S5, E1: Building Your Dream Home: Custom or Production?

What is the first step in the home building process? Before you even begin your land search, you'll need to decide if you want to build a custom home or a production home.

We've been in the home building business long enough to know that one solution doesn't fit all. And if you're just getting started in the home building process, you're likely wondering about the differences and which is right for your family.

In this episode we're here to help you decide which is right for your budget, timeline, and vision. Mark Rasch from Benchmark Homes in St Louis, MO joins Kim and Melody to help you sort through the differences and to discuss the pros and cons for each approach!

You can read the transcript below, or you can...


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Building Your Dream Home: Should I Build Custom or Production?


INTRO: Welcome to The Art of Custom from Hibbs Homes. In this episode, we are talking with custom builder Mark Rasch from Benchmark Homes. We dive into the differences between custom, semi-custom, and production home building so you can decide which option is best for you and your family. Enjoy!

KIM: A dream home wouldn't be dreamy if there weren’t a few elements that were… well, dreamy. Self-cleaning kitchens, a secret passageway or two, or maybe even a hot tub that is also a time machine? No matter what ideas you have brewing, turning that dream into a reality requires a skilled, homebuilder. Melody, I guess that's where we come into the picture, right?

MELODY: Hopefully, yes, hopefully.

KIM: Or any good custom home builder, right?

MELODY: And when it comes to finding the right home builder, you have to start with deciding if you want to build custom, production, or what we call in the industry semi-custom.

KIM: Yeah, there are some options out there.

MELODY: We only build custom homes here at Hibbs Homes and we are tempted to just focus on custom homes, right? We know that that's not always the solution for everyone. And so, in our quest to make sure that everyone has the knowledge and information to build their dream home, today we're going to chat a little bit about what those differences are.

KIM: And I think It's important that we do that because I talk to a lot of people and a lot of people are looking for the right fit for them. And what we're talking about is of course, custom as you mentioned, then there's what they call semi-custom and there's what they call production. We're going to dig into that in, you know, season 6, episode 1.

And by the way, it's great to be back, isn't it? We've been gone for a minute. We've been busy though. I mean, in both markets in St. Louis and in Utah, it's been extremely busy but we love what we do the building of the custom home. So it's awesome to be back.

As we thought about season six, continuing to try to find really good topics that will help our listeners understand the options in the building industry. You came up with this idea and I really like it.

MELODY: Well, thank you. I'm excited about some of the things that we're going to talk about this season, but is it corny to say, hold on to your hard hats?

Okay, let's hold onto your hard hats, guys, we're going to take you on a wild ride this season. We've got lots of really cool stuff to talk about though. I'm really excited about this episode because this is one of the topics that I think, is the most confusing for someone who's coming into the home building process who has never done it before.

KIM: Well today we're going to set the record straight about what separates custom from production builders and we're going to help you make a decision as far as what's right for you. And joining us today is a good friend of Hibbs Homes. His name is Mark Rasch, and Mark is the president and owner of Benchmark Homes located in the St. Louis area. Mark, thank you so much for taking some time to join us on our podcast.

MARK: My pleasure, thanks for inviting me

KIM: Tell us a little bit about Benchmark Homes, if you don't mind. Also, I know, you're a developer, talk a little bit about your experience.

MARK: Sure, Kim. I think in some ways we are similar but in many ways, we're not to Hibbs Homes. We probably build 50% of our products as speculation always focused around that Kirkwood, Des Peres, Town and Country, and Frontenac area. And then the other 50% we build on clients' lots or even custom on our lots for clients, it it arranges to be presold.

KIM: And just to clarify things. Those markets you were talking about are Kirkwood, Webster, Des Peres, that's in the greater St. Louis area.

So Mark, what we want to talk about today is really helping people understand what are the differences between building a custom home, a semi custom home, and a production home and help them determine what's right for them. So let's start with custom, because I know that's what we and Hibbs Homes are all about. Talk about, what is the difference, first of all, between working with a custom builder and a semi custom builder and then we'll follow up with a production builder.

