates back to 1932, rose in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s and is still popular today. Ranch architecture is characterized by a (typically) straightforward, single-story floor plan, low-to-the-ground appearance, and an open structure design.

Ranch-style homes stand out with a low-pitched roof and (usually) an attached garage.  In Texas, their yard size is limited only by the number of acres the owner can afford. Modern variations of these homes promote an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, with wide windows and sliding glass door designs. 

While ranch-style homes in other parts of the country often have basements, here in Texas that is not typically the case.  We would ascribe this to a) the high cost of excavating our rocky land to create the space for a basement, and b) the general availability of larger land lots, allowing us to expand our living space horizontally rather than vertically.

When you build a ranch-style home, you are automatically creating an in-demand property. Real estate sales data shows that ranch-style houses are popular and have the highest sale-to-list ratio in several markets including Texas, Virginia, Portland, Phoenix, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Diego. Translation: a ranch-style house is more likely to sell above the listed price in Texas.

To summarize, here are the typical characteristics of a ranch-style house in Texas:

  • Single story
  • Open concept floor plan
  • Rectangular, “U,” or “L”-shaped
  • Devoted patio or deck space
  • Large windows and sliding glass doors
  • Low-pitched roofline with wide eaves
  • Often features an attached garage

Ranch Houses Come in Five Varieties

While most ranch houses share similarities, there are some details that can set them apart. Here are several distinct ranch-style designs that cater to various homeowner preferences:

California Ranch

The California ranch, also known as a rambling ranch, is distinguished by an L- or U-shaped frame constructed low to the earth. This sprawling, single-story architecture is meant to fit in with nature. The California ranch has a pool and a front garden. (Related: Aged people, 50 and above, prefer California ranch-style homes because they are low to the ground and easily accessible.)

Suburban Ranch

While similar to the California ranch with its L or U shape and open-floor style, the suburban ranch is more streamlined and asymmetrical in form. Also, it comes with a garage and a courtyard.

Split-level ranch

The exterior of the split-level ranch is similar to that of the suburban ranch, but it has two floors of sprawling living space. A split-level ranch house has a front door that leads into the living, dining, and kitchen spaces. Also, they have half-flights of stairs that lead to bedrooms and additional living space.

Raised Ranch

Like the split-level ranch, the raised ranch has multiple  levels of living space but with a distinct style. The raised ranch’s front door opens directly to a staircase that leads upstairs, with the kitchen and bedrooms usually on the upper floor.

Storybook Ranch

The storybook ranch is distinguished from other ranch types by its ornate features. This architecture includes diamond-shaped window panes, decorative brick or stone chimneys, and a steep, gabled roof.

The cost of building a Ranch-style house in Dallas, Texas

A ranch-style home in Texas costs the same as most house styles. You can expect to spend between $100 and $200 per square foot on average. At the low end of the price range, ranch-style homes are simply one-story houses, with low-to-the-ground profiles and easy access from multiple sides of the property. However, sprawling ranch homes tend toward the high end of the price range, with larger-than-average footprints which cost more primarily because of the additional foundation costs.

2. Craftsman-style house

Late-nineteenth-century Victorian homes were designed to showcase American engineering advancements and industrial invention with their over-the-top detailing. By contrast, the Craftsman revolution that followed was a direct counter-response, favoring hand-made products and buildings over mass-produced goods. 

At the turn of the twentieth century, the American Craftsman architecture movement evolved from the British Arts and Crafts movement, which evolved as a similar reaction to Europe’s Industrial Revolution (viewed by many as devaluing human labor).

Craftsman-style homes share many characteristics that make them easily identifiable, and they are as common today as they were more than a century ago. In contrast to Victorian-style homes, Craftsman houses prioritize horizontal lines, with low-pitched gable (triangular) roofs that extend beyond the home’s outer walls, sometimes revealing the beams. 

Craftsman houses adopt an artisanal approach to surface decoration, fusing hand-made local materials with architectural features such as brackets, lintels, and rafters.

The over-extended eaves of Craftsman roofs allow for large porches on the front of houses with tall, tapered columns across the perimeter. The exteriors of these homes were mostly painted wood cladding; however, stucco or stone accents were used very often as well—the general theme was an emphasis on earthy tones.

The interiors of Craftsman homes are as distinctive and essential to the designer as the exteriors. Craftsman homes use wood for designs, from the thick trim around doors and windows, squared beams around the roof, built-in bookshelves, and window seats. Other prominent features include a fireplace (or two). 

The cost of building a Craftsman-style house in Dallas, Texas

The national average for building a craftsman-style home is between $125,500 and $345,000, which is in-line with Texas. Size and choice of building materials drive price.

