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Hiring A Home Builder - What You Need To Know

September 08, 20237 min read

Hey everyone, it's TJ! Thanks for joining me on this little adventure into the world of home-building. As you know, I've been around the block a few times with this, so I thought I'd spill some of the beans on how to get things right.

The Builder Spectrum

First, let's talk shop. Not every builder is the same, so let's break them down:

Custom Builders:

These folks are artists with bricks and beams. Think of this as the haute couture of houses. This is precisely what we do at Sanctified Homes & Construction.

Custom home builders are residential construction professionals or companies that specialize in designing and building unique, one-of-a-kind homes that are tailored to the specific needs, preferences, and desires of individual homeowners. These builders work closely with clients to create custom residences that reflect the homeowners' vision, lifestyle, and functional requirements.

Here's a more detailed description of custom home builders:

1. Personalized Design: Custom home builders collaborate closely with their clients to develop a completely customized home design. This process often starts with the client's ideas, sketches, or architectural plans and evolves through discussions and revisions until the final design is approved. Customization options can encompass everything from layout and room configurations to architectural style, materials, and interior finishes.

2. Unique Features: Custom homes are known for their unique and distinctive features. Clients can incorporate special elements such as custom millwork, built-in cabinetry, unique floor plans, custom lighting, high-end appliances, and innovative architectural details.

3. Quality Craftsmanship: Custom home builders prioritize craftsmanship and attention to detail. They work with skilled tradespeople and artisans to ensure that every aspect of the home meets the highest quality standards.

4. Extensive Client Involvement: Custom home construction involves ongoing communication and collaboration between the builder and the homeowner. Clients are often involved in decisions regarding materials, fixtures, finishes, and other design elements, allowing them to have a hands-on role in creating their dream home.

5. Individualized Budgeting: Custom home builders work with clients to develop a budget that aligns with the project's scope and the homeowner's financial resources. The builder helps the client make informed decisions to stay within budget while achieving the desired level of customization and quality.

6. Longer Timelines: Custom home projects typically have longer construction timelines compared to standardized or tract homes because of the unique design and customization involved. The focus is on achieving the homeowner's specific vision, which can take time.

7. Architectural Freedom: Custom home builders often collaborate with architects or have in-house architectural design teams to create original plans or modify existing designs to meet the homeowner's requirements. This allows for a wide range of architectural styles, from traditional to modern and everything in between.

8. Location Flexibility: Custom homes can be built on a homeowner's own land or in locations of their choosing, provided zoning regulations and building codes permit. This flexibility allows homeowners to select their preferred neighborhood or setting.

In summary, custom home builders provide a high level of flexibility, creativity, and individuality in the home construction process. They bring homeowners' dreams to life by crafting homes that are uniquely suited to their tastes and needs, resulting in residences that stand out as expressions of their personal style and aspirations.

Semi-Custom Builders: 

Imagine you get a cake (the floor plan) and you get to choose the icing and toppings (customizations). It's not baked from scratch, but hey, it's still delicious.

Semi-custom homebuilders are residential construction companies or builders that offer a middle-ground approach between fully custom homes and mass-produced, standardized homes.

Semi-custom homebuilders provide a level of personalization and flexibility in home design and construction that falls between two extremes. Unlike production builders who offer a limited range of pre-designed floor plans and features, and where every home in a development can be identical, semi-custom homebuilders allow homeowners to customize certain aspects of their home while working within a predefined set of options.

Typically, semi-custom homebuilders offer a selection of base floor plans or templates that serve as a starting point for potential buyers. These floor plans can be modified to some extent to accommodate the buyer's preferences and needs. This customization may include adjustments to room layouts, the number of bedrooms, the addition of optional features like fireplaces or upgraded appliances, and the selection of finishes such as flooring, countertops, and paint colors.

Semi-custom homebuilders offer a compromise between the fully bespoke experience of custom home construction, which often involves creating a unique design from scratch, and the convenience and cost-efficiency of purchasing a ready-made, mass-produced home. This approach appeals to individuals who want some degree of personalization while also benefiting from the efficiency and cost savings associated with building multiple homes based on similar templates.

In essence, semi-custom homebuilders offer a balance between individuality and practicality, giving homeowners the opportunity to tailor certain aspects of their home to their preferences and lifestyle without starting entirely from scratch in the design process.