MARK: The way that Benchmark perceives it, and I think we're constantly explaining this to customers, talking fully custom that is ground up design. Grassroots design. We work with the client every step of the way from the very beginning, helping them choose a lot often if they don't have a lot and then sitting down with the architect and designing that house - most importantly - to fit that lot and to fit their budget. As you know, those are the two key points to keeping a happy customer besides building a quality home. The custom side can be so variable.

KIM: I really like how you're talking about keeping your clients happy. That's awesome because you're right, fitting that house to the lot and staying on budget, designing the house to the budget, those are true key elements of custom building. How do you compare a custom builder to a semi custom builder? And maybe talk about the advantages of what a semi custom builder might be able to bring to the table.

MARK: You're correct, Kim. I do believe there is a cost savings in using a semi-custom builder. Although I think a lot of the production builders call themself custom when really they are semi-custom because what that truly means is they're using one of their plans and they might be modifying it. They might be changing the options and the features and building them sometimes on client lots or their own lots. To me, that is the base difference between custom and semi-custom.

Of course, that comes with the fault that you can't completely choose your own plan and you certainly can't change a whole lot of things when you're semi-custom.

However, I've got to say that the production builder might have that cost dialed in really tight on plans that they have repeated over and over and over. So there probably is some cost savings and it's a good fit for some people that are on an extra tight budget and really don't wish to have any input on the unique design of the elevation and the floor plans and things like that.

MELODY: So is there truly a difference between semi-custom and production builds then? Because it sounds almost as if the production builders are semi-custom builders.

MARK: Also a good question, but true production builders won't build their plan on your lot. And changing from their lots to a client's lot, there is still quite a bit of change in that foundation that has to fit the contours and the grades of the lot, and things like that. You know, as close as they all are related to each other, there are definite differences between the three.

KIM: And I also know that from the builders that we know in both markets in which we build, production builders tend to build a lot more homes per year as well. They're geared up to build hundreds of homes. Whereas semi-custom Builders are building 20, 30, 40, maybe 50 at the most per year. So, there's also a volume difference.

And Mark, another big difference to look into between the two would be their selections or your finishes. As a custom builder, I know that we and you are the same way, we allow our clients to pretty much, it's a blank slate, they can start from scratch. Whereas once you go the semi-custom and definitely the production route, your selections are going to be much more limited.

MARK: Yeah, I would completely agree that you're definitely locked into their and suppliers and subs. And I must say you're fairly locked in to our suppliers and subs, but I think we both probably have had that really unique customer that wants to do some crazy, off-the-wall things that we're still willing to go outside and use those very special subs for doing something really special for a customer.

Obviously there is a whole lot of interviewing prior to using a sub that we haven't used before. Always makes us a little nervous because our sub list knows the process. They know what the, you know, the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. By all means, I would say, you're definitely more locked in on the semi-custom

MELODY: Coming to it from a non-builders perspective, before I worked in construction my perspective was always that a production builder is someone who's going to build in a neighborhood. They're building every home that's in a neighborhood, but what I'm noticing is that's not always the case.

Hibbs Homes has some home building projects up in Utah that are in neighborhoods that there's a different builder for every home and those are completely custom homes. And so is that something that's pretty common or is that unique to the Utah market?

KIM: So, I think it is a little bit market dependent. For example, in Utah there's a lot more instances where the developer will sell off lots to builders and multiple builders come in. In the Kansas City Market, for example, in the state of Missouri it is the same way, as well.

Whereas in St. Louis I know, primarily, if a production builder is going to develop an area they're going to be the primary builder there and sometimes they'll partner with another builder. That's common in the St. Louis area where we'll have two or three very respectable builders get together, develop the property, and sell and they'll all have different price points that they're trying to hit.

So it's a little bit market specific. And I think that it's just something that will depend upon what part of the country you're living in.

MELODY: So guys, I think I learned something new today, there's a difference between a developer and a builder. There's a developer who handles all of the land development and then the builder comes in. Sometimes they're one in the same, but they can be different.