3. Contemporary-style house

Simply put, contemporary homes embody today’s architectural standards. The contemporary house design is a response to the ever-changing architectural trends of the twenty-first century.

Most contemporary homes have a minimalist feel about them, with architectural cues from postmodernism and deconstructivism mixed in good measure. Unlike other house styles, contemporary homes emphasize the quality and effect of the construction material on nature. 

There is a strong focus on renewable and natural materials – using recycled materials to build furniture or a container-home, for example.

Contemporary homes are popular because they incorporate nature and defy conventional architectural styles. Historically, the latest architectural style is usually the opposite of its predecessor. For example, the simplicity of Craftsman homes contrasts sharply with the over-opulence of the Victorian period that preceded it.

However, contemporary architecture does not follow this pattern. In reality, this style takes after its predecessor, modern-style architecture, in many ways. It took what worked, as shown by the reliance on clear, basic lines and a link to nature, and corrected what didn’t. Contemporary homes have a warmer design than modern-style houses.

Features of contemporary interior design:

Clear lines: The interior design, like the exterior, has prominent, clear lines. The furniture is constructed from a variety of geometric forms and recycled materials. There can be boxed furniture and round seats in the same room. 

Minimal decor: Contemporary-style design follows a minimalist and practical approach. That means only useful furniture or features are used. As a result, contemporary rooms look larger when plain.

Simple decoration: Contemporary homes use one or two pieces of artwork to create a focal point in each room. The walls are kept bare so that they don’t obstruct the space or detract from the natural landscape seen through the windows.

Neutral colors: The color palette of contemporary rooms is limited. Walls and furniture are usually beige, cream, black, or green. To add contrast, one or two objects in each room can have a pop of color.

The cost of building a Contemporary-style home in Dallas, Texas

From this brief description of details, it is clear that contemporary homes are unique and require specialized skills in both design and construction. Consequently, they are more expensive to build than a traditional American home. In this category we are not able to provide a reliable price range due to the subjective nature of the designs and their associated pricing, but you can expect to pay 25% – 50% more for a Contemporary-style house vs. a traditional house design.

4. Modern-style house designs

The modern style arose in reaction to the late-nineteenth-century Victorian architecture, which was overly ornate, cluttered, and fancy. Compared to Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco homes, modernist-style homes had a distinct lack of decoration and flair. 

These types of homes have a precise horizontal composition, wide-open floor plans, deliberate asymmetry, and large expanses of glass windows or glass walls. The goal here is to build a simpler home with an emphasis on functional features to eliminate needless parts and furniture. Consequently, modern-style homes are spacious and great for living. 

Like contemporary homes, modern-style homes merge the inside and outside with ground-to-ceiling windows, open spaces, and manicured exterior to improve the view. Nature lovers will enjoy a modern-style home because of its minimalist approach and nature integration.

The cost of building a Modern-style home in Dallas, Texas

The cost of a Modern house design built in Texas, with vast expanses of ground-to-ceiling glass and many different floor plans available, ranges from roughly $750,000 to $15 million or more. This wide range in cost can be attributed to the wide-ranging prices of the land/location opportunities available in different areas, the square footage desired, and the complexity of each unique design.

5. Cape Cod style homes

A Cape Cod house could be described as a traditional American cottage, as these charming and simplistic designs are recognized as symbolic American homes. 

Although they can be scaled to any size, Cape Cods are typically just the right size for an average American family. These types of homes are easy to heat and decorate. 

This popular American house style takes its name from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The origin of the Cape Cod-style is traced to the time of the first Puritan settlers. Cape Cod was an adaptation of the concept of an English cottage, tailored to suit America’s climate.

For example, the symmetrical architecture centered on an expansive, open living room – or “hall”- is English in origin. 

Cape Cod homes use steep roofs, originally to reduce the weight of snow in winter, while the characteristic low ceilings save heat, and the unique shutters keep out cold winter winds.  While they are not common in Texas, they stand out when done well.

Characteristics of a Cape Cod-style home

Cape Cod homes have a few distinguishing characteristics that make them stand out:

Exterior

  • Symmetrical look with a centered front entry
  • Roofs have a steep pitch, side gables, and an overhang
  • Dormers with gables
  • Shutters on double-hung windows
  • Siding made of shingles
  • Chimneys that are centralized
  • Simple exterior decoration

Interior

  • One or two story designs 
  • Ceilings that are low
  • A symmetrical plan with a central hall
  • Large, open-plan living area
  • Bedrooms in dormers or underneath eaves
  • There are few aesthetic details and the lines are clean

 The cost of building a Cape Cod-style house in Dallas, Texas

The cost to build a Cape Cod in Texas ranges between $163,000 and $326,000. As with other designs, size, finishes and additional amenities drive price.

