If you are in the market to build or buy a new home, you may have come across the terms production home, custom home, and semi-custom home. Defining those terms is useful when discussing the process with a home builder.


A production or tract home is typically built by a production builder. These are homes typically built in a subdivision or in a concentrated neighborhood or area. The builder typically builds similar homes over and over with little variance in style or materials used. The ‘production’ aspect of the process allows the builder efficiency in the process, reducing the cost to build. The volume of the homes they build saves money on labor and materials. These cost savings should be reflected in cheaper home values.

The tradeoff is that you get a cookie-cutter home. This can also impact quality, but there are production builders that build a quality home. Most production builders do limit the buyer to a menu of predefined options items, such as flooring or cabinet styles, so the production home is better suited for someone who rather buy than build and is willing to accept more a more generic product.


For buyers who don’t want a cookie-cutter home the semi-custom approach is a good step-up. Home builders that offer a semi-custom option offer clients a portfolio of floor plans that can be customized to a far greater degree than a production home.

Customization can range from architectural layout to door hardware. Structural options will naturally add expense, but with good consulting from the builder and collaboration, the return on investment and the lifestyle fit can be significant.

A semi-custom home will stand out and can offer a very different final product than other homes in a neighborhood or on a specific street. While not totally custom, it is a great bridge to exactly what the buyer wants and needs.


As defined, the custom home offers a one of a kind, unique outcome for homeowners. A true custom home is one that has never been built. Like a fingerprint, there may be many similar, but not exactly the same. The client works with an architect and builder to create a plan for a house that has never been built before.  The initial design covers the layout and size of the rooms and everything detail that goes into the house. From the type of flooring to the fixtures, where the rooms are placed and how large they are.  A truly custom home is typically more expensive than semi-custom, and certainly more expensive than a production home, but with good collaboration and planning, and sometimes a little compromise, custom homes can be very affordable, and certainly far more unique.

Which of these is the best option for you?  Only you can decide based on your dreams and budget. Custom builders excel at imagining and creating something unique with each home. Because these projects involve so much interaction with homeowners, the most successful builders are excellent and active communicators that fully understand that the client’s needs come first.