When thinking about moving into a new home, there’s a fair amount of terminology that may be new to you. Future homeowners can get caught up in questions about building vs. buying or building on their own lots along with countless other considerations. Among these, the spec home vs. custom home debate may come up at some point. So, let us put the question to bed. No one really wants a spec home. There! Problem solved.

Sort of…

Before we get angry emails defending spec home builders and the quality homes that have been built in this manner, let us clarify: there’s nothing wrong with building a home for future homeowners. We simply take umbrage with the laissez-faire, assembly line mentality that so often goes into making a home for an unspecified buyer. With that in mind, it makes sense to establish a working definition of spec homes that we can refer to.

A newly constructed kitchen area.

What is a Spec House?

In the broadest sense, the definition of a spec house is a home that builders construct prior to entering into a contract with a buyer. These homes are therefore “speculatory” in nature.

So, What’s the Problem?

Building homes based on vague speculations about what an average buyer might like has a way of taking the inspiration and vision out of a house plan. Spec homes frequently fall short in this regard. That doesn’t mean that a home built for a future homeowner is automatically inferior. But all things equal, everyone prefers a custom home. Here are three reasons why custom homes will beat out cookie-cutter spec homes every time.

Spec Home vs. Custom Home

Built to a Standard

We made a mindset decision at Corinthian a long time ago. We agreed that whenever we need to design a build with no buyer lined up, we will set out to customize it the way we want our own homes. After many years in this industry, we know the materials, construction standards, and aesthetic decisions we would love to have in our own homes. This is the best way we’ve found to bring that custom house feel to a pre-built plan.

A spec home that is built without a specific standard in mind is vulnerable to wishy-washy decision making and non-cohesive design choices.

Creative Control

Whatever the balance of creative control between a builder, future homeowner, and architect, it is preferable to the half-blind projection of a spec house. Spec homes attempt to streamline the homebuilding process with efficient, budgeted home concepts designed to work for “most of the people most of the time.” This flies in the face of everything we stand for at Corinthian Fine Homes.

If you’re getting the impression that we don’t care for spec homes, well… you’re right. It isn’t that nice spec homes can’t exist, it’s just that they require strong direction and bold choices — two things that are often lacking in this space.

A white Georgian style house with a wraparound driveway.

Market Sensitivity

Even the best planned homes are still built by people, and people — you may have noticed this — cannot consistently predict the future. Paying attention to what the market wants is still a crucial part of building, however, and your average spec home has difficulty accounting for this. That’s because spec home builders can’t really know if what’s “in” during the design phase of the build will still be “in” two years down the road when they have a buyer.

When building for future homeowners, it’s tricky work to plan for the market trends of five or ten years out. Some decisions, however, are better than others. It’s important to (1) pay very close attention to the historical trajectory of material and design trends, and (2) root your home in a tradition and style of some sort that has enjoyed a long history of popular demand. For a list of in-demand styles, visit our design build page.

Through our interest in the home automation space, we’ve found that equipping many of our pre-built custom homes with future-proofed smart home tech goes a LONG way toward keeping these homes extremely desirable a decade and beyond down the road. In fact, some of the best homes we’ve ever built are in our current inventory, but just as many are builds from twenty or more years ago.


There’s a term you’ll hear a lot more in the hunt for a spec home vs. custom home building. That term is “dealbreaker” (as in, I loved the veranda, but the lack of upstairs bedroom was a dealbreaker). In custom home building, dealbreakers are addressed early on in the process. The home buyer(s) lay out all of the features, materials, and design choices that they do and do not want to see, and then the architects and builders plan accordingly. That pretty much takes care of it.

With a spec home, it’s not uncommon to begin falling in love on a walkthrough only to feel the floor drop out from under you (hopefully not literally) when you discover a feature (or lack of feature) that is irredeemable to your vision of a dream home.

Applying a custom home building approach to pre-built homes is the best way to both build an inventory list (there will always be homeowners who need a house yesterday) and minimize dealbreakers through decades of experience and thoughtful prediction.

A basement featuring gold light fixtures and exposed brick by custom home builders in Central Ohio.

Ready to Go With a Custom Home?

Give us a call anytime! You can choose between browsing our current inventory, building on a lot in our English cottage community, or starting a project from scratch. But at Corinthian, everything is custom.