KIM: In general, yes, that's a very good point. But, generally speaking, someone does develop the land. Sometimes the builder has an ownership stake in the development company. Over in Kansas City, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, you're going to have a developer who does nothing but develops the property and then divides it out and then sells it off to builders. So again, it's a little bit different.

Now, Mark, you're involved in developing. You're doing development on a small basis but then you also are the builder

MARK: That is correct. I agree that St. Louis is really unique in that the builder and the developer are often one and the same. But yes, we do small subdivisions. Typically ten homes or less, and Kirkwood and the surrounding areas is where we focus. Anytime we can find a property that we can get more than one building lot on it a great opportunity. But small subdivisions is what Benchmark is capable of doing typically.

KIM: Mark, as we’re talking a little bit more about custom, you used a phrase which is absolutely perfect for what we do. You used the term “crazy off-the-wall things,” and that made me chuckle when I heard you say it. But it's so true about the way we build homes because that's the beauty of building a custom home is you can do those crazy off-the-wall things. So tell us, maybe one or two examples of some of the more unique things that you have done over the years at Benchmark.

MARK: You know, it's funny. They start out as a bit of a headache or take some time to get properly engineered and things like that, but we always stand back and we're glad we did it. You know, we put in door slides and customers' houses that take them from the main floor to the basement, those are kind of fun. Of course, safe rooms they’ve become more popular and building those concrete vaults or gun vaults in these basements are fun to do, especially if they're under porches and unused space.

We had one client that lived on a large parcel in Ladue, had acres and acres. And they were generating all kinds of wood that they were cutting down, some of the trees and clearing. So he let me design a wood house heating system that we integrated with some of the accessory buildings and the indoor riding arena and stables, it was an equine facility. So when they fed this large wood heating system it would pipe hot water integrated with the normal HVAC of some of the helps’ apartments and the stables. And when they weren't feeding the wood heater, they would have to feed it once a day, a few large logs. And when it wouldn't, it would kick on the normal Heat or the geothermal whatever backup system was on that particular building.

We also were asked on that property to completely irrigate the property using a well and a man-made lake that we made. So as you can imagine when you're irrigating with city water, that can be pretty expensive and these guys are able to irrigate 20 some odd acres of beautiful pasture land, and whatever for these horses, all with free, well, water, that was being stored in a beautiful lake with a waterfall and such.

KIM: Again, you're talking about the benefits of building a custom home, some awesome examples. And that just goes to show you the sky's the limit with custom. Custom does cost more. So for those on a little bit of a tighter budget, semi custom or production is the way to go. I still believe that the least expensive way to build if you will is probably production. Because, to Mark’s earlier point, they've got everything dialed in with all of their costs related to materials, related to labor, and they're very strict about what you can choose and what you can't choose.

Whereas semi-custom is a little bit more expensive because you do have the ability to make a few more decisions, a few more changes to the floor plans. But, as Mark just described, the beauty of custom is there are no rules. You can do what you want to do. I know that when we meet with clients, for example, we talk to them about everything from windows to installation packages to HVAC packages. And there's just not a one-size-fits-all.

Now, the other thing, Mark, I want to talk about is the time it takes to build a custom home compared to production or semi-custom. It does take us longer simply because of all of the decisions, the selections and the unique nature of all these homes.

MARK: That is so true. You know, doing this for over 31 years, I am still trying to figure out how to do it faster and quicker. And I would say that, in the last couple of years, because of more strict permits, building codes, and availability of products and labor, it seems that our houses are taking even longer than the same size we were building just a couple of years ago.

I would say that the absolute earliest somebody can get their home built once they break ground, at least in the size that we are building - anywhere from 2,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet, is going to be a very minimum of seven months and could go to a year and a half depending on the size of the home and the complexity of it.

MELODY: Besides budget and time. What other factors do you think would move someone towards using a production builder?

