Confused About Builder Contracts?

Confused About Builder Contracts?

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“Just because your friend knows how to do something does not make them the best option.” Steven.


Navigating builder contracts can be a perplexing journey, but worry not, as Breven Homes, a trusted custom home builder in Central Texas, is here to shed light on this subject. When it comes to builder contracts, you’ll typically encounter two primary types: the fixed-price contract and the cost-plus contract. In this article, we’ll simplify these contract types, breaking down their key differences, and helping you make an informed decision when embarking on your dream home construction journey.

What is a fixed-price contract?

A fixed-price contract, in the context of builder contracts, is a straightforward and reliable agreement between the home builder and the client where the total cost of the project is established upfront. This means that the client will pay a set, unchanging amount for the construction of their home, regardless of any fluctuations in the market or unexpected costs that may arise during the building process. It provides transparency and financial predictability, making it easier for homeowners to budget and plan for their custom homes. This type of contract offers peace of mind, as clients won’t be surprised by hidden expenses, ensuring that the project stays within the agreed budget.

What is a cost-plus contract?

A cost-plus contract, often called a “cost-plus fee” agreement, is a type of builder contract where the client pays for the actual costs of construction plus an agreed-upon fee or percentage for the builder’s services. This means that the homeowner covers the direct expenses of labor, materials, and subcontractors, while the builder charges a predetermined fee on top for their expertise and management. Cost-plus contracts can provide transparency, as clients see all expenses, but they may also carry more financial risk if the project exceeds initial estimates.


This approach can be suitable for custom home projects where the scope may evolve, making it challenging to establish a fixed price at the outset, offering flexibility to adapt to changes during construction. However, it’s crucial for clients to have a clear understanding of how the builder calculates costs and fees to prevent unexpected budget surprises, making the terms of the cost-plus contract a vital aspect of the construction process.

The pros and cons of a fixed price contract

When it comes to builder contracts, a fixed-price contract is a common choice for many homeowners. It has its advantages and disadvantages, so let’s break down the pros and cons in simple terms.


  • Accurate Initial Quote: With a fixed-price contract, you and your builder agree on a set price before construction begins. This upfront agreement helps you plan your budget accurately. No surprises mean peace of mind.
  • Peace of Mind: Even if construction costs increase due to unforeseen circumstances, a fixed-price contract shields you from these hikes. Your builder is responsible for covering those extra costs. So, you can rest easy knowing your project won’t break the bank.


  • Escalation Clause: Some fixed-price contracts may include an escalation clause. This clause allows the builder to request a price increase under specific conditions, like significant material cost spikes. It can be a downside because it may force you to agree to a higher price before construction starts.
  • Quality and Time Concerns: Builders may feel pressured to cut corners or rush the project to maximize their profit under a fixed-price contract. This potential fear might lead to compromises in quality or delays in the construction process.

The pros and cons of a cost-plus contract

When it comes to builder contracts, one common option is the cost-plus contract. This agreement has its advantages and disadvantages, offering a unique approach to building your dream home. Let’s break down the pros and cons:


  • Transparency of Building Costs: With a cost-plus contract, you gain a clearer picture of where your money is going. All expenses, including materials, labor, and other costs, are detailed. This transparency can help you understand the true value of your investment.
  • Comparative Ease: Comparing different builders becomes simpler with a cost-plus contract. Since all costs are laid out, you can easily evaluate and compare estimates from various builders. This can help you make an informed decision when choosing the right contractor for your project.
  • Beneficial Price Fluctuations: In the world of construction, material prices can fluctuate. One significant advantage of a cost-plus contract is that if costs decrease during the project, those savings typically go back to you, the homeowner. This can lead to cost savings you might not enjoy with other contract types.


  • Builder Profit Tied to Costs: While transparency is a plus, it’s essential to recognize that builders under a cost-plus contract may earn more if project costs increase. This can create a misalignment of interests, as the builder’s profit is directly linked to higher expenses, which may not align with your budgetary goals.
  • Inaccurate Initial Estimate: The initial cost estimate in a cost-plus contract can sometimes prove inaccurate. Unexpected surprises or changes can lead to cost overruns, potentially causing financial stress. It’s crucial to have a buffer in your budget for unforeseen expenses.


In conclusion, when it comes to builder contracts, it’s important to understand the key differences between fixed-price contracts and cost-plus contracts. A fixed-price contract sets a definite price for your project, offering predictability and peace of mind, while a cost-plus contract involves paying for the actual costs incurred plus a builder’s fee, which can provide more flexibility but may require close monitoring. Breven Homes, your trusted custom home builder in Central Texas, is here to guide you through these choices, ensuring you make the right decision to bring your dream home to life, hassle-free.