Join Club

Ask Adam: Custom or Spec Home?

Ask Adam header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit follow-up questions in the via email.

Our family is growing and we are in serious need of a larger home and don’t feel the one we are currently in is worth adding on to. Our preference is a new home, but having visited a number of open houses, we are not very impressed with what we are finding. Should we consider building a custom home?

A major advantage of a new home already constructed (often referred to as a “spec home”) is that it is move-in ready and the headaches of construction have been managed for you. You also get to see exactly what you are buying.

Two downsides to a spec home:

  1. You are stuck with someone else’s design choices.
  2. You are paying market value for the home, which may be more than the cost of building a custom home.

When deciding between buying a spec home or building a custom home, keep in mind that there is not much extra land sitting around Arlington that is just waiting for you to build on. You will be lucky to find anything desirable if you search the MLS for land in Arlington. Good teardowns can attract competition from builders and investors who are able to pay cash. So even if you have the funds and inclination to build a custom home, finding a lot that suits you may be easier said than done.

You mentioned that your current home is not worth adding on to, but you may want to consider whether it is a good teardown candidate. There are a number of terrific builders who specialize in building on your lot. Depending on your tastes and requirements, you may find this to be quite an affordable option.  Items to consider:

  • How will the new home blend into your existing neighborhood?
  • Will the upper end of home prices in your existing neighborhood support the total investment you are considering?
  • Will the size and shape of your lot support the home you want to build?
  • Are there any Arlington County zoning restrictions that may get in the way of your plans?

If you decide to build a custom home but do not use your current lot then I recommend working with a REALTOR® who has experience with finding lots and set a realistic timetable.  In the meantime, it is a good idea to start interviewing builders. I know of a few good builders that tend to have a portfolio of lots, which could be a home run if you like their work, pricing and the lot(s) they have available.

You’ll also need to explore construction financing. This niche service tends to be dominated by the local banks and the terms have become increasingly convenient. Some programs allow you to wrap into one loan, the cost of the lot and construction. I’ve even seen down-payment requirements as low as 10%.

Builders almost always have a number of models for you to choose from. It’s usually less expensive to go with one of their existing options than to start from scratch.  Some will also allow you to customize the floor plans as well as the finishes. You may not get many chances in your life to build your own home, so I recommend pushing for what you really want. Maybe you will get lucky and find an existing model that works great for you, but if not, don’t be afraid to customize if you can make it work with your budget.

Feel free to contact me directly to discuss your plans in greater detail. Even if we don’t work together, I’m happy to recommend builders and lenders that fit well with your needs. I can also turn you onto homes currently under construction that are not yet on the market, like this one:  http://228Cleveland.com/

If someone is reading this that owns a potential tear down lot, I would love to hear from you as well.  I’m always on the lookout for good lots in Arlington, Falls Church and McLean.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Recent Stories

Bishop O’Connell High School students will be dancing for 12 hours straight to raise money for the research and treatment of cystic fibrosis. The nearly 50-year-old tradition, dubbed the “Superdance,”…

Another unassuming Arlington restaurant tucked well away from a Metro corridor has received a glowing write-up. King of Koshary, at 5515 Wilson Blvd in Bluemont, “serves Egyptian food fit for…

Morning Notes

Knife Incident Along I-66 — “Scanner: Arlington and state police on scene of incident along I-66 near Rosslyn and the Key Bridge. A man reportedly came out of the woods…

Good Monday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 10824 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

Have you noticed a striking sculpture at Monroe Street and Wilson Boulevard? It’s the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington’s newest installation, Make Your Mark, by Arlington artist, Adam Henry. This sculpture celebrates MoCA Arlington’s rebranding and brings the museum’s energy outdoors.

On February 11, come inside when the museum’s galleries reopen with two new exhibitions: Rebecca Rivas Rogers: Grey View and Crisis of Image.

Grey View, in the Wyatt Resident Artist Gallery, is an homage to “gray” and a snapshot of the artist’s process. Consisting of photographs, collage, and a site-specific installation, this show is an outgrowth of Rivas-Rogers’ visual investigations into places you see on your way to somewhere else.

On the main level, Crisis of Image features artists who seek equity in today’s saturated visual world by developing new methods related to the production of images.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Its February and you said you would start your journey to a healthier you, last month! If you are struggling and do not know how or what to do to get started, we are here to keep you accountable. At Aspire Higher Training, we offer 1-1 Personal Training for ALL fitness levels, Semi-Private Group Training, Sport Specific Training and Injury Prevention/Post-Physical Therapy Training. Monica and her team of trainers are available across Arlington, Va.

If you don’t have access to a gym, no problem, we are located in South Arlington, but if you want to workout from your home gym, we also offer that flexibility. We make it as convenient as possible to ensure your success. Before getting started, we offer a free 15-30 minute consultation call to see how we can best help you towards your health and fitness goals. Let’s get started on your health and fitness goals today by setting up a call at your earliest convenience:

https://www.aspirehigherfitness.com/contact

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by

×

Subscribe to our mailing list