MARK: The very first one that comes to my mind, if you've got a client that doesn't make decisions very well, they don't have that vision very well, they almost got to see the house and walk through it first before they can decide on choosing that plan - that might be good for the semi-custom work or production type. And that's that's fine. Many people just kind of want to buy it already done or at least be able to walk through it. And you certainly don't often have that opportunity to walk through the house before we build it because we're mostly building things we haven't built before.

MELODY: And when you want to change your mind on something, though, there is kind of a gotcha there, right? I know that we have dealt with some supply and demand issues. You know, a client really has their heart set on this particular type of flooring but you know, it's not available in time or maybe they discontinued it. And so is that something that you typically would deal with even in the production area? Can you guys elaborate a little bit on that?

KIM: Sure, let me let me jump in because before you brought up a very good point and I want to make sure our listeners understand that, yes, we're talking with a couple of custom home builders right now, but Mark and I are extremely close with several production builders. They build excellent homes. They do a nice job, they give the consumer an option. An option that's needed in the market. And so we’re not in any way degrading a production or a semi-custom home, because they really do a wonderful job and they allow someone to move into a brand new home, have a wonderful experience with their family. We just come at it from a little bit of a different angle.

And it's my perception, to answer your question, that you have far fewer choices. They're much more strict with what you can and can't do. And for some people as Mark mentioned a minute ago, that might be what they need because too many choices, too many options, is going to probably make it hard for them to make decisions and move the process along. So, from my perspective, we in the custom world probably deal a little bit more with supply chain disruptions and that type of thing simply because we have a wider variety of materials, what we're using in the house. However, I can tell you that during the pandemic, everybody was suffering from supply chain shortages and labor shortages, and that type of thing.

MELODY: So, there are also upgrades that you can go higher, you can go lower. You see the signs - a house starts at x-amount of dollars. What is an upgrade? I mean if you're bound, what's worth it to upgrade to?

In a custom home building process,we try to get as many of those unique features selections and things way up front in the plan. And therefore, you're not paying for a huge change order. Because let's face it, when there are change orders that affect the plan structurally, or just runs out of sync of things that aren't ordered yet, or have already been ordered, it does disrupt the cost with a production builder who is not used to that kind of change, you're going to pay for it without a doubt. So, obviously the more of these things that we can get figured out from the very beginning, it helps everyone.

But I can tell you, a custom home builder is going to pivot and change. Much more nimble and less expensive than what a production or semi-custom builder would.

KIM: When a production builder and semi-custom builder price their home, there's a term that's used in our industrie called builder-grade. And that means, ‘what would a builder put in their typical home in order to make it financially affordable for most people?’ So they design the home and they finish the home, all their selections, in typical builder-grade fashion. And so, when you start upgrading, that's where you'll, you know, you might have a base price of $500,000, but by the time you're done making your selections for all the options, you could be at 600 or 650. Most of that has to do with just the finishes, what does the exterior look like, what are the exterior materials? What are the finishes on the inside? What's the flooring? Are you casing the windows? And it’s just a lot of different options.

But to Mark's point, sometimes you will make a selection that's going to require a little bit more structure, more foundation, whatever it is, those are more expensive upgrades. It's been my experience, and I don't want to speak out of school. Mark, maybe you can back me up on this. It's been my experience that in the production in the semi-custom world, the builders tend to make more profit with the options because they mark those up a little bit more. Whereas in the custom World, our prices are pretty much straight across the board, and our markup is the same as we go on most of the items.

MARK: 100% agree on that. Not just because they don't pivot or adjust very well. But I think that they put that starting price, that base price, with all of those builder-grade selections only at less of a markup and they count on those changes happening later on. And I've heard markups can be as high as 50% on an upgrade or change by production builders.

KIM: So it really is just going to depend upon the actual person and what their goal is. You know their financial situation, how much flexibility they want with selections and the design, and the location, and some of the amenities. Like Mark’s pond, we're in the same situation right now. We're doing a project in the Wentzville area and we're helping construct a pond first. Totally different world but there's a great option for everybody out there.

