Tract Home vs. Custom Build – The Pros and Cons

There is something to be said for building a home. Whether it is a primary residence or a vacation home, building represents an opportunity to get just what you want. But even in that regard, there are differences between building a tract home and buying a separate piece of land on which you will build the customized home of your dreams.

Building a Tract Home

Tract homes are so-called because they are built in housing tracts. A property of a couple hundred acres can be developed by a builder looking to put up five hundred homes. Where there was nothing but a field quickly becomes a bustling tract community.

The Pros

So what are the pros of building a tract home? First and foremost, you will pay less than you would for a custom build. This is due to the fact that tracts tend to work with architects to come up with a limited number of style options. Buyers choose a particular style and then go from there.

Another advantage is instantly being part of a community. You all have the common bond of having purchased in a brand-new tract. Perhaps the builder even designed it with a community vibe.

Tract housing can also be built more quickly in most cases. Again, this is due to a limited number of styles being offered. Once contractors get used to building the houses, they go up pretty fast.

The Cons

The biggest con is that your customizations are limited. Builders are only willing to go so far before customizations begin interrupting the workflow. Another con – at least from the other side of the equation – is instantly being part of a community. That might not be your thing. You might prefer a more isolated environment.

The thing about housing tracts is that you never know who your neighbors are going to be. You could be the only one on your street when you move in but find you are surrounded by people you have little in common with by the end of the year.

Building a Custom Home

A true custom build is rarely part of a housing tract. It is generally built on a separate piece of land with plenty of buffer between you and your neighbors. More often than not, property owners secure the land before ever meeting with an architect or builder.

The Pros

The main advantage of a custom build is being able to get exactly what you want, within your budget. If you were building in Park City, UT, for example, you could hire Sparano + Mooney to build you the perfect Mountain Contemporary home with all the amenities you’ve dreamed of.

A custom build also gives you the opportunity to work the home into the surrounding area. You can situate it just where you want it to maximize views. You can work within the natural environment to create the perfect landscaping.

The Cons

The two main disadvantages of custom builds are time and money. Custom builds almost always take longer to construct because you’re dealing with more choices, more complicated financing, a plethora of building permits, and so forth.

Of course, building a custom home from the ground up is going to cost you more. Unlike tract builders, custom builders do not have the economics of scale to keep prices in check. You pay maximum price on everything from labor to materials.

There is no right or wrong here. Tract homes are the right choice for some while custom builds are better for others. As long as you are happy in the end, it is all good.

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