Custom Houses: Matching House Style & Location

custom houses

Custom houses are something we all dream about, yet few people turn those dreams into reality. Finding a town where you want to live forever is a challenge but easy compared to finding the right lot to build on. What if you want a contemporary, custom house but most of the custom houses on the street are traditional? This happens a lot in New England if you don’t want to move into a development of all new homes because they look too much alike. 

Working with an experience architect, they’ll help you explore different exterior home styles and design a home that meets your taste and fits your future neighborhood. You see, it’s not just the shape of the house, but also the windows, siding, front door and exterior trim that define a home’s style. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, although custom houses should compliment a street’s style,  for both the neighbors and  future buyers. The surprise though is you can combine a more traditional home exterior with a wonderful contemporary interior. 

Custom Houses Have Different Curb Appeal 

Custom houses with great curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. Custom houses don’t have to be big or flashy to make a wonderful first impression, and by managing the exterior details of a custom house, you can blend into your neighborhood more easily.

  • Creating symmetry – gives an important first impression. Custom houses that are symmetrical please the eye – exterior lights on either side of the front door or large flower pots to bring attention to the entryway.
  • Doors that compliment your home’s style – make the right impression on curb appeal. Make sure your doors compliment your neighborhood and pick a door that compliments the style of your custom house and your neighborhood.  
  • Create a driveway that fits the neighborhood – and makes all the homes compliment each other, i.e. all long driveways or driveways with separate entrance and exits. 

How Custom Houses Get Their Personalities

custom houses need to consider curb appeal in their design

Custom houses each have a personality, but they fall into categories ranging from traditional to contemporary. Some features of custom houses help determine their personality, so understanding them can help you design a home that matches the personality you’re looking for.

  • Siding – whether shingles, clapboard, vinyl, wood, brick or stone plays a significant role in creating your home’s personality. Custom houses often use multiple types of siding like the house shown here with stone at the bottom, and clapboard on top, demonstrating the wide range of choices in color and texture for house exteriors. 
  • Window – choices include double hung windows, casement windows, awning windows and more. They affect the personality of custom houses, with some more traditional and others more contemporary. 
  • Doors – come in so many styles and materials, like wood paneling to ornate stained glass, that you can spend hours trying to decide what type of door to pick (with my handyman business, my local building supplier offered Thermatru Doors which gives you many choices).  Finding the right door will add to the personality of your home and improve the overall design.
When picking out the front door (garage doors too) features for your custom house. Bring photos of the front door design you want to create when selecting individual finishes, as too often people will pick their door, lighting, accent siding and more … individually. When they come together, the entrance is too busy and not as aesthetically pleasing as hoped for.


The Cost of Building a Custom House

custom houses and curb appeal

The cost of building any house is based on labor and materials. Labor costs go up with more jogs in walls (exterior and interior) and other structurally challenging designs. The more vertical corners there are, the more roof valleys (really how many seams you have to worry about), the more a custom house costs to build.

The footprint of the house often has the biggest impact on construction costs as larger homes require more excavation and foundation work, more siding, windows and roofing, more structural materials and then there’s the impact on electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems which are sized based on cubic feet inside the house. 

In reality though, most custom houses allocate a significant part of their budget to “finishes” so where a new production house might have a $25,000 kitchen, it’s also easy to spend well over $100,000 on a custom kitchen. There are books on controlling the cost of custom houses and finishes, so if you want to read more … you can start with Jackie Braitman’s article (3 in series of 3), Tips on Controlling Remodeling Costs, as the same information applies to building custom houses.  

Have you built any custom houses? Dreaming about one?

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