Track Home Builders: 

Quick and efficient. These are the ready-to-wear outfits of the building world. They won't be unique, but they sure are practical.

Track Home Builders are residential construction companies or developers that specialize in the construction of tract homes, also known as "tract housing" or "production homes." These are homes that are built in large quantities according to a set of standardized designs and floor plans within a specific development or neighborhood, often referred to as a "housing tract" or "subdivision."

Track home builders follow a streamlined and efficient construction process designed for mass production. They typically offer a limited selection of home designs and floor plans that are repeated throughout the housing development. These designs are often optimized for cost-effectiveness and ease of construction, which allows for quicker and more affordable home building.

Key characteristics of track homes and track home builders include:

1. Standardization: Track home builders focus on creating homes with standardized layouts, features, and materials. This standardization helps reduce construction costs and ensures consistency in the appearance of homes within the development.

2. Limited Customization: Unlike custom homebuilders, track home builders offer limited customization options. Buyers can typically choose from a set of predetermined interior and exterior finish options but have limited flexibility to make major structural changes or design alterations.

3. Economies of Scale: Track home builders benefit from economies of scale, as they construct multiple homes in the same development. Bulk purchasing of materials and efficient construction processes help keep costs down.

4. Quick Construction: Because of their streamlined processes, track home builders can often complete homes more quickly than custom builders, which is appealing to homebuyers looking for a faster move-in timeline.

5. Affordability: Track homes are often priced competitively, making them more accessible to a broader range of homebuyers.

6. Planned Communities: Track home builders often develop planned communities with amenities such as parks, schools, shopping centers, and recreational facilities to attract potential buyers.

While track homes may lack the uniqueness and customizability of individually designed custom homes, they are a popular choice for many homebuyers seeking affordable and efficient housing options. These homes are commonly found in suburban areas and housing developments, where the goal is to create cohesive neighborhoods with consistent architectural styles.

Figuring Out the Moolah

Alright, before we get all giddy about designs and floor plans, let's talk about that wallet of yours.

Turnkey Financing:

Do you know those stories where the hero swoops in at the end? This is kind of like that. The builder takes the risk upfront, and once the house is ready, you step in with a mortgage.

Construction Financing: 

Think of this as a two-part saga. First, you get a loan for the build, and once your crib is ready, you swap it for a regular mortgage.

Escrow Account Financing: 

For those of you who've been saving under the mattress (or, you know, in a bank), this is where you put that stash into an escrow. As the house gets built, payments come out of this.

Picking Your Building Buddy

Here's the TJ’s way of getting the right builder:

  • Stalk them, Kinda: I mean, don’t be creepy, but do your research. Check out their neighborhoods, and social media, and maybe even attend some open houses.

  • Chit-Chat: Fix up a coffee date. Get a vibe of their work ethic and if they gel with your style.

  • Trust, but Verify: Once you're vibing with someone, double-check. Did their last projects turn out dope? Do their other clients have cool things to say about them?

Wrapping Up

Alright, troops. Building a home isn't just about bricks and paint. It's about those Sunday morning vibes, the laughter, the memories. You want a place that screams YOU. And remember, always aim for the stars. Demand quality, stand by your vision, and you'll have a place that isn't just a house but a home.

Want to connect directly with TJ? Schedule a no-obligation call here.

For those looking for more of TJ's ramblings, check here. Catch you later, and happy building!

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TJ Vitense

Founder of Sanctified Homes and Construction & the Blessed to Build Foundation, TJ believes in raising the industry standards. With his company Strategic Real Estate Experts, he helped hundreds of families buy and sell homes. And, now manages new home construction as one of Wisconsin's best home builders.

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Why You Will Love Working With Us


Honesty is always the best policy, and this is the policy we swear by. We aim to be as transparent as possible with our clients when building their homes.

  • We have no hidden fees or surprises.

  • We disclose every invoice and bid because we have nothing to hide.

  • We are upfront about all costs, including the price or materials and labor costs, so you can trust every dollar of the process.


Our team has over 25 years of experience in construction and design, so we know how to make your dream home a reality.

  • Over 200 homes build with our combined expertise!

  • 25 years experience in Parade of Homes

  • Builder Of the Year with Madison Area Builders Association

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At Sanctified, we are committed to raising the standards in the industry. At our core, we value transparency, trust, & communication. Our mission is not to only give you a modern, efficient home, but a place to experience life with the ones you love the most.

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