6. Colonial-style homes

The history of American Colonial architecture is somewhat self-explanatory: it emerged as a standard house style in the American colonies under colonial rule (the 1600s to mid-1700s). There are examples of Spanish, French, Dutch, and British Colonial architecture in the United States, as immigrants from many of those nations lived in various areas of what is now the United States for different lengths of time.

Traditional American Colonial homes are generally simple in design. Brick and wood are the usual building materials, and they are rectangular, usually two stories, and somewhat symmetrical. The size and dimension of the roof determine the overall appearance of an American colonial home. Typically, American-style homes have steep, side-gabled roofs, and you can only see the triangular part of the roof from the sides. When you view from the front entrance, you only see shingles.

The cost of building a Colonial-style home in Dallas, Texas

Based on the features of this home style, you can assume  that it will be less expensive to build than some other popular designs. That said, you can expect to spend from $140 to  $300 per square foot to build a classic American Colonial home. The choice of material and finishes determine the final cost.

7. Tudor-style homes

For the last century and a half, many Americans have been drawn to the dramatic, romantic, old-world feel of Tudor homes. You don’t have to be a design expert to recognize a Tudor home. Their distinctive gothic appearance separates them from other more symmetrical, lighter, and modern styles. 

Tudor houses come in a variety of sizes. Smaller Tudor homes have a cozy, fairy tale, storybook look, while larger Tudors reflect the charming ideal of an English country manor.

Tudor homes are built with expensive materials, solid masonry, and decorative features. Consequently, they are costly to construct and are often found in affluent suburbs or estates.

Characteristics of Tudor-style homes

Unique windows: Tudor house windows pay a rare homage to medieval architecture. Windows are tall and small, with several panes that may be rectangular or diamond-shaped. The windows are usually colored.

Triangular front door: The front door is an essential architectural feature on Tudor houses. They usually have a triangular arch at the top and are surrounded by a colored stone that contrasts with the brick walls. Finally, Tudor chimneys are another noteworthy feature; they are designed to be striking visually and to improve the home’s appeal from both inside and out

The cost of building a Tudor-style home in Dallas, Texas

While there is no specific range for the costs to build a Tudor-style home, it is generally accepted that Tudor homes are more expensive than other house designs in America. 

In general, you can expect to  pay anywhere from  $50 to $155 extra per square foot than the standard  rates for a traditional-style home in your area. The increased costs are due to the expensive nature of architectural elements of a Tudor home, which are all custom-made by skilled craftsmen.

General Cost Estimates for Each Stage of Building a New Home in Dallas, Texas

Building a new home requires wearing many hats; you have to know a bit about design, furniture, finishing, and construction. But the primary concern will always be the cost of building. You are going to pay for the whole thing, so you should have an idea of what it should cost. 

If you choose to work with a custom home builder or construction firm, you will have a dedicated project manager who will outline the cost of each project stage.

Note that you should add a “buffer” of around 10% of the cost of each of the following stages, for unexpected changes or cost overruns.

Cost of House Plans and Permits

  • House Plans

You can expect to spend anywhere between $2,000 and $8,000 for a standard house plan, and far more for custom, elaborate designs. In fact we know several owners who paid over $100,000 for full custom plans for larger, elaborate home designs.  

A consultation with a qualified architect will provide you with an accurate estimate for the cost of your desired house plan, and as with most hired professionals involved in the building of your custom home, the best way to get an architect is through referral. 

Keep in mind also that you can find a variety of home design companies on the internet. Use history, reviews, and pricing to filter through the thousands of providers available.

You will need the following professionals to build and finish your home:

Architects: $130-$250 per hour

Engineers: $100-$150 per hour

Custom Home Builder or General Contractor: 10%-20% of the total project cost

Interior Designer: $50-$200 per hour

A word of advice: Allow your architect and contractor to collaborate on the house design, to ensure that your architect does not design anything unachievable or prohibitively costly to build.

  • Building Permits

Once you have selected your home style and design, and before you can begin construction, you must secure all necessary permits. According to HomeAdvisor, the average person spends $1,200-2,000 on permits and fees while building a home in Texas; however, prices can vary greatly based on local regulations.

Usually, you need a house plan to apply for a building permit. It takes around 11 weeks currently  to get a building permit in Dallas. Based on the permit application phases published by Dallas City Hall, you will go through a pre-screen, plan review, and application approval stages. 

The first stage is a preliminary check to ensure that the plans are formatted correctly, and all documents have been submitted. 

In the second stage, plan review, your plan will be reviewed based on the Dallas Development Code or the building codes of the city of your location.

In the third stage, your permit is issued once your plan has been approved and any outstanding fees/debts are cleared.

