Save Money With Stock Plans and a Production Home Builder

Very Few Customizations in Your New Home

Production homes under construction in California, 2015
Production homes under construction in California, 2015. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

A production home builder builds houses, townhouses, condos, and rental properties on land that is owned by the building firm. Using stock plans, or plans developed by the real estate or building company, the production home builder will construct a large number of homes each year. A home unit will be built, whether or not you, as an individual homeowner, will buy it. Eventually, the homes will be sold to someone. The production home builder works on the notion that "if you build it, they will come."

Production home builders do not generally undertake construction of unique, architect-designed custom homes. Also, production home builders will not usually use construction plans other than the ones selected by the building firm. As more and more suppliers have come into the marketplace, production homes may be customized by offering a selection of finish options (e.g., counter tops, faucets, flooring, paint colors). Beware, however — these homes are not truly custom homes, but "customized production homes."

Other Names for Production Homes

The building boom after World War II was exciting. Home ownership was an achievable dream for men and women returning home from overseas wars — the returning GIs. In time, however, these suburban neighborhoods were derided and became the poster children of suburban sprawl, blight, and decay. Other names for production homes include "cookie-cutter homes" and "tract housing."

Where are Production Homes?

Suburban housing subdivisions are usually developed by production home builders. On the East coast of the United States, Abraham Levitt and his sons "invented" suburbia with their mid-century homes in what became known as Levittown. After World War II, Levitt & Sons bought tracts of land near urban centers — notably, north of Philadelphia and east of New York City on Long Island. These two planned communities, both known as Levittown, changed the way people lived in postwar America.

At the same time on the West coast, real estate developer Joseph Eichler was building thousands of homes on tracts of land near San Francisco and Los Angeles. Eichler hired California architects who became known for inventing what became known as Mid-Century Modern architecture. Unlike Levitt's houses, Eichler houses became prestigious over time.

Why Production Homes Exist

Mid-century production homes exist largely because of post-war federal incentives. With the passage of the GI Bill, the federal government secured home mortgages for returning military personnel. It's reported that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs backed over 2 million home loans between 1944 and 1952. Less well-known as a reason for "the suburbs" is the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The development of the Interstate Highway System made it possible for people to live outside of cities and commute to work

Production Homes Today

It could be argued that today's production homes exist in retirement and planned communities. For example, house styles in the Town of Celebration, a 1994 Florida development, were limited in style, size, and exterior siding colors. In essence, stock plans were used to build a "model" neighborhood.

Advantages of a Production Home

  • The homeowner's time is saved with limited or no choices available.
  • Production homes are often highly affordable because the developer can buy the same supplies in bulk discounts.
  • Mid-century suburban homes were often considered good "starter" homes for American families chasing "the American Dream."

Disadvantages of a Production Home

  • Control of a large financial investment in real estate is generally surrendered to a profit-driven corporation. Construction materials and workmanship — two important aspects of architectural integrity — generally are not influenced by the homeowner.
  • Your "Dream Home" may be next to and look like everyone else's — not that there's anything wrong with that....

Role of the Architect

An architect or architecture firm may work for a building company — or even own a development company — but the professional architect will have very little personal interaction with the home buyer. A sales team of realtors will promote the work of the developer and architect. This type of business model has been studied in architecture schools and written about, most notably in the books Modern Tract Homes of Los Angeles by John Eng (2011) and Levittown: The First 50 Years by Margaret Lundrigan Ferrer (1997).


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Craven, Jackie. "Save Money With Stock Plans and a Production Home Builder." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Craven, Jackie. (2021, February 16). Save Money With Stock Plans and a Production Home Builder. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "Save Money With Stock Plans and a Production Home Builder." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 25, 2023).