One of the major options many homebuyers face is whether to buy a preexisting home or build.

Being a designer/builder for many years and now a real estate agent, I have a clear understanding on how to advise clients when there is a buy vs. build decision to consider.  -Wendy Martin

When you’re in the market to buy a home, it’s safe to assume you’re seeking a home that is available in a desired location, is in line with your required functionality and layout, has the right look, and of course, is within the right price point. Usually there is some compromising to be made along the way as you find out more about the options available to you. 

Whether you initially considered building or it’s suggested to you by your agent during the process of searching and showing, having knowledge about local build options will prove to be of great value, even if it’s just for additional market perspective.

Here are some important things to consider when learning about build options in NWA:



When interviewing agents, choose one that is familiar with local builders/developers in your area – an agent who knows the types of homes each builder specializes in, where they build and their reputation.  Your agent should also be knowledgeable about the process and be able to help you consider the differences between a custom home build versus a semi-custom.



Since building a home is a different process than buying, you’ll want to ask the right questions. Some important questions to ask include:

  • How is financing handled?
  • Is construction financed by the builder, on builder lot only, or it is financed by you (the buyer) on a buyer lot?
  • Is there a design/selection process or are their plans to choose from?
  • Are there deposits required?



There are three main variables to consider when evaluating what to prioritize in a building project:

  1. Quantity – the size of home in square footage. Appraisals always go by heated/cooled square footage and are a very large factor in determining value. Although outdoor spaces like covered porches, hardscaping, and landscaping are not included in the interior SF, they will impact cost.
  2. Qualities – these are what the house is made up of, such as the specifications, features, finishes, systems, energy efficiency, and quality of craftsmanship.
  3. Cost – the dollars invested in the home.

It is important to take time to process these factors and determine your priorities so you can make clear decisions moving forward.  Once you’ve determined the order in which these three variables are of importance then focus on the first two knowing that the builder will help determine the third variable.




Plan. This first phase of the project includes the interview, discussion and discovery. It’s where you can put a name with the face, find out how the builder can serve you and discuss the project concept (lot, land, general scope of work, ideas and feasibility, general pricing, timing, contracts, clarify services.) You will also make the decision whether to engage design services or to provide your own plans or architect. 

Design. An alliance between the architect, interior design consultant, and builder allows you to “seamlessly” create your project based on your ideas, expectations, scope of work, craftsmanship, and cost. In hindsight, this is where many projects start off on the wrong foot- they don’t involve the above three key players to accomplish synergy and economies.

Involving the builder during the design phase improves overall project communications & product/application/design ideas and solutions, clarifies expectations, allows you to make educated decisions based on cost/benefit analysis (saving you thousands of dollars) and have fun knowing you have a very competent consultant team.

Some of the meetings you can expect at this stage include:

  • Project Vision Meeting
  • Lot/ Site meeting
  • Initial Design meeting- where you can share sketches and examples, pictures, create ideas, room orientations, type of architecture, etc.
  • Preliminary plans review –  where you will evaluate prelim floor plan and elevation & make revisions and changes as needed.
  • Develop Detailed Construction Specifications – to identify preliminary interior and exterior materials and finishes (for prelim cost evaluation)
  • Preliminary Project Cost Evaluation
  • Space Planning and Design Updates
  • Final Construction Plans and Specifications & Final Project Budget

Build. The construction phase of the project will take you through the following steps: 

  • Construction Contract and Deposit
  • Document Submission to Lender (if needed)
  • Construction Loan Closing
  • Construction begins\ (Design – Part II) Interior Design and Selection Process (throughout building)
  • Milestone Site Meetings (Foundation, Post Framing, Drywall, Interior Trim)
  • Construction Completion and Certificate of Occupancy
  • Final Walk Through – New Home (project) Orientation, Punchlist, Warranty Introduction
  • Closing
  • Move Into Your New Home

Hopefully this information is helpful in the event you just can’t find the perfect preexisting home.  Please remember, the Martin Building Group is available to help answer any of your build option questions and welcomes a project partnership with your real estate agent. 

WENDY MARTIN is a part of the Martin Building Group and a Realtor with Collier & Associates in Fayetterville AR. She was raised in sunny Newport Beach in Southern CA, and moved to Rogers, AR in 1990, receiving a Masters in Counseling from the University of AR. She and her husband have been married for 26 years, have 4 children (Mason (22), McKane (21), Mo (19), Maiya (16)) and started Martin Building Group in 1995. They are currently introducing a Coastal Traditional architectural design to Northwest Arkansas in honor of the heritage of where they grew up. 

wendy@wendymartinliving 479-957-2898


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