Determining the total scope of work and estimating a price to build a custom home is a complex and tedious project. For that reason, accurate, comprehensive estimates do not happen overnight, and if they do buyer beware! Every home is an assembly of thousands of components that range from large engineered structures like I-joist floor systems to miniscule products like shower drains and closet rods. A builder must consider all these various components when estimating cost and time to complete the home. In order to do this correctly, a thorough understanding of the architectural plans, site plan, engineered schematics if available, and home specification documents is paramount; a familiarity that does not come quickly.

Tract builders can typically price homes per square foot or per plan because they build the same floorplans repeatedly on nearly identical lots with only minor variations available to homeowners. Teams of purchasing managers and estimators make this possible. This is vastly different from the world of building unique homes, where there is no precedent to generate an accurate price per foot comparison. Instead, custom builders must use formulae and competitive bidding to arrive at an estimate.

Competitive bidding is a process of soliciting for dozens of proposals from subcontractors for various scopes of work, from excavating and pouring the footings to installing frameless glass shower enclosures. After all bids are in, the builder analyzes the proposals to ensure the subcontractors accounted for all the work they should have, and to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison when looking at two subcontractors’ bids for the same scope of work. Solicitation for bids takes time, but it builds confidence into the project estimate because the categorical budgets represent quantifiable products and services as opposed to conjectures.

It may take several weeks for a custom builder to provide a comprehensive estimate to construct your uniquely designed home. However, taking the time to ensure precision on the front end of the project can save the experience from financial frustration, mistrust, and delays due to insufficient categorical budgets. We believe being accurate and transparent from the onset is the only way to ensure smooth sailing throughout the course of construction. Thus, during the estimation phase, patience pays off.