Whether it's production, semi-custom, custom, wonderful builders and we can meet many different needs. Just understand that the options are fewer with production builders, thus the lower prices. The quality of materials is a little bit lower, thus the lower prices. And as you get on into the semi-custom and then the custom world, you have more selections and more options, but you are adding to your construction costs.

MELODY: So when it comes to selections, what is the difference between the three different levels, and how do you manage that? Because it seems like one is one extreme, you have a small set. The other is another where you have infinite possibilities. So how do I decide, if that's what I'm more concerned about is the way my house looks, how do I decide between the three?

KIM: I think you can do a great job with any of the three options. I think what it's going to come down to is how many choices do you want. With a production builder, your choices are limited and as you go on into the custom, you have more and more choices. Mark talked a lot about when I use the term builder-grade, what exactly is builder-grade and why is that used in conjunction with production builders?

MARK: Yeah, obviously the production builders are trying to get that advertised price out there, the “starting at price.” To have a “starting at price,” you have to be able to finish that house with carpet, you know with whatever kind of flooring you're putting in there. But it's almost always going to start at that very bottom grade.

And you know on a starter home housing for clients builder-grade is okay. Often at that time they're just trying to get a shelter over their head that's new, that's low maintenance and things like that. Every shop and supplier, flooring company or cabinet company, almost all of them have a builder grade inside of their showroom.

It's interesting though, to get a quality cabinet or some more quality flooring, it may still be in that same line. And tell you the truth, everybody's building their products better just simply through technology and production. The productivity of machinery and things that we are using today, even the builder grades, they're all better. But at the end of the day it's not necessarily something you would be using in your custom home.

KIM: In my mind, another difference between production, semi-custom, and custom is the use of a designer. I know that in all of our homes that we build, we have a designer involved who's working with the clients and helping them pull all of their finishes and selections together. In the production world, if you want to bring a designer into the mix, that's fine, but you're still going to have much more limited choices. And the same holds true for semi-custom. I think another decision point might be, okay if I want to use a designer and have them help me finish this house to a certain level, you might want to look at semi-custom or custom because you just don't have that opportunity as a client of a production builder.

MARK: You know, the design process alone, we say to our customers, this is how long you have to budget and rarely will you get through that process in less than 90 days. Often at 220, it can even be more than that if there are a lot of changes and something very unique and custom.

Then we go to the bidding and permit process that certainly runs 60 days and can run more than that depending on how extensive the house is. So right there you're at six, seven months before breaking ground. And this is when you're starting brand new from everything.

Most people come into the process with some idea of what they want in a home. They bring you pictures and clippings and other plans that they’ve seen by builders. But that starts the construction process, and, like we said, really you’re not going to get the house built for much less than seven months or so. And usually it actually a year on the average size we’re building

MELODY: But even if you're in a production environment, is there a lot of variance with timelines for how long it takes them to build a home or is that really unique to custom?

KIM: It’s unique to customly. Really, it is Melody. And I want to add Mark your spot on. I totally agree with you regarding your timeline for design and for permitting and budgeting and construction.

The reason that production builders can turn and burn like they do is because they only have five different floor plans to choose from. And, of those floor plans, you might have five different elevations. So what they've done is they've designed one house that can be like a chameleon, it can take on different floor plans and or different elevations. And so they take those five plans and they have them permitted by whatever municipality as a master plan. So they don't even have to pull a permit technically like we do, they don't have to have plans reviewed like we do, they don't have to answer questions to the plan reviewers.

It's a much more streamlined process, so when you sign on with the production builder, once they get the clear to close that you're good financially, they're going to start excavating, foundation work, framing work, and build your home. And the homes are usually more simple, they’ve built them before, the trades know them, so they can build the homes more quickly. So that's why you can see these subdivisions go up in a matter of a few months rather than the custom builder, which is going to take at least a year, if not a year and a half to get through the entire process.

So if time is important to you, the custom route is absolutely something you don't want to go. Semi-custom is going to save you time, especially if you have land or if you're going to build on the builders land because they already have the plan and they're not going to change the plan very much. The permitting process is going to go more quickly because it's been permitted before. So, really the time frame goes: production more quickly than a semi custom, which is much more quickly than the custom home.

