Custom House Construction in Houston – Marwood Construction

11:23 Mar 2023

As new construction single family housing goes, when an owner wants a new home, they have a choice of two options. Build a custom house with a custom builder or build a production home with a production builder.

A custom house is much like it sounds, a one-of-a-kind home design. A production home is a mass reproduced dwelling from a home design plan that is reproduced multiple times.

Even though most everyone would prefer a new custom house there are many reasons that on owner selects a production house over a custom house. The most common justifications are price, convenience and location.

Production homes are more available and less expensive. The required decisions associated with these building these dwellings are much fewer than those required when building custom.

The general locations are in subdivisions that are close to schools and shopping. These are frequently found in the outlying suburbs in Houston.

Whereas a custom house is considered fine home building. Owners are motivated to take steps toward the ultimate personal statement and take their lifestyle to a new level. Luxury custom houses are considered by many to be the pinnacle of personal success.

It is a romantic idea to design and construct a one-of-a-kind custom house. Just image your lifestyle in a spacious beautiful new home designed to your every wish.

Selecting hand painted ceramics for the backsplash to polished stone from Europe for the inlaid floors. This can be a wonderful journey to embark on.


But wait…. This is going to cost a lot of money and take a very long time…. You are correct on both accounts.

The fine home building process is a gantlet that can easily turn a dream into a nightmare if not traversed with a trusted companion that knows where all the hazards are placed.

Building a custom house above all things is a very time-consuming process for all concerned including the experienced home building owners. It can become overwhelming if not planned and organized with the owner’s time and schedule in mind.

The custom home builder’s initial responsibility is to provide bespoke services to their client. This begins with the development of real world and clearly defined expectations.

Through this exchange both client and home builder determine a fit for a working relationship.

The success of the owner’s fine home building experience relies heavily on the strength of this relationship.

Custom House Builders

The custom house builder’s primary function in the building process is to be the clients advocate throughout the design and construction process. Your custom house builder’s role is to provide honest and transparent information and disclosures to their clients.

Their responsibility to the owner is to produce the best quality product designed to the owners wishes for the just amount promised to the client. The differentiating factors between custom house builders are the kinds of bespoke services the custom builder provide.

During the pre-design stage your builder should be assisting the in planning and organizing for the design phase. This includes reviewing the building site, the lot documents and discussing how your home elevation will blend with the home’s surroundings.

The fine home building process requires a clear understanding of your current and future lifestyle. The procedure of capturing these lifestyle needs and documenting this information translates to a home’s conceptual floor plan and elevation perspective drawing.

This is not always an efficient and productive process unless everyone has done their homework. Your custom house builders design team is required to facilitate the architectural process through question and answers and collecting your personal information for documentation.


Custom House Advantages

The production home building method is what most owners are familiar with when it comes to the constructing of houses. This is when the owner contracts directly with a production home builder to construct a predesigned home plan for their new home.

These off the shelf house plans are used to build the owners dwelling on a predetermined lot in area of the subdivision that the builder has purchased lots.

Custom house building is fundamentally different in a number of ways. When the owner contracts with production home builder, there is no architect for the owner to collaborate with. The selections of products and colors are limited to the options the builder offers.

With custom houses the luxury builder is involved from the very beginning assisting with selecting the architect and the building site. The custom home builder becomes the trusted adviser through the entire fine home building process.

When building one-of-a-kind luxury custom house, the architect often does not have a price estimate for a unique design feature requested by the owner. Although the home design that the architect creates may be incredible, the preconstruction budget provided by the owner cannot be budget validated until the plans are placed for bid.

In most cases this leads to redesign being required. This results in more cost and additional time to the owner’s project.

The unique feature of the design build method is that your luxury builder will be developing the construction budget throughout the design process.

If the home design budget elevates beyond an acceptable level, the luxury builder can flag it and the architect can redesign without a major cost or delay to the owner.

Another major benefit of this approach is when the custom home builder and architect collaborate. The joint collaboration creates opportunities to value engineer the home plans during design in an effort find cost savings.

The value engineering task does not usually take place in a design-bid-build scenario. In the event that the finished building plans have errors or omissions, the owner is responsible for these additional change order cost in the design-bid-build scenario.

Where as in the design build method, the custom home builders are responsible for these architectural mistakes. This alone will normally provide the owner a higher level of confidence in the construction budget.

Luxury custom house owners are better served by the design build home construction method then the traditional design-bid-build method.

The concierge service aspects of the design build method also provide the fine home building client an experience fundamentally more user friendly than other contracting methods.

If you are looking for a win – win relationship in your fine homebuilding experience, you are advised to hire design build home builders.

Designing and building a new Houston custom house is a unique and rare opportunity for most aspirating owners. Most owners that have either experienced or researched the journey of building their own custom house understand that this is a long and challenging development of events.

The time line is taxing on both your patience and ability to contribute to the design process, product selections and construction decisions.

Designing and building a custom home is a privilege that financially secure and successful owners enjoy. It requires sufficient financial resources and a clear understanding of your lifestyle and your families personal needs to provide the direction that is necessary to make all of the decisions.

