Custom, Spec or Tract?

When you think about what’s on your must-have versus your nice-to-have list for your new home, does one outweigh the other? The kind of builder you choose will depend on your needs, preferences and budget.

Tract homes

If you’ve ever driven through a new neighbourhood and noticed many similarities between the houses within it, chances are you’re looking at the work of a tract builder.  

Also known as a production home builder, this type of company buys and subdivides large plots of land to build on. Only minor design changes can be requested by the homeowner, as the builder sticks to a limited selection of pre-designed homes.

These builders keep many projects on the go at once. They often build to the minimum codes and use standard materials, which keeps costs down and moves production along quickly but may compromise quality.

Spec homes

A spec home is also built on a lot the builder has already purchased, based on the builder’s “speculation” it will sell. The style and floor plan are determined by the builder, although you might be able to select some of the finishings if you purchase the home before that stage of the process. These homes are likely to have more unique characteristics and higher-end finishings than your basic tract home.

Custom homes

Just as the name suggests, a custom home is fully customizable to your needs. Three-car garage? No problem. Coffered ceiling? Sounds great. Extra-large mudroom with a washing station for your dog’s muddy paws? Of course. Whatever your style or preference, your home will be designed for you.

A custom home doesn’t have to be large and elaborate—a small retirement bungalow or functional family home is possible, too.

While you might pay a premium for a custom-built home, you’re also paying for a home that is uniquely you and quality that lasts. For some custom builders, that includes higher building standards than the National Building Code.

If you choose to go custom, be sure to ask your builder about their quote policy. As custom details add up, you should receive a detailed quote that outlines everything you and your builder have discussed. No work would proceed without your signature, and no change would be made without a change order.

After all, if you’re trusting your builder to build a top-notch product, you should receive no less than top-notch service.
Keith Sawlor Sawlor Built Homes Custom Home Builder in Nova Scotia

Keith Sawlor

Keith Sawlor is the second generation Owner of Sawlor Built Homes. With more than 35 years experience building custom homes in Nova Scotia, Keith has built a team that mirrors his professional knowledge and values.

Keith is a Certified Residential Builder who is also certified with many leading industry organizations. He is a Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) Certified Builder, a Net Zero Energy (NZE) Certified Builder, a Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) R-2000 Certified Builder, and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS).

Keith is a Board Member of the Atlantic Home Warranty Program as well as the Canadian Home Builders' Association Nova Scotia. He is involved in many other industry programs and associations, such as the Canadian Home Builders’ Association National, Safety Services Nova Scotia and Better Business Bureau.


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Keith and his team are the best! They are entirely approachable, do not pressure one into making a decision and live up to their commitment of excellence.

Alan & Rita

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