What Are The Pros And Cons Of Building A Custom Home?

When it comes to building a custom home, there are numerous benefits to take into account. However, it is equally important to carefully evaluate the drawbacks before reaching a decision. It’s essential to reflect on whether this is genuinely what you want and to strategize how to navigate the process in a way that meets both your immediate and future aspirations.

Location

Unlike many areas across the United States, the Bay Area has a severe shortage in undeveloped land. As such, many homeowners turn to building on their own lot. The alternative is finding a property that is relatively inexpensive enough in its market that one can ensure it is financially feasible to pour the millions necessary to build a quality home. For example, lots in Los Altos were selling in between $3.5 million and $4.5 million for teardown properties. If a prospective buyer wanted to design and build a custom home, a strong understanding of the neighborhood is required to ensure that the investment is more than the neighborhood can support. For other homeowners in Silicon Valley, many in Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, they face the issue that their location isn’t that desirable. However, the cost of buying a new lot in a desirable area and spending the money to build elsewhere can be a deciding factor. The homeowners in these areas typically make the most sense to build if they have owned the property for many years with equity built into the property. The advantage to building on your lot is that the property tax assessment is generally reasonable and not the actual market rate. 

Cost

A downside to consider is that building a custom home may have a higher cash outlay than buying a home with a mortgage. As one zooms out of the time horizon, it seems that the time following the completion is usually less costly in terms of utilities and maintenance. This will depend on the investment put into the home. For example, if a homeowner selects cheap, low quality materials, then be sure to expect higher maintenance costs and replacing finishes more frequently. On the other hand, spending extra for high quality, durable materials and opting for highly efficient HVAC systems and the top solar panel packages can lead to reducing headaches in the future. All along the mid-Peninsula it makes a lot of sense to opt for efficient solar panel packages and heating systems for comfort and peace of mind. When working through a design for a custom home, design professionals will provide direction on the best materials to use to fit the project. 

Time

The time that it takes to build a custom home should be a consideration as it is usually a more time-consuming process than if someone were to build a house via the use of a plan that was fully designed or buy an already-built house. However, this may be more than worth it given the pros that accompany going ahead with this decision. Plus, note that the process that goes into buying an already-built home that fits what you are looking for could take months or years depending on the complexity of the project. Alternatives to spending the time to design and build a custom home in the Bay Area, include purchasing ready go homes, remodeling the current home, or selecting a semi-custom home builder that restricts the number of options available to choose. A quick note on remodels in markets that have a high return on investment: Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Atherton typically make the most financial sense to maximize the square footage of the home and rebuild the structure. Relative to custom homes, remodels do not see the same return on investment. There are many benefits to designing and building a custom home, but it is absolutely a labor of love. 

Customization

A significant advantage of building a custom home and why so many decide to go this route is being able to customize your house much more fully than is usually possible.

Often designers will recommend choices for resale or homeowners will prioritize customizations for resale value. This sort of thinking is typically the worst way to operate for someone looking to make a home truly their own. Custom homes, especially between Redwood City and Mountain View, are statement pieces of someone’s or a family’s identity. In most areas, the home will be knocked down or remodeled by the next owner anyway. Therefore, make the most of your home and focus on customizing the home to a specific and tangible lifestyle. If this is a place that you plan to live in for the long term, these considerations will have much less of an impact on you. The Timeline team will help guide you and provide feedback so that you know if a customization will add or remove value from your custom home. 

A related challenge for some is that it might be overwhelming to have an almost infinite number of design possibilities in mind when deciding how your home should look. However, if that is you, feel free to consult the services of our interior design professionals to help you narrow that focus so that this experience becomes less overwhelming and more exciting and fun. When interior designing, it pays off to have an expert guide you through the process. Where to shop, how to think through decisions, the short term and long-term ramifications, and lastly, the latest trending design styles and influences. 

Landscaping

Another challenge to keep in mind is that a custom home’s building site will often not have mature landscaping to help beautify your property to the degree that you would like it to. However, you can counteract that by ensuring that your home is built in a manner that takes advantage of the landscaping that already exists there. In estate homes located along the 280 corridor, there are quite a few Oaks native to California. Generally, the local jurisdictions do not want homeowners removing Oaks from their properties and strongly enforce protecting native species. As such, Timeline’s architecture team will focus the conceptual design and master plan around natural landscaping to optimize the view, the existing nature or other existing site conditions. 

When planning an estate custom home, involving a landscaping architect early in the process will pay off and provide more creativity in placing a custom home on the lot. On larger lots, greater than an acre, homeowners want infinity edge pools, a pool house, sport courts, and these all need to be thoughtfully planned out prior to committing to a design. 

Bringing a holistic approach to a custom home will allow you to visualize the end result a lot more accurately than piecing the project together with a separate architect, interior designer, landscape architect, and contractor. 

Timeline Design+Build

Timeline is a design-build firm that features project managers, interior designers aptly ingrained in the latest trends, and architectural expertise which will help get a custom home designed and built in the most effective and high-quality manner, one that ensures that it solidly stands the test of time. 

For more information, get in touch: https://tldesign.net/contact/

Specializing in luxury custom homes in the communities of

Current project

Los Altos Contemporary Rebuild

This is a whole house remodel with small addition to modernize all the infrastructure of the home as well as change the exterior aesthetic. The entire structure is 3,400sf including a 2-car attached garage. There is significant demolition and rearrangement of the interior walls allowing for a more efficient, contemporary living style.

Location

  • California

Photography

  • Panaskopic Productions

Scope

  • Architecture, Interior Design, and Build

Current project

Cupertino Eichler Rebuild

In collaboration with Klopf Architecture, Timeline is remodeling a Cupertino Eichler with upgrades to electrical and HVAC, improved radiant heating, new roofing and waterproofing, insulation throughout the home, and a new kitchen.

Location

  • California

Photography

  • Panaskopic Productions

Scope

  • Build