The Best Home Builders in Iowa

Future home buyers won’t want to necessarily choose the first home builder they find to tackle that dream home. This guide to the best home builders in Iowa will point them in the right direction.

Best Overall

The Best Home Builders in Iowa Option MainBuilt

MainBuilt

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Runner-Up

The Best Home Builders in Iowa Option Arko’s Custom Homes

Arko’s Custom Homes

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Best for Additions

The Best Home Builders in Iowa Option Homes by DePhillips

Homes by DePhillips

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The Hawkeye State is an appealing place to live. The cost of living is one of the most affordable in the country, and the capital of Des Moines is ranked within the top 100 cities to live in the U.S. For many folks, building a custom home in such a well-regarded state would be a dream come true.

But for folks looking for the best home builders in Iowa, the search might feel daunting. This guide will help, as it will highlight some of the best Iowa home builders and cover some factors to consider when comparing the top-ranked companies.

  1. BEST OVERALL: MainBuilt
  2. RUNNER-UP: Arko’s Custom Homes
  3. BEST FOR ADDITIONS: Homes by DePhillips
  4. ALSO CONSIDER: Alair Homes
The Best Home Builders in Iowa Options
Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Home Builders in Iowa

The following are some of the most important points to consider when comparing Iowa home builders before signing a contract and paying the deposit on new construction.

Service Area

Knowing where a home builder can or will build a home is a critical first step to finding a good fit. Some home builders will work on any plot of land that’s owned by a customer, whether it be in a community or on a rural back road. Other home builders might work only within certain developments, small towns, or communities, without exception.

It’s also worth noting that some home builders might work only within a certain radius of their shop. That radius could be 50 to 100 miles, which will potentially limit how many home builders a customer has to choose from. Finding one that works in the area in which they want to live should be a priority.

Price Range

Everyone knows that the budget is important, but not all home builders work in all budget types. Some specialize in small, affordable, production-style homes, while others excel in luxury custom builds. A shopper will need to look for one of the best home builders that offers home types that will fit their needs and suit their budget.

Folks on tighter budgets might want to look at modular home builders in Iowa. These builders may offer less customization, but they’ll be more affordable. Folks with larger budgets who would prefer custom touches will want to look at luxury-level builders who create custom floor plans and designs for every customer, with many of these designs being large, sprawling estates.

Architectural Style

Most home builders are fairly flexible with their ability to tackle the basic architectural types. Standard farmhouses, ranches, and other common home styles are fairly easy for them to make happen. But for some architecture types, a specialized builder might be a requirement.

Specialized architecture types would likely be considered log homes, Arts and Crafts, Mediterranean, Spanish-style, modern or contemporary, and similar types. Since these homes often require specialized features and engineering to make them work, customers who are looking for a particular type of home or style may want to consider such specialists as Amish home builders in Iowa or metal home builders in Iowa as they start their search.

Custom, Production, and Predesigned Homes

There are essentially three types of homes that shoppers will get to choose from. They include custom, production, and predesigned homes. The following is a rundown of the different types.

  • Custom homes are one-of-a-kind designs that the homeowner and architect or engineer come up with together. The homeowner will explain the home of their dreams and the engineer will design it to fit. But custom homes don’t always have to be large—some can be smaller and just as unique. Custom homes have a longer construction timeline since there are more decisions to be made throughout the process.
  • Production homes are essentially cookie cutter–style homes. The builder will typically have a handful of designs to choose from with some customization available to the homeowner. These homes might even be actual production-line products such as prefabricated or manufactured homes in Iowa. Production homes have a shorter construction timeline than custom homes.
  • Predesigned homes are custom designs, but they lack input from the would-be homeowner. These homes, also known as “spec homes,” are generally already under construction at the time the home is purchased. The builder designs a custom home and starts constructing it, leaving very few of the decisions up to the purchaser.

Additional Home Services

Some home builders (particularly higher-end constructors) offer additional services that home buyers can package with their homes. These can include security services that the homeowner can take advantage of when they’re not home. They might also include concierge services that might stock the refrigerator when the homeowner is coming into town, pick up packages, and arrange property maintenance. Homeowners may appreciate hiring the same company that they trusted to build their home to take care of the home once it’s inhabited. Another additional service some home builders offer is remodeling services. These pros can take an existing space and turn it around, providing a new, custom living space for everyone to enjoy.

Energy Efficiency

One of the best parts of building a new home is that home buyers can opt for energy-efficient designs and home systems. While newer homes are generally built with more efficient appliances and better-quality insulation, some new home builders in Iowa are more skilled at sustainable building than others. One way to vet a home’s energy efficiency is the HERS index, in which a lower score signifies optimized energy usage. Home buyers who desire specific home upgrades such as solar panels or backup battery storage can work directly with their builders to integrate these features into their homes.

