Trying to figure out how to get started building a custom home in Dallas? Read these articles to understand what you need to do and when to do it.

In the past, we used to see more enclosed spaces. And (lately) people have been opening it up and doing more open floor plans in general. Now that we’re faced with the reality that we do have to use our homes as our working places as well, we have to be mindful of that and create the best of the interior, where function is just as important as the aesthetic.”

~ Oksana Kreiman, Interior Designer

One of the first steps in the process of building a custom home in Dallas is deciding on the right floor plan for your family and your lifestyle. For the past 70 years, one of the most popular styles in new home construction has been the open floor plan.

But what does that mean, exactly?

And more importantly, is an open floor plan still the best fit in 2021 and beyond?

The pandemic has changed how we view and use our homes, blurring the lines between home life and work life, aesthetics and function, and even indoors and outdoors. Now more than ever, we expect – or even DEMAND – that our homes meet all of our needs.

To that end, we are going to take a closer look at what an open floor plan is, and the Pros and Cons you should consider. This way, you will be better informed and can make your dream home a reality.

First Things First — What is an Open Floor Plan?

Prior to World War II, most rooms were single-function and separated by walls. For example, the kitchen, dining, and living areas were each individual rooms within the home, and there was little-to-no interaction between them. Even common or entertaining spaces were separate from other rooms.

Post-war improvements in materials and design made it possible to change all that. Interior load-bearing walls could be replaced with heavy-duty beams, thereby opening up the common areas and forming a “great room”.

Private areas such as bedrooms, bathrooms, and home offices still follow the traditional closed-off design. With an open floor plan, you literally get the best of both worlds.

The Benefits of an Open Floor Plan

(Open floor plans are) definitely more desirable for most buyers. I’d say about 90% of buyers want some sort of open floor plan in their house.”

~ Andrew Dellavecchia, Real Estate Professional

There are many good reasons why open floor plans are so popular among both buyers and those who are building a custom home.

PRO: More Room for the Size

With fewer partition walls, you can enjoy more room on the interior of your home without having to actually pay for a larger house. You make maximum use of the space you have.

PRO: Higher Resale Value

According to Realtor.com, a home with an open floor plan has an annual appreciation rate of 7.4%. That places it above other “premium features” such as a patio (6.8%), hardwood floors (5.7%), a fireplace (5.3%), or granite countertops (2.5%).

PRO: Flexibility

Because the kitchen flows into the dining area and because the dining area flows into the living area, there are no hard-and-fast limitations as to how you can use the interior of your home. If you want to make a change, all you have to do is rearrange your furniture and decorations.

PRO: More Interaction and Engagement

With an open floor plan, you are not cut off from family and friends just because you are in another room. For example, while you are preparing dinner in the kitchen, you can still keep an eye on your children as they play in the living room. In an open concept home, the family can be together, even when each person is busy doing their own thing.

PRO: Better Traffic Flow

Without walls and doors to get in the way, you and your family can move around your home easier. This is an especially-important consideration if you have a large family.

PRO: Shared Light and Better Air Circulation

Again, the lack of walls means that light is not blocked inside your home. Instead of independently lighting an individual closed-off room, the windows in an open-floor plan home work together to increase the amount of health-boosting natural light.

PRO: Better Air Flow

With an open floor plan, the common areas of your home will not feel cramped or stuffy. Because there are no obstacles, air can circulate more freely.

The Drawbacks of an Open Floor Plan

The thought was that an open and informal plan would create a sense of ease, but people are realizing that it also means everything has to be organized, or else the house can quickly feel cluttered.”

~ Andrew Cogar, President of Historical Concepts Architectural Firm

Despite the many advantages, there are nonetheless other considerations that you should be aware of.

CON: Higher Construction Costs

Because there are fewer load-bearing walls, contractors have to use more-expensive heavy-duty beams to support the roof and any upper levels. This could make a real difference in the final cost of your custom home.

CON: More Expensive to Heat and Cool Your Home

The typical open-concept home has high ceilings and large windows, making it much harder to keep heating and cooling costs down. On the contrary, traditional floor plans let you heat or cool individual rooms as needed. This is a major consideration in the Dallas-fort Worth area, where the summers are long and hot.

CON: Less Privacy

While an open floor plan promotes greater social interaction, it does make it harder to find a quiet space for studying or reading, unless you want to retreat to your office or bedroom.

CON: Noise Control

Without walls to block and absorb sound, a home with an open floor plan tends to be much noisier. This can be a nuisance if you are trying to relax, work, or have a conversation.

CON: Less Wall Space

The lack of partition walls means you will have fewer places to hang artwork, decorations, awards, and family pictures.

CON: Fewer Electrical Outlets

In the same way, fewer walls means fewer places to install electrical outlets. This can somewhat limit where you can place your electrical devices within your home.

CON: Harder to Keep Neat

While you might think that having a large open area makes it easier to keep clean, the opposite is often true. Because you can see everything at once, the common areas can quickly appear cluttered if you do not constantly keep them clean and organized. In an open concept home, organization is a must.

The Bottom line About an Open Floor Plan in Your Custom Home

As evidenced by their enduring popularity, many home buyers and builders prefer open floor plans. Although there are drawbacks, they are generally outweighed by the many positives. The best way to maximize your options and truly have the custom home of your dreams is to discuss the available open floor plan designs with your building team.

Moving to Dallas-Fort Worth can seem like a daunting prospect, especially if you are new to Texas. Everything really IS bigger and better in Texas, including the list of reasons to live here — a rich history, a diverse community, amazing culture, fantastic career opportunities, beautiful weather, and perhaps best of all, the ability to live in a small town and still experience everything that a world-class metropolis has to offer.

(Although for some, the best part is not having to pay income tax in the State of Texas.)

To make things easier, we have put together this Guide to Moving to Dallas-Fort Worth 

Dallas-Fort Worth By the Numbers

Here are a few statistics about the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex:

  • Population: 7,573,136 (1 in Texas, #4 in the U.S.)
  • Economy: The 2020 GDP was $620.6 billion, the 20th-largest economy in the world.
  • Number of Fortune 500 companies: 22, the 4th-highest concentration in the U.S.
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.0 versus 6.1 U.S. (as of May 2021)
  • Median Household Income: $72,265 versus $65,712 U.S.
  • Median Home Sale Price: $351,750, up 11.8% over 2020 (as of June 2021)

Why Should You Move to Dallas-Fort Worth?

Several of the cities in and around Dallas are consistently included in many annual “Best of” lists:

Dallas

Fort Worth

Arlington

Plano

Garland

Irving

Frisco

McKinney

Grand Prairie

Denton

What Are the Neighborhoods Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington? 

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington is a huge metropolitan area that sprawls across nearly 9300 square miles. There are literally hundreds of individual residential neighborhoods, each with its own unique history, culture, and amenities.

To make things much simpler, here are the major neighborhoods in the two biggest cities, Dallas and Fort Worth, and links to their respective neighborhood or homeowner’s associations. We present these with one important caveat — NOTHING beats seeing these neighborhoods for yourself. After you have narrowed down your choices as to where to buy or build a home in DFW, take some time to explore your options in person.

NOTE: Homes without homeowner or neighborhood associations are not listed.

Dallas

North Dallas

Bent Tree 75370

Devonshire 75209

Elm Thicket/Northpark 75219

Greenway Parks 75225

Preston Hollow 75230

Vickery Meadow 75231

Northeast Dallas

Chimney Hill 75243

Copperfield 75206

Country Forest-Jackson Meadows 75374

Highlands West 75231

Highland Meadows 75238

L Streets 75238

Lake Highlands Estates 75238

Lake Highlands North 75238

Merriman Park Estates 75231

Merriman Park/University Manor 75231

Moss Farm 75374

Northwood Hills 75380

Oak Highlands 75321

Oak Tree Village 75243

Pebble Creek 75231

Richland Park Estates 75081

Rolling Trails 75243

Town Creek 75243

Whispering Hills 75243

White Rock Valley 75201

Woodbridge 75243

University Terrace 75360

Urban Reserve 75243

Far North Dallas

Preston Highlands 75093

Melshire Estates 75230

Northwood Hills 75380

Oak Cliff Area

Beckley Club 75201

Elmwood 75211

Glen Oaks 75232

Kessler Park 75201

Kidd Springs 75203

Lake Cliff 75201

L.O. Daniel 75208

Stevens Park 75208

Tenth Street Freedman’s Town 75203

Winnetka Heights 75208

Wynnewood 75208

South Dallas

Bonton 75215

Parkdale 75227

Fair Park / Old South Dallas

Dolphin Heights 75223

Mill City 75210

South Boulevard Park Row 75215

Wheatley Place 75215

East Dallas

Alger Park/Ash Creek 75228

Belmont 75206

Buckner Terrace 75227

Casa Linda 75218

Casa View 75201

Claremont 75228

Eastwood 75218

Forest Hills 75218

Greenland Hills 75206

Hollywood Heights-Santa Monica 75214

Junius Heights 75214

Lake Park Estates 75218

Lakewood 75214

Lakewood Heights 75206

Lakewood Trails 75214

Little Forest Hills 75218

Lochwood 75218

Lower Greenville 75372

North Stonewall Terrace 75206

Old Lake Highland 75238

Ridgewood Park 75382

University Meadows 75214

Vickery Place 75372

White Rock 75214

Wilshire Heights 75214

Old East Dallas

Bryan Place 75204

Munger Place Historic District 75201

Peak’s Addition 75201

Swiss Avenue Historic District 75214

West Dallas

La Bajada 75212

Ledbetter Gardens 75212

Los Altos 75212

Westmoreland Heights 75212

Fort Worth

North

Crawford Farms 76244

Fossil Creek 76106

Harvest Ridge 76244

Heritage 76244

Lake Country 76179

Marine Creek Meadows 76135

Northside 76106

Park Glen 76137

River Oaks 76114

Riverside 76111

Rolling Meadows 76244

Sansom Park 76111

Summerfields 76131

Timberland Estates 76244

Woodland Springs 76244

Central

Berkeley Place 76110

Fairmount 76110

Mistletoe Heights 76110

Ryan Place 76110

South

Bluebonnet Place 76109

Hallmark-Camelot 76134

Candleridge 76133

Greenbriar 76137

Hulen Heights 76107

East

Eastern Hills 76124

Haltom City 76117

Handley 76124

Meadowbrook 76103

Stop Six 76105

Woodhaven 76112

West

Alamo Heights 76107

Arlington Heights 76107

Bomber Heights 76116

Lake Como 76185

Lake Worth 76135

Montserrat 76126

North Benbrook 76132

Ridglea 76116

Ridglea Hills 76116

Ridglea North 76116

Ridgmar 76116

Ventana 76126

Western Hills 76116

Westover Hills 76107

Westworth Village 76114

Neighborhoods in Major Suburbs

If you are considering buying or building a home in a DFW suburb, here are links to the names of the neighborhoods in the largest local cities, as listed by Neighborhoods.com:

How Is the Job Market in Dallas-Fort Worth? 

