Pros & Cons of Building a Custom Home in Tucson

Pros & Cons of Building a Custom Home in Tucson

This is the first in a series of articles targeted towards potential home buyers looking at building a custom home and the topics or questions they might face. While these articles will focus on the typical issues of building a custom home in the Tucson, Arizona metropolitan area, many of the issues may well be similar throughout the state and other parts of the country.

The majority of homes built in the Tucson area over the last 20 years are based on floor plans built over and over again by either smaller local/regional builders or large national builders. These production or “tract” homes offer proven designs that fit a wide variety of buyer needs and can be built more cost effectively due to the savings achieved by building in volume.

Custom When You Can’t Find Your Ideal Resale Home

Not all buyers want a production style home though, especially those “moving up” into a larger house, and therefore some might consider a more custom style residence. Typically these buyers will begin by looking at the existing resale inventory to see if a suitable property might already be out there for sale. Purchasing a resale home saves time when compared with building a custom home and, most often, is less expensive too.

When the right home doesn’t exist already, buyers may want to consider building their own custom home. The main benefit of building your own home is having the opportunity to design it in such a way that fits most or all of your needs (when your budget allows)! Buyers can choose their own floor plan, style, finishes, and more. One quick reality check here is that rarely does the finished product achieve perfection, even for those who’ve built custom homes before and don’t have budgetary restraints. There are usually some “we should have done this differently” moments, but a conscientious buyer should be extremely happy still at the end of the process.

It Takes Time to Design and Build a Custom Home

The downside of the freedom to make all these decisions in creating your home is that it’s very time intensive. If a buyer works with an architect for a truly custom home, that initial design phase will usually take around six months to get working construction drawings completed. If there’s excellent communication between the client & architect and swift decisions are reached this can be reduced somewhat, but it’s also possible to take up to a year too.

Some buyers choose to purchase an “off the shelf” plan that already exists which does save time (in architect fees) and money. Then the real time intensive part of selecting cabinets, flooring, countertops, lighting, driveway material, landscaping, etc. with a builder begins. For those buyers who are married or have a significant other involved, this process can become even more time consuming if the two parties aren’t on the same page. Suffice it to say that the custom home project will take quite a bit of time & effort.

Financial Implications of a Custom Build

One thing that’s less common in the market today than it was say 20 years ago are the mid-range price point custom homes. These homes which you’ll find all over the Foothills of Tucson for instance, aren’t often being constructed today. While it can be feasible to build one still, the rising cost of land, building materials, and permitting fees has pushed most custom homes into the luxury category. The mid-price point, budget conscious buyer has almost been forced out of the custom market today. However, if you’re in this market contact Team Woodall and we’ll help guide you towards making this a reality.

Another consideration to give thought to when debating a build is that while you can make the home very specific to your tastes, that very commonly means it will be less appealing to others when re-selling the home down the road. After all, isn’t one of the reasons you’re considering a new build because a suitable resale home didn’t exist?

Much of the decision about whether to buy or build comes down to the time you are able to commit to a project and how exact to your liking you need the home to be. The satisfaction of building your own home precisely to your liking can be very rewarding. Just make sure you’re aware of the time commitment in the design phase and the length of time it will take for the project to be completed. We’ll talk about it more in later articles in this series, but also be ready with an overage contingency fund as more often than not changes you make during the construction phase will push the price higher than anticipated.

If you’re considering a custom build please feel free to reach out to Team Woodall and we can provide even more detail that should prove useful in your decision of whether to go the custom home build route.


  • Purposely designed and built for your needs & to your styling tastes
  • The opportunity to put a home that you like on a lot that also suits your personal desires
  • Fewer compromises made when buying a home


  • Very time consuming process that can take longer to get into
  • Typically more expensive
  • Financing options are more limited

Next up in our series of articles on custom home building will be: Choosing a Custom Lot in Tucson, pt. 1.

Stephen Woodall
REALTOR, GRI @ Long Realty Company
Stephen has made real estate his full-time career and passion since 2008, primarily specializing in the Foothills & the Northwest Tucson areas of Oro Valley and Marana. He is a multi-million dollar producer, representing both sellers & buyers. Stephen has tremendous experience in new home sales, listing & selling primary residences, listing & selling vacant land, listing & selling luxury homes, investment properties, rentals, and real estate development parcels.

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