5 Tips for Working With a Builder on Your Custom Home Design
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One of the things that sets us apart from other custom home builders in Greenville, South Carolina is the way we work with our clients right from the beginning — whether they come to us with a fully-finished floor plan or just a few scribbles on a napkin, our Design Team is on-hand to turn your dream into a reality.

When it comes to working with a builder on custom home designs, and we have five pieces of advice we think you’ll find invaluable:

1. Choose a Builder Who Specializes in Custom Homes

There are two general types of homebuilders — those who primarily work with a specific set of pre-chosen floor plans, and those who specialize in custom homes.

The first type of homebuilder may be willing to make an exception and build a totally custom home, but odds are good that first they’ll try to convince you to go with one of the floor plans they already have legal rights to use. In some cases, homebuilders will flat refuse customization, since their crews won’t have much experience beyond the basic set of floor plans they offer.

Even if they offer to make changes to suit your needs, that floor plan probably isn’t what you’ve been dreaming of, and you shouldn’t settle for less. The very first question to ask when contacting a builder is whether or not they will work with a fully customized plan. If they say no, it’s time to look elsewhere.

A builder who specializes in custom-designed homes, on the other hand, will have the ability to draw up a floor plan from scratch if needed or to work with any floor plan you bring to them that is within their ability to build. They’ll likely have partnered with licensed architects and designers to ensure that floor plans and custom home designs meet local, state, and regional building codes, and can add singularly unique touches that make it truly your home, rather than a cookie-cutter building you happen to live in.

2. Research Your Builder Before You Call

Google the business name of the builder you’re interested in contacting. Do they have a good rating on the Better Business Bureau? Can you easily find reviews from former clients, or photos of finished work? Are there complaints about delayed move-in dates, the builder simply disappearing halfway through the job, or bad communication? Are they well-known within their local community? Get the answers to all of these questions before you schedule a sit-down meeting for the first time.

At Five Star Construction, we’ve been building custom homes in Upstate South Carolina for decades. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and we’re happy to speak with you about our previous projects and happy former clients.

3. Have a Budget Ready Before Your First Meeting

One of the most common frustrations homebuyers deal with is due to a simple lack of communication: a client comes in with a design in hand but without a budget in mind, then is shocked to hear how much building their dream home could cost.

We recommend taking a look at the average cost of building a new home in South Carolina. A good estimate for the cost of building a custom home is about $80 – $200 per square foot. If you’re planning to utilize high-end finishes like real hardwood flooring or marble countertops, use the higher cost-per-square-foot as your estimate.

Write down the budget estimate and what you’re actually willing to spend (these numbers may be different, and that’s okay — there are ways to save money when building a custom home that we may be able to utilize to bring your costs down.

In any case, bringing your budget to your very first meeting lets everyone get started on the same page when it come to costs, and that’s the key to a good custom homebuilding experience.

4. Have Your Must-Haves and Wants on Two Separate Lists

Especially for potential homebuyers looking to save money on a custom home, separating your “I want this” from your “I need this” is essential. If your floor plan lists five bedrooms but you only need four, you may be able to save money by cutting out that bit of superfluous space.

On the other hand, if your dream home has always had a finished basement in your mind, don’t cut that out just to save a little money — you’ll regret that choice in the end, and this is going to be your home… you want to make sure it’s exactly what you dreamed it would be.

You may find that something you originally didn’t consider necessary becomes important to you as the project goes on, so being able to discuss musts vs. wants with your builder early on makes it easier to change your mind on these things if needed.

Once construction has begun, large-scale changes can end up taking you way over your budget.

5. Ask About What Happens After Move-In Day

Many homebuilders consider Move-In Day the unofficial end of their relationship with the client. Home is built, fees are paid, you shake hands with a contractor, case closed. Right?


Does your custom homebuilder have a warranty to protect your investment if anything should go wrong? Do they have a document listing out what the warranty does and does not cover, and what recourse you have in the event of something breaking or being defective?

A reputable custom homebuilder stands by their work, and a warranty of at least one year should be a part of the services they offer.

Need a Custom Home in Greenville, South Carolina?

We’ve built custom-designed homes for Upstate South Carolina homebuyers for decades, and we stand by our work from floor plan to finished home and beyond. Get started building your luxury dream home by giving us a call at (864) 303-9143 or contact us online at any time.

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