A common misconception is that a custom home package comes as pre-assembled walls and is clicked together like a modular home. That is not the case, the materials arrive on site just as they would in a normal build - as lifts of lumber and sheeting. The main benefit is that the package is assembled and produced remotely so that cost efficiencies are maximised, delivery costs are minimized and quality can be better managed.
We are fortunate in BC to have so many good on-site framers, it is usually cheaper to use their skills on site rather than shipping pre-panelised walls. The areas of customization that require off-site skills are the non-framing items that are produced off-site; custom flashings, custom fasteners, pre-finished siding, trims, soffits, trusses etc. By coordinating the production and delivery of these off-site items, we develop the most cost-effective means to build thus ensuring minimum down-time, minimum wastage, consistent-quality materials, and on-schedule projects.
Some builders rely on a misinformed client; sometimes one building method will suit - prehaps pre-panelised walls would work out cheaper - but in other instances they won't. The key is not to let the "Custom" aspect to a home become an excuse for runaway costs. It is still just a home after all, in most instances it still requires the same materials, skills and effort; the differences are in the planning and organisation.
Get to know the industry venacluar and terminology. A lot of Canadians have a good understanding of construction and a lot think they do, but it is partial. There are no stupid questions, if you don't know ask, if you think you know, check. It will assist greatly in the overall process.
If you haven't got the time to clearly define your overall needs, consider staging the contract negotiation into a project to lock-up or project-to-drywall, and then a separate process for the finishing phase. You will likely not get as good a price as if it were a bid for the whole build - but if it means you can get going and not have a whole raft of expensive change orders later, it is usually beneficial.
Ideally you are in a position to define ithe whole project, but if you haven't done your research on finishing, then an alternative is to define allowances against a material type. That can be messy, but so long as the builder is genuine, the "allowances" method can work ....so long there is minimal variance in scope of material.
A general contractor is still able to warranty the home if it is built to lock-up, and many of the finishing items can relatively easily be managed by the home owner on a sub-contractor by sub-contractor basis. You don't have to be stuck with one general contractor for the whole project although there may be additional warranty costs and/or implications - but you should check first rather than be forced into accepting an overall contract when you're not fully ready but need to get going.
Brecan can assist with the contractor engagement process or alternatively we have our own experienced associated builder network for you to consider.
© Brecan Buildings Supplies Ltd, 13 Kutenai Road Fernie, BC, V0B1M5