Ask Kelsey

Custom, Semi-Custom & Production Homes: What’s the Difference?

benefits of building a custom home in charlotte

Every now and then, we get a question about why a custom or semi-custom home is priced higher than a production home. It’s a valid question, but thinking that every new home is made with the same materials or using the same construction methods couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many elements that distinguish a custom home from any other. We thought we’d clear the air and explain exactly what the differences are, and why Copper Builders’ offerings are so unique. 


What is a Production Home?


A production home, also called a spec or inventory home, is one where all the decisions are made up front by the builder, and the home is built whether or not there is a buyer lined up. The builder is counting on features and finishes that have widespread appeal to help the home sell quickly once it hits the market.


These decisions include which floor plan to build, in which location, and all the interior and exterior finishes. Because of its universal design, specialty products and finishes are not typically used, which helps keep the cost of a production home lower than a custom home, by comparison. The buyer does not have any input on how the home looks, since they are essentially purchasing a final product. 


What is a Custom Home?


A custom home is one that is designed completely by the homebuyer. Some custom builders, like Copper Builders, offer base floor plans that can be customized in any way. All custom builders offer the opportunity to start at the drawing table to come up with the best house plan to fit a buyer’s lifestyle.


Custom homes are more expensive than production homes because the buyer goes through a more intensive design and build process with a number of parties, including an architect, interior designer, and specialized vendors if necessary. The more custom a home is, the longer the build time and the more on-site managers and back-end administrative staff are needed to manage the details. The buyer gets a completely unique home that has been built and designed specifically for them, so the cost is typically higher than it is for a production home. 


What is a Semi-Custom Home?


With a semi-custom home, the homebuyer gets a bit of the best of both worlds. Semi-custom builders typically build only the floor plans in their portfolios, though some allow customizations up to a point (for example, structural walls cannot be changed). These are typically small adjustments, like extending the depth of the patio or adding a sunroom. To keep costs low but still offer a “custom” feeling, many semi-custom builders offer curated design packages that have been assembled by a professional interior designer (someone often on staff and available to answer questions).


Buyers may be able to select from six to eight packages that include flooring, lighting, cabinets, fixtures, and paint colors that perfectly complement one another.  Selecting a curated design package keeps the decision making to a minimum and shortens the build time compared to a fully custom home. Some semi-custom builders will still allow buyers to make a few one-off design decisions that are not part of the curated package, but the final cost of the home would necessarily reflect that. 


Benefits of Building a Custom Home with Copper


Copper Builders is primarily a custom, on your lot builder in Charlotte, but we also build semi-custom homes within larger communities we develop in Charlotte’s metro area.


As a result of our volume of homes being higher than most custom builders, we are able to use our purchasing power to secure competitive pricing on many high-end selections, such as custom cabinets, hardwood flooring, quartz countertops, and more. Yet, our customers can customize their homes however they see fit. Once they select from our wide variety of custom home floor plans with timeless appeal, they can add or take away walls, rooms, or features, and we are able to accommodate them. 


When it comes to design, this is often the area where many custom builders add on cost after cost, depending on the finishes the buyer selects. At Copper Builders, we do things differently. The price we give you includes allowances — a set figure included in the cost of the home that is based on the cost of quality, high-end finishes many of our customers love and have included in their homes. Allowances allow for broader design choices and more flexibility in the way funds are applied. Customers use allowances for custom cabinetry, lighting, appliances, ceramic tile and stone, countertops, plumbing, closet shelving, and more. The cost we quote you in the sales agreement never increases.


custom vs spec homes in charlotte nc


In fact, every Copper Builders home has an extensive list of included features that other builders may consider upgrades and have the customer pay extra for. A few examples are:


  • Warranty Protection
  • Quartz Countertops
  • Modern fireplaces
  • Solid-built cabinetry
  • Mahogany front doors with insulated beveled glass
  • Maintenance free exterior sliding doors
  • Steel insulated garage doors with glass windows
  • Fiber cement board siding
  • High ceilings
  • Decorative interior trim
  • Site-finished hardwood flooring
  • Low-maintenance exteriors, including 30-yr architectural shingles
  • Tankless water heater
  • Owners’ closet custom shelving system
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Professional design help


Copper Builders’ goal is to give our customers the highest quality products we can within their budget, coupled with the best experience possible. Because we build primarily custom homes, we can spend the time needed to make sure that every interaction is positive, the customer is always informed and in charge, and that the home exceeds expectations.

While a Copper Builders home may have a higher price per square foot than most production homes, and even some semi-custom homes, it’s important to remember what’s included in that number — thoughtful and innovative home designs, the industry’s most advanced construction methods, high-end materials and finishes, a long list of included features, and a dedicated team that is obsessed with getting it just right.

Related Articles

Ask Kelsey

Request an Invitation

Schedule a Tour with Kelsey

Schedule a visit to ensure you have our undivided attention during your tour.

Play Video