When it comes to the job market in DFW, the news is very encouraging.

As of July 2021, the unemployment rate in DFW is barely above that of the United States as a whole and significantly lower than that of the State of Texas.

Here’s where DFW cities are today, compared to a year ago:

  • Dallas: 5.4% (July 2021) versus 8.4% (August 2020)
  • Fort Worth: 6.7% versus 7.9%
  • Arlington: 6.6% versus 7.7%
  • Irving: 6.0% versus 7.9%
  • Plano: 5.0% versus 6.3%
  • Garland: 5.9% versus 7.3%
  • Frisco: 4.3% versus 5.5%
  • Grand Prairie: 6.6% versus 8.1
  • Denton: 5.5 versus 6.3

To put those numbers in comparison, the current unemployment rate in the United States is 5.4%, while that of Texas is 6.2%.

What are the Top Industries in DFW?

According to the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, which supports economic development for all of North Texas, DFW has a very diverse industrial structure, meaning employment is distributed among several sectors, rather than disproportionately concentrated on a few types of industries.

In fact, the DRC notes that DFW has the third-most diverse industry among all U.S. metros.

The key DFW industry super sectors are:

  • Advanced Services — Corporate headquarters, management control, corporate support services, financial services, consulting, insurers, legal services, etc.

Nearly two dozen Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters in the Dallas area, including 3 in the top 10.

Over 52,000 advanced services establishments provide approximately 700,000 local jobs.

  • Aviation and Aerospace — Two major airlines are headquartered locally — American Airlines in Fort Worth and Southwest Airlines in Dallas. There are over 600 aerospace companies in DFW, providing more than 90,000 jobs.
  • Financial Activities — DFW is one of the major financial hubs in the country. There are over 12,000 local establishments dealing with finance, investing, credit, or insurance, providing more than 250,000 jobs.
  • Food — DFW has been a food hub for more than 100 years, and major companies such as Frito-Lay, Borden, Jamba Juice, Sysco, Anaheuser-Busch, and many others has established headquarters or significant operations locally.

In total, 15,000 establishments provide approximately 370,000 jobs.

  • Health Care — Dallas is home to national-rated institutions such as Baylor Medical Center, University of Texas Medical Center, and the burn unit at Parkland Hospital, as well as numerous other premier hospitals, health care facilities, research programs, and medical equipment manufacturers.

Over one million  people are employed in medicine or related health care fields in DFW.

  • High Tech — DFW has the sixth-highest concentration  of high-tech jobs in the United States, and is a growing center for such emerging technologies as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, next-generation wireless broadband, bioscience, and medical technology.

There are approximately 330,000 people employed in high-tech jobs in DFW.

  • Hospitality — DFW is the most-visited metro in the State of Texas and is a major hub for sporting events, concerts, conventions, and entertainment, as well as the home of the Texas State Fair.

Year-over-year, the leisure and hospitality super sector in DFW saw an employment increase of over 80%.

  • Life Sciences — This industry is dominated locally by medical device manufacturing, optical technology, and pharmaceuticals. Core strengths of the DFW life sciences industry includes research involving cancer, neurology, the brain, and dental health.

More than 1200 local establishments provide over 27,000 life science jobs in DFW.

  • Logistics — Thanks to its central location, DFW offers outstanding shipping and distribution services with easy access to rail, air, and trucking. The Alliance Global  Logistic Hub is the premier inland port in the country.

The DFW logistics industry provides more than 300,000 local jobs.

  • Manufacturing — DFW has more manufacturing activity than any other metropolitan area in the state. Local plants include Texas Instruments, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Mary Kay, Louis Vuitton, and many others.

The nearly 7000 manufacturing establishments provide over 287,000 manufacturing jobs in DFW.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Dallas?

Let’s compare regular expenses in Dallas, specifically to New York City and San Francisco, two cities that send thousands of people to Dallas every year.

Median household income for San Francisco is $96 265, for New York City $107,400, and for Dallas $85,982.

Dallas versus San Francisco

Overall 45% lower

Housing: 66% lower

Transportation: 30% lower

Food: 21% lower

Entertainment: 20% lower

Healthcare: 15% lower

Dallas versus New York City (Manhattan)

Overall 565% lower

Housing: 78% lower

Transportation: 23% lower

Food: 29% lower

Entertainment: 20% lower

Healthcare: 2% lower

Taxes

Dallas’ highest sales tax is 8.25%, and in some areas, is just 6.25% compared to 8.875% in New York City and 8.5% in San Francisco. 

Texas has NO state income tax, while the average in California is 7.75% — the highest in the nation. At  5.99% New York’s average is 8th-highest.

The tax climate inTexas is very attractive to businesses because there is no corporate tax. California, on the other hand, charges 8.84%, while New York State charges 7.1%.

Conversely, Texas has the highest property tax among the three — 1.81%, compared to just .74% in California and 1.35% in the State of New York.

Due primarily to special state excise taxes, a gallon of gas is only $2.83 in Texas, compared to $4.40 in California and $3.22 in New York State, while a pack of cigarettes can be as high as $6.37, $8.31, and $12.85, respectively.

Is Dallas-Fort Worth Good for Families?

Families who are new to the area will find a lot to like about Dallas-Fort Worth, especially if they choose the right neighborhood to buy or build a house.

  • Highly-ranked schools
  • Colleges — There are 48 colleges and universities in the DFW area, giving it the highest concentration of any Texas metro.
  • Religion — Among all U.S. metros, Dallas has the highest percentage of Christians.
  • Parks — There are more than 1000 public parks in DFW. In fact, Dallas has the second-most greenspace per person among major U.S. cities.
  • Culture — Dallas is ranked #19 among the “most-cultured cities” in America, with 35 museums and 248 recreational/cultural attractions.
  • Cuisine — In 2019, Dallas was named the “Top Restaurant City” in the U.S.
  • Sports — Home to six major league pro teams and multiple championships, Dallas is a past recipient of the Sporting News “Top Sports City” award.

Top DFW Attractions

Dallas-Fort Worth is home to world-class attractions suitable for every interest, including:

Is Dallas-Fort Worth a Good Place To Retire?

In February 2021, Travel + Leisure included the Dallas-Fort Worth area on its list of the 11 Best Cities to Retire. DFW was the only Texas location that made the list

Why is DFW so attractive to retirees?

With zero income tax, including on retirement income, and low city/state tax rates retirees can make their money stretch much further.

The actual climate in North Texas is also a major draw. Warm weather and mild winters encourage an active lifestyle. The Dallas Parks System maintains nearly 400 parks totalling over 20,000 acres. The Dallas Trail Plan has almost 160 miles of trails suitable for hiking or biking.

It also helps that DFW has one of the finest health care systems in America, with multiple hospitals ranked highly in both the state and nationally.

Finally, the many smaller suburbs and close-knit neighborhoods offer the feel of small-town connections with all the amenities of the nearby big city.

Pros and Cons of Living in Dallas-Fort Worth

Pros:

  • Job Market — Low unemployment, diverse industries, major corporations
  • Favorable tax climate
  • Lower Cost of Living — Especially when compared to cities in California or New York.
  • Schools that are among the best in the country.
  • Mild Winters — DFW enjoys an average of 232 sunny days.
  • DFWs central location puts it within just a few hours’ driving distance of many other major cities — .Austin 182 miles, Oklahoma City 190 miles, Houston 239 miles, San Antonio 275 miles, Little Rock 293 miles, Baton Rouge 370 miles, and Topeka 437 miles.
  • World-class medical facilities
  • Great dining
  • Diverse culture
  • Fantastic shopping experiences
  • Sporting events
  • Concerts and plays

Cons:

  • Moderately-high property taxes
  • The inventory of homes for sale is very low in some neighborhoods, especially within the City of Dallas. This is why many people buy or build a home in a DFW suburb.
  • Long, hot summers.
  • High crime in some areas.
  • Many areas are car-dependent.

Fun Facts about Dallas-Fort Worth

The Dallas-Fort Worth area has a long and rich history that gives “The Big D” a character unlike any other metro.

  • The frozen margarita was invented in Dallas. The original machine now sits in the Smithsonian Museum
  • Other Dallas inventions include the microchip, the ATM. German Chocolate Cake, and the shopping center.
  • 60% of all paper money in America is printed in Fort Worth.
  • The term “Super Bowl” was coined by Dallas native Lamar Hunt, who founded and owned the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Hunt is also a member of THREE sport Halls of Fame — football, tennis, and soccer.
  • 7-11 — the country’s first convenience store — was founded in Dallas, way back in 1927 as “Tote-Em”.
  • More popcorn is eaten in DFW than anywhere else.
  • DFW Airport is larger than Manhattan.
  • It also contains the world’s largest parking lot.
  • The Dallas Arts District is the biggest in the country.
  • The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were the first professional squad.
  • During World War II, White Rock Lake was a POW camp for German soldiers. 

Famous people from DFW include:

  • Singers John Denver,  Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez, Norah Jones, Lisa Loeb, Demi Lovato, Meat Loaf, LeAnn Rimes, Jessica Simpson, Usher, and Vanilla Ice
  • Actors Katre Capshaw, Morgan Fairchild, Peri Gilpin, Luke and Owen Wilson, Robin Wright, and Ginger Rogers.
  • President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
  • Outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker
  • Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald

The Bottom Line About Moving to Dallas-Fort Worth

DFW is a sprawling and vibrant community that offers endless opportunities for newcomers and transplants from out-of-state. Considering the strong job market, the very affordable cost of living, the rich and diverse culture, the warm, sunny weather, and the friendly neighborhoods, Dallas-Fort Worth should be strongly considered as your next move.

