Building a custom home is not for everyone. I know, a builder shouldn't say such things, right? But from a builder's perspective, there are certain clients whom we've learned should never have taken on the challenge of building a custom home. It was not the best investment of their valuable time and treasure, and it's important to realize that up front.
Here's a short list of things that might mean building a custom home isn't a good fit for you.
1. You expect things to be perfect
If you're extremely particular about things you buy being "perfect," a custom home probably isn't right for you. If you insist that products you buy have no imperfections, no matter how minor, you shouldn't build a home. The very nature of residential construction will drive you crazy. It's full of imperfect processes, done by hand, and there are aspects that can be done the same way over and over and have slightly different results (finishing wood is a good example).
2. There's no flexibility in your schedule
If you work long hours at your job and there's no way you can take off during working hours to meet with a builder, designer, decorator, appliance supplier, contractor, etc., building probably isn't right for you. Building a custom home requires an investment of not only your treasure, but also of your most scarce resource: time.
If you can't invest the time to share your design vision, make critical color and material selections, and make time-sensitive decisions during construction, you will definitely find mountains of frustration trying to build a custom home. Save yourself that frustration and buy an existing home.
3. You don't trust people
You'll never sleep soundly knowing your builder can take advantage of you in hundreds of ways you'll never know about. If you think a trustworthy builder just isn't out there, and you'll have to watch him like a hawk to keep him honest, don't build. I can tell you there are plenty of trustworthy builders out there. In fact, I can think of a half dozen in Oklahoma City that I would trust to build a home for my family without ever looking at it until it's finished.
I also know, as a builder, there are so many variables in building that there's no way someone who doesn't do it every day could catch every mistake. If the thought of trusting someone else to build your home sight unseen makes you sweat, definitely don't put yourself through that misery.
4. You watch lots of homebuilding shows
If you watch lots of HGTV and YouTube videos about homebuilding techniques, you probably have opinions about how things should be done, and you'll likely expect your builder to do it that way. Yes, there are wrong ways to do many construction tasks. But there are also many ways of doing things that get excellent results.
Trying to force a builder or subcontractor to do something "your way" is like planning to wreck your car. A builder is good at what he or she does because he or she has learned and perfected certain techniques over time. If you can't let him or her do it that way, then you're certain to be disappointed with the process.
5. You know someone in the industry
Perhaps you have a friend or relative who used to be a builder, framer, brick layer, trim carpenter, or some other role. And that person's going to watch over your home to make sure your builder does it right. First of all, re-read number four above—much of it applies here.
Second, there's a thing I call "second contractor syndrome." You've probably experienced it before. Here's what it sounds like: You call a heat and air company to fix a problem in your not-very-old air conditioner. The service tech takes a look and proceeds to tell you how bad the guy who installed it (or worked on it last) screwed it up. That guy didn't know what he was doing, but the new contractor is going to save the day. Does that sound at all familiar?
There's a similar one when you're shopping around for something. Let's say it's new wood flooring, and one store tells you it'll take four weeks to get it in. The next store promises it'll only take a week because they have better buying practices than that other store. You pay your deposit and wait. You call after a week goes by, and they tell you it'll be another week, then another, then another. You end up waiting the four weeks anyway, but you got suckered in by the promise of someone telling you what you want to hear.
If you feel like any of the above might apply, and you really want to build a custom home, ask yourself how important it really is. You could save yourself lots of heartache, and probably a fair amount of money, by skipping the building process and buying an already built house instead.