Woodlawn Custom Home

What Type of Contractor Should I Hire to Build My New Home?

Building a new house is an exciting yet complex journey, often filled with numerous decisions that will shape the future of where you call home. One of the most crucial decisions you’ll face is choosing the right type of contractor to bring your vision to life. The type of contractor you hire to build your new home will directly impact your life for years to come.

As one of Portland’s leading residential design-build firms, we understand the intricacies involved in building a custom home. With years of contractor experience in the industry, we’ve guided several homeowners in the Portland, Oregon area through the process of building a new home.

In this article, we’ll explore several different types of contractor options you can consider for building your new home. After reading, you’ll have a better understanding of what each type offers, the cost considerations, and the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. The three types of home builders we will discuss are:

Production Builders/Developers

When you’re looking to build or buy a new home, one option that may come to mind is working with a production builder, also known as a developer. This type of contractor offers a streamlined approach to new home construction, building multiple homes within a community. These homes are based on a set of pre-designed plans with little to no customization options. While this method offers speed and efficiency, it comes with limitations on custom features and location.

Limited Customization

Production builders typically offer a range of pre-designed home models. These models come with predetermined layouts, features, and finishes. While some developers may offer a few customization options, such as paint colors or countertop materials, the overall structure and design of the home are generally non-negotiable.

Speed of Construction

One of the significant advantages of opting for a production builder is the speed at which your home can be completed. These builders often work on multiple homes simultaneously. As a result, they can streamline the construction process, allowing you to move in sooner. 

Typically, a developer home can be completed within 5-8 months after signing the contract.

Pre-designed Home Models in Predetermined Locations

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that developers will develop large communities at a time. This means that these homes are usually located exclusively in subdivisions. If you opt for a production builder, you’ll need to be comfortable with choosing a location from among the areas they are currently developing.

Developers build homes in pre-designed models. This model is by Lennar Homes, which has built several communities in the Portland area.

Cost Considerations with Production Builders

While production builders can offer a more budget-friendly approach, it’s essential to understand what’s included in the base price and what might come as an additional cost. For instance, upgrades or specific lot premiums can add to the overall price. 

However, the cost is generally more predictable compared to custom-built homes. On average, you can expect to pay between $200-$250 per square foot for a developer home.

Semi-Custom Home Builders: The Middle Ground

If you’re looking for a contractor who can balance customization and efficiency, a semi-custom home builder might be the right fit for you. These builders offer a more flexible approach compared to production builders. Their process allows you to choose from a variety of home layouts and some surface-level customization options.

Choice of Home Layouts

Semi-custom home builders, like Lexar, offer a selection of home layouts with predetermined structural elements. However, they provide more flexibility in terms of interior design. A semi-custom builder will typically offer different room configurations, finishes, cabinets, and possibly some low-level structural modifications.

Surface Finishes and Add-ons

As previously mentioned, semi-custom builders offer a range of home plan sets, many of which allow for some degree of layout customization. For example, let’s say you like a floor plan that comes default with 3 garage bays. However, there may also be a variant of this floor plan that adds an extra bedroom in exchange for a smaller garage.

These homes also feature more options for surface finishes and add-ons. This typically includes choices in flooring, cabinetry, and fixtures, allowing you to personalize your home to a greater extent than with a production builder.

Lexar, a semi-custom home builder, can build customizable homes at the location of your choice.

Speed and Timing

Semi-custom homes generally take a little bit longer to complete than developer homes but are much faster than fully custom homes. You can typically expect a semi-custom home to be completed within 9-12 months after signing the contract.

Location Flexibility: Build Where You Want

Unlike production builders, who restrict you to their subdivisions, semi-custom home builders can build on a lot you provide. This means you have the freedom to choose the location where your home will be built, whether it’s a piece of land you already own or a lot you purchase specifically for this purpose.

Cost Considerations with Semi-Custom Home Builders

While semi-custom homes offer more customization, they also come at a higher price point compared to production homes. You’ll find that the prices for a semi-custom home typically fall around $200-$300 per square foot. However, it’s important to note that this does not include the land in the cost of the home.

Land in the Portland area runs between $200,000-$300,000 per acre. When you factor in the cost of land as well as water, power, and sewage hookups, a semi-custom home on a half-acre lot will cost $300–$400 per square foot

Full Custom Home Builders: Tailored to Your Needs

If you’re seeking a home that’s uniquely yours in every way, a full custom home builder is the contractor to hire. These builders offer the highest level of customization, allowing you to be involved in every aspect of the design and construction process.

Fully Personalized Experience

Full custom home builders like Lamont Bros. Design & Construction offer a fully personalized home-building experience. From the architectural design to the choice of materials and finishes, you have complete control over how your home will look and feel.

With a full custom home builder, you can incorporate unique residential features that reflect your personal style. Whether it’s a custom stone fireplace, a sprawling great room for hosting friends and family, or a home theater room for movie nights, the possibilities are endless.

Full Design Process with Construction Professionals

Building a fully custom home involves a comprehensive design process where you’ll work closely with a professional architect and/or designer. This collaboration will last several months. Throughout the process, you and your design team will craft and refine your vision, ensuring that the end result is a home that truly reflects your personal style and needs.

remodel design meeting
With a custom home, you’ll want a professional design team to guide you through the process.

Speed and Timing

Building a fully custom home is a more time-consuming process compared to other types of homebuilding. This is primarily due to two important factors.

One, the design process alone can take a year or more to complete. Unlike a semi-custom home that starts with a general floor plan and a handful of customization options, a custom home is literally designed from the ground up. It can feature anything you want, so the process of narrowing down the possibilities can take a long time.

Two, every inch of the home must be custom-built from a unique set of plans. When you build a custom home, you’re building something that has never been built before. You can expect the design and construction of a custom home to take anywhere from 12 to 24 months or more, depending on the complexity of the design and any unforeseen challenges that may arise.

Location Flexibility: Your Choice, Your Land

As with semi-custom homes, a fully custom home builder offers plenty of flexibility when it comes to location. Whether you already own a piece of land or need to purchase one, you have the freedom to choose exactly where your dream home will be built.

Cost Considerations with Full Custom Home Builders

Building a fully custom home is generally the most expensive option, with costs that can vary widely depending on your choices and the complexity of the project. In the Portland area, the cost of a custom home starts at about $550 per square foot. Again, keep in mind that this cost does not include the land or utlities.

When you factor in the cost of land in the Portland area, along with water, power, and sewage hookups, a custom home can cost upwards of $650–$1000 per square foot.

Woodlawn Custom Home
A custom home can include features not often found in typical homes, like this hidden bookshelf door.

Want to Learn More About How to Find the Right Contractor?

After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of the options available to you when building a new home. Now, take the next step in your research by downloading our free guide, “3 Steps to Choosing a Contractor.” In this guide, you’ll learn from construction industry experts how to find and hire the best contractor for your home project. 

Want to talk to a professional designer about your homebuilding dreams? If so, click the button below to schedule a free consultation with a member of our design team. We’ll help you navigate the process of bringing your dream home to life.