Tract homes can be a popular choice because they are presented as a package. These homes generally have the same or similar elevation (exterior style) as every other home in the development. Often times you will see that there is a little less elbow room between lots, yet the community plans for a bit of green space or park to make up for lack of yard space. Although you do have some choice when it comes to floorplans and amenities, (flooring, fixtures, cabinets, and countertops, etc.) your options are generally limited to a few "standard options" in the form of A, B, or C. Anything you choose outside of "standard options" are presented in the form of an upgrade. Often times, you will view a set of model homes that show very well. Most of the models contain so many upgrades that it's hard to tell what you actually get with the base advertised price. If you decide that you don't like any of the base choices available, even the upgraded options, you really are out of luck.
A Custom home is "custom to the choices you make" and can be anything you want it to be - of course within your budget. The key to building a custom home within your budget comes down to trust and teamwork. It is important to meet with your builder first! Have them view your land if you already have it, set aside time to speak to them in detail about your wants and needs and essentially begin to create a plan together. This is the time to get a good feel for their expertise, have them educate you about the process and determine if it makes sense to speak to references of previous clients. Once you decide to move forward, your builder will provide you with a cost estimate based on everything you discussed.
Building a custom home on your land or land you purchase is especially attractive for those that want a bit more elbow room between neighbors. The choice is yours when it comes to floorplan, elevation and amenities. You can bring your own floorplan or work with your builder and their architect to create the floor plan that matches your lifestyle. Rarely does your home look exactly like your neighbors home. When it comes to amenities, the only limit is your budget, however, it is important that you work with your builder to understand where you can get the most out of your budget. Often times, they will know which amentities to spend more or less on to get the same style and look that you desire while staying within your budget.
Both homes can be good choices depending on what your ultimate goal is, however, at the end of the day it really comes down to how much choice you prefer, how comfortable you are working as a team with your builder, and how involved you want to be in building your new home.