What To Expect When Building A Custom Home

Through the years we’ve learned it is important to set realistic expectations up front so that clients are not surprised by certain aspects of building a custom home they may not expect. There is a huge difference between building a custom home that’s never been built and building a production home that’s been built many times.

Onsite Supervision

Tory will personally inspect the work done on your home, but we will not provide 100% onsite supervision. Some people have the impression that someone is supposed to be at their home all the time.  This is not required, and not possible. Most people could not afford a home or a builder where 100% onsite supervision was provided.


Building a custom home takes a lot of time on the part of the client. We work with great suppliers who are experts in their particular field, but it still takes time on your part to select what will be in your home. A typical home will require the following selections:

Windows and exterior doors
Brick & other exterior materials
Cornice type (Hardie/vinyl)
Insulation type
Electrical device placement
Interior doors
Interior trim
Plumbing fixtures
Light fixtures
Paint colors
Stair Parts
Door knobs
Bath Accessories
Closet shelf configuration
Tile flooring
Kitchen backsplash tile
Bath and shower tile
Tub surround tile
Garage doors
Shower doors


We strive to build homes of excellent quality and at a level much higher than the typical production builder. With that said, we are very likely building a home that has never been built before with imperfect materials (sticks and bricks) by imperfect humans. There is no such thing as a perfect home and if there was, you would not be able to afford it. Regarding quality, we suggest reviewing a document called Residential Construction Performance Guidelines put out by the National Association of Home Builders. This is an attempt by the NAHB to create a less subjective measure of quality. The bottom line is that if you are asking a sub to provide superior quality than described in the guidelines, you should expect to pay more.

Communication with Subs and Suppliers

We have a relatively transparent process and usually function very will as a team (builder, client, suppliers, and subcontractors). Many times clients go to showrooms and make selections with suppliers directly. We don’t discourage communication between a client and subcontractor or supplier.  Everyone knows that the client is the ultimate boss.  However, the client should not direct the activities of subcontractors while they are onsite working. This can leave the builder out of the loop and sometimes result in problems when the subcontractor or client may not fully understand how that specific subcontractor’s work affects something else in the home.

Changes, Mistakes, Errors, and Damage

There will be problems and mistakes.  Everyone working on your project is human and with the level of customization and complexity of most of our projects, there will be problems, mistakes, and errors. The builder’s goal is to catch errors as soon as possible and correct them. There will be many problems that you will never know about. However, there may be some you do see so by all means, bring them to our attention. It is very likely that someone will accidentally damage something and another subcontractor will have to be hired to repair the damage. For instance, try to carry a ladder through your home (down hallways and up and down stairs) without accidentally scratching a wall. This is all part of the building process.


We are a small volume builder and all of our subcontractors and suppliers work for other builders. Sometimes schedules conflict with work going on for other builders and we have to wait on subcontractors to finish other work before they can get to our project. Weather compounds this problem. There will plenty of days where nothing happens on our project because we are simply waiting on a subcontractor. There will be times when we expect a task to take place on a certain day, but it will not. Subcontractors tend to be optimistic when estimating when they can start and finish a job. This means that many times we are operating on information that ends up being wrong with regard to scheduling. We prefer to use the subcontractor we want, rather than whoever is available.  Also, many times we are using special materials that need to be ordered.  We will be trying our best to order only what is needed so minimize waste.  This means that sometimes we miss the estimate on the low side and need to order more materials; which means we have to wait on the material to come in.


We probably provide more detailed information regarding budgeting than anyone. We like for clients to make as many selections up front as possible. The more selections that can be made up front, the fewer surprises there will be regarding budgets.  Having said that we can’t always predict the future costs of materials like concrete, lumber, drywall, etc.