MELODY: Is there a difference in resale value with these different homes?

MARK: I think it can take on many different directions with custom. If you're building something that at least fits the neighborhood pretty well, typically it's going to be more valuable than the same size house that's built by a non-custom builder. Now at the same time, you know, if they're typically putting in richer, nicer products. You have to think it's probably built a little better quality.

But if you're also building something custom that is really different from the rest of the neighborhood or surrounding homes, I don’t think it's going to appraise out as well as, for example, something of a similar size that matches the neighborhood.

MELODY: Like Zillow gone wild. You have to yeah Murphy tubs and Looks like there's some really funny commercials out right now about how crazy those finishes can get.

KIM: You know. It's been a fun conversation because there are a lot of differences between the three options. It's a terrific way. There are many different ways obviously for someone to get exactly what they need, what their family wants. But there's just big differences between them. And hopefully, we've been able to kind of show you what some of those differences are. Mark, did we miss anything when we're talking about the differences between these three options?

MARK: Let face it when you're using a production builder or even semi-custom, you're usually locked into their location. So when you've got your own lot, you need to be shopping for that custom home builder. How do you find them? How do you know it's a good one right?

KIM: Yeah, tell us, how do you find the great custom home builders like Benchmark or Hibbs?

MARK: You know the interview process is so important. First of all, do you like them as a person and can you get along with them? I'm not saying you have to love every person you do business with but let's face it, we like doing business with people we like. Because you become married for a year or two. It's a relationship. And Kim, I'm sure you would agree, you know in a marriage not everything is always rosie and blue skies and you will run into some problems. You'll have some misunderstandings, as much as we all try to be clear and things like that.

So when that tough situation comes up, how's that builder going to react? What's going to happen if he really does make a mistake? Is he going to try and worm out of it? Is he going to try and make it up? Hopefully you as the client will give them the opportunity to fix things because I can tell you, we've got some kind of mistake on virtually every house that we build, but it is such a relationship. You need to make sure you like that person and when times get tough, you can get through it and both walk away happy.

MELODY: And moreover with a builder making a mistake though, you're doing something for the first time, I always tell my kids, the first time you do something, it's going to be awful and that's how you learn, right? And so when you're building a home that you've never built before, there's going to be something that comes up in the plans. Or you haven't worked in that particular lot before or that type of soil before. And so I would imagine that not even just liking them, but being able to trust that that person has the experience and knowledge to solve those problems, because they're going to happen is going to be maybe more important in the custom world than the production world.

KIM: Yeah. Because in the production world honestly you're not going to, I know that my wife and I when we first got married we built a production home - great experience, local builder but I didn't know any better. I mean this is back, I'm not going to date myself, but it was a while ago. Let’s just say that, but we could not get into the house because the house was locked up and we had to schedule a time to go, go through it and walk through it. Whereas, with custom homes, our clients are the ones that have the loan. So in my world, the home is open to them whenever they want.

So Mark is right and you're right to Melody, that at some point, something's going to happen because you've never built to these plans before. And this is a great question the potential client or someone wanting to build should ask a builder, ‘how do you handle it if something comes up?

And here's my answer, and Mark I'd love to hear yours, mine is we try to come up with two or three solutions or two or three options. So when we come to our client and say ‘here's what we're dealing with,’ we like to have solutions at the same time because that shows that we're on top of our game. We just don't want to go drop something in their lap, here's what we're dealing with and we have no idea. That, I think, is the sign of a builder who is not on top of things.

MARK: And I think I would agree. I actually want to say don't ignore the obvious, check the references. I am surprised at how many people will not check past clients and references.

But certainly giving them more than one choice on how to get out of a situation, is always comforting to anyone that is up against something or has a situation they need to get around. The more choices, the better to work around something. Even if there's an obvious one choice, they will enjoy hearing that there are a couple of other options to consider.

