Benefits of having your own design

The major advantage in commissioning an architect and eventually building your own home is that you get a completed home that ideally meets your needs, both in terms of function and quality.

Today, most spec homes are built using “builder’s grade” products in order to minimise costs and maximise profits for both the builder and real estate agent. A spec home is built according to specifications from the contractor. Most spec homes are sold once the house is built.

As a result, the new home owner frequently winds up purchasing a home that has products installed, e.g. appliances and cabinets, that have short life expectancies. In addition, with a spec home, it’s pretty much what-you-see-is-what-you-get, both in terms of layout and room sizes.

Spec flaws
Even if you sign a purchase and sales agreement for a to-be-built new home in a new housing development, you are limited in house styles, layout and features. The good thing about building a custom home is that you also determine the location where you want it built.

You can choose the floor layout and room sizes. additionally, you have the freedom of lot selection, home style, choosing from contemporary to modern to victorian and traditional. You can also choose cabinet and flooring selections, window and doors, siding material and colour and lighting, among others.
Virtually every feature and product of the home design is for you to decide.
Building a fully custom home however, does come at a price. Unique features and products are not sold at “builder grade” prices in hardware stores. You may have to travel to UAE, South Africa or China to get these products.

There are also high end hardware stores in Uganda that may stock these building materials and finishes. Consequently, you should expect to spend two to three times more per square metre on construction costs when building a fully custom home.

Semi-custom home
The good news is that a semi-custom home is a compromise between building a fully custom home and purchasing a spec home. An example of a semi -custom home is the National Housing Project in Naalya. When it was starting, they built houses up to shell level and then sold them off to individual owners.

Here, the owner gets to choose their own finish materials that reflect their tastes. As a result, building a semi-custom home provides you with the ability to select some of your home’s features without blowing your home budget.

When building a semi custom home, the builder may actually present you with several house styles and floor plans to choose from. In addition, you are usually allowed to select flooring, cabinets, appliances, lighting fixtures and locations. The flexibility is offered through “budget allowances”.

For instance, a builder may offer you a Shs2m bathroom appliance allowance where you choose what bathroom appliances you want installed. If you decide to purchase appliances in excess of the allowance, then you pay the additional costs.

The benefits
When building a semi-custom home, you will frequently have the opportunity to select various building options such as attached garages or car ports, guest rooms, TV or entertainment rooms, unfinished rooms and even deck sizes.

Deciding to build a custom home is not for the faint of heart. Even if you have selected a great architect and builder, you will be required to do a lot of work and make a lot of choices. Expect to spend many a day at kitchen and bath centres, flooring and lighting stores.

You will need to make decisions on many aspects of your custom home that you would not otherwise have a chance to do if purchasing a spec home.
However, for most home owners, choosing the path of building a custom home is a positive experience. They get to appreciate the choices that they made during their building experience.

Article by: Joe Nuwamanya -