Warranties

According to the Home Builders Association of Iowa, the state’s code does not require builders to provide a warranty on home construction, unlike other states. While most of the items within the home will have a manufacturer’s warranty, there isn’t a law stating that the home builder is responsible for issues that arise from labor or installation.

But all is not lost. Many of the best home builders in Iowa provide some kind of warranty ranging from 1 year to 10 years (although 1- or 2-year warranties are the most common). Homeowners who desire more peace of mind will want to ask builders about their warranty terms, as many small issues can pop up within the first year of ownership.

Our Top Picks

With that bit of background covered on what shoppers will want to look for in the best home builders in Iowa, it’s time to start comparing some top-quality companies. The following are some of the best options for home buyers in Iowa to consider.

Best Overall

MainBuilt

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Specs

  • Architectural style: Contemporary, modern, traditional, transitional, historic, industrial, farmhouse
  • Construction type: Custom
  • Additional home services: Not specified

Pros

  • Wide portfolio of architectural styles
  • Winner of Best Custom Home Builder in Iowa award
  • Prestigious industry recognition
  • In-house interior design services offered
  • Property lots also available for sale

Cons

  • Potential for relatively high home prices

Why It Made the Cut: Thanks to its wide range of housing styles, industry recognition, and talented in-house design team, MainBuilt grabs the top spot on our list. Home buyers looking for a company recognized as one of the best in the business will want to consider MainBuilt, a custom home builder specializing in large, high-end homes. This home builder has been around for over 75 years, and it constructs homes in a wide range of styles, including contemporary, modern, traditional, historic, and industrial. The company has an in-house design team, which means buyers can bundle construction and interior design through one firm. MainBuilt’s real estate team can also help customers find building lots for sale if they don’t already own land, making the shopping process that much easier. MainBuilt has been recognized by many industry experts and magazines, such as Iowa Architect Magazine, Home Builder Digest, Dwell Magazine, and General Contractor Magazine. It even won Home Builder Digest’s Best Custom Home Builder in Iowa award. Home buyers can feel confident working with a builder that’s appreciated with so much industry recognition and a robust portfolio of happy home buyers.  

Runner-Up

Arko’s Custom Homes

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Why It Made the Cut:

Arko’s Custom Homes specializes in custom and predesigned homes with striking designs, and many homes fall within a relatively affordable price point.

Folks with a taste for uniquely designed homes will want to consider hiring Arko’s Custom Homes for their projects. This custom home builder specializes in contemporary, modern, and European-style houses. It provides custom designs or predesigned options for home buyers to choose from. Some of these options might be a little expensive, but many of Arko’s homes are affordable, landing in the $300,000 range.

Arko’s Custom Homes can help home buyers shop for land if they haven’t already purchased a plot to build on. Reviews from the company’s clients praise the team’s comprehensive design guidance to help nail down the home’s style both before and after construction. Customers with any questions about the company’s offerings can reach out directly with inquiries or to schedule a consultation.

 

Specs

  • Architectural style: Contemporary, modern, European
  • Construction types: Custom, predesigned
  • Additional home services: Not specified

Pros

  • Custom and predesigned homes offered
  • Property lots available for sale
  • Relatively affordable home options
  • Reports of comprehensive aesthetic guidance

Cons

  • No information about additional home services available online

Best for Additions

Homes by DePhillips

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Why It Made the Cut:

Thanks to its dedication to quality projects, Homes by DePhillips is a great option for custom and predesigned homes along with additions and remodels.

Homes by DePhillips might be a great choice for folks who are looking to upgrade their current Iowa homes with luxury additions. This construction firm provides contemporary and traditional custom and predesigned builds, and Homes By DePhillips specializes in additions and remodels, helping folks turn their houses into homes that are more functional or a better fit for their needs.

This construction firm has a strong reputation in the state, and its long-term relationships with subcontractors show that this company knows how to treat the folks it works with. And although Homes by DePhillips home prices can be fairly expensive (starting around $1 million), customer reviews also mention how the company often wraps up on time—something that isn’t nearly as common as it should be.

 

Specs

  • Architectural style: Contemporary, traditional
  • Construction types: Custom, predesigned
  • Additional home services: Home remodel, additions

Pros

  • Long-term relationships with trade contractors
  • Reports of timely project completion
  • Custom and predesigned homes offered

Cons

  • Potential for relatively high home prices

Also Consider

Alair Homes

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Why It Made the Cut:

Alair Homes prides itself on customer satisfaction, with measures in place to streamline communication throughout the home-building process.

