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What’s in a Custom Home?


November 8, 2016

New data released from the 2016 U.S. Houzz & Home survey found that more than one-third of homeowners on Houzz (68 percent) plan to include a recreational area in their newly-built custom home. The most popular rooms for fun? Gaming and entertainment rooms top the list with appearances in over one-quarter of custom built homes (29 percent), followed by home gyms (22 percent), libraries (18 percent), home theaters and kids’ playrooms (both 17 percent). Kids playrooms are especially popular among Millennials (38 percent) and Gen Xers (24 percent).

This customization is just what people crave with nearly half of homeowners opting to build versus buy because they have a specific vision for what a home should be (48 percent). While the majority of those building a custom home use custom drawn plans (62 percent), a significant number also use ready-made plans that they modify (32 percent). For most homeowners, building a dream home means staying put for the long-term, and this increases with age. Forty-six percent Millennials, 51 percent of Gen Xers, and 59 percent of Baby Boomers say they have no plans to ever move from their custom home.

While achieving a specific vision for a home is a key motivation to build, over a quarter of Millennials opt to build because of greater affordability (26 percent) versus just 11 percent of Gen Xers and seven percent of Baby Boomers. In keeping with this, Millennial homeowners spend significantly less on custom home building than their older counterparts. While the average spend on custom home construction for those who completed projects in 2015 on Houzz was $942,000, Millennials spent an average of $423,100, followed by Gen Xers at $714,300 and Baby Boomers at $1,168,600.

More than half of those who finished a custom home build in 2015 went over budget (53 percent). Choosing more expensive products or materials is the leading budget buster (63 percent), followed by products or services being more costly than expected (44 percent), and changing the product scope or design (30 percent). When it comes to financing, more than half of new custom home builds are funded by savings/personal finances (56 percent), followed by construction loans secured by the home’s value (44 percent).

Between customization and the large investment for a forever home, it’s no wonder that the vast majority of homeowners hire professionals to help with their project (95 percent). Builders top the list (63 percent), followed by architects and general contractors (both 38 percent). Many homeowners hire specialists for their projects as well, including electricians (55 percent), cabinetry specialists and plumbers (both 49 percent).

The average custom built home features three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Baby Boomers are most likely to build a single-story home (39 percent versus 28 percent for Millennials and 25 percent for Gen Xers). Meanwhile, more than one-quarter of Gen Xers (27 percent) and nearly the same number of Millennials (25 percent) are building homes with three or more stories.