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How Much Does a Custom Home Cost With a Design Build Firm?

Homeowners often choose to work with a design build firm because of the streamlined, cohesive process. In this process, design and construction services are seamlessly integrated, providing an end-to-end construction experience for homeowners. For those considering a custom home, a design-build firm can be a great option to ensure that the home meets their expectations. However, before hiring a design-build firm to build your new custom home, it’s important to first understand how much a project like this could cost.

Our team at Lamont Bros. Design & Construction has built several custom homes around the Portland Metro Area. We’ve guided homeowners just like you through the challenging maze of custom home costs. If you’re wondering how much it costs to hire a design-build firm to construct your new custom home, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we will unpack the costs associated with custom homes built by design-build firms. By the end of this read, you’ll have a clearer picture of the financial commitments involved and a better understanding of how to navigate the custom home-building journey with confidence. The topics we will delve into include:

Why Build a Custom Home?

Building a custom home is a significant undertaking that involves months or even years of planning and building. But why do people choose to embark on a construction journey of this scale? Before discussing the cost of a custom home, let’s explore why so many homeowners are willing to spend the extra cash to have a home custom-tailored to their needs and style.

Personalization and Uniqueness

Custom homes are not just about meeting basic housing requirements; they’re about making a statement. When you decide to build a custom home, you’re investing in a one-of-a-kind creation.

Each element, from the architectural design to the interior fixtures and finishes reflects your unique style and vision. It’s about having a home that stands out from the rest, showcasing your individuality and creativity.

Long-Term Investment & Legacy

Building a custom home is an investment in your future. While the upfront costs may be higher than purchasing an existing property, a well-designed custom home can provide long-term value.

It’s a home that adapts to your changing needs over time, potentially reducing the need for future renovations or expansions. Plus, the uniqueness and quality of a custom home can make it an attractive asset in the real estate market.

Beyond that, many homeowners choose to build a custom home as something that will remain in the family for generations to come. It’s an investment not only in the quality of your own lives but in the lives of your children and grandchildren.

Custom home under construction

Quality and Craftsmanship

Custom homes often prioritize quality craftsmanship. These homes tend to incorporate high-end products and materials, which often require the installation of a seasoned expert to do justice to the quality of these materials. This commitment to excellence ensures that your home not only looks impressive but also functions flawlessly.

Skilled artisans and builders who work on custom homes should pay close attention to every detail, delivering a level of quality that is often challenging to achieve in standard home construction.

Understanding the Cost of Custom Homes

When discussing custom homes in the context of this article, we are referring exclusively to homes that are fully custom-designed and constructed from the ground up. Homes that are one-of-a-kind are more expensive to plan and build for a few reasons:

  1. The plans aren’t being reproduced or resold to multiple buyers, so one buyer must front the entire cost of the design instead of splitting it up among many.
  2. During construction, the home is the only one being built, so builders can’t save time and money by running multiple crews through multiple homes as they do in suburban construction.

The result is a home that is higher in cost because it demands the undivided attention and labor of your designers and builders.

Keep in mind that this does not include *customizable ***homes, which are homes with predetermined conceptual designs that offer some flexibility in terms of interior layout, products, and finishes.

To read more about the difference between custom and customizable homes, read our article, “Do I Need a Custom Home?

What is the Base Cost of a Custom Home?

While the price can vary significantly based on location and specific project requirements, a good starting point for building a custom home with a design build firm in the Portland, Oregon area is around $550 per square foot.

A custom home in Portland, OR

In comparison, the cost to buy an existing home in Portland is typically around $330 per square foot. This means that if you choose to build a custom home, you can expect to pay more than $200 extra per square foot than you would pay to simply buy a home. Or, in simpler terms, a 3000-square-foot custom home would cost approximately $660,000 more than an existing home of the same size.

Keep in mind that the actual cost of your custom home could be more than the base cost of $550 per square foot. Some extremely high-end luxury homes surpass $1,000 per square foot.

This base figure merely provides an entry-level base price for understanding the potential cost of your custom home. To fully understand what a custom home might cost, you have to look at what factors affect the cost.

Key Factors That Influence Custom Home Costs

Nearly every factor that contributes to the higher cost of custom home stems from the fact that custom home is unique. As a one-of-a-kind home, every feature incorporated into the design must be done with painstaking precision and attention to detail to maintain structural stability and design consistency.

Engineering Challenges

While many custom homes feature unique and intricate designs and structural features, even the ones that don’t can still pose engineering challenges. This lies largely in the custom structural engineering required to design a new home.

Whereas with builder homes and developers, their engineering plans are approved once and then mass-produced by the hundreds, every custom home must be uniquely engineered to the owner’s specifications, which can add to the overall cost.

home addition framing
Custom homes can present several structural engineering challenges

Custom Design & Construction Services

Although custom homes are all about personalization, this personal touch can come with a price tag. Crafting a showpiece home that caters to specific preferences requires meticulous planning and execution.

Consider the difference between a framer tasked with constructing a simple rectangular home measuring 50 by 40 feet and one challenged with crafting a custom home with intricate angles and sprawling dimensions spanning 150 by 40 feet.

The truth is the former scenario, building what might be likened to a “box,” is significantly easier and more common. The familiarity of constructing a straightforward design allows for efficiency and cost savings.

On the other hand, when the task involves creating a one-of-a-kind home with unique angles and dimensions, it introduces a level of complexity that requires meticulous planning and execution on the framer’s part, inevitably driving up labor hours and, in turn, the cost.

The distinction lies not just in expense but also in the statement these homes make. While a basic design may serve its purpose, a custom home with intricate features becomes a unique piece of art, showcasing the homeowner’s individuality and design aspirations. However, it requires the skill and labor hours of somebody qualified to turn it into a reality, and craftsmen of that caliber are in high demand.

Custom Finishes & Features

Every element tailored specifically for your home, whether it’s the elegant built-in bookshelves in your home office or the meticulously designed cabinetry for your one-of-a-kind kitchen, carries a cost that goes beyond the ordinary. It’s an investment in labor hours, skilled expertise, and a commitment to creating something truly exceptional.

Consider, for instance, the case of custom cabinetry. When crafting cabinetry for a standard kitchen, builders can rely on pre-fabricated designs and readily available materials, which often keeps costs within a reasonable range.

Now, imagine a sprawling 20×20 custom chef’s kitchen that requires a set of custom-made cabinets designed to fit the unique cooking needs and aesthetic style of the homeowner. The price tag for the cabinets alone can easily surpass $100,000.

What sets these custom features apart is not just the price but also the extraordinary level of craftsmanship involved. The artisans behind these creations are not merely builders; they are master craftsmen with years of experience who bring a wealth of skill to the table. They understand that achieving perfection demands more than just quality materials; it requires a deep commitment to precision and a dedication to the artistry of construction.

Want to Learn More About Custom Home Building?

Now that you have a basic understanding of the cost of a custom home, continue your research by downloading our free 3-Step Guide to Choosing a Contractor. In it, you’ll find an easy-to-follow process developed by construction professionals to help you find the best contractor for your construction project, whether it’s a small bathroom remodel or an entire custom home.

Want to talk to a professional designer about bringing your dream home to life? Click the button below to schedule a free consultation with a member of our design team. We’ll discuss the process for designing and building a custom home so you can come one step closer to deciding if a custom home is right for you.