Permits are normally valid for the length of time it takes to finish constructing your home.

While the process of getting permits may seem overwhelming, it is a necessary step that cannot be overlooked or avoided. Homeowners who don’t have a building permit face steep fees, denial of insurance coverage, or even demolition.

Aside from the penalties, there is an even more critical justification to secure permits: your well-being and safety.

Municipalities require permits to ensure that homes are in compliance with current building codes. In Texas, these codes prohibit residents from constructing homes which might be unsafe or unsuitable for the standards of the area.

Construction Phases and Average Costs 

  • Planning phase – budget $18,000

Before you can start building, you need to survey the land, get a house plan, and obtain a building permit. Each step costs a significant amount of money, and you should budget around  $18,000 for this stage of the project.

The biggest expense here is the fees for obtaining a construction permit. Based on the current fee structure, you will be charged $0.004 per square foot for site plan review and $0.012 per square foot of building area for the plan review. 

Next on the list are the fees for sewer and water inspections, which can cost up to $4000. 

Also, if you purchased unplatted land, you may need to do excavation work which will require a special excavation permit.

Finally, be aware that the government could bill you as much as $2,000 (or more) as impact tax, which pays for public facilities such as bridges, parks, and water treatment, dependent on your location.

For a detailed cost breakdown of required permits, visit Dallas City Hall’s website.

In summary, for site preparation, survey, and house plan design (architectural design), you can expect to spend $18,000 or more. 

  • Foundation phase – budget $35,000 

The real fun starts with the foundation work. This is the stage where you break ground on your new home. Excavation or ground-breaking requires heavy-duty machinery and skilled operators to ensure that the land is level before laying the foundation of your home. 

While the size of your home’s floor plan may cause this cost to be higher, the average home budget for this phase is around $35,000.

Also, keep in mind that excavation costs may skyrocket if large rocks are discovered underneath your plot of land, which is common in many parts of Texas.

  • Home framing phase – budget $52,000 and expect to pay more

Prepare to be surprised. The frame of your house will be one of the most expensive items in your house-building budget, usually only surpassed by interior design cost. This stage can cost as much as $41,000 or more for a standard house of 2,500 square feet.

If the woodwork for the roof is not included in the cost of building the roof, you will need to add at least $6,000 to the framing budget. 

After the frame of the house is in position, you have to spend another $3000 for sheathing. Think of sheaths as the skin that protects the home’s frame. And, if you add aluminum or steel components, the framing costs can increase substantially.

Finally, due to the massive amount of lumber required to frame your house and the volatility of lumber prices, be prepared for unexpected cost increases in this phase of construction.

  • Exterior finishes phase – budget $42,000 

The exterior wall has one of the largest surface areas on your property. As such, it will cost a reasonable sum to complete the finishing (estimate for average cost = $19,000). 

Additional exterior finishing includes the installation of doorways, windows, and garage doors. You should expect those expenses to be in the range of $12,000. Roof finishes would cost an additional $10,000. 

  • Major systems installations phase – budget $44,000

In this stage, you will install several systems, including plumbing ($15,000), HVAC ($14,000), and electricity ($14,000). 

  • Interior finishes phase – budget $75,000 

The interior is typically the costliest phase in the construction of a home.  This makes sense, given that you’ll spend most of your time enjoying the inside of your home and the environment you create. 

At this stage, you will choose the finishes based on preference and in accordance with your house style. Do you like the look of granite countertops? Do you prefer hardwood floors? Do you want unique windows? Many such decisions must be made, each with their associated costs.

  • Landscaping and driveway work phase – budget $20,000 

Once the exterior finishes are done, the final phase of development would be focused on the external elements such as landscaping and a driveway ($7,000 each). These also include ancillary structures such as a porch, lawn, or deck (more than $3,000). Also, the final clean-up will cost up to $3,000.

  • Final phase, Miscellaneous Costs – budget $11,000

Aside from the “buffer” sums included at each stage of the construction, you should keep about $11,000 for miscellaneous expenses. These could include unexpected construction challenges, equipment replacement, additional excavation, or any number of other unanticipated costs.

Cost Savings: Do-It-Yourself vs. Hiring a Home Builder

Both your house style and choice of builder will have a tremendous effect on the price you will pay for your custom home in Dallas. If you have the time and the necessary skills, you can save anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 by managing the building of your house. 

Most of the savings come from being your own general contractor. You might as well call this as “payment for the stress” because overseeing construction requires physical and mental grit.

Building an average 2,500-square-foot home takes months, even with an experienced workforce and subcontractors leading the charge. If you choose to build independently, you will need to consider the nuances of planning, building codes, and coordinating trades and schedules. 

