Custom Home Builders

If you’re considering a custom home design, it’s important to understand the different ways you, the buyer, can build a home.

Common New Build Terms

There’s a lot of jargon getting around, and you may have come across the terms spec home, standard plan and custom- or semi-custom home. There’s a lot of talk about the difference between these three approaches, and which approach is best. At the end of the day, the avenue that is best for you choose will be based on your desired level of involvement with the design/build, your budget and your timeframe.

Spec home

A spec home is a design that is selected for a particular lot with limited or no input on the buyer end. Spec homes can come as a House and Land Package or as a completed product ready to move into.

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Standard plan

A standard plan is a home design chosen from the collection of G.J. Gardner plans. It is a ‘tried and tested’ home design that is intended to be a robust, proven product. You may be allowed limited personalization (e.g., choosing fixtures, fittings and colors), but you
will have little if any involvement in the design.

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Custom or semi-custom home

If you want to customize a standard plan (for example, by adding additional rooms), this would be called a custom or semi-custom home. It all depends on how involved you get. The term custom home can also be used to describe a home designed and built from scratch.

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What does ‘custom home design’ really mean?

Whether it’s a semi-custom or fully custom design, a custom home is typically defined as a unique home that takes the homeowner’s desires, needs, and tastes into consideration. This requires significant input on behalf of you, your builder and your new home consultant, allowing you to change everything from the floorplan to the finishing materials.

In reality though, custom home designs aren’t necessarily created from scratch, and for good reason. Reinventing the wheel is likely to lead to a home design that just doesn’t work, has wasted space and poor solar gain. Most architects/designers and custom home builders have a series of frameworks and patterns that they work from, based on the brief and input you provide.

There are of course boutique architects/designers that will design you a truly unique, full custom home design. But for the everyday American family, this isn’t the reality.

How do I create a custom design?

When selecting a custom home with G.J. Gardner Homes, our new home consultants will introduce you to the concept of a G.J. Plan. This option gives you the proven functionality and practicality of an existing home plan, while allowing you some of the flexibility that comes with a custom home design.

The process of starting a G.J. Plan is uncomplicated.

Step 1: Book an initial consultation with our custom building experts

At G.J. Gardner Homes, we have custom home builders throughout the USA, including California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, and Texas. Attending an initial consultation at one of our offices will give an understanding of what you want and what our team can achieve within your budget and timeframe.

Step 2: Select your base

Start to envision just exactly what your dream plan will look like by selecting one of our existing floor plans to start as a base. This can take a lot of the worry out of customizing, by starting with a a tried and tested template.

Step 3: Work with your home consultant to customize the design

You will have your consultation with a home builder. We recommend coming with a list of all the important aspects you would like added to your home, such as your number of bedrooms and budget. Our home builder will then start to draw up your home with an estimated price. This is called a purchase agreement.

Step 4: Select your finishes and fixtures

This includes selecting countertops, flooring, hardware, lighting, windows, trim, cabinetry and more.

Step 5: Build your custom home

After reviewing everything with your home building consultant, your construction will start. You can expect our team to clear the site, build the foundations, landscape the property and more.

If you love your community, but aren’t in love with your home, our team of custom home builders also offer knock down rebuilds. These rebuilds involve replacing your current home with a new custom one, so that you can enjoy a home and lifestyle that you love.

Benefits of a G.J. Plan

We believe a G.J. Plan is the best option for the majority of buyers, because you’re starting with a solid foundation. By selecting G.J. Gardner Homes, you are choosing:


G.J. Gardner Homes was founded in Australia in 1983 and have since built over 36,000 quality, customized homes. When combined with our worldwide experience, we have been able to perfect the custom home building process:

  • Our building designers work in a team with 3D designers, collaborating in fully interactive 3D. This means that the home designs are created in extreme detail with great care given to all aspects, from your open plan entertaining area right down to the ensuite toilet roll holder!
  • The designs have had hundreds of hours of professional input to maximize space, light, usability and importantly buildability.
  • Many of our home designs are updated yearly based on both local and global building design trends.

Make your money work harder

With a G.J. Plan, all of the hard work is done, and you can spend your hard earned dollars on choosing the ‘fun’ stuff such as features, fittings and finishes. You will also have a variety of facade options to choose from, such as Traditional, Urban and Hamptons.

This selection process is also likely to be easier and faster than starting a fully custom home design from scratch. That means it’s likely to be more affordable. This is because your new home consultant will help you narrow down your choices more quickly.

To get inspired

Browsing home designs is also an opportunity for you to be inspired. Sometimes it’s difficult to put your finger on what exactly you want in a home until you see it. Our home designs have been carefully crafted to offer a range of options that appeal to a variety of household sizes, locations and tastes.

Custom Home Testimonials


“I love G.J. Gardner’s approach to home building because they have the plans originally and then we just give our input and everything that we want is customized. I made a sketch of what I wanted the front of the house to look like and they took it and made it exactly how I had imagined. We were very involved in the planning of our new home.”


“Being an engineer, I’m a very detail-oriented person. I like knowing how my house was built. Having that flexibility and having that kind of open communication as the build occurs is very important to me. You don’t want to end up with a custom home that you’re not happy with.”


“G.J. Gardner Homes worked with us to incorporate several green features into the house including solar tubes for energy efficient lighting, energy star appliances and on-demand hot water which we really like. Think about what you want and then go visit G.J. Gardner Homes because they’ll customize it for you and give you great ideas.”

Customize your new home with a G.J. Plan

When you think about it, every home is customized to some degree. When you’re choosing a home design from a catalogue or list, you’re still going to find ways to make it yours even if it’s as simple as choosing the colour of the walls. It’s completely up to you as to how much input you want.

Customizing a home with your local G.J. Gardner Homes custom home builders is an exciting process. There are also select G.J. offices that will work with you on a new design ‘from scratch’, if you’re looking for something truly 100% custom.

Contact your local G.J. builder to learn more about the service they provide.

Custom Home FAQs

  • How much does it cost to build a custom home?

    The costs of customizing a home will vary, depending on whether you decide to go customize a ‘standard plan’ or a fully custom home design. The build costs are inherently more expensive for fully custom home.

  • What types of things can I customize in a G.J. Plan?

    The easy things to start with are paint colors and tiles, which can often be changed at no cost within certain ranges. From there, appliances and bathroom fixtures are next on most people’s list—there may be a cost for customizing these elements. Things like facades and room sizes can also be changed within reason to personal requirements or taste. Again, there may be a cost involved.

  • How does finance differ between a spec home, custom homes and standard build or G.J. Plan?

    When looking to finance your home, both custom homes and standard plans/a G.J. Plan will require a construction loan, which will make payments to the builder in stages. With a spec home, you may pay one lump on completion in which case the finance requirements may be a little simpler however there are usually additional costs associated with the builder financing the build.

  • How long does it take to customize an existing home design?

    It could be just a few hours or it could be weeks depending on the magnitude of the changes.

  • What questions should I ask when customizing an existing home design?

    You should always ask your new home consultant, “What am I compromising by making this change?”

    Remember that the floorplan you are looking at is a tried and tested design. By making changes, you may actually be detracting from another part of the home, impacting things like solar gain, space efficiency, acoustics, and liveability.

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