Metro Detroit, Sarasota


January 09, 2020

So…you’ve decided to build! Now comes the decision making – but don’t rip your hair out just yet! Sure enough, building from scratch comes with a LOT of necessary decisions.  Perhaps the most stressful is simply the look and feel.  This article touches on how to tackle the interior design process when building new; whether it’s a production or custom home.

Production vs. Custom Build

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, building a new home can go down two different paths; the production build or the custom build.

The production build is a defined process.  Think large builder; Pulte, Toll Brothers, etc.  Clients will enjoy the ease of a set number of floor plans, structural design options, and interior options.  Most clients find building a new home to be somewhat overwhelming; the streamlined process of a production build can help simplify everything and result in less decision making, errors, and a more reliable building schedule.

The custom build is a bit more, er, custom.  Think small builder; Mike Miller Homes, Mark Adler Homes in metro Detroit, etc.  This means clients will enjoy the flexibility of doing almost whatever they want it it comes to their floor plan, structural design options, and interior options.  Clients who have very specific requirements and have the time, energy, and money to customize every detail in the home will relish in the custom build.

When it comes to interior design, the production and custom build process can be very different.  Let’s start with approaching interior design in a production build.

Interior Design – Production Build

The great part about interior design during a production build?  Limited decision making.  The bad part about interior design during a production build?  Limited decision making.  Depending on who you are, you may feel relieved about a set number of decisions when it comes to design, or you may feel limited.

Production builders simplify and streamline the process.  They even provide a design center consultant to put everything together for you and offer advice, however, you should still approach the design center appointment with a plan. Check out our video HERE on the basics of how the design center appointment works.

Check out our 5 points on how to approach the process:

  1. Come prepared:  Even though it’s streamlined, have a plan.  Browse various websites like Houzz & Pinterest and keep some sort of idea book with the look and feel you’re going for.
  2. Budget:  Most new home customers can expect to spend anywhere from 5-20% of the initial cost of the home at the design center.  Use those percentages as a basis to set your initial budget and try to stick with it.
  3. Prioritize: money is best spent in the kitchen and bathrooms regardless of price point.  Make those rooms a priority to stay within budget.
  4. Follow the process:  the design center expert has a process, follow it.  Don’t jump around from flooring to trim to cabinet hardware, follow the process.  It’s streamlined and in particular order for a reason.  
  5. Build the dream, then eliminate if necessary:  we’ve found the best way to lay out your selections is to price in exactly what you want, then (if needed) go back and eliminate or downsize the cost to stay within budget.

Interior Design – Custom Build

The great part about interior design during a custom build?  It’s entirely custom, so you have almost no limitations when it comes to design or selection if it’s within budget.  The bad part?  Unlimited selections can get extremely time consuming, stressful, and way over budget.

Unlike a production build, a custom build may leave you feeling like you’re on your own (unless, of course, you hire us to work for you).  Once the plan is finalized and structural options are complete, you’re driving to various preferred vendors recommended by the builder or a vendor you select to build out the selections.  Just think about the endless options; cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures, doors, hardware, electrical fixtures, flooring, toilets, tile, paint, and more.  For some it may be a bit overwhelming.

While some of our recommendations for selections during a production build apply here equally, there are a couple of other things you may want to consider with custom:

  1. Hire an interior designer:  This may not be in the budget, but it should be! Approaching a custom build is such a time consuming and intensive decision making process the whole thing can be a LOT easier with a qualified designer on your side.  Without one, you risk a lot of bad decision making without any recourse. You may just want to make room for an interior designer to help approach the design process.  Some work by hour, project, and are very reasonable and worth the investment.
  2. Don’t do it alone:  While one could argue approaching a production build is pretty straightforward, approaching a custom build is an entirely different animal.  From site selection through interior options, having an expert on your side from day 1 is always worth the investment – especially is the builder is paying for it.

At the end of the day, you want a home that first and foremost appeals to you. If you like multi-sized octagon black and green tiles for your backsplash, go for it. Don’t get entirely locked down in the “what about resale down the road” mindset. Build it for you – just know should you have to sell, some of your decisions will have a direct effect on price and time on the market before a sale. Per usual, balance is key.


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