Unless you absolutely must reduce your costs, we strongly recommend using a custom home builder, or at the very least using a general contractor for the building and finishing. 

How long will it take to build a custom home in Texas?

Other things being equal, your house style and complexity will determine the construction time required. A simple, traditional-style house might take 8 to 12 months to complete. However, if you want to stand out in the Dallas architectural scene with a Tudor home, for example, you should expect the construction to take 10 to 16 months to complete. 

If you are wondering why the timeframe is significantly higher than the time posted by conventional builders, it is because those companies use pre-set designs and limited materials options for construction, reducing the overall timeline to completion. 

If you are building a truly custom home, you will need to design the plan from scratch, to your standards, and the customization process will be filled with back-and-forth consultations with your architect, builder and with contractors until you get the final design you want.

Also, building a custom home requires hiring specialists who may have tight schedules which you will have to work around, and which may prolong your construction schedule.

Conclusion

Building a custom home is a challenging but rewarding task. Since cost is a primary deciding factor, we’ve gone over the steps of building and the possible costs involved at each stage. 

It is important to note that there is no standard price for building a custom home, so the budget numbers provided above should only be used as a starting point. Be prepared to spend more, and be happy if you spend less, because the building process – even for similar house styles – is never the same.

There is nothing more exciting than building a custom home. Imagine a cozy place where you have everything of your choice, be it ceiling, backyard, or parking. 

You can decide your home’s color scheme, add cabinets that blend well with your flooring, and have ducts for natural sunlight wherever you want. Sounds fascinating? 

But there are so many things you should keep in mind when you construct your home in a metropolitan city like Dallas. From purchasing your lot to choosing the builder, many things need your consideration. 

However, building a custom home in Dallas must not be that challenging, right?

To help you build your house of dreams, we have created a detailed post covering aspects you should keep in mind while building a new home. 

Excited? We’re too. Let’s begin!

1. Ask Questions and Be Pushy if You Need to

You don’t have to be an easy client. Why would you? After all, your money, your time, and your investment are at stake. 

The thing is, building a house in Dallas is a tedious job. Builders are already busy with so much stuff that they barely pay attention to individual projects. 

While this is not your responsibility to nudge them for everything, you should at least remind them of your requirements from time to time so that they keep those things in mind. 

For instance, if you’re looking to have a duct at a particular place or, say, you want a window on a wall facing the door, you have to get your message across several times to get things done the way you like. 

2. Buy Your Own Appliances

You get a dishwasher and an oven along with a package. Many people make a mistake, and they also ask their builder to fix other appliances to save time and effort. 

But, it will generally cost you a lot. 

If you want to save money on appliances, it is better to arrange them on your own. 

You can purchase them from a sale or can save money by negotiating with the vendor – so yes. Make sure you buy appliances separately and do not ask a builder to arrange them for you. 

3. Do Not Have Upgrade Regrets

The next million-dollar tip on our list is to ‘never have upgrade regrets’. There are many things that you get standard when you go with the builder, including the doorknobs, shower, and lights. 

As we always say, keep a dedicated column for ‘upgrades’ in your budget so that you can spend that money on things of your choice. For example, if you want custom faucets or a walk-in shower, you have to invest extra in these luxuries. That goes without saying these upgrades can go a long way. 

4. Get Independent Home Inspections

A home inspection gives you an insight into the overall condition of the property, including plumbing, HVAC, roofing, and more. 

There are many things that you can overlook,  but an independent home inspector can find. What you get from a home inspector is an unbiased and neutral perspective. 

5. Wait to Buy Your Furniture

Wait to buy your furniture until you are in the home. Unlike apartments, decorating an entire house is a lot of fun. But it is going to be more time-consuming and expensive too. 

What if the console you bought for $500 doesn’t blend well with the overall color scheme and ceilings of your living area? 

It is, therefore, better to buy your furniture when you have finalized the colors and design elements of your home.

6. Do Not Forget to Take Pictures

Take lots and lots of pictures of each stage of the construction of your custom home in Dallas. Not only can you cherish those moments when you’re done with the construction part, but it also helps you pinpoint the weak links you should work on to make your house look more appealing and beautiful. 

7. Prepare for Going into Design Center

To avoid post-construction regrets, ask your builder to send you catalogs and design files so that you can review them before you make any decision. 

8. Hire a Good Realtor Who’s Familiar with New Builds

You may want to reconsider your approach if you think that your builder’s agent or a salesperson represents you. Having a realtor familiar with new builds means that you have someone with your interest at heart.

A realtor also understands hidden costs and terms listed in your builder’s contract. Also, they can help you streamline and prioritize your budget. 