Deciding where to build a home in Dallas is a matter of lifestyle. Just as your home has to meet the needs of your family, so does your surrounding neighborhood. But with literally hundreds to choose from in the Metroplex, how do you find a truly great neighborhood in the Dallas area? While it would be impossible to include them all, we’ve done the homework to put together this list of Great Dallas Neighborhoods for Families.

We looked at:

  • Schools — For public schools, we used ratings from GreatSchools.org, while for private schools, we used grades assigned by Niche.com. In addition to benefiting your childrens’ education, having highly-ranked schools nearby increases the value of your home.

*** For our Comprehensive Review of Public Schools Around Dallas, CLICK HERE ***

  • Crime Rate — We used ratings from CrimeGrade.org. It should come as no surprise that lower crime rates and safer neighborhoods mean higher property values. On average, a crime occurs in the Dallas metro every two minutes.
  • Medical Care — What hospitals or clinics are nearby? This is a particularly important consideration if someone in your family has special medical needs.
  • Parks/Outdoor Activities — Research supports the many benefits of city parks and greenspaces — improved physical and mental health, children who are more physically active,  less pollution, better water conservation, a greater sense of community, and again, higher property values.
  • Shopping — Having a neighborhood grocery store is convenient and can save busy parents a lot of time. Even better, building a home near some grocery stores can result in a 5-year appreciation of nearly 70%.
  • Amenities — Did you know that the #1 most-desired neighborhood amenity is access to local shops and restaurants?
  • Walkability — How easy is it to get around the neighborhood on foot? If you can leave your car in the garage and still enjoy everything your neighborhood has to offer, you will help the environment while saving money on gas, maintenance, and insurance.

As an added bonus, even a 1-point improvement on a neighborhood’s walkability score can increase your home’s value by $3250

The overall Walkability Score for the City of Dallas is 46, which is considered to be “Car-Dependent”. This means that those neighborhoods with higher scores should be given serious consideration,

We hope that you find our list of the Great Dallas Neighborhoods for Families interesting and useful. Please remember, there is no substitute for experiencing a neighborhood in person before making the final decision on where to build your custom home.

Dallas

Walnut Hill 75229

Median Home Value: $580,788

The Walnut Hill neighborhood is bounded to the North by Royal Lane to the North, Walnut Hill Lane to the South, Midway Road to the East, and Marsh Lane to the West. 

The local population stands at roughly 3100 residents, 45% of whom hold Bachelor’s Degrees or above. The median household income is over $167,000, and 28% of families have children. At 89%, home ownership is very high in Walnut Hill.

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

Walnut Hill students are served by the Dallas Independent School District.

Crime Grade: A+

Closest Hospital: Less than 3 miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

In the Northwest corner of the neighborhood is Peter Pan Park, which connects across Royal Lane to Cox Lane Park. In the Southeast corner, directly South of Walnut Hill Elementary School is the 9.7-acre Walnut Hill Park and Recreation Center, which features a playground, a baseball field, a basketball court, tennis courts, picnic tables, a fitness center, and a public pool.

Amenities

There are a few fast-food chains along the Western edge of the neighborhood, but the real draw is a group of highly-rated Mexican restaurants within 2 miles, just West on Walnut Hill Lane. 

Shopping

Grocery store options in Walnut Hill include an in-neighborhood El Rancho Supermercado, and within 2 miles, a Rio Grande Supermarket in the North and a Fiesta Mart, a Terry’s Supermarket, and a Wal-Mart Supercenter to the South.

Walkability Score: 58 (Somewhat Walkable)

Prestonwood 75248

Median Home Value: $403,040

Located North of Downtown Dallas between Richardson and Addison, Prestonwood is bounded by Davenport Road/Brentfield Drive on the North, Belt Line Road on the South, North Colt Road on the East, and Preston Road in the West.

Median household income is $105,487, and 36% of adults have a Bachelor’s Degree or above, both well above the National Average. There are approximately 22,000 residents in Prestonwood, and 35% of families have children.

72% of homes in Prestonwood are owned, rather than rented.

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

Prestonwood students are served by the Dallas Independent School District.

Crime Grade: B — In every area of both violent and property crime, the rates in Prestonwood are much lower than the National Average.

Closest Hospital: Less than 3 Miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

Prestonwood is home to Kiowa Park, Hillwood Park, Kiowa Parkway, and Prestonwood Creek Golf Course. White Rock Creek runs through the golf course.

Amenities

About a mile West of Prestonwood Creek Golf Course are a spate of restaurants, from steak to fine dining to fast food. Among the standouts is Flower Child, a from-scratch vegan restaurant.

Shopping

Just West of the golf course is a Wal-Mart SuperCenter, and at the Southeast tip, there is a Trader Joe’s and a Tomb Thumb. 

Walkability Score: 65 (Somewhat Walkable)

University Park 75205

Median Home Value: $1,295,500

The suburb of University Park, located directly West of Southern Methodist University, is primarily bounded by West Northwest Highway in the North, Mockingbird Lane on the South, Eastern Avenue on the West and North Central Expressway on the East. In other words, it is bordered by Dallas on the East, West, and North, and by Highland Park on the South.

With a median household income of over $224,000, University Park is one of the most-affluent cities in America. There are approximately 25,000 residents, 44% of whom hold a Master’s Degree or higher.

41% of families have children.

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

University Park students are served by the Highland Park Independent School District.

Crime Grade: A+ for Central and Northeast University Park

Closest Hospital: Less than 3 miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

There are several local city parks, including Williams Park, Smith Park, Linear Park, Goar Park, Germany Park, Elena’s Children’s Park, Curtis Park, Coffee Park, Caruth Park, and Burleson Park. The city also maintains six public tennis courses.

Curtis Park is also home to the Holmes Aquatic Center which has two pools, diving boards, a water slide, and a sprayground.

Amenities

The majority of local restaurants are Southeast of Curtis Park, and among the offerings are German, Mediterranean, Asian fusion, French bistro, and a highly-rated Italian trattoria. 

Shopping

There are grocery stores at the boundaries of University Park in every direction — several Tom Thumbs, a Kroger, and a Trader Joe’s.

Walkability Score: 60 (Somewhat Walkable)

Richardson

Canyon Creek 75080

Median Home Value: $413,317

Located East of the University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson’s Canyon Creek neighborhood is considered one of the top places to live in all of Texas. The population stands at roughly 4400 residents, over a third of whom hold Master’s Degrees or above, and the median household income is nearly $136,000

39% of Canyon Creek families have children, and 78% of homes are owned, rather than rented.

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

Canyon Creek students are served by the Richardson Independent School District.

Crime Grade: B- — Violent crime rates are much lower than the National Average, while property crime is significantly lower.

Closest Hospital: Less than 3 miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

Immediately East of Canyon Creek Elementary School is Canyon Creek Park, which includes a well-equipped playground and a public swimming pool. To the Northeast of that is a long swath of undeveloped greenspace. Less than a mile away is the Canyon Creek Country Club, which offers 18 holes of golf, tennis courts, and a resort-style swimming pool.

Amenities

Among the obligatory burger, pizza, barbecue, and Mexican restaurants nearby is an unexpected choice — Hoki Poki, which specializes in sushi and Hawaiin cuisine.

Shopping

Just a few blocks South of Canyon Creek Elementary is a Natural Grocers, and for those who prefer chain supermarkets, there are Tom Thumb stores located less than two miles away, one to the West and one to the North.

Walkability Score: 88 (Very Walkable)

Plano

Clearview 75075

Median Home Value: $184,424

Plano’s Clearview neighborhood is bounded in the North by West Spring Creek Parkway, in the South by Cambridge Drive, in the East by Premier Drive and in the West by Alma Drive.

Clearview is a small neighborhood with a population of just over 2300 residents, of whom 35% hold Bachelor’s Degrees or above. The median household income is $102,000, and 77% of homes are owned, rather than rented.

38% of Clearview families have children.

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

Clearview students are served by the Plano Independent School District.

Crime Grade: A

Closest Hospital: Less than 3 miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

Clearview Park sits right in the middle of the neighborhood, with amenities such as a playground, an open multi-sport practice field, a pavilion, picnic areas, and grills.

Less than two blocks from the Northern edge of the neighborhood sits the even-larger Longhorn Park, featuring all of the above, plus three different walking trails.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the real local draw is the 800-acre Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve, located just 2 miles due East of the Clearview neighborhood.

Amenities

Most of the chain restaurant choices are just to the Southeast, less than 1 mile away, but directly East are a popular sushi grill and a Vietnamese eatery. 

Shopping

Clearview has a convenient location, with multiple grocery options within 2 miles in every direction. There are familiar choices like Wal-Mart Supercenter, Aldi, Tom Thumb, and Fiesta Mart, but real foodies will appreciate the specialty grocery stores — Brazilian, Indian, and Caribbean. 

Walkability Score: 58 (Somewhat Walkable) Clearview is the most-walkable neighborhood in Plano.

Carrollton

Mill Run 75007

Median Home Value for Zip Code 75007: $240,000

Located approximately 20 miles North of the center of Dallas, Mill Run in Carrollton is bounded by Bellflower Court/Drive on the North, Frankford Road on the South, Mayfair Drive on the East, and Old Denton Road on the West .

The local population stands at roughly 56,000 residents, 30% of whom hold Bachelor’s Degrees or above. The median household income is almost $87,000, and 32% of families have children.

72% of homes in zip code 75007 are owned, rather than rented.

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

Mill Run students are serviced by the Carrollton-Farmer’s Branch Independent School District.

Crime Grade: B+ — Rates of both violent and property crime are lower than the National Average.

Closest Hospital: Less than 3 miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

At the Southwest corner of Creekview High School is Timber Creek Park, which has a playground, a picnic pavilion and grills, a basketball court, and hiking trails.

Amenities

Two blocks Southeast of Creekview High School is a cluster of fast-food and casual restaurants, including a sushi restaurant, a Vietnamese Pho establishment, and a Korean barbecue. 