Folks looking for a contemporary Iowa home builder that believes in the value of communication and customer service will want to consider Alair Homes. Alair uses a comprehensive online customer portal that home buyers can use to access building plans, payment details, timelines, and more, ensuring customers stay up to date on the status of their projects. Customer reviews also laud the company for its communication beyond the portal, which signifies the company’s strong commitment to client satisfaction.

 

Specs

  • Architectural style: Contemporary
  • Construction type: Custom
  • Additional home services: Home remodel, additions, kitchen remodels

Pros

  • Convenient online client portal
  • Reports of standout communication

Cons

  • Potentially limited range of architectural styles

Our Verdict

MainBuilt is our top choice of home builders in Iowa thanks to its wide range of architectural styles, industry recognition, and over 75 years of experience. Arko’s Custom Homes is another standout Iowa home builder with a solid reputation and happy customers.

How We Chose the Best Home Builders in Iowa

Choosing the best home builders in Iowa was no small task; we wanted to ensure that the companies we suggested to our readers were really up to the job. First, we considered which characteristics and offerings we felt a top-of-the-line contractor should offer. Then, we chose builders that offered a wide range of services or design styles to ensure Iowa home buyers would end up with the home they truly want. We then looked at experience, industry recognition, and customer reviews. Companies that didn’t hit all our marks were eliminated, while those that did were given awards based on their strengths.

Before You Work With One of the Best Home Builders in Iowa

It’s worth noting that working with a home builder in Iowa isn’t the only option. For those who’d prefer to move in quickly, the better option might be to purchase a home off the real estate market (there are always a few hidden gems), as the time from making the offer to closing to moving in is usually significantly less than the time it takes to build a home.

For home buyers who are fine with waiting for their custom home, it’s important to understand the process. There will often be several design meetings before the home’s design is finalized. It will then take months of construction (particularly for custom builds), during which most homeowners like to schedule visits to the site. It may be possible to hire a representative to handle this process for the homeowner, but it will come at a cost.

Cost of Working With One of the Best Home Builders in Iowa

The cost to build a house in Iowa with one of the best home builders can vary tremendously. Smaller, more affordable stick-built, modular, or prefabricated homes in Iowa can cost as little as $100 per square foot, meaning a 2,000-square-foot home would cost a reasonable $200,000. However, for custom projects and high-end work, it’s not uncommon for a home to pass the $500,000 or $600,000 threshold. While these homes would likely cost significantly more if they were built in other areas of the country, it’s important for customers to understand the wide price range before they commit to a design.

The Advantages of Working With One of the Best Home Builders in Iowa

Working with one of the best custom home builders in Iowa ensures that any complex ideas or big dreams a home buyer has can become a reality. Plus, many of the best home builders in Iowa have in-house design staff. This helps keep the entire process from design to building under one roof, making the job and any required communication throughout the project smooth and easy.

Hiring a home builder rather than buying a home off the real estate market ensures that the home buyer is getting exactly what they want for their money. Regardless of whether it’s an affordable build or a custom home, this is an important reason many folks choose a top-of-the-line pro. These builders know how to ensure that the homeowner loves the finished product.

  • The best pros know how to make complicated designs or materials work.
  • Many of the best builders have in-house design staff that makes the entire process go more smoothly.
  • A custom project ensures that the homeowner loves the finished project.

FAQs

That’s a lot of information about choosing the best Iowa home builder. However, there might still be some questions that need hammering out. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers on the topic.

Q. Can you build a house in Iowa in winter?

You can build a home during an Iowa winter; however, it will take longer to complete than during the warmer months. The ground is frozen, and the crew being bundled up makes progress slow.

Q. How much does it cost to build a house in Iowa?

Building a home in Iowa usually costs between $100 and $150 per square foot, so on the low end, a 2,000-square-foot home may cost as little as $200,000 to build. Conversely, a custom, high-end home can cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

Q. How many months should it take to build a house?

It usually takes 3 to 6 months to build a house.

Q. What time of year is cheapest to build a house?

The cheapest time of year to build a home is generally during the fall and winter, as long as the winter isn’t too severe. Severe winters can drag out the construction time frame and increase the cost of the build.

Q. Is it cheaper to build or buy a house in Iowa?

Generally speaking, it costs about $34,000 more to build a house than it does to buy one off the market in Iowa.

Q. Is Iowa worth moving to?

Between its low cost of living, ample job opportunities, and incredible outdoor living, Iowa is certainly a state worth considering for a move.

Sources: Livability, Houzeo

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Tom Scalisi

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Tom Scalisi is a freelance writer, author, and blogger with a passion for building. Whether it’s a DIY project or an entire website, Tom loves creating something from the ground up, stepping back, and admiring a job well done.

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