Custom Luxury vs. Budget Tract Housing

Custom Luxury vs. Budget Tract Housing

Custom Luxury vs. Budget Tract Housing discusses the differences between these two types of houses.

Many people seeking an Architect have a confused idea as to what it should cost to build their new dream house.  This online article, written by a Architect of custom luxury homes explains the misconceptions and what is the truth.

If you are very lucky, this type of lower end housing costs perhaps $200/HSF (Heated Square Foot) to build. And NO, you can’t take this dollar value and switch it to obtain higher end housing.  And NO, you can’t build even this budget Tract housing for the fabled $100/HSF that perhaps you could in 1980.  Certainly not 41 years later.
Budget means: lower end.  Not as durable.  Cheaper.  Less expensive.  Repetitive elements = lower cost.  Identical.  Sameness.  Less features.  Less light fixtures.  Lower end appliances (and smaller).  Carpet.  Vinyl.  Lots of paint.  Very little genuine wood.  Simulated stone (if any).  Materials that age and rot faster and that need more frequent maintenance.  Less insulation.  Roof materials that do not last very long.  Vinyl siding and trim.  Cheaper plumbing fixtures.
Even the term “Housing” means in this context: many, using repetitive dimensions and materials to obtain the cost benefits of identical mass-production.  Materials are often bought by the developer by the railroad boxcar load.  Budget Tract Housing is Not made for any particular person or family.  It often is a Housing Development involving dozens, if not hundreds of nearly identical houses with very few distinguishing features other than different colors of paint and one or two superficial cosmetic details on the front to make them appear to be more different than they really are (possibly reversing the floor plans as well.  If there are any garages, they are often single car, and if double, that usually means it has a 7′ tall x 16′ wide “double” door and perhaps 18′ width total wall to wall inside.  Has anyone ever tried to park today’s SUVs into an 8′ wide width?  And to exit the vehicle without banging the doors into the adjacent vehicle or wall?  THAT’s indicative of Budget Tract Housing.  You vill fit und you vill like it!
Okay.  Is everyone clear on what Budget Tract Housing means now?


These are usually one of a kind homes custom designed by an Architect to fit the owners like a glove.  They are the type of specialized home that are as far away as you can get from Budget Tract Housing.  No way that the cheaper cost of Budget Tract Housing can be applied to Custom Luxury Architect Designed Homes.  Custom Homes are in their own category of better materials that last longer and are far more durable and energy efficient and that are more aesthetic.  Wood floors, tile floors (often with faux imagery to emulate higher end wood planking), some wood or lots of wood on interior and exterior walls, possibly on interior ceilings, native stone (some minor about to more), longer lasting roofing with lower maintenance.  Larger glass areas of higher insulation values, garages (including wider) and much more.  Garages often are 2-car, 3-car or more and often have single width doors to the stalls, but these doors are usually 8′ tall x 9′ wide or more, making it much easier to park and exit the vehicles without striking anything adjacent to them.  Garages are often 26′ deep x 24′ to 28′ wide or more, allowing for shops within them and much more space between the vehicles so you don’t bang the car doors into each other.

There are usually custom electrical plans, with Cat6 wiring and wi-fi, and one or more fireplaces of various types (possibly inside and outside), often with native stone facings.  Large porches front and rear.  Popssible site features such as firepits and seating areas.  More interesting architectural features.  Most Custom Luxury Architect Designed Homes are one of a kind.
In essence “whatever your heart desires” as long as  you’re willing and able to pay for it.


The point: you can’t build totally custom homes, one of a kind, with better materials, features and arrangements for the same cost as cookie-cutter housing.  Kind of like the difference between a JC Penney off-the rack suit of polyester and a trying to compare it to a tropical wool made-to-order custom suit from a specialty tailor.