Shopping

Grocery store options in the Mill Run area of Carrollton include an Aldi Food Market.

Walkability Score: 68 (Somewhat Walkable)

Colleyville 76034

Median Home Value: $516,500

Located 22 miles West of Dallas and 14 miles East of Fort Worth, Colleyville is an easy commute to either city. Colleyville is also less than 5 miles West of DFW Airport.

The local population stands at a little over 26,000 residents, 40% of whom hold Bachelor’s Degrees or above. The median household income is almost $164,000, and home ownership is a very high 96%.

40% of Colleyville families have children. 

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

Colleyville students are serviced by the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District.

Crime Grade: A+

Closest Hospital: Less than 5 miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

There are 13 city parks and recreational areas in Colleyville:

  • Bransford Park — A two-acre mini-park with open spaces and wind sculptures
  • Colleyville City Park — A 40-acre sports park with nine lighted softball and baseball fields, six tennis courts, basketball courts, and a one-mile trail, as well as a pond, a covered pavilion, and an amphitheater
  • Colleyville Nature Center — A 46-acre refuge with 3.5 miles of trails, a covered pavilion with grills, an amphitheater, a playground, 9 ponds, and a fishing pier
  • Cotton Belt Trail — Suitable for walkers, runners, and cyclists, this regional trail connects Colleyville, Grapevine, Hurst, and North Richland Hills.
  • Kidsville — A 10,000 square foot playground and picnic area
  • Kimzey Park — A 20-acre public park with a playground, a pavilion, and open play area, a basketball court, a practice backstop, a sand volleyball court, a multi-use trail, and a one-acre fishing pond
  • LD Lockett Park — A tranquil area with ponds, walking trails, and picnic areas
  • McPherson Park — Besides the “normal” offerings of a playground, a splash pad, trails, and picnic areas, there is also a renovated dairy barn from the 1800s.
  • Pleasant Run Soccer Complex and Park — This premier 33-acre facility contains soccer practice and game fields, picnic arrears, and a one-mile multi-use trail.
  • Reagan Park — This five-acre park contains batting cages and two lighted softball and baseball fields.
  • Sparger Park — An eight-acre park with two playgrounds, open play spaces, a half-mile trail, and a POW memorial
  • Woodbriar Park — A playground, a pavilion, a multi-use trail, and a designed arbor

In town, there is a driving range, and just to the Northeast is the Timarron Country Club.

Amenities

Local restaurant options include Mexican, New American, fine Italian seafood, and chain eateries like the Cheesecake Factory and Pappadeux’s.

Shopping

There are Kroger supermarkets on the Northwest and Southeast edges of Colleyville, and less than 4 miles to the East, there is a Tom Thumb and two Albertsons.

Walkability Score: The areas around Colleyville are very rural and thus car-dependent, but within the city, the score is as high as 58 (Somewhat Walkable).

Coppell 75019

Median Home Value: $388,800

The bedroom community of Coppell is located in the Northwest corner of Dallas County, roughly 23 miles from downtown Dallas. The rough boundaries of Coppell are Lewisville in the North, Dallas and Irving in the South, Carrollton in the East, and Grapevine in the West.

The population of Coppell is approximately 42,000 residents, 29% of whom hold a Master’s Degree or above. The median household income is over $122,000, and 44% of families have children.

Home ownership in Coppel is a high 72%.

Top-Ranked Nearby Schools

Three different school districts serve local families — Coppell ISD, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, and Lewisville ISD.

Crime Grade: A+

Closest Hospital: Less than 5 miles

Parks/Outdoor Activities

The City of Coppell has 17 parks with a total of 544 acres:

  • Allen Road Park (5.5 acres) — Playground, pavilion, picnic areas, pond, and fishing
  • Andrew Brown Park Central (8 acres) — Fields for baseball, softball, football, and lacrosse
  • Andrew Brown Park East (118 acres) — Playground, pavilion, picnic areas, pond, stream, fishing, and trails for both hiking and jogging
  • Andrew Brown Park West (52 acres) — Playground, pavilion, picnic areas, jogging trails, basketball courts, and fields for baseball, softball, and soccer
  • Coppell Nature Park (66 acres) — Hiking and jogging trails, pond, stream, greenspace, and picnic areas
  • Denton Creek (52 acres) — Pond, stream, and greenspace
  • Grapevine Creek Park (33 acres) — Greenspace
  • Grapevine Springs (23 acres) — Hiking trails, pond, stream, and picnic areas
  • Hunterwood Park (7.7 acres) — Playground, pond, stream, hiking trails, and picnic areas
  • MacArthur Park (17 acres) — Playground, picnic areas, and fields for baseball or softball
  • Magnolia Park (27 acres) — Playground, jogging and hiking trails, pond, stream, and fishing
  • Moore Road Park (30 acres) — Jogging trail, pond, stream, fishing, and fields for baseball or softball
  • Riverchase Park (.5 acre) — Playground
  • The Duck Pond Park (5 acres) — Playground, picnic areas, hiking trail, pond, stream, and fishing
  • Tweatt Park (5 acres) — Picnic areas, pond, stream, and fishing
  • Villawood Linear Park (3.3 acres) — Undeveloped greenspace
  • Wagon Wheel Park (153 acres) — Pavilion, picnic areas, hiking and jogging trails, pond, stream, tennis courts, and fields for baseball, softball, and soccer
  • Woodhurst Linear Park (3.9 acres) — Undeveloped greenspace

In addition to all these public parks, the Main Street Interactive Fountain is a popular splash pad open to all Coppell residents.

Amenities

Coppell residents who want something other than fast food should head North, where the unique local fare includes a Burmese restaurant and King’s Kafe, a Middle Eastern restaurant and hookah lounge.

Shopping

Because it is a bedroom community, there are no major grocery stores within the City of Coppell. But to the Northeast, Natural Grocers, Tom Thumb, Kroger, and Market Street are all within 5 miles.

Walkability Score: In the rural areas around Coppell, most errands will require a car. The city proper, however has a Walkability Score of 67 (Somewhat Walkable) 

SOURCES

Research Crime Rates and the Impact on Home Values | Homes.com

School Ratings & Reviews for Public & Private Schools: GreatSchools

Dallas, TX Crime Rates and Statistics – NeighborhoodScout

The Benefits of Parks: Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space : ConservationTools

Living Near This Grocery Store Could Increase the Value of Your Home | Southern Living

[STUDY] Most Americans put this neighborhood feature #1 on their amenity wish list | The Zebra

How to Calculate the Walkability Score of Your Neighborhood | Clever Real Estate (listwithclever.com)

Smart Location Mapping | US EPA

Guide to East Dallas – Places to Live, Things to Do and Restaurants in East Dallas | D Magazine Neighborhood Guides

Medicare.gov: the official U.S. government site for Medicare | Medicare

Find the School that Fits You Best – Niche

by: Wild Bill, aka The Texas Authority

About me: I’m a Texan, born and bred. I’ve been blessed to travel all over the world, and there’s some mighty nice places I like to vacation, but I’ll always come back to Texas. I am a small business owner these days, but I’ve been an accountant, financial advisor, Controller and CFO for literally hundreds of Texas businesses and business owners. I’ve been involved in local, state, and national politics, and I’ve been a provider for my family for over 50 years here in Texas. It’s a great place to live, so lean on me and listen up.

If you are over 50 years old, you’re a senior (at least according to AARP).  You may feel like a junior now, but as time marches on your mobility issues will likely remind you that you are not getting any younger.  Which means that the custom home you build today should be significantly different from the one you would build if you were 30.

A recent survey of older adults found that 90 percent would prefer to die in their own homes rather than move to a senior housing lifestyle.  So, if you’re building a custom home in Dallas, this is your opportunity to design a home that will not need modifications as you progress through your later years.

To begin, here are six major structural features that can be incorporated into your home’s design from the get-go:

1.  Single Story Living

It only takes one knee replacement surgery to understand…The ground-level floor plan needs to accommodate cooking, eating, bathing, sleeping and visiting.  Second levels can be part of your custom home’s plan, but they should be designed primarily for overnight visits from family and friends.

2.  Open Floorplan

The main living area should include spacious, open areas for easy maneuvering and good visibility.  Imagining the placement of your furniture before you move in will help in designing enough space in your dining area, living rooms, bedroom and bathroom.  

3.  Wide Hallways and Doorways

Halls and doorways should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.  Think 36 inches or more to allow for easy entrance and turning.  And, consider that not all corners have to be squared.  Moving from a common area into a hallway can be enhanced by a 45 degree corner.  

4.  Flush Thresholds

Movement from one part of the house to the other should be smooth—no step-ups or step-downs. One area to give special attention is the transfer from the exterior to the interior of the house.  Many standard floor plans have a step-up at the door opening to the interior.  This can easily be a trip point for a person with balance issues, and a challenge for those in a wheelchair. (Think about carrying groceries from the car to the kitchen).

5.  Natural Light

Your design of your windows is obviously the biggest determinant for access of natural light into your home’s interior.

Natural light produces energy savings by allowing a homeowner, in certain cases, to use less heat, less air conditioning, and eliminate (or greatly reduce) the need to use artificial light. Research has proven that natural lighting helps people be more productive, happier, healthier and calmer. 

Colors close to white, such as light-colored pastels, reflect plenty of rays. An eggshell wash or other reflective paint finish will enhance the brightness.

Also, don’t forget the largest source of darkness in a room may be the floor. Get a light colored rug, carpet or hardwood flooring to help brighten up the room.

6.  Elevators and Dumbwaiters

Although expensive, elevators and dumbwaiters can be game changers for seniors. The convenience of being able to move both people and products between floors, without the use of stairs, can open up a variety of custom home design options you might otherwise not consider.

Where previously you may have been limited to a ground-floor living design, elevators and dumbwaiters make it possible for those with mobility issues to access upper floors, and create more living and entertainment spaces vertically, rather than having to expand the floor plan horizontally and consume more of the lot.

