Spec Home vs Custom Home: Which is Better?

Posted by Rachel Allain on September 28, 2023

A custom kitchen with all the cabinets and appliances, painted dark grey but in a well lit roomSpec home vs custom home - that is the question. What makes these two types of builds different and how do I know which one is best for me?

The short and simple answer: Custom homes are homes that are made from entirely scratch - using unique blueprints that are designed by a home builder. You get to customize to the "T". Spec homes, on the other hand, are a neat little term for a house that is pre-designed and pre-built, ready for a potential buyer to move in.

But there is more to this than this watered down response. How can you know which fit would be best for you? Let's dig into the specifics of specs and custom builds.

What is a Custom Home?

A custom bathroom in a home complete with gold-framed mirrors and an intricate black and white tile shower

A custom home is a house that is designed and built specifically for the homeowner rather than for a general market.

Custom homes are designed and constructed after a buyer commissions the home. The design process starts with the buyer's specific needs and preferences. As a result, custom homes are typically one-of-a-kind rather than part of a large planned development.

Floor plans, amenities, finishes, and other details are customized to the buyer's lifestyle and budget, giving the buyer control over the design. Since the home is brand new for the occupants, custom homes do not come furnished. They are also not used as model homes to showcase a development. Due to the personalized design and longer construction, prices for custom homes are usually higher than similar sized spec homes.

Research More >> What Should I Look for When Researching Custom Home Builders?

What is a Spec Home?

A pre-built spec home from the outside, painted green

A spec home, also known as a "speculative home", is a house that is built in advance by a builder or developer with the intention of selling it quickly and easily.

Spec homes are constructed and completed before finding an end buyer, with the hope of selling quickly after listing. Spec homes are typically built as part of a larger housing development consisting of multiple similar-style homes, allowing builders to achieve faster builds. To appeal to the widest range of buyers, spec homes tend to include common features, finishes, and layouts that are in current demand.

Some spec homes will come furnished and decorated to help prospective buyers envision living there. Builders will often use one of these homes as a model, to easily show off to potential homeowners. For buyers, spec homes allow for move-in ready options in desired neighborhoods.

Custom Home - Pros & Cons

A custom home with gray and white exterior.

Here are some potential pros and cons of building a custom home:


  • Personalized design - Floor plans, features, finishes are customized exactly to the homeowner's tastes and lifestyle.
  • Unique property - The home can be made one-of-a-kind with customized elements.
  • Ideal location - Homeowners aren't always limited to builder's developments and can choose their own location if they already own land.
  • Build equity - Custom homes may appreciate more at resale than spec homes due to their unique qualities.
  • More oversight - Homeowners can be more involved throughout the construction process and make sure they get exactly what they want.
  • Energy efficiency - Home can be optimized for the latest insulation, HVAC, and appliances which can help save on energy bills down the line.


  • Longer timeline - Design, permitting, and custom construction takes significantly more time due to all the personalization.
  • Potential cost increases - Unforeseen costs related to customization, delays, changes may arise.
  • Resale risk - Highly customized homes may appeal to a smaller segment of buyers.
  • Lack of neighborhood - If you're building on personal property, it can limit you to the potential of having friendly neighbors.
  • Locked into plans - Changes once construction starts can be expensive. Try to limit last second decisions.

Overall, a custom homes best perk is the freedom of personalization. Buyers should thoroughly consider priorities like budget, timeline, uniqueness, and location before deciding to go this route.

Design More >> Interior Design Trends of 2023

Spec Home - Pros and Cons

A fully decorated spec home's kitchen

Here are some of the most common pros and cons of buying a spec home:


  • Faster move-in times - Spec homes are often move-in ready since construction is already complete.
  • Locked-in pricing - What you see is what you get so the pricing is less variable.
  • Established neighborhood - Spec home developments are typically built in existing neighborhoods with amenities, though custom homes can also be built on existing land.
  • Less decision-making - The builders handle all of the designing so you don't have to spend time worrying about cabinet color and other specifics.
  • May be less expensive - The template to build is much more straightforward and routine, making for a quicker, easier build.
  • Can tour a completed home - The best part is that you can actually tour the home before you move in to make sure it fits your needs.


  • Less personalization - Specs feature more cookie-cutter designs vs. customization in a custom build.
  • Location limited - Buyers can only purchase in neighborhoods where builder constructs specs.
  • Resale uncertainty - Generic design may make future resale more difficult compared to custom homes. Building homes following trends can also make them feel outdated when its time to sell again.
Spec homes offer speed and accessibility when it comes to owning a home. Buyers should weigh their priorities like timeline, budget, customization needs, and quality before deciding to go with a spec home.

Builds what fits you best.

The most important thing is not to rush the decision-making process. Selecting the optimal spec home or completely custom home is just one of the many choices you need to make for you and your family to find the perfect place you need.

We're experts in custom home design. We can help guide you through the whole process of building and buying a home. Call us at (866) 519-2400 or contact us online today!

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Tags: Building Tips & Info, Floor Plans