If you’re ready to start building or buying a home––whether it’s your first or third––you are likely inundated with industry terms. Maybe you started looking into custom homes and then came across words like spec home or tract home and scratched your head. What’s the difference? 

Quite a bit, actually. We’ve broken down these three types of homes, from most to least customizable, so you don’t have to.  


Custom homes

Custom homes are the embodiment of your vision, from the smallest details to the largest installations. The process is one “in which you work with an architect or designer to create a plan for a house that has never been built before.” 


One of the biggest advantages of a custom build is that the house is truly a reflection of the owner(s). From the grouting in the tile to the tiled roof to the landscaping and lot, the home’s details are entirely personalized. With a custom build, your choices are endless. Working with a team means that you are also able to make budgeting decisions every step of the process. You are aware of every penny you spend (and why). 


A downside to custom homes is the sheer volume of decisions. When you buy a house off the market, you know exactly what you are getting. For custom homes, there “comes a certain perceived risk” of the unknown. Another consideration is how long it takes to build a custom home––sometimes years. Although if you have done your research and know what you want, the timeline can decrease. 


Spec home

Arguably the next step down from a custom home is a spec home or speculative home. These properties are typically completed or almost completed when the buyer purchases them. They are often “plentiful when the economy is healthy because builders can sell them quickly and use the profits to build more.” 


Spec homes are new homes that come in a variety of square footage and designs. The other benefit occurs when spec homes are plentiful. Then, you can find a half-finished build that gives you the freedom of partial customization. This also means that they often take less time than a full custom build.  


Although the process can save you some time, it also might prevent you from getting what you want from your new home. The features of the house “are chosen by the home builder, not the buyer.” In other words, what you see is mostly what you get. Plus, there is a chance that your home will be similar to other homes the builder has completed. 


Tract home

Tract homes or tract housing are sometimes referred to as ‘cookie-cutter’ homes because of how similar they are to one another. They typically all have similar floor plans and styles and are often within the same neighborhood or housing developments. 


One of the more attractive upsides to a tract home is the lower cost. These homes can go up relatively quickly, and “the builder buys materials in bulk and passes on the savings to you.” 


The downside here is the lack of control an owner has over their new residence. Builders working on these homes often prioritize “quality v investment,” which means where to spend and save is not your decision. Also, if you do not plan to live in a tract home for very long, the resale value is “the greatest disadvantage” because of the competition. 


The difference a custom home makes 

Planning your dream home is no small task. Whether you want the ease of a tract or spec home or the full personalization of a custom home, it helps to understand the differences between each kind. At CNC Homes, we have the experience, technology, and customer service to make your custom build everything you need and more.