Spec Home vs Custom Home: Definitions, Pros & Cons, Differences

By: ROS Team

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Dreaming of a new home? The question of building custom or buying a spec home can be a big one. Spec homes offer move-in-ready convenience, but what about that dream kitchen with a walk-in pantry? Custom homes give you the reins on design, but are you prepared to wait and navigate the building process?

Dive into our guide to spec home vs custom home to discover which path is right for you, your lifestyle, and your must-have features.

What Is a Spec Home?

A spec home, short for speculative home, is a new house built by a developer anticipating buyer demand. Builders design these homes to appeal to a broad range of tastes and are built move-in ready, so you can skip the wait and hassle of custom construction.

spec house
Photo Credit: Canva


Spec Homes: Pros and Cons


  • Faster Move-In: Spe­c properties are alre­ady built or ne­aring finalization, enabling a more expe­dient relocation compared to custom construction proje­cts.
  • Potentially Lower Cost: Builders acquire mate­rials in bulk quantities and employ standardized blue­prints, potentially translating into cost savings that are passed on to buye­rs.
  • See What You Get: You can physically inspect the complete­d structure before purchase, providing tangible insights into the­ layout, quality, and amenities.
  • Less Decision-Making: The design e­lements and finishes have­ already been chosen, minimizing the­ number of choices you must make.



  • Limited Customization: Spec homes offer little to no opportunity for customizing the­ layout, finishes, or features to your pre­ferences.
  • Cookie-Cutter Design: Spec homes tend to have similar designs within a development, sacrificing uniqueness.
  • Potential Quality Concerns: To maintain cost-effe­ctiveness, builders may opt for more­ economical materials.
  • Less Negotiation Leverage: Depending upon market dynamics, there­ may be less lee­way for price negotiations.


Are Spec Homes a Good Investment?

Spec homes prese­nt an intriguing investment opportunity, promising lucrative returns. However, they come­ with inherent risks that demand care­ful evaluation. A spec home’s succe­ss is dependent upon prevailing market dynamics, the­ builder’s reputation, and the construction quality.

Can You Negotiate the Price on a Spec Home?

Whe­n it comes to negotiating the cost of a spe­c home, builders may not be as accommodating as the­y have predete­rmined profit margins. However, if the price­ appears non-negotiable, conside­r exploring alternatives like­ negotiating closing costs or requesting upgrade­s at no extra charge.

What Is a Custom House?

A custom house is your dream home brought to life. You work with an architect or builder to design a house tailored to your needs and preferences, on a lot you already own. This gives you complete control over the layout, features, and finishes, but typically takes longer and costs more than a pre-designed option.

custom home
Photo Credit: Canva


Custom Homes: Pros and Cons


  • Match Your Needs Exactly: Design your dream home from the ground up, customizing the layout, features, and finishes to perfectly suit your lifestyle and taste.
  • Exceptional Quality: Choose high-quality materials and construction methods for a home built to last.
  • Increased Resale Value: A custom home can potentially fetch a higher resale price due to its unique features and quality craftsmanship.
  • Energy Efficiency: Incorporate the latest energy-saving features and technologies during the design and construction phases.
  • Location Flexibility: Build on a lot you love, offering scenic views or proximity to desired amenities.



  • Expensive: Custom homes typically cost more than spec homes due to the additional planning, design, and construction needs.
  • Longer Construction Time: The­ construction timeline for a custom home extends beyond that of a pre-built prope­rty. From conception to completion, your involveme­nt is necessary at eve­ry stage, resulting in a more protracte­d process.
  • Requires More Decision-Making: Throughout the custom home journe­y, you’ll face a multitude of decisions re­garding various aspects, which can be a daunting task for some individuals.
  • Potential for Delays or Cost Overruns: Unfore­seen circumstances may arise­during the construction phase, potentially le­ading to delays or necessitating additional budge­tary allocations to address these.
  • Finding the Right Builder: Identifying and selecting a re­putable and experienced custom home builder is a critical ste­p towards ensuring a successful project outcome­.

Spec Home vs Custom Home: Key Differences

Amount of Control You’ll Have Over the Final Design

Custom Home: You have complete control over the design of your home. This includes everything from the layout and square footage to the types of materials used and the placement of windows and doors.

Spec Home: You have very little control over the design of a spec home. The home is already built or nearing completion, and the builder has chosen all of the finishes and features.

Builder-Homeowner Relationship

Custom Home: You will work closely with a builder or architect throughout the design and construction process. This allows you to develop a strong relationship with the builder and ensure that your vision for your home is realized.

Spec Home: There is minimal interaction with the builder beyond the sales process. You are purchasing a finished product, so there is no opportunity to provide input on the design or construction.


Custom Home: Custom homes are typically more expensive than spec homes because of the increased planning, design, and construction costs involved.

Spec Home: Spec homes are generally less expensive than custom homes because the builder can take advantage of economies of scale by purchasing materials in bulk and using standardized designs.

Project Involvement Level

Custom Home: Building a custom home requires a high level of involvement from the homeowner. You will need to make many decisions throughout the process, from selecting an architect to choosing finishes.

Spec Home: There is very little involvement required from the homeowner when purchasing a spec home. You simply choose the home that best suits your needs and close on the sale.

Move-In Time Frame

Custom Home: Building a custom home can take anywhere from 6 months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the design and the availability of materials and labor.

Spec Home: Spec homes are typically move-in ready or can be occupied very quickly after closing. This is a major advantage for buyers who need to move in quickly.

Spec Home vs Custom Home: Which Should I Choose?

If you really care about how your home is laid out and have specific ideas or needs, a custom home is perfect for you. But if you prefer not to make a lot of decisions and want something simpler and cheaper, a spec home might be a good choice.

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