9. Mentally Prepare for Delays

Whether it’s weather or shortage of material, delays are part of the process. Many builders mention up to 2-years of time in their contracts, but a delay of 4 to 6 months is quite common. 

So don’t panic and give your custom home project in Dallas the time it deserves. 

10. Be on Top of Your Options

Last but most importantly, make sure you cross-check everything and keep an eye on stuff a builder is fixing in your house. If you live in a neighborhood, you can visit the property yourself to check everything personally. If not, you can also ask a realtor to visit the property every week to keep track of things (materials, design, etc.)

Now that you know some of the best construction advice you need to follow when building a custom home in Dallas, it’s time to implement these strategies to see how well they turn out for you. 

We hope this post has cleared some of your doubts about constructing a new home. Remember, there’s a lot of planning, money, and hard work involved in building a custom home. But the results you get at the end of the day are totally worth it. 

Have questions? Feel free to drop them in the comments section below. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We wish you all the best for your new custom house project!

So you’re thinking about building a custom home in North Texas?  Consider that one attractive option is to buy a piece of rural land for your new home, rather than build in a subdivision or in populated areas.  

There are literally millions of acres of land available to purchase in and around the DFW metroplex, located within a 1-hour or 2-hour drive from either Dallas or Fort Worth.  Easy commuting distance.

Whether for your primary residence or for a weekend retreat, or even as an investment property, if you’re going to build on rural land in Texas be aware of the following considerations when buying that land:

  1. Choose your location before choosing your custom home builder – Custom home builders are often limited by their working relationships and the limitations of their trades.  They tend to prefer building in a limited geographic area because it is where they know their trade partners are reliable (which is largely what protects a custom home builder’s reputation and success).  With so much land around and available to purchase in North Texas, you don’t want to limit your choices.
  1.  Property use – If you only intend to use the property to build a residence, then your requirements are fairly simple.  However, if you have intentions to do anything in addition to that, such as farming, ranching, hunting or fishing, then each of these activities dictate different features needed in the land you buy.  Think carefully about what you might wish to do with the property, both now and in the future.  For example:
    1. Farming requires relatively flat land with access to water, great drainage, located outside any flood plains.
    2. Ranching requires soil conducive to growing good feed as well as water resources for the livestock.
    3. Hunting/fishing requires specific resources such as lakes or running water, abundant wildlife, and that you take into consideration other people, animals and structures located near your property, as well as any local laws or environmental regulations that may be in effect.
  1. Property size – 5 acres may be suitable for a home, but if you want to hunt, farm or ranch you need much more land.  Buy with the future in mind, not only with today’s conditions in mind.
  1. Easements – Property easements have to do with accessing the property from the public road, and can have a significant effect on a property’s value.  Property will either have a “Fee Simple” title, meaning you have direct access to a public road from the property, or may instead have a “Deeded Easement” which means the land is accessed by crossing another property.   You should work with your lender or real estate agent to understand what type of easements a property has if it does not come with a “Fee Simple” title.  
  1. Amenities – Amenities are valuable and come in many shapes and forms.  Anything that is already in place such as fencing, stock-tanks, barns or other existing structures, roads and any other type of infrastructures can significantly add to a property’s value.
  1. Utilities – Not every rural property has all the necessary utilities for a home, and you must anticipate additional costs that may be needed to bring electricity, gas, sewer and water to the property if it does not have any of these already. When accurately anticipated, these costs can be rolled into the financing provided by most lenders.  For example:
    1. Is there a septic tank already, or must you have one built?
    2. Is there access to a water line at the road, or will you have to drill a water well?
    3. Is access to electricity nearby, or how much will you have to pay to bring it to the property?
    4. Same with access to natural gas, or cost to add a propane tank if necessary?
  1. Property values – Many factors can influence the price of a property.  Features such as access to water and utilities, attractive topography, tree cover, etc. all add up to make a piece of land more valuable.  Be aware that some properties can also be influenced by their potential for other uses, such as recreational or even commercial ventures.  Make sure you are not paying for features that are not relevant to you.  Compare the price of the property you are considering to other rural properties around your desired areas, to ensure it is not being inflated by nearby businesses or population centers which might use it or other nearby land for commercial purposes, or which might encroach on your property or affect your quality of life.
  1. Deed restrictions – Investigate these to ensure you won’t be prohibited from any desired activities.  General deed restrictions may include items such as no feedlots, no subdividing the property, no raising of poultry or swine, no mobile homes allowed, etc.  It is important to work with your lender, realtor, builder and/or the local appraisal district to educate yourself on those activities that are and are not allowed.
  1. Agricultural property tax exemptions – Commonly called “Ag exemptions”, these are widely used and can save landowners many thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes over time.  Some common agricultural exemptions include:
    1. Owning cattle or other livestock on the property
    2. Leasing the property to another for their livestock use
    3. Raising honeybees
    4. Adding various types of wildlife

If the property does not already have an Ag exemption, be aware it will take you 5 years to be granted one (so start inquiring now).

