Custom build… What’s first? The lot, the plan or the builder?


One of the greatest struggles custom building clients go through is the question, “What do I need to do first? Do I buy a lot, create building plans, or choose a builder?

This question gets much attention, therefore, let me give a bit of perspective.

There are many different reasons to start building a luxury custom home. Some people knew that it was time to move, go bigger, go smaller, or simply needed a change. They were in a situation where they could afford to build a house, but knew that they had specific things they wanted in a house.

Enter the custom building process.

More often than not, the client will see a building lot in a spectacular location that is owned by the builder, or clients will bring a location that they want, own, or are in the process of buying. Going this route allows the design process to take into account every nuance, every tree, every angle and every ray of light into consideration when planning the layout, because they already know the lot dimension, direction and sizing guidelines. This often works very well, with everyone knowing exactly what is possible on the lot available.

This does, however, have its set backs as if they wait for the lot to be found and purchased, it extents the amount of time. Also, finding the “perfect” lot might happen but they may find that the lot is with a builder that they do not necessarily want to build with, or is able to meet their needs.

Alternatively, we have had clients ask if they should purchase, design, or create a home design and plans because they know what they want already. This works for somebody that is able to know exactly what kind of lots are available, and they are all relatively the same. Architects, designs and home builders are usually familiar with the local setback lines, indicating the allowable build size without a variance. Going through a knowledgable source is best as designing a home that can fit on most lots is a tricky task and requires a lot of guessing on everyone’s part. This is the least recommended path to follow as the usual reason for going through the custom building process in the first place is to get EXACTLY what they wanted in the first place.

Last but not least, is choosing the builder first. More times than not, I have witnessed people go from builder to builder, constantly being discouraged by “custom” builders that offer pre-designed layouts, with minimal ability or desire to change them. Going with a proven custom builder is a great option as working with a custom builder will give you a lot of experience and guidance when going through the process. One thing that Emmett Leo Homes does better than anyone else is knowing where the client should put their money, vs where they can save. This all has to do with finding out what is important to them, and helping guide them through the hundreds of decisions required. This comes from our # 1 value: HONESTY. We will always recommend what we believe to be the right choice for our clients, whether it’s about finishings, design, or timelines.

The biggest setback with choosing a builder first is they might not have acces to the desired location, and not have the experience in purchasing and negotiating homes/vacant lots that are for sale by another builder or a homeowner. With a extensive background in buying, building and selling luxury spec projects, Emmett Leo Homes can help work together with out clients to get the their desired location faster and cheaper.

At Emmett Leo Homes, we offer 10 years of negotiating experience purchasing undervalued property, as well as finding off market property. We work with the best team to find infill lots that are not on the market or purchase development lots found in most developments.

Whichever way you decide to go, know that we are always here to lend a guiding hand, should clients choose to go with us or not. The custom building process can be tedious without the right help, and we strive to help all those, clients or not, and lead them in the the right direction for THEM.