Custom Homes Versus Spec Homes: What’s the Difference?

Published December 12, 2023

Your lifestyle has outgrown your current home, and you know it’s time for something new. You need a sanctuary to return to after dropping your kids off at school, a place to relax and unwind after a long day at the office, or a place to host every generation of your family when they come to visit. How do you know if you need a custom-built home or a spec home to meet your needs? Both custom homes and spec homes refer to newly constructed residences, but they differ in terms of their design process, customization, target audience, and sometimes even price. Below is a breakdown of the key differences.

Design & Customization:

  • Custom Home: As the name implies, a custom home is built according to the specific desires and requests of the buyer. The homeowner usually works closely with an architect or designer to create a home that fits their needs, tastes, and lifestyle. The buyer selects everything from the floor plan to the finishes, fixtures, and even the location of the home.
  • Spec Home: “Spec” stands for “speculative.” A spec home is built by builders or developers without a specific buyer in mind. The builder decides on the design, finishes, and features based on what they believe will be appealing to potential buyers in the market. The aim is to sell the home upon or even before its completion.


  • Custom Home: Building a custom home often takes longer. This is because of the time it takes to design the home, make decisions on all the various components, and potentially deal with changes or modifications during the construction process.
  • Spec Home: Because decisions regarding design and finishes are made beforehand and changes during construction are minimal, the construction timeline for a spec home can be more predictable and often quicker compared to custom homes.


  • Custom Home: These can be more expensive than spec homes, mainly because of the unique design, premium choices, and the possibility of changes during construction. However, costs can vary widely based on the choices made by the homeowner.
  • Spec Home: The price is generally set by the builder based on construction costs and market demand. While spec homes might have a more predictable price, certain premium spec homes can still be quite expensive if they are built with high-end finishes and in desirable locations

Target Audience:

  • Custom Home: Custom-built homes are targeted toward buyers who know exactly what they want in a home and are willing to invest the time and money to get it.
  • Spec Home: Spec homes are aimed at buyers who may want a new home but don’t want to wait for a custom build or go through the design process. They’re looking for something move-in ready.


  • Custom Home: When you work with a contractor to custom-build your home, you get the maximum amount of flexibility in terms of design, layout, and finishes.
  • Spec Home: Flexibility is limited with pre-designed spec homes, especially if the home is already complete. However, if a buyer enters a contract early in the building process, some customization might be possible.

The decision between a custom home and a spec home will largely depend on your preferences, timeline, and budget. While some people might value the convenience and immediacy of a spec home, crafting your ideal home with a builder who works with you every step of the process allows you to create a unique and personalized luxury home. At LaFollette Custom Homes, we are dedicated to bringing your family’s dreams to life. Experience unparalleled quality and meticulous attention to detail as your dream home materializes before your eyes. Contact our team today to learn more.



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