10. Environmental regulations – Check for endangered species in the area which may prevent you from subdividing or developing or building on the property.  Also check for abandoned chemicals or hazardous waste on the property, as it is very common for rural Texas lands to have old trash dumps or burn pits which may contain any variety of chemicals or contaminants.  Should you have to remove such hazards it may be extremely costly due to environmental regulations.

The two primary types of loans used to build a new home in Texas are:

1) Construction-only loan, sometimes referred to simply as a “construction loan” or “standard construction loan”, which is (usually) an interest-only loan with a period of (usually) up to 12 months, after which you will need to apply for an actual mortgage (aka a “permanent” loan) on the finished house.

2) Construction-to-permanent loan, which combines a Construction loan with a Permanent loan so you only apply one time for one loan package, at the beginning of the building process.

By far the most attractive of the two, for most people, is the Construction-to-permanent loan for a variety of reasons.

First, with a Construction-to-permanent loan you only have one closing so you only pay closing costs one time.  With a Construction-only loan you pay closing costs on the construction loan, but you will have to apply for a permanent mortgage when construction is complete, so you pay closing costs again.

Second, with a Construction-to-permanent loan you are usually getting a locked-in interest rate for the final, permanent loan (verify this with your lender).  When you use a Construction-only loan, you are hoping that interest rates do not rise during the 4 to 6 or even 12 months it takes to complete construction, when you will then have to apply for a permanent mortgage.  This is called interest rate risk.

Third, you are eliminating the credit risk you have with a Construction-only loan, which is that something will negatively affect your credit score during the many months it will take to complete construction of your home and then apply for the permanent loan.  With a Construction-only loan, you must not purchase anything on credit that would lower your score, and you must hope that something unexpected does not happen that would cause damage to your credit while your home is being built (such as the death of a partner leading to loss of income or default on credit cards, an illness requiring you to use up your credit, etc.).  This is called credit risk.

Fourth, you only have to apply for one loan, not two.  The loan application process is tedious and painful and requires a lot of time and paperwork, so if you can avoid doing it twice you should.

Fifth, depending on your lender, you can usually roll the cost of the land you are building on into the loan.  

Sixth, your home’s appraisal is done up-front, eliminating the risk that an appraisal done later for a permanent mortgage will be too low.

Since the Construction-to-permanent loan is our preference, let’s look at what the bank will require in the way of documentation and assets (note: this is a general outline, and you may be required to produce more based on your credit or the lender’s guidelines).

General requirements for home loan applications:

  1. 2-6 months of pay stubs
  2. 2 years of W-2 forms
  3. 2 years of tax returns
  4. 2-6 months of bank statements
  5. Employer information and verification
  6. Driver license information
  7. Social Security information
  8. Detail of all debts
  9. Down payment
  10. Cash reserves equal to 6 months of mortgage payments
  11. Proof of any extra income (such as royalties, rents, alimony, disability, etc.)
  12. Contract with a qualified builder or contractor
  13. Plans and specs of house
  14. Draw schedule from your builder

It’s unfortunately far too common that people will end up working with builders that are far under or above their budget because they don’t fully understand the costs associated with a custom house.

In this article, we’ll discuss these groups of builders, the differences between them, and the costs associated with each one to paint a picture of what exactly you can expect price-wise when building your custom home in the Houston area.

Production Builders

Production builders are going to be the cheapest option when building a house, but it’s important to understand why this is the case. Production builders will often build hundreds, if not thousands of homes per year and will typically build in new developments.

Because of the scale at which production builders operate, they offer very little customization options and will typically finish their homes with cheaper materials to cut costs. For example, production builders will typically use cheaper doors, appliances, and usually use carpet instead of hardwood to keep their prices lower.

In regards to customization, a production builder will provide you with a limited amount of pre-designed floorplans to choose from, accompanied by a limited amount of finishes to go along with that. With this, you can expect to pay around $100 to $150 per square foot to build a production home in Houston. So, for a 2,000 square foot production home, you’d be paying anywhere from $200,000 to $250,000.

Dallas Custom Builders

Custom builders are a step up from production builders, what they allow you to do is make your house Custom, just as the name would suggest! With a custom builder, you typically will find yourself working with an architect to make a custom plan for your own home, rather than working with pre-designed floorplans. In addition, custom builders can build on any land you own.

With a custom builder, your house truly is custom. Because of this, a lot of the costs will be determined by you and where you choose to spend or save money. However, it’s important to note that a lot of the builders in this category will tend to spend a little less on architecture and interior design. 

