“How long will it take to build a custom home? Builders hear this question a lot. The answer, as with most such questions, is “It depends.” But on what?

People who haven’t built before often have an unrealistic concept of how long it can take to plan, budget, and build a custom home. Many variables can affect the timetable. Merlin Custom Home Builders is proud of their systems that address these three variables that stand out. They are design, permitting, and site work.


A stock plan the builder has previously built will take less time than a fully custom home, even if the homeowners make some changes to that stock plan. It can take months to design and a year or more to build a custom home.

Some people see size as the best indicator of how long the project will take. Not so—cost is a far more accurate gauge. Imagine a pair of 5,000-square-foot luxury custom homes, one for $2 million and another for $4 million. Both will be complicated but it’s a good bet that the latter will have a more complex design and more challenging material acquisitions. Consequently it will take longer to build.


The legal approvals required before construction begins have multiplied over the years. Signoff will certainly be needed from the zoning board, the building department, the health department, the fire department and, when building in a planned community, the homeowners’ association. In some areas, design committees, historical commissions, water authorities, or other entities want their say as well. Today we also have Covid 19 challenges. Not surprisingly, the wheels of these bureaucracies can move slowly, but an experienced custom homebuilder should be able to estimate the time required to negotiate the red tape.

Site Work

Is the lot in a flat, tiered (a step lot) or on a hillside? Are the soils expansive, do filled rocks with funneling structural issues lie below the pad surface or is there water intrusion? Merlin Custom Home Builders has addressed all these issues in the Las Vegas Valley. Each of them requiring a special engineered and inspected solution, before the footers can even be dug.

Keeping on track

Fortunately, there are things the homeowners can do to keep the job moving. These include taking deadlines seriously, providing details on how they will live in the home, and minimizing changes.

Agree On A Timetable

Most busy architects and builders work hard to get things done promptly, but without firm dates things can slip. Merlin Custom Home Builders encourages homeowners to hold weekly meetings and deadlines for the next steps. “The plans will be done in a couple of weeks” is vague. Compare that to “The plans will be ready on March 15,” which provides a clear understanding for all parties. On the other hand, homeowners who postpone scheduled meetings with the custom builder or architect will also throw off the timetable.

Think The Home Through

The more detailed the plan, the less chance of hang-ups. For example, vague electrical plans can stop a project in its tracks. The homeowners need to think through where they want furniture and cabinets so that the architect can specify the right number of outlets. If artwork is to be displayed on a wall or above a fireplace, the architect needs to know it in order to specify the correct lighting. If the homeowners don’t drill down to this level of detail until the job is well underway, things can be held up while new wiring is installed, or walls and ceilings re-framed to accommodate it.

Minimize Changes

Change orders are a huge time killer because they require lots of time to plan, bid and coordinate. Changes made late in the design stage can extend design time; those made after project kickoff can extend build time. Approved Work Authorization (AWA)s include any additional time along with the cost of the change. This gives our homeowners the complete ramification for the additional/change in work suggested.

The bottom line is that, if moving in by a certain date is a priority, the homeowners need to be absolutely clear with the custom home builder about it and need assurance that the builder is on board. When this is done at the very beginning, the custom homeowners, builder, architect and designer can plan effectively to meet the date.

Merlin Custom Home Builders’ budgets and schedules clearly detail the cost as well as define the schedule to achieve our homeowner’s design, budget and move in date.