Other Ideas and Considerations

Now, as you think further about the interior features of your home, consider these ideas to make your everyday living safe and convenient for your mature years.  Chances are that no one will notice, and you won’t either until you reach those magic “golden years” when mobility becomes an issue:

**Consider a zero-threshold shower with built-in seating.

**Reinforce the bathroom walls so you can add grab bars later when needed.

**Lower your counter heights an inch or so, particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms. 

**Install lever-handled doorknobs and faucets wherever possible.

**Lower the electrical wall switches.  An inch or two will make a difference.

**Raise the electrical outlets, and add more of them throughout the house.

**Use pull-out shelving whenever possible.  Think kitchen and bathrooms.

**When specifying artificial lighting (in closets), add more, not less.

**Install non-slip flooring.

If these ideas are incorporated in the design phase of your truly custom home, the incremental costs will be minimal but the returns later in life will be monumental.  These features may even extend your years in your own home, forestalling a move to a senior living facility.

When planning to build a custom home in Dallas, one of the biggest things to consider is the quality of the local schools. In fact, if you have minor children, finding a neighborhood with good schools may be your TOP priority.

But because there are over 350 public elementary, middle, and high schools in the Dallas area, finding just the right neighborhood with just the right schools can seem overwhelming. Even worse, the Fair Housing Act prohibits realtors from directly informing buyers about specific schools in specific neighborhoods.

To make this task a bit less daunting, we have put together this guide that gives you the information you need to know, both as a parent and as a potential builder and homeowner.

NOTE: We have tried to be as comprehensive as possible, but there is no substitute for seeing a school with your own eyes. Please use this guide as a tool to help you narrow down your choices, and then schedule in-person school tours before making your final decision.  

Schools Matter More Than You Might Think

It’s common knowledge that buyers are often willing to pay a premium for a home in a strong school district.

~ Javier Vivas, Research Analyst, Realtor.com

Realtor.com says that neighborhood schools matter when choosing where to live even if you do not have children. This is because homes located in good school districts hold their value better than those in neighborhoods with less-highly-regarded schools.

For example, in 2016, a Realtor.com analysis compared home prices in school districts with ratings of 9 or 10 on GreatSchools.org with those in districts with a rating of 6 or less. Nationwide, the homes in higher-ranked school districts were 77% more expensive than those in lower-ranked districts.

If you decide to build your home in a highly-ranked school district in the DFW area, other benefits include:

  • Should you ever decide to sell, properties in higher-ranked school districts are viewed 42% more than homes in below-average districts.
  • On average, they also sell 8 days faster.

Specific to the local area, that same analysis found that home prices in the Highland Park Independent School District are 632% higher than elsewhere in Dallas County. As of this writing, 3 schools in Highland Park ISD have a 10 rating, 1 has a 9, and another has an 8 rating.

According to U.S. News and World Reports, 12 schools in the Dallas Metro are ranked in the top 1% of high schools in the country.

Dallas Schools Serve a Diverse Community

In Dallas County, there are 16 different school districts. We will examine each in greater detail.

  • Dallas
  • Carrollton-Farmers Branch
  • Cedar Hill
  • Coppell
  • De Soto
  • Duncanville
  • Ferris
  • Garland
  • Grand Prairie
  • Grapevine-Colleyville
  • Highland Park
  • Irving
  • Lancaster
  • Mesquite
  • Richardson
  • Sunnyvale 

NOTE: Although we have tried to be as comprehensive as possible, if a particular school does not have a rating on GreatSchools.com, we did not include it here. Also, because they are not rated, we did not include preschools,

Dallas Independent School District

9400 N. Central Expressway

Dallas, TX 75231

(972) 925-3700

Overall District Grade: (B) 86/100

Dallas ISD serves 154,000 students in 230 schools and over 384 square miles, encompassing the North Texas cities of:

  • Wilmer
  • University Park
  • Wilmer
  • Mesquite
  • Lancaster
  • Hutchins
  • Highland Park
  • Grand Prairie
  • Garland
  • Farmers Branch
  • Duncanville
  • DeSoto
  • Combine
  • Cedar Hill
  • Carrollton
  • Batch Springs
  • Addison
  • Cockrell Hill
  • Dallas

Dallas ISD is the second-largest school district in Texas and the 16th-largest in the United States. District-wide, the four-year graduation rate is 87%.

The property tax rate for Dallas ISD is $1.310385 per $100 in valuation.

To locate your neighborhood school, simply enter your address into the Dallas ISD School Finder. For each school, we provide a snapshot below. Unless otherwise noted, schools are within Dallas City Limits.

Superior Schools (10 or 9 ratings on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

Central (Seagoville)

Lakewood

Mockingbird

School for the Talented and Gifted at Pleasant Grove

William B. Travis Vanguard Academy for the Academically Talented and Gifted

Sudie L. Williams Talented and Gifted Academy

Middle Schools

Dallas Environmental Science Academy

Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy

Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy

Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School

William B. Travis Vanguard Academy for the Academically Talented and Gifted

High Schools

Trinidad Garza Early College High School at Mountain View

Dr. Wright L. Lassiter Jr. Early College High School at El Centro College

Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy

Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School

Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet

School for the Talented and Gifted at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center

School of Business and Management

School of Health Professions

School of Science and Engineering

Rosie M. Collins Sorrells School of Education and Social Services

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Nathan Adams

Felix G. Botello

Jimmy Tyler Brashear

Casa View

Everette Lee DeGolyer

L. O. Donald

Julius Dorsey

Paul L. Dunbar

Anne Frank

Charles A. Gill

Tom C. Gooch

Nathanial Hawthorne

Margaret B. Henderson

Victor H. Hexter

L. L. Hotchkiss

Louise Wolffe Kahn

Jack Lowe Sr.

John J. Pershing

Arturo Salazar

J. P. Starks

Harry Stone Montessori Academy

Winnetka

Harry C. Withers

Middle Schools

W. E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy

D. A. Hulcy STEAM

Raul Quintanilla Sr.

Harry Stone Montessori Academy

Young Women’s STEAM Academy at Batch Springs

High Schools

Kathryn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

John Q. Adams

Gabe P. Allen Charter School

William Anderson

Arcadia Park

Bayles

Mary McLeod Bethune

William A. Blair

Annie Webb Blanton

James Bowie

Harrell Budd

David G. Burnet

George Herbert Walker Bush (Addison)

W. W. Bushman

F.P. Caillet

Adelfa Botello Callejo

C.F. Carr

Chapel Hill Preparatory School

Cesar Chavez

Leonides Gonzalez Cigarroa, M.D.

Leila P. Cowart

Gilbert Cuellar Sr.

J. N. Ervin

Geneva Heights

Henry B. Gonzalez

Lenore Kirk Hall

Ebby Halliday

Highland Meadows

James S. Hogg

John Ireland

Anson Jones

Barbara Jordan

Jerry R. Junkins (Carrollton)

Edwin J. Kiest

Obadiah Knight

Arthur Kramer

Umphrey Lee

William Lipscomb

Herbert Marcus

Thomas L. Marsalis

Eduardo Mata

Jose “Joe” May

Ronald E. McNair

Esperanza “Hope” Medrano

Ben Milam

William B. Miller

Maria Moreno

Nancy Moseley

Mount Auburn STEAM Academy

Clara Oliver

George Peabody

Personalized Learning Preparatory at Sam Houston

Pleasant Grove

Preston Hollow

John H. Reagan

Martha Turner Reilly

Reinhardt

Joseph J. Rhoads

Charles Rice Learning Center

Thelma Elizabeth Page Richardson

Dan D. Rogers

Rosemont

Edna Rowe

John W. Runyon

Julian T. Saldivar

Alex Sanger Preparatory School

Ascher Silberstein

Larry G. Smith

Celestino Mauricio Soto Jr.

Leslie A Stemmons

C. A. Tatum Jr.

T. G. Terry

R. L. Thornton

Edward Titche

Thomas Tolbert

Adelle Turner

Urban Park

Walnut Hill

Martin Weiss

Ignacio Zaragoza

Middle Schools

Benjamin Franklin International Exploratory Academy

Hector P. Garcia

W.H. Gaston

Oliver W. Holmes Humanities/Communications Academy

Ignite

Harold Wendell Lang Sr.

J. L. Long

Ann Richards STEAM Academy

Rosemont

Thomas J. Rusk

Alex W. Spence Talented/Gifted Academy

High Schools

City Lab

New Tech High School at B.F. Darrell

Woodrow Wilson

Below Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

Birdie Alexander

John Neely Bryan

John W. Carpenter

S. S. Conner

Lorenzo de Zavala

Stephen C. Foster

Frank Guzick

Lida Hooe

Kleberg

Richard Lagow

Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard

B. H. Macon

Maple Lawn

Eladio R. Martinez Learning Center

Lee A. McShan Jr.

Elisha M. Pease

John F. Peeler

K. B. Polk Center for Academically Talented and Gifted

Oran M. Roberts

Clinton P. Russell

San Jacinto

Seagoville (Seagoville)

Seagoville North (Seagoville)

Stevens Park 

Jill Stone

George W. Truett

Daniel Webster

Whitney M. Young Jr.

Middle Schools

William Hawley Atwell Law Academy

T.W. Browne

Edward H. Cary

Robert T. Hill

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr.

Kennedy-Curry

Thomas C. Marsh

Francisco “Pancho” Medrano

Piedmont G.L.O.B.A.L. Academy

Seagoville (Seagoville)

L. V. Stockard

Boude Storey

Sam Tasby

E. D. Walker

Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Fred F. Florence

Sarah Zumwalt

High Schools

Bryan Adams

W. H. Adamson

David W. Carter

Emmett J. Conrad

Hillcrest

Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy at James W. Fannin

Thomas Jefferson

Justin F. Kimball

James Madison

Moises E. Molina

North Dallas

W. W. Samuell

Seagoville (Seagoville)

Skyline

South Oak Cliff

H. Grady Spruce

Sunset

W. T. White

Poor (2 or 1)

Elementaries

Rufus C. Burleson

Cedar Crest

Nancy J. Cochran

Frederick Douglass

H. I. Holland

Wilmer-Hutchins

Middle Schools

E.B. Comstock

Billy Earl Dade

High Schools

Lincoln Humanities/Communications Magnet

John Leslie Patton Jr. Academic Center

L. G. Pinkston

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wilmer-Hutchins

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District

1445 North Perry Road

Carrollton, TX 75006

(972) 968-6100

Overall District Grade: (B) 89/100

The Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District covers over 53 square miles and provides educational services to students who live in parts of not just Carrollton and Farmers Branch, but also Addison, Coppell, Dallas, and Irving. Unlike most other districts, CFBISD offers ‘Limited Open Enrollment’, which allows students who live outside the district’s boundaries to attend nonetheless. 

