Note: the cost of building has wildly fluctuated over the past few years and these numbers may be outdated. For more accurate figures, please read this article which has calculations updated for 2023.

We’re often asked by prospective clients: “What is included in your homes?” as a way of understanding what makes a home a “custom home.” As I unpack the question with these folks, I’ve come to find a lot of folks understand a custom home to mean a luxury home. But those are actually two different things.

For Paramount Homes, a custom home, at minimum, has features and specifications that, with rare exceptions, we won’t dip below. (If you’re interested in that conversation, you can read this blog post to see what we include at a minimum in all our custom homes).

We can build a custom home for as low as (roughly) $150 per square foot, but that number can actually double or even triple, depending on a huge number of variables. At some point, what starts as a custom home becomes a luxury home. That point is not easily defined, and in reality is quite subjective (which makes writing this explanation really challenging!). Nevertheless, we shall press on!

For this article, I thought it would be helpful to look at some of the more common elements that can cause a home to jump from custom to luxury and to help the reader have a clearer picture as to what a custom home is, and what a luxury home is.

Keep in mind, though, that any particular feature does not necessarily make a custom home a luxury home; more often than not, it’s a multitude of features that push a home into the luxury category. Below, I’ll identify features that, typically, push a home from being simply a custom home to a luxury home. (Also, if you’d like to see some photos of the custom homes we’ve built, you can view our gallery here. The majority of what you’ll see there are NOT luxury, but simply custom, and would be included in our lower end of the price point).

Seven Differences Between Custom Homes & Luxury Homes

#1: Exterior Doors and Glass

A custom home can have a wide range of exterior door types. Large sections of windows/ doors/ glass are often utilized in a luxury home. Beyond that, the next step up is to go to a truly custom setup that creates a virtually seamless union between exterior and interior. Check out NanaWall for a good example.

#2: Exterior Wall & Roof Assemblies

Unique elements such as commercial panels, extensive use of stone, metal cladding, and wood cladding. Copper or metal roofing might be used, even if just in certain architectural sections.

#3: Electrical System

“Home automation”, as its commonly referred to, has opened up virtually endless possibilities. A massive range of potential features, from climate control, streaming audio, streaming video, security, keypad lighting, the list goes on.

#4: Interior Millwork

One of a kind doors, built-up trim (more than one piece is used), hand-built cabinetry, exotic woods can be employed.

#5: Interior Wall Finishes

Class 5 drywall finish (a.k.a. “smooth wall” or “slick wall”), Venetian plaster, kerfed drywall details, exotic woods, imported tile. One of a kind/ personalized stains or finishes may be integrated.

#6: Fixtures and Appliances

These will often jump from “high end” to exotic/luxury. Electrical fixtures, plumbing fixtures, kitchen appliances – these can all get very pricey very quickly.

#7: Outdoor Spaces

You’ll often find that the outdoor spaces in a luxury home are as important as the interior spaces; large spaces for entertaining with all the amenities – full kitchens, built-in heaters, sliding glass panels, elegant fireplaces, and surrounding stonework, audio, video.

As a custom home builder, we’re comfortable with custom homes, we’re comfortable with luxury homes, and we’re comfortable somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, it’s likely that for the vast majority of folks reading this a luxury home is out of reach. Candidly, it’s out of my reach as well. The good news is that a custom home is very possibly not out of reach and that a home that’s built specifically for you, your family, and your lifestyle, is a legitimate possibility. Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.