Custom vs Volume Builder - What You Need to Know

Custom vs Volume Builder - What You Need to Know

Often unconsciously, we make ‘custom vs volume’ purchase decisions every day. When we buy clothes, food, even haircuts we evaluate convenience and price over amenity and a bespoke solution.

Firstly, a broad definition of the two formats -

> Volume Builders are substantial companies that perform large amounts of building work. Sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands of projects every year. Volume builders often promote their service based on price. They commonly offer a fixed range of ‘display home’ models that consumers select from - limited variation is permitted to the advertised plans.

Wanting their cake and eat it too, many volume builders advertise themselves as providing both a custom and volume service; which can cause confusion for many. There is no ‘official’ number of annual projects that defines a volume builder. In short, it’s the service provided, not the price, that separates a volume from a custom builder.

> Custom Builders provide a ‘boutique’ service and commonly build anywhere between a handful to 50 - 100 projects each year. Custom builders are able to deliver a fully-flexible service to accommodate the unique needs of their clients and as a result they’re often more expensive than volume builders.

What’s Best ?
Neither. One building process is not necessarily better than the other, both accommodate existing needs in a diverse marketplace. What the consumer must do is be clear on what your priorities are - what's the ‘guiding principle’ of your project? The most common ‘guiding principles’ are: budget, design, timing, sustainability and amenity.

While the obvious advantage of engaging a volume builder is price, be aware that you may be sacrificing flexibility for financial savings. Also, be aware display homes often feature ‘optional extras’ that aren’t included in the base price. Buyers usually choose from a set range of fixtures and finishes, and as stated earlier, there are limitations on modifications. Volume builders may also offer ‘house and land packages’ for those who don’t already own a block of land - this makes the process quick and easy.

If you have a strong commitment to a unique design, the best way forward is to utilize the skills of a talented designer and custom builder. More on this topic can be found at Architect, Designer & Draftsperson

Final Comment
Priority number one, regardless of who’s appointed to undertake your build, is to get along with your builder. It could feel like the longest year or two of your life if you’re in dispute with the builder. As the homeowner, your job is to acknowledge this reality and aim to work productively with the builder toward sensible, cost-effective solutions. For our list of tips regarding the all-important relationship with the builder click HERE.

Best of luck!

Remember, you have a responsibility to research exactly who it is that you're engaging to build or renovate your home. The best way to ensure you get a professional builder - before you sign a contract - is to complete your due diligence with a Builder Background Report

Brendan Watkins, Director - Builder Background Checks P/L

Brendan was CEO of the Swimming Pool & Spa Association of Victoria (SPASA) for 12 years and is the inaugural association building industry 'Hall of Fame' inductee. SPASA is the sole industry peak body for registered builders. As well as serving as CEO of the national industry association for a time Brendan sat on several government building, training and regulatory committees. He has advocated to Ministerial offices and is considered highly knowledgeable and well connected within the construction industry. Brendan presents regularly at the HIA Home Show. Builder Background Checks is augmented by access to a number of specialised industry experts including construction industry lawyers, mercantile agencies, building surveyors, architects, engineers and designers.