The 38 school campuses in the CFBISD serve more than 25,500 students. District-wide, the four-year graduation rate is nearly 95%, and over 10% of students are identified as “gifted and talented”.

The property tax rate for CFBISD is $1.2547 per $100 of valuation.

Superior Schools (10 or 9 ratings on GreatSchools.org)

Elementary

McCoy (Carrollton)

High School

Early College High School (Farmers Branch)

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Country Place (Carrollton)

Dale B. Davis (Carrollton)

Farmers Branch (Farmers Branch)

R. E. Good (Carrollton)

E.L. Kent (Carrollton)

Las Colinas (Irving)

Annie Heads Rainwater (Carrollton)

Rosemeade (Carrollton)

Janie Stark (Farmers Branch)

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Dave Blair (Farmers Branch)

Blanton (Carrollton)

Bernice Chapman Freeman (Irving)

Furneaux (Carrollton)

Tom Landry (Irving)

La Villita (Irving)

McLaughlin Strickland (Farmers Branch)

Kathryn S. McWhorter (Dallas)

June R. Thompson (Carrollton)

Middle Schools

Charles M. Blalack (Carrollton)

DeWitt Perry (Carrollton)

Ted Polk (Carrollton)

High Schools

Creekview (Carrollton)

Newman Smith (Carrollton)

R. L. Turner (Carrollton)

Ranchview (Irving)

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

Carrollton (Carrollton)

Central (Carrollton)

Charlie McKamy (Dallas)

Riverchase (Coppell)

Middle Schools

Barbara Bush (Irving)

Vivian Field (Farmers Branch)

Dan F. Long (Dallas)

Poor (2 or 1)

Elementary

Sheffield (Dallas)

Cedar Hill Independent School District

285 Uptown Boulevard

Building 300

Cedar Hill, TX 75104

(972) 291-1581

Overall District Grade: (B) 81/100

The Cedar Hill Independent School District covers 36 square miles and provides instructional services to children living in most of Cedar Hill, as well as parts of Dallas, Duncanville, Ovilla, and Grand Prairie.

The 11 school campuses in the CHISD serve more than 7,600 students. District-wide, the four-year graduation rate is an impressive 100%.

To locate your school, use the Cedar Hill ISD School Zone Finder.

The property tax rate for CHISD is $1.2833 per $100 of valuation.

Superior Schools (10 or 9 ratings on GreatSchools.org)

Middle School

Cedar Hill Collegiate Academy

High School

Cedar Hill Collegiate High School

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementary

Collegiate Prep

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Bray

Highlands

Lake Ridge

Plummer

Middle School

Besie Coleman

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementary

Waterford Oaks

Middle School

Permenter

Poor (2 or 1)

Elementary

High Pointe

Coppell Independent School District

200 S. Denton Tap Road

Coppell, TX 75019

(214) 496-6000

Overall District Grade: (A) 95/100

Coppell is conveniently located about 5 miles north of DFW airport, west of I-35E and north of I-635.

The Coppell Independent School District covers over 23 square miles and has a total enrollment of more than 13,000 students. CISD includes most of Coppell and parts of Lewisville, Dallas, Grapevine, Irving, and the Valley Ranch development. To best serve these communities, there are 11 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 2 high schools, and a 9th-grade campus.

The numbers show that CSID is a premium school system in the State of Texas:

  • 80% of all students perform at or above grade level in all subjects.
  • The State average is just 50%
  • 54% of students master their grade level.
  • The State average is only 24%.
  • The mean SAT score of CISD students is 1288.
  • The Statewide mean SAT score is 1036.
  • The average ACT score of CISD students is 25.5.
  • The Statewide average is 20.6.
  • 64% of CISD teachers have 6 or more years of experience.

The property tax rate for CISD is $1.2834 per $100 of valuation.

Superior Schools (10 or 9 ratings on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

Canyon Ranch (Valley Ranch)

Denton Creek (Coppell)

Lakeside (Coppell)

Richard J. Lee (Dallas)

Mockingbird (Coppell)

Town Center (Coppell)

Valley Ranch (Valley Ranch)

Middle Schools

Coppell Middle School East (Coppell)

Coppell Middle School North (Coppell)

Coppell Middle School West (Coppell)

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Austin (Coppell)

Cottonwood Creek (Coppell)

Pinkerton (Coppell)

High Schools

Coppell 9th-Grade Campus (Coppell)

Coppell High School (Coppell)

New Tech High School (Coppell)

Average (6 or 5)

Elementary

Wilson (Coppell)

DeSoto Independent School District

200 East Belt Line Road

DeSoto, TX 75115

(972) 223-6666

Overall District Grade: (C) 79/100

DeSoto Independent School District is located approximately 15 miles south of Dallas. DISD covers over 23 square miles and has a total enrollment of more than 8,700 students. DISD includes most of DeSoto, along with portions of Cedar Hill, Ovilla, and Glenn Heights.

The property tax rate for DISD is $1.49 per $100 of valuation.

Average Schools (6 or 5 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

Frank D. Moates (Glenn Heights)

Ruby Young (DeSoto)

The Meadows (DeSoto)

Middle School

Christine S. McCowan (Glenn Heights)

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

Cockrell Hill (DeSoto)

Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy (DeSoto)

Woodridge (DeSoto)

Middle Schools

DeSoto East Middle (DeSoto)

DeSoto West Middle (DeSoto)

High School

DeSoto High School (DeSoto)

Duncanville Independent School District

710 Cedar Ridge Drive

Duncanville, TX 75137

(972) 708-2000

Overall District Grade: (B) 84/100 

Duncanville Independent School District is located approximately 16 miles southwest of Dallas, along Interstate 20 and State Highway 67. DISD serves all of Duncanville and portions of Cedar Hill, Dallas, and DeSoto. The total enrollment is more than 12,800 students.

Responsible for the education of these students are 803 teachers and 139 aides. Almost 60% of teachers have 6 or more years of experience.

The property tax rate for DISD is $1.3676 per $100 of valuation.

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementary

Charles Acton (Dallas)

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Central (Duncanville)

Fairmeadows (Duncanville)

Glenn C. Hardin (Duncanville)

William Lee Hastings (Duncanville)

Merrifield (Duncan)

Clint Q. Smith (Duncanville)

Middle Schools

William H. Byrd (Duncanville)

G. W. Kennemer (Dallas)

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

S. Gus Alexander Jr. (Duncanville)

James R. Bilhartz (Dallas)

Grace R. Brandenburg (Duncanville)

H. Bob Daniel Sr. (Duncanville)

C. J. and Anne Hyman (Dallas)

Middle School

J. Herman Reed (Duncanville)

High School

Duncanville High School

Poor (2 or 1)

High School

Mary E. Smithey PACE (Duncanville)

Ferris Independent School District

301 East 5th Street

Ferris, TX 75125

(972) 544-3858

Overall District Grade: (B) 83/100

Located 20 miles south of Dallas, Ferris Independent School District educates approximately 2700 students across five campuses, all located in Ferris. FISD serves the City of Ferris, Bristol, Trumbull, and parts of Southern Dallas County.

The property tax rate for FISD is $1.355 for every $100 in valuation.

Average (6 or 5 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementary

Lee Longino

High School

Ferris High School

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementary

Lucy Mae McDonald

Middle School

Ferris Junior High

Garland Independent School District

501 South Jupiter

Garland, TX 75042

(972) 494-8201

Overall District Grade: (B) 88/100

Encompassing 100 square miles and with a total enrollment of nearly 56,000 students, Garland Independent School District is the second-largest school district in Dallas County and the 15th-largest in the State of Texas. Extending northeast from the Dallas city limits to past the county line, GISD serves the communities of Garland, Sachse, and Rowlett, as well as portions of Wylie and Dallas.

Unlike most other districts, GISD has no attendance zone, meaning families can choose their campus. 98% of students are granted their first school of choice. All schools are located in Garland, except where otherwise noted.

GISD has a stellar 92% graduation rate, and college preparation is facilitated by free AP, PSAT, and SAT exams.

The property tax rate for GISD is $1.3463 per $100 of valuation. 

Superior Schools (10 or 9 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

Kimberlin Academy for Excellence

Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

John W. Armstrong (Sachse)

Austin Academy for Excellence

Back (Rowlett)

Beaver Technology Center

Classical Center at Vial Elementary

Ethridge

Handley

Hillside Academy for Excellence

Keeley (Rowlett)

Luna

Roach

Robert B. Sewell (Sachse)

Spring Creek

Watson Technology Center for Math and Science

Middle Schools

Austin Academy for Excellence

Classical Center at Brandenburg Middle School

B.G. Hudson (Sachse)

Jackson Technology Center for Math and Science

Lyles

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Abbett

Bullock

Cooper

Daugherty

Davis

Norma Dorsey (Rowlett)

Freeman

Giddens-Steadham (Rowlett)

Heather Glen

Herfurth (Rowlett)

Liberty Grove (Rowlett)

Vernal Lister

Northlake

Park Crest

Nita Pearson (Rowlett)

Rowlett (Rowlett)

Shorehaven

Shugart

Katherine Stephens (Rowlett)

Williams

Middle Schools

Coyle (Rowlett)

Sam Houston

Vernon Schrade (Rowlett)

Sellers

Webb

High Schools

Garland High School

Lakeview Centennial

North Garland

Rowlett High School (Rowlett)

Sachse High School (Sachse)

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

Bradfield

Caldwell

George Washington Carver

Centerville

Club Hill

Glen Couch

Golden Meadows

Montclair

Southgate

Toler

Weaver

Middle Schools

Bussey

O’Bannion

High Schools

Naaman Forest

South Garland

Grand Prairie Independent School District

2602 South Belt Line Road

Grand Prairie, TX 75052

(972) 237-4000

Overall District Grade: (B) 84/100

Located on the border between Dallas and Tarrant Counties, Grand Prairie Independent School District serves a 58 square mile area and educates over 29,000 students.

