New homes in Alachua County are going up all the time, considering the vibrant growth of our University of Florida community and all of the opportunities springing up from local businesses, and the draw of the incredible natural beauty of the area. If you are considering building a home here in the Gainesville area, it’s good to know about your options before diving into the biggest (and most worthwhile) investment you will probably ever make.
Generally speaking, there are three different home-building options that can get you into a brand new house. Each differs in process, building time, cost to build, and the level of control you have over design elements:
- Spec homes
- Semi-custom/personalized spec homes
- Custom homes
Here, we will discuss these different house construction types and what they mean for homebuyers. For instance, each of these home construction types impacts how much building a home costs, your level of involvement in the design phase, and the timeline between designing and constructing the house. Becoming educated about these different processes can help you decide which one is the best path to building your new home.
Building a Spec Home
Speculative homes—more commonly referred to as spec or move-in-ready homes—are constructed by home builders on empty lots of land and then sold directly to buyers. Each general contractor typically has a few different plans they regularly use, depending on the neighborhood and type of property they’re working with. By doing so, the company establishes a consistent standard and balance of reliability and amenity throughout their entire portfolio of properties, giving prospective home buyers confidence and clarity regarding their investment. Additionally, since spec homes are built to be sold quickly, they tend to display a sort of universal, if not generic, appeal.
As a prospective home buyer, you know exactly what you’re getting with a spec home, and you aren't responsible for making any decisions regarding the design or construction of the residence. Another bonus is expediency. You don’t have to deal with a lengthy process before transitioning to your move-in-ready home in Alachua County. There is also a set price point pre-determined by the home builder, so there’s no anxiety over creating and sticking to a budget. Everything is very straightforward.
The biggest advantage of a spec home is that it’s a type of new home construction that is move-in ready. You won’t have to wait a long time for the construction to take place, and you won’t have to spend any time at all picking out finishes or details. You can walk through and inspect the house before you buy it to make sure it will suit your needs. Of course, this advantage may be considered a disadvantage to some. You won’t have any say in customizations that cater to your family’s unique needs or tastes. You also won’t get to pick the lot or the neighborhood. The looks for these types of home building will be somewhat neutral and, for some, too generic. What you see is what you get. Of course, you can always remodel your kitchen and other rooms later if you want to. Still, this is a good option for families who need a place to live quickly and are generally happy with what’s to offer in that home.
Constructing a Personalized Spec Home
Say you want the ease of purchasing a standard spec home but you’d like to have control over a few decisions. Semi-custom homes are the solution. For this category of home-building, companies often have a library of designs with which they’re familiar. They know they can easily source materials for any one of the houses in the portfolio, giving you the latitude to select the plan that best fits your needs and expectations.
Once you’ve made your choice, a majority of the structure is pre-determined. However, you get to work with your home builder to personalize certain aspects of the home—primarily materials and finishes. Instead of going through dozens of choices for each door, cabinet, and light fixture, the home builder guides you on a few popular choices from which you can select.
When you’re building a semi-custom home or a personalized spec home, the cost is a bit more up in the air. While the builder likely has a set price for each of their popular home designs, your selections and customizations impact the overall project cost.
Custom Home Building in Gainesville
As the name implies, when you’re designing a custom home, you have complete control over every decision regarding the floor plan, interior and exterior features, and design elements. Each aspect of a custom house is tailored to your unique specifications, from the number of rooms in the house to the color of paint and type of flooring. During the selection process, you collaborate with your building professional, who offers input and expertise, but ultimately, the choices are all up to you.
Because of the extent to which a custom home is personalized to fit your individual tastes and preferences, it can take much longer to design and construct this type of project. Building a custom home also tends to be a bigger investment than purchasing a spec home, although it is a worthwhile one when you take into account the resulting value of the home and the superior quality of life it supports for years to come.
For many people, building a custom home is the dream of all the different types of residential construction available. The advantages are that you get to choose every aspect of every inch of your new home yourself. You, with the help of your architect or Gainesville design-build firm, can choose the neighborhood and lot, create a floorplan that meets your family’s long-term needs and choose materials and finishes generally not found in spec homes. You can incorporate all kinds of custom energy-saving and green materials into your home too. This is a superb option if you are planning on designing a home where you can age in place. On the flip side, building a custom home takes longer and is generally more expensive upfront. You’ll have a lot more decisions to make. Keep in mind that over-customization may also put off future homebuyers if you ever need to sell down the road. At the same time, building your home your way in the first place makes it less likely you’ll need to remodel the kitchen any time soon.
Design-Build vs. Architect
Within the custom home building category, there are two main methods for handling the design portion of the project:
1. Using a design-build company for both the design phase and construction phase
2. Hiring an architect for the design phase and then hiring a custom home builder for the construction phase
There are pros and cons to each type of project delivery method.
What to Expect when Hiring the Architect and Builder Separately
With an architect, you have the power to choose a professional whose style and expertise meet your standards. There is a sense of security knowing they went to school and met certain criteria to become a licensed professional within their field. If you have an architect you know or trust, it can be motivating to work alongside them to design a custom home that perfectly captures your priorities, preferences, and lifestyle.
The catch is that they may have the same degree of knowledge about city regulations, zoning laws, and other fine details about the physical building they're drawing, so you may have to pay re-drafting fees if a change order must be made once you start construction with a home builder.
Benefits of Hiring a Design-Build Company
With design-build, you still have access to licensed design professionals, and some design-build companies even have licensed architects in their employ. These services are simply provided under the same company as the construction team, creating a more streamlined and efficient process. Rather than having to vet two different firms and bid out your project to a construction company after the architect has finished the schematic drawings, your design-build remodeling team takes on both aspects of the project.
In the end, you have one point of contact from start to finish, giving you confidence that what you put down on paper will be what's waiting for you on the other side of construction. The design-build method also simplifies the process of budgeting and making payments and empowers you and your team to implement cost-saving solutions where and when they really count.
Building a Home in Alachua County
In the end, it is up to you to decide which way fits your goals best when you build a new home in the Gainesville area. Depending on your financial and personal circumstances, you may be drawn to the ease and simplicity of purchasing a spec home from a reputable builder. On the other hand, you may have a specific vision in mind and you look forward to being involved in the process of bringing it to life. You may ultimately decide where you are currently living is good and just needs a remodel. Robinson Renovation and Custom Homes offer both options to prospective homebuyers. Our design-build experts regularly collaborate on new residences that are move-in-ready when you need them, but we also offer services to help you create your perfect custom home, too.