One of the first and most important decisions the owner will need to make is which custom house delivery process they will choose to use in achieving their construction goals.

The following will be a summary of the alternative methods including their advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Traditional Design to Bid Approach

The traditional delivery approach of building a custom house is that the owners purchase a lot, hires an architect to draw design plans and submits those plans for competitive bids to a small group (usually 3) of custom home builders. 

This method of home delivery for home building has been conventionally favored because owners felt that this was the most efficient method of obtaining the best price to build their dream.

Although the design to bid approach does provide competitive bid alternatives, by no means that it will ensure the owner of receiving the best price to build a custom home.

This process does not provide for value engineering unless the owner request this service after the design process is complete.

In addition, the need to value engineer will usually lead to longer delays resulting from the need to redesign if bid amounts are substantially over budget.

Design to Bid Process Summary

  • Locate and Secure a Building Site It all begins with selecting a building The homes footprint is designed with the lot orientation in mind. Soil samples, tree preservation, setback restrictions and drainage are the primary concerns to address.
  • Develop a Budget and Home Design Theme Defining your construction budget is the next order of business. Your architect will require some direction in both budget range and design theme.
  • Hire an Architect to Design Home With your design theme in mind and your budget range defined it is time to hire your home plan designer. You will need to rely on your architect to design to your needs and lifestyle but to maintain a fiscal responsibility to the budget.
  • Interview and Select Custom Home Builders to Bid After the plans have been completed and approved you will need to request a small carefully selected group to bid the documents. You should already have two or three general contractors already vetted so you can swiftly move to a request for proposal.
  • Value Engineer and Redesign to Meet Budget It is not uncommon that the bids from your reputable general contractors will have to be valued engineered, redrawn and rebid to conform to your budget guidelines.
  • Hire Custom Home Builder  Once the owner is satisfied with the plans and budget, you can negotiate terms and conditions, sign a contract and submit for a building permit.
  • Custom Home Building Process With permit and approved documents in hand and a general contractor commissioned to build your Houston custom home, it’s time to complete your product selections and commence with the required building site reviews and site visits.

Design to Build Approach

The design build approach is a collaborating effort that involves the architect, home builder and the client. The owner defines their needs and desires and communicates to the design team.

The architect then draws these ideas developing their visions into home plans. The role of the custom home builder during the design phase is to balance the client’s needs and wants with cost and buildability of the project deliverables.


This method serves the owners interest by saving redesign cost, reducing project time and reducing the owner’s frustration with the pre-construction process.

One of the most positive benefits for the owner is budget control. Due to the design build collaboration of the builder and architect, there is a pricing function conducted after preliminary drawings are accepted to confirm the plan is in compliance with the budget.

Design Build Process Summary

  • Interview & Hire Design Build General Contractor You will notice that the significant difference in the two approaches is that you are hiring your contractor first in the approach. A general contractor will act as your trusted adviser and advocate throughout the design and construction of your custom house.
  • Locate and Secure a Building Site Although you may have already identified a new building site, it is wise to get your general contractor involved in the evolution and final approval to purchase. They can also be helpful in the negotiations of the lot purchase.
  • Develop Home Design Criteria and Budget  With the guidance of your custom home builder you will develop the home design theme and discuss conceptual budget cost associated with the design. These discussions will lead to identifying the best architect and engineer to collaborate with.
  • Develop Design Build Team The general contractor commissions the members of the design team. He will facilitate the hiring of the required design team. This is usually an architect and a structural engineer. As the clients need require, the team may also include interior decorator and landscape architect.
  • Design Home Process The actual design of the custom house is similar to the process of the design to bid process. It begins with the hand sketches of a concept drawing and moves to preliminary drawings. The final step in home plan designs is to create the working drawings. As the owners approve the preliminary plans the general contractor confirms the construction budget by providing a detailed schedule of values.
  • Custom Home Building Process There is little difference in the actual building of the custom house between the two approaches. The difference is in the general contractor being responsible for the cost of design omissions and errors. Under the design to bid method the owner pays for architectural errors and omissions. Since your home builder is a single source in this approach, the general contractor would be responsible for errors and omissions.

The Construction Management Approach for the Owner Builder

The owner builder delivery method is when an owner assumes the risks associated having design plans prepared with the intent of building their own custom house.

Historically speaking without proper guidance, this approach will likely result in a greater expense and more complications than the use of a builder, unless the owner has the required special skills to facilitate such an achievement.

If an owner is committed to the owner builder method, they may want to consider hiring a construction management firm to provide guidance and leadership to the owners home building effort.

The approach is a process of hiring a competent construction management firm to provide quality control and work site management over the construction process.

If the owner wants a professional firm to facilitate the offsite administration tasks like subcontractor bids, accounts payables and cost control, they can hire a project management firm.

It is essential that when you are ready to build your custom house that you consider which of these approaches best serves your risk aversion and service needs before you select a delivery method.

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