Building with a custom builder will typically cost around $150 to $250. With this, you may be getting less skilled tradesmen working on your home, along with cheaper appliances and finishes. If you’re accustomed to more luxury features, these builders may not be exactly for you.

Custom Plus Builders

Custom Plus Builders are a step above custom builders, but a notch below luxury custom builders. Custom plus builders follow all the same building protocols as regular custom builders, but really shine when it comes to things like architecture, finishes, appliances, and the tradesmen hired to do work on the house.

Custom plus builders hire well regarded, experienced tradesmen and award-winning architects to work on their homes. These builders also have more of a budget when it comes to nicer appliances and features, allowing clients to experience some of the luxury elements of a luxury custom home while still maintaining some of the affordability of a regular custom home. 

Because of the added quality that comes with a custom plus builder, it would cost you about $200 to $250 per square foot to build your home with this kind of builder. A typical 4,000 square foot home here would cost about $800,000 to $1 million.

Ultra-Luxury Builders

These builders are the best of the best, usually with multiple awards and the greatest workers in all categories. These homes use the latest technology and will go above and beyond when it comes to luxury. 

Usually being built in high-class neighborhoods and coming with features like walk-in closets, huge yards with great views, and top-of-the-line appliances and architectural features, building a custom home with ultra-luxury builders will cost you north of $250 per square foot. Multiplying this price per square foot by the average house size in this category of 7,000 square feet, you get a price tag of $1,750,000 starting.

When you’re looking for a builder to help you on your journey to creating your own custom home, it’s important to be certain that they’re the perfect fit for you. Without someone who can understand exactly what you want, it can be hard to make your custom house into a true home.

There are many important factors to look for when searching for a custom builder, so we’ve compiled 5 of the most important features to be on the lookout for in your search.

An Established Portfolio

The first thing to look for when searching for a custom builder is a well-established portfolio. It’s important to make sure that your builder has their work and finished projects on display, so you can not only be sure of their skill but also be able to tell if their style matches yours.

Make sure to do a good amount of research on your builder and the work they’ve done. Check out their website if they have one, maybe their Facebook profile, their Houzz profile, or even Pinterest pages of theirs to get an idea of the work they do. 

Finding a builder with an established and diverse portfolio is a great sign that you’re going down the right path in your search, and it’s always important to know what kind of results you can expect from your custom builder.

Credible Reviews

Just as important as having a well-established portfolio, credible and honest reviews are another big thing to look for in your custom builder. 

It’s almost second nature for us to check the reviews for any kind of product before buying, and it should be no different with a builder. Reading the opinions of others is extremely important in determining if a specific custom builder is right for you.

Just like with a good product, you’ll want a builder who has honest, good reviews. When researching a builder, be sure to check their reviews on Google, Houzz, Facebook, or Yelp if they’re listed on there. 

Be on the lookout for credible and honest reviews that prove the builder does good work, but also keep an eye out for a negative or non-positive review or two, this provides a sense of honesty and reality. Someone with no reviews or all perfect reviews can definitely be a red flag, so be sure to be diligent in that regard. 

Flexible Customization Options

If you’re looking to build a truly custom home, then you’ll want every aspect of the home to be able to be customized. Many larger production builders will provide different floorplans and can allow for clients to alter a few rooms or details within the footprint of the house, but won’t allow for the footprint itself to be changed or customized.

Although the route of full customization can be long and difficult, considering nobody has ever built your custom home before, partnering with a builder who can deliver a fully custom experience is extremely important if that’s the route you want to take for building your home.

Customer Centric Process

Building your own custom home is a significant investment, so you want to be certain that the builder that you’re working with has processes that are centered around you. There are two sides to any relationship, and you should be sure that your builder provides staff that is there for you, respond to your calls quickly, and care about you as a customer and not just their own office and overhead.

If a builder takes forever to return your calls, hardly answers any questions, and doesn’t seem to want to give you the time of day, what do you expect their work on your home is going to be like?

A Knowledgeable Staff

During the process of building your home, you may not be speaking directly to the builder’s staff all that often, but it’s still incredibly important to make sure their team is knowledgeable and great at what they do. 

The person you’ll be interacting with in the process of building your custom home the most is the field superintendent. This is who you’ll be talking to on daily basis about your home, so if you have the ability to handpick or get to know your field superintendent, definitely be sure to select someone you can be sure is top-notch at what they do, communicates well with you, and has a good chemistry with you and the team. 

Hopefully with these five tips you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of what a great custom builder looks like. Be sure to do your research on a builder and their work portfolio, and never settle for someone who seems like they won’t put you as a customer first!