Planning your build

How Much Should it Cost to Customize a Standard Plan?

If you’ve been browsing home designs online or visiting model homes, you will probably find yourself liking a bit of this and a bit of that—a bedroom from one model home and a bathroom from another. As an individual you have the right to change your plans to suit you and you shouldn’t be penalized for it. After all, it’s not built yet!

Most builders will accommodate change. The question is—at what cost? It’s understandable that there are costs that come with customizing a standard plan, but many people are unsure of how much they should be paying for customization.

Understanding customization costs

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say exactly how much it should cost to customize a standard plan. After all, it is completely dependent on your builder, the plan you have chosen and the modifications you’d like to make.

As a general rule of thumb, we believe you should be able to change things like paint colors and tiles at no cost within certain ranges. More significant items like appliances and bathroom fixtures may involve a relatively low customization cost, depending on your selection.

Finally, changes to things like facades, layout and room sizes will almost certainly involve a customization cost, however these costs should be detailed and line-itemed (rather than charged as a lump sum).

To ensure that you aren’t being charged unnecessarily for ‘customization’, you should review the standard inclusions of the plan. You need to make sure your builder isn’t charging you extra for features that other builders would include in the standard plan price. For example, at G.J. Gardner with a G.J. Designer Plan, you will benefit from:

  • An innovative floor plan that has been carefully designed to maximize usable space
  • A choice of facade—the majority of our home designs have different facade designs to choose from, including styles like “Modern Farmhouse” and “Urban”
  • A degree of personalization e.g. choosing fixtures, fittings and colors (this will depend on the design you choose and your local G.J. Gardner office)
  • Expert advice from your new home consultant in regards to layout, positioning on your lot, etc.

Keeping costs down

Even if you’re unable to estimate the customization costs upfront, there are a range of rules to stick to that will help you keep customization costs down.

Plan range

By choosing a builder who has a large and diverse range of home designs and floor plans, you will have a better chance at finding a design that will suit your style and budget, without having to make a large number of changes

Land fit

When choosing a plan from a standard range, watch that it really does optimize your selected block of land, and is not just the closest fit. If—when taking into account the view, north/sun direction, privacy and site slope—you’re compromising to use a particular plan, consider whether this is the right type of plan for you.

Lump sum vs actual cost

Ensure the cost for changes is relevant to the work done and not just an inflated lump sum.

Get a fixed price

If you do want to customize a standard build, get any modifications fully priced up before committing to them (and make sure they’re included in the contract). In reality, at some stage you may have to compromise, either on price or on what you want included. If you leave this until after paying a deposit or signing a contract, you could find yourself trapped in a home that is not your own. Read more about the benefits of a fixed price quote.

Align on suppliers

Choosing a builder who traditionally doesn’t supply the fixtures and finishes you want is not likely to be the most cost effective choice. It will require them to go outside their normal suppliers and subcontractors which can lead to increased costs, complications and mistakes.

The first step

The first step in getting a feel for customization costs is being upfront with your builder about your desire to make changes.

You should take in and show the builder all your ideas, including:

  • Clippings and inspiration boards (e.g. Pinterest)
  • Floor plans and renders you like the look of
  • Any plans you have had drawn up, or architect sketches
  • Concept designs

Any builder worth their weight will take notes of your wish list, and try to include your items in their quote. It’s important to discuss this in detail very early so that they can guide you as to how it can fit into your final budget.

A good builder will be flexible and open to your individuality without making you pay exorbitantly for it.