New Construction or Custom Construction for your new home?

Do you want “New Construction” or do you want “Custom Construction”?

That is a huge question when deciding if you want to hire an architect or a drafter for your home design needs. I bring this topic up because each week I have a conversation with potential clients who do not need my services. They have found a plan online that they like, but want to make a few changes, nothing major. Or they are building a very straightforward design that they have developed themselves. Yes, an architect would work out any issues in advance of construction, bring a level of experience and training that drafters and builders don’t have, and probably save more than their design fee through the actual construction process. BUT – if you don’t want custom design and only want a new house, a drafter can do that work. They can develop the minimum drawings you need for a permit. However, if you want a custom solution for your dream home that facilitates the life you want to live, you need an architect.


Open floor plan.

Open floor plan and loft of Hilltop House, a custom construction.

Defining “new construction” and “custom construction”

The terms “new construction” and “custom construction” refer to different approaches and processes in building a home or structure. New Construction refers to the process of building a structure from scratch on a piece of land. They are usually in a large-scale development, have very similar layouts to other homes that builders have constructed, and the builder manages the selection process, where you pick from a pre-determined group of options. Construction typically follows code minimum standards and there is often no understanding of building science. You get to “customize” things like the color of materials, or add a window there, or add a deck, but there are not major complications to the standard build.

The term “Custom Construction” involves an architect that designs a solution that will facilitate the life their clients want to live on their land. It will have specific preference, requirements, and specifications selected through an established process. These custom homes will be adaptable, efficient, and durable. They are unique to the goals of the client and the site it will be built on. The structural framing system will be efficient, the rooms sized for the intended use, and the program thought through to maximize the value invested for the dream desired.

In custom construction clients are deeply involved in the decision-making process and the builder will have a complete design and selections list prior to finishing their budgeting for a project.


living room couch. a wall of windows behind overlooking the mountains.

Glass wraps around Casa Cielo on three sides from floor to ceiling, blending the indoors with the outdoors.


In essence, new construction focuses on mass production with limited customization, while custom construction emphasizes personalized design and construction tailored to individual client preferences and specifications. The higher value option is a custom solution.

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