KIM: I was going to expand on your comment about checking references. We like to give people references in all different stages of the build. Someone who's just gone through budgeting, design and budgeting, someone who's in the middle of the build and then obviously someone who's been through the warranty period. So, ask the builder to give you two or three references who have gone that are at the different stages of the process.

Also, I highly recommend visiting job sites, just to see how clean it is. I mean, can you imagine if you drive up to a job site and the outside is a total disaster and then if you try to go to the inside and you're stumbling over lumber and whatever else, I mean that's a sign of a builder who, quite frankly, doesn't care. And they're not taking care of your biggest investment.

I'm also a big proponent of if you're looking for a good builder, and there are so many great builders across this country, the builders should be a member of the NAHB, the National Association of Home Builders and the local Home Builders Association. And you can go online, visit those websites, and there's a drop-down menu where they're going to have builders listed.

Mark and I are both active members of our local HBA, but there are so many educational opportunities, networking opportunities. I think it just shows you’re committed to the industry if you're a member of one of those organizations.

MELODY: When you're talking to people, I would encourage people to also not be scared to go in and sit down and talk to your builder. I know people think that it's going to be a high-pressure sales situation. But if you're not sitting down and talking to two or three builders, how are you going to have an idea of who's truly right for you?

KIM: All right, Mark, this has been great. Thank you so much. What did we miss? If anything

MARK: I'd say the last comment I would volunteer is as much as we all want to go to the lowest price. Even you know, after interviewing a couple of people, if you find that one of the builders or one of the prices you're getting

KIM: Okay, Mark, thank you. I appreciate your friendship and I appreciate you spending some time with us on our podcast as we have season six underway.

KIM: Melody, Mark and I are really good friends and it's kind of unusual to be really good friends with a competitor. I mean, Mark is a custom builder in this market and so are we, but man, we go out to Coffee once a month and sit down. We talk about the industry, we talk about clients. We talk about better ways to do things, and that's why I think Mark and I get along so great is because we're both focused on the client, we're both focused on quality, and we both love the industry.

What I'm thrilled about is there are so many builders just like us around the country. So I would love to be able to help some of our listeners find their perfect match.

MELODY: And that's why we're always open to having people communicate with us, and ask us questions and let us be a resource if you're going to build your dream home. I know we've had a couple of listeners who aren't building in the market that have called in and sent plans in and chatted with us a little bit, to get some information that they could take back to their builders.

KIM: Absolutely. And I remember helping one couple down in the Southeast, and they were having a little bit of trouble with a builder they were working with and asked for some guidance on and suggestions on how to approach the situation. So, use us as a resource because we truly do love, not only building custom homes for our clients, but really, that's why we do the podcast: is to be able to help people understand what this crazy industry is all about and to help them navigate the industry.

MELODY: So, reach out to us whenever you want and we have tons of resources on our website including show notes for each episode. And you can go to hibbshomesusa.com/podcast. It's up in our main navigation to find the show notes.

For this episode, we're going to actually link to one of our clients who was so impressed with the difference in the process that they wrote up a huge testimonial for us and so they talked very specifically about the differences between production and custom. And so we're going to link to that and then we're also going to put up a checklist that you can use with questions to ask your builder.

And if you want to contact us you can give us a call at 314-569-005709. That is the direct number for the podcast. And if you're so inclined, rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and Subscribe.

KIM: That's your homework for the week rate and review. We would absolutely appreciate it. As Melody mentioned, we are often running for season 6 and cannot believe we are in season 6. We have a lot in store for our listeners this year, coming up on our next episode. This is one of my favorite subjects. We are going to uncover the Wild and Cozy World of Insulation. It sounds dry, it really does. But it's not, this might be the most important component of the home you're going to build. So we're going to do a deep dive into insulation, and we certainly hope you join us on our next episode.

OUTRO: For more information visit www.artofcustompodcast.com or find us on Facebook and Linkedin as The Art of Custom be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes and please rate and review! The Art of Custom is produced by HugMonster Sound with original music by Adam Frick-Verdine. Thanks for listening.