The property tax rate for GPISD is $1.5097 per $100 of valuation.

Superior Schools (10 or 9 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

Colin Powell

Hobbs Williams

School for the Highly-Gifted

Middle Schools

Grand Prairie Collegiate Institute

Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy

School for the Highly-Gifted

High Schools

Grand Prairie Collegiate Institute

Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Stephen F. Austin Environmental Science Academy

Lorenzo De Zavala Environmental Science Academy

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Garner Fine Arts Academy

William B. Travis World Language Academy

Middle Schools

Ronald Reagan

William B. Travis World Language Academy

High School

John A. Dubiski Career High School

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Global Leadership Academy at Barbara Bush Elementary

Delmas Morton

Suzanna Dickinson

Florence Hill

Hector P. Garcia

Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy

Sally R. Moore College and Career Preparatory

Mike Moseley

Ellen Ochoa STEM Academy at Ben Milam Elementary

Sam Rayburn Elementary STEAM Academy

Juan N. Seguin

Uplift Morton Preparatory

Ervin C. Whitt Fine Arts Academy

Middle Schools

Digital Art and Technology Academy at Adams Middle School

Andrew Jackson

Sally R. Moore College and Career Preparatory

Harry S Truman

Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Bill Arnold

High Schools

South Grand Prairie

Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Bill Arnold

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

James Bowie Fine Arts Academy

David Daniels Elementary Academy of Science and Math

Middle Schools

Jame Fannin

Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Kennedy Middle School

High School

Grand Prairie High School

Poor (2 or 1)

High School

Crosswinds Accelerated High School

Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District

3051 Ira E. Woods Avenue

Grapevine, TX 76051

(871) 251-5200

Overall District Grade: (A) 92/100

Located 23 miles northwest of Dallas, the Grape-vine-Colleyville Independent School District serves not only the cities of Grapevine and Colleyville, but also small portions of Southlake, Hurst, and Euless. GCISD has 17 traditional campuses to provide for the educational needs of nearly 14,000 students.

The graduation rate is over 97%, thanks in large part to the exceptional staff. Over a third of the teachers in GCISD hold advanced degrees, and they have an average of 12 years of experience.

The property tax rate in GCISD is $1.3031.

Superior Schools (10 or 9 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

Bransford (Colleyville)

Glenhope (Colleyville)

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Cannon (Grapevine)

Colleyville (Colleyville)

Dove (Grapevine)

Grapevine (Grapevine)

Heritage (Grapevine)

O. C. Taylor (Colleyville)

Middle Schools

Colleyville (Colleyville)

Cross Timbers (Grapevine)

Heritage (Colleyville)

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Bear Creek (Euless)

Silver Lake (Grapevine)

Timberline (Grapevine)

Middle School

Grapevine (Grapevine)

High Schools

Colleyville Heritage (Colleyville)

Grapevine (Grapevine)

Highland Park Independent School District

7015 Westchester Drive

Dallas, TX 75205

(214) 780-3000

Overall District Grade: (A) 97/100

Encompassing just 6 square miles,Highland Park Independent School District serves the “Park Cities” of Highland Park and University Park, as well as two small portions of Dallas, and has a total enrollment of nearly 7000 students.

For years, HPISD has been one of the top school systems in America.

  • 97% of graduates attend college.
  • During the 2019-2020 academic year, high school students in the district had a composite score of 27.3 on the ACT, more than 7 points above the State average.
  • The SAT composite score was 1281, exceeding both the State and National averages by over 200 points.
  • 13 students were named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists.
  • 47 were recognized as National AP Scholars.
  • 576 won Advanced Placement Scholar Awards,

Besides academics, HPISD sports teams have won 123 State titles. In fact, the Highland Park Scots are the winningest football team in Texas history, with over 800 wins and 6 State championships.

Finally, HPISD helps build strong character. Students from the graduating class of 2021 donated over 60,000 hours of community service.

Excellence in academics, athletics, and the fine arts explain why Highland Park High has won the Texas University Interscholastic League ‘Lone Star Cup’ an unprecedented 12 times.

The property tax rate in Highland Park is $1.0974 per $100 of valuation.  

Superior Schools (10 or 9 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

John S. Armstrong

Michael M. Boone

John S. Bradfield

Robert S. Hyer

University Park

High School

Highland Park

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Middle School

McCulloch Intermediate Highland Park Middle

Irving Independent School District

2621 West Airport Freeway

Irving, TX 75062

(972) 600-5000

Overall District Grade: (B) 87/100

in the northwest tip of Dallas County, the 49-square mile area serviced by the Irving Independent  School District includes portions of Dallas, Grand Prairie, and Las Colinas, as well as most of Irving. It does not include the Valley Ranch development located within Irving City Limits. Total enrollment is  approximately 33,000 students.

IISD boasts a laudable graduation rate of over 95%, and students can take the ACT, PSAT. SAT, AP. and TSI for free. District schools offer 30 Advanced Placement and 40 dual credit courses. The 2000-plus students who took dual credit courses saved more than $760,000 in college tuition.

The property tax rate in IISD is $1.2751 per $100 of valuation.

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Barton

Brandenburg

Elliott

Schulze

Middle Schools

Lorenzo De Zavala

Houston

High School

Jack E. Singley

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Davis

Farine

Gilbert

Good

John Haley

Thomas Haley

Hanes

Keyes

Lee

Lively

John W. and Margie Stipes

Townley

Middle Schools

Austin

Crockett

Lamar

Travis

High School

MacArthur

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

Britain

Brown

Johnston

Jackie Mae Townsell

Middle Schools

Bowie

Lady Bird Johnson

High Schools

Barbara Cardwell Career Preparatory Center

Irving

Nimitz

Lancaster Independent School District

422 South Centre Avenue

Lancaster, TX 75146

(972) 218-1401

Overall District Grade: (B) 81/100

Located in southern Dallas County, Lancaster Independent School District serves the City of Lancaster and small portions of both Hutchins and Dallas. The 12 campuses in LISD educate over 7300 students.

Academically, LISD has achieved two historic distinctions. 

  • It was the first district in the State of Texas to establish a Dollars for College Savings Plan, which allows parents to invest in their children’s futures
  • Additionally, LISD was the State’s first K-12 STEM district.

LISD has a rich athletic tradition, as well. Since 2001, the Lady Tigers Track and Field Team has won 12 UIL titles, while the Boys’ Team has won 7 straight.

The property tax rate in LISD is $1.4999 per $100 in valuation.

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Houston

Pleasant Run

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Belt Line

Rolling Hills

Rosa Parks Millbrook

West Main

Middle Schools

Elsie Robertson Lancaster STEM

George Washington Carver 6th Grade STEM Learning Center

High School

Lancaster

Mesquite Independent School District

3819 Towne Crossing

Mesquite, TX 75150

(972) 288-6411

Overall District Grade: (B) 87/100

Located east of Dallas and extending slightly into Kaufman County, the Mesquite Independent School District serves nearly 40,000 students across 48 campuses. Covering 60 square miles on both sides of Interstate 635, MISD encompasses not only most of the City of Mesquite, but also portions of Seagoville, Garland, Batch Springs, and Dallas.

  • In 2020, MISD was recognized as having the National School Library of the Year.
  • Memorial Stadium, which is shared by all of the local high schools, is the largest high school football stadium in the State of Texas.
  • MISD operates the largest student radio station in the United States.

The property tax rate for Mesquite ISD is $1.4464 per $100 of valuation.

Unless otherwise noted, all schools are in Mesquite.

Superior Schools (10 or 9 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementary

Zack Motley

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Gentry

Georgia W. Kimball

G. R. Porter

Middle School

Wilkinson

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Don Achziger

J.C. Austin

C. W. Beasley

Florence Black

J. H. Florence

Bedford Galloway

W. O. Gray (Batch Springs)

John L. Hanby

Dr. Linda Henrie (Dallas)

Joe Lawrence

Mackey (Batch Springs)

E. S. McKenzie

Ferd A. McWhorter

Mary Moss

Pirrung

J. C. Rugel

Sam Rutherford

Seabourn

Shands

Ruby Shaw

B. J. Smith

Tisinger

Charles A. Tosch

Middle Schools

Frank Berry

R. S. Kimbrough

High Schools

Dr. John D. Horn

Dr. Ralph Poteet

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

Dr. J. C. Cannaday

Walter Floyd (Batch Springs)

Ed Hodges (Batch Springs)

Vernon Price (Garland)

I. N. Range

J. R. Thompson

Middle Schools

Agnew

Lanny Frasier

T. H. McDonald

A. C. New

Dr. James P. Terry

Vanston

High Schools

Mesquite

North Mesquite

West Mesquite

Poor (2 or 1)

High School

Mesquite Academy

Richardson Independent School District

400 South Greenville Avenue

Richardson, Texas 75081

(469) 593-0000

Overall District Grade: (B) 84/100

Located northeast of Dallas and covering 39 square miles, Richardson Independent School District includes most of the City of Richardson, as well as portions of Garland and Dallas. In fact, 65% of RISD is in North Dallas.

The district has a total enrollment of over 39,000 students on 55 campuses.

  • For 10 consecutive years, RISD has been recognized as one of the Best Communities for Music Education in the entire country.
  • In 2020, the Texas Art Education Association named RISD a “District of Distinction”.
  • During the 2020-21 school year, over 200 RISD athletes earned All-State Honors.

The property tax rate for RISD is $1.4047 per $100 of valuation.   

