Owner Builder Network founder answers questions about custom home building

by By Holly Gray

Sheila Marler, founder of custom home agency Owner Builder Network, answers questions about custom home building.

Why would someone build a home rather than purchase a prebuilt home on a lot?

Maybe they don’t like the neighborhood or the school district, and it’s just an endless search. These people know what they want, and finding that is impossible. The only other avenue is, ‘Let’s find a piece of land in the area that you’re interested in, and let’s design the home the way you want it.’

What are some of the recent trends you have seen in custom homebuilding?

A lot more people arelooking at not putting themselves or parents in a retirement home andbuilding guest quarters either attached or in the existing home to have a caregiver stay there. Or they’ve got a child that’s older and on their own, and they build guest quartersfor them so when they get older, the childrencan take care of the parentsand their child can move into the house.

In what areas do you see more custom homebuilding than the purchase of prebuilt homes?

The Montgomery County area is really picking up a lot more custom homebuilding—not Tomball proper as much. Definitely Magnolia because prospective buyersaren’t seeing the energy efficiency quality they want or what they’re getting for aprice per square foot. I think the interest in custom homebuilding will happen even more so now that the flooding went on.

What are the advantages of building a custom home?

Unless it’s a year or two old, you don’t see many existinghomes on the market that are energy efficient. If you build a new home and you have a builder that lets you do some of the custom features that you want—opposed to the ‘We don’t do that orI don’t offer that’—it’s the difference between buying a new car and buying a used car.

What is the overall cost difference between building a home and buying a prebuilt home?

A prebuilt homeis inexpensive most of the time, because they are building one to possibly four homes that are all the same. You will see these homes in neighborhoods with all the same shingle colors, and all the homes basically look the same. They buy all the material in mass quantities and get good deals on materials.

What is the time frame for building a custom home versus purchasing a prebuilt home?

Construction loans are taken out for one year for custom building. From the time the slab is poured to move-in, it is about six months. Of course, there are weather delays at times. Having to work up plans, do appraisals and compilebank documents just to get to the construction close date will take around three additionalmonths. If you do aprebuilt home, of course you could close on the homeas fast as two months from the time of contract signing if an appraisal has already been done.

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