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  • Writer's pictureKeith Groninger

Designing and Building a New Custom Home

Designing and Building a New Custom Home in Winter Park, Orlando and Central Florida


Designing and building a new “custom” home can be a fun or frightening experience for those that are adventurous enough to accept the challenge. A true custom home is unique and designed specifically for the owners. Even though your initial thoughts may be about choosing a builder, the process begins with design, but the builder should be an integral part. 


Coastal Louisiana architectural style home in Winter Park, Florida
Coastal Louisiana home design

Understanding the budget goals of the project requires a good understanding of construction costs, something that many designers are not qualified to do. Conceptual and preliminary estimating should be available during the design process to prevent surprises and manage the design to the budget. Many projects have remained on the drawing board when the owners discover that the cost to build is over their budget.



Designing to a budget is an effective way to ensure that a design gets built. Once again, by beginning the estimating process during the design phase, surprises can be minimized. When establishing a conceptual budget, we have some tricks that help us understand the owners' needs:


  • Architectural Digest, Southern Living or DIY magazines Depending on the type of design magazines that the owner prefers, we can get a hint of where we should establish a budget. The high-design and details shown in Architectural Digest are demanding and some builders may have difficulty achieving the level of quality; Southern Living magazine demonstrates attention to detail but is not as demanding, and; DIY is usually about achieving bang-for-the-buck at the best price.

  • Aluminum, Vinyl or Wood-Clad Windows There is a broad range of window preferences among many home buyers, from: specific name-brand high-end products, to; no preference at all. While the wood-clad windows are more expensive, the preference is often driven by demand to achieve a high level of quality and performance. These expectations can influence many of the other products and systems within a home.

  • Appliances and Plumbing Fixtures Appliances and plumbing fixtures can be large ticket items within a home's budget, but the customer selection has more to do with the overall budget than just the appliances or fixtures themselves. It's been our experience that when buyers want specific appliance and plumbing fixture brands, they won't compromise otherwise. We can reduce the size of the home or make other cutbacks to save money, but they often will not consider other brands.


Did all that make sense? These are our observations from over thirty years in the custom home business. Establishing a conceptual or preliminary budget can be more involved than just adding up costs. A good estimator can help establish a realistic budget, and then a good designer can design within the budget.


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Little is more meaningful and personal than a home, and the experience of designing and building your own home should be rewarding and enjoyable. Choosing a builder is difficult. The process of designing and building a home involves numerous decisions about components, systems and services selected from criteria that includes price, quality, appearance and performance. How can you possibly understand everything unless the builder is willing to share all of the information?


Allow us to introduce you to The GCH Way of building your next home. Please let us know if you have any questions.  Keith Groninger

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