When you hear the term Dream Home, what do you think of? Is it a waterfront mansion or is your vision that of a rustic mountain cabin? How about a futuristic cube that wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Trek movie? Or maybe your vision of excellence would be more at home in the pastoral French countryside? Whatever form it takes any Dream Home will be the end result of the efforts of a number of professionals, starting with the people who design it.

Any home design, from those in a plan book duplicated a thousand times to a one off masterpiece that exists nowhere else, originated in the minds of a designer, typically either a custom home builder or an architect. But what exactly is the difference between these two similar but distinct individuals?

A custom builder is an individual who is a craftsperson, in many cases one that has learned their craft from the ground up over the space of many years. While many have formal design training, many others have learned the intricacies of home design in the crucible of on the job training. Typically they will build your home from an existing set of plans, but are capable of making adjustments, improvements and adding custom features in ways an ordinary carpenter cannot.

An architect on the other hand is a highly trained professional who has learned their art through a committed effort that will include a decade or more of formalized training and an extensive internship. An architect can envision the entire project and will essentially create a unique plan, instead of working to modify an existing model. Architects are also viewed as creative problem solvers if a concept doesn’t work effectively, such as due to site considerations or other issues.

Both do what is in essence the same job, namely build a custom home, but one is more hands on while other is better equipped to explore new and unique territory. So which is the better option? If money is no object the prospective home owner could go either way, and either school of design would produce extraordinary results. If you have an architect design the home the services of a builder will still be required to turn those unique ideas into real structures. If you go with a custom builder you might have more input when it comes to the finished product, but much depends on the working style of either individual.

No matter which direction you chose, builder or architect, always ask a lot of questions right from the beginning. How they answer your questions will let you know if they are the right choice for you. A Dream Home will be a huge investment and not one that will take shape overnight. By finding the right person, builder or architect, you’ll end with the project that could give you and your family delight for generations.