Superior Schools (10 or 9 rating on GreatSchools.org)

Elementaries

Math/Science/Tech Magnet (Richardson)

Prairie Creek (Richardson)

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Arapaho Classical Magnet (Richardson)

Big Springs (Garland)

Bowie (Dallas)

Brentfield (Dallas)

Canyon Creek (Richardson)

Carolyn G. Bukhair (Dallas)

Forest Lane (Dallas)

Merriman Park (Dallas)

Mohawk (Richardson)

Prestonwood (Dallas)

Richardson Terrace (Richardson)

Spring Creek (Dallas)

Springridge (Richardson)

White Rock (Dallas)

Middle School

Parkhill (Dallas)

Average (6 or 5)

Elementaries

Dartmouth (Richardson)

Forestridge (Dallas)

Greenwood Hills  (Richardson)

Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet (Dallas)

Lake Highlands (Dallas)

Mark Twain (Richardson)

Northlake (Dallas)

Moss Haven (Dallas)

O. Henry (Garland)

RISD Academy (Dallas)

Yale (Richardson)

Middle Schools

Apollo (Richardson)

Forest Meadow (Dallas)

Lake Highlands (Dallas)

Liberty Junior High STEM Academy (Dallas)

Richardson North (Richardson)

Richardson West Arts and Technology Magnet (Richardson)

Westwood Math, Science, and Leadership Magnet (Dallas)

High Schools

Pearce (Richardson)

Richardson (Richardson)

Below-Average (4 or 3)

Elementaries

Aikin (Dallas)

Audelia Creek (Dallas)

Dover (Richardson)

Jess Harben (Richardson)

Northrich (Richardson)

Northwood Hills (Dallas)

Richardson Heights (Richardson)

Richland (Richardson)

Skyview (Dallas)

Spring Valley (Dallas)

Stults Academy (Dallas)

Thurgood Marshall (Dallas)

Wallace (Dallas)

High Schools

Berkner STEM Academy (Richardson)

Lake Highlands (Dallas)

Sunnyvale Independent School District

417 Tripp Road

Sunnyvale, TX 75182

(972) 226-5974

Overall District Grade: (A) 97/100

Sunnyvale Independent School District is located on the easternmost boundary of Dallas County, about 15 miles away from the City of Dallas. SISD is relatively small, encompassing just 17 square miles and serving approximately 1200 students. All of the campuses are within the Town of Sunnyvale.

  • 79%of SISD teachers have 6 or more years of experience.
  • The average SAT score among SISD students is 1174, well above both the State and National averages.
  • 88% of graduates are career, college, or military ready.

The property tax rate for SISD is $1.784 per $100 of valuation. 

Above-Average (8 or 7)

Elementaries

Sunnyvale Elementary

Sunnyvale Intermediate

Middle Schools

Sunnyvale Middle

High Schools

Sunnyvale High

SOURCES:

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood (realtor com)

Dallas County, Texas  – Public Schools by Independent School Districts (dallascountytexas.us)

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, School Districts & Quality Assessments | U.S. News Best Places (usnews.com)

Your Home Might Be More Expensive If It’s Near A Good School | Money

Best High Schools in the U.S. – US News

School Ratings & Reviews for Public & Private Schools: GreatSchools

Dallas Independent School District / Dallas ISD Home

Home – Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD (cfbisd.edu)

Cedar Hill ISD / CHISD Homepage

Coppell Independent School District / Overview (coppellisd.com)

Home – DeSoto ISD

Duncanville Independent School District – Duncanville Independent School District (duncanvilleisd.org)

Home – Ferris Independent School District (ferrisisd.org)

Home | Garland Independent School District (garlandisd.net)

GCISD

Highland Park Schools (hpisd.org)

Property Taxes | Highland Park, TX – Official Website (hptx.org)

https://www.irvingisd.net/

Property Tax Information | Irving, TX – Official Website (cityofirving.org)

Lancaster Independent School District / Homepage (lancasterisd.org)

propertytaxrates-direct-tx-dfw-111020.pdf (oldrepublictitle.com)

Home – Mesquite ISD

Property Tax | Mesquite, TX – Official Website (cityofmesquite.com)

Richardson Independent School District (risd.org)

Richardson ISD Trustees Call Tax Ratification Election (risd.org)

Sunnyvale ISD / Overview

Texas School Report Cards (txschools.gov)

1. ASK QUESTIONS AND DO YOUR RESEARCH

Since custom home building requires a myriad of decisions by you, the homeowner, we recommend gathering a significant amount of information before design and construction start. You could leave everything in the hands of the builders and architects, but if you want your new home to reflect your individual desires, you need to be familiar with the options available to you.

A good place to start is with materials. Inquire about design trends, durability, and costs. Then move on to other aspects of your custom home.  If you have trouble finding information, don’t be afraid to contact experts. Ask them everything that interests you…and keep on asking.

2. THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE

Try to make a rough plan of your next few years. How will your new custom home play a role in the next chapter of your life? Ask yourself important questions like: Do I plan to extend the family? Will I retire here? Do I plan to work from home? Should I start prioritizing my health?, etc. 

Plan your budget and the layout of your house based on the answers to these questions. For example, if you want to improve your health, you can build a small gym, private sauna, or a plunge pool. If, on the other hand, you want to have more kids in the near future, you might think about adding an extra bedroom. 

3. INVESTIGATE THE SURROUNDINGS 

Whether you plan to build a house in the city or the countryside, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with the features of the area you are considering.

A visit with a real estate professional could uncover any plans for future development in your area.  Has the highway department projected a major expansion affecting your accessibility? Are any large residential developments on the horizon?

Be sure to check out the proximity of grocery stores, the level of care available at the nearest hospital, the response times on EMS and police calls, and the utility providers for water, sewer, gas and electricity.

Often overlooked is the school district of your proposed site purchase.  In Texas the majority of your property taxes come from your school district assessment.  Collaterally, in case of a resale, the school district’s reputation can be a beneficial factor.

A good source is neighbors.  After all, they have experience in your area that no one else has.

4. HIRE A LAWYER EARLY

Building a custom home is a large investment. If something goes wrong, financial trouble is almost inescapable. In order to protect yourself from these unwanted scenarios, it’s best to work with a lawyer as you begin the process. They don’t have to be present during the construction. However, some legal explanations at the beginning of your project, along with the availability of consulting services through to completion will increase your confidence and enjoyment as you build your custom home.

A lawyer will come in very handy for evaluating the construction contract and the building regulations. Apart from working with reputable and experienced building companies, this is the second best way to protect yourself from scams, mistakes, and amateur companies. 

5. CHOOSE YOUR BUILDER WISELY

Like any construction project, your choice of builder should be based on their experience, customer ratings, applicable certifications, and the quality of their portfolio.  More specifically, their experience and portfolio should be in-line with the type of custom home you desire.

For example, If you intend to design a modern masterpiece using exotic materials, you need a builder who is experienced in such designs rather than one that primarily builds traditional structures with traditional materials.

The builder should also be up-to-date with trends and innovations, and should provide materials of your desired quality that are backed by reputable manufacturers. 

The builders should also offer workmanship warranties and have a proven customer service record. There must be clear and transparent communication between you and the company. If you sense that the builder does not understand or approve your vision, feel free to look at some of their competitors.  

Building a house from the ground-up is a tough process, and the custom home building company you choose will determine your satisfaction for many years to come.

6. GOOD COMMUNICATION IS KEY

 Once you have decided on a builder,  discuss the appropriate lines of communication for you to interact during the building process.  Larger companies may have lead project supervisors who they entrust with your project.  Understand how the builder views the role of the person in charge of your job site.  Before you begin, define who the builder authorizes to talk to you and honor that person’s position.

A word of caution:  Don’t interact with the workers at your job site.  They work for the builder, not you.  Your interaction will be a distraction and may delay the timing of your project. Recognize that your contract is with the builder, not the workmen.

You will have questions.  You may have problems.  You might want to change some specifications.  Things will go smoother if you and the builder have agreed at the outset who your contact person is and what level of authority they can exercise.  

Like this article? You can read more here.

If you are considering building your own custom home in Dallas, now is the perfect time. According to the Dallas Business Journal, new home construction in Dallas soared in 2020, even after the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, the construction of new single-family homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area surged by 30% last year. To put that in perspective, that was the highest new construction volume in over a decade

Ben Caballero, the owner of HomesUSA.com, says, “Dallas-area new home sales continue to impress…Builders in the Dallas-Fort Worth market simply can’t build homes fast enough to meet the remarkable demand.”

Let’s look at the local trends to understand why this is happening, the best ways you can (and should) respond, and finally, how you can use this information to have the home of your dreams.

Dallas is Definitely a Seller’s Market: By the Numbers

54% of real estate experts who responded to the latest Zillow Home Prices Expectations Survey predict that DFW will be the sixth-hottest housing market in the country and outperform the national average. Right now, median home prices in the area have reached an all-time high of $330,000, representing an astounding year-over-year spike of nearly 32%.

Realtor.com agrees — their March 2021 Market Hotness Report says that the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington market is “heating up” and that inventory is moving 26% faster, both compared to 2020. On average, homes spend 16 less days on the market than they did last year.  

There are more house-hunters and buyers than there are homes for sale in Dallas. The total number of sales has increased by nearly 9%, while the number of active listings has gone down by over 25%. As a result, inventory is at an all-time low. Right now, the Months of Inventory in Dallas has dropped to 1.2 months. In May of 2020, the MOI figure was 3 months.

What are the Takeaways from All of This?

First and foremost, it means that for existing homes in and around Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, it is absolutely a seller’s market. Existing homes are harder to find, they are being sold faster, and they are more expensive than ever. That is the reality for you as a buyer.

But looked at another way, these challenges present an exciting opportunity. Since it is getting harder and harder to buy a home, more people are building a home in Dallas. According to the National Association of Home Builders, there were 43,844 single-family construction permits issued in DFW in 2020. That makes Dallas #2 among all U.S. metros.

For you, that means that the best way for you to find the home you are looking for is to build it. YOU set your budget, YOU choose the plan and the features, and YOU work with your builder to make your dream home a reality.

If you have never had a home built before, let’s look at some of the hottest trends in Dallas custom homes.

Location, Location, Location: Where to Build Your Dallas Custom Home

Obviously, you need land to build your home, but it can be difficult to find undeveloped land for sale or a vacant residential lot within the city limits. You can stumble upon such a location from time to time, but not in any specific neighborhood, and not with any regularity

This issue has led to a suburban boom that is happening across the country in general, but in the Dallas area in particular. In fact, just a few years ago, Realtor.com ranked Dallas #2 in the country among cities with the fastest-growing suburbs. The standouts include:

  • Richardson (12 miles away): Population 121,323. Growth since 2010 +22%

For over a decade, Richardson has been included on a wide variety of annual “Best of” lists, including Places to Live, Safest, Places to Raise Kids, Workplace for Commuters, Happiest, Suburbs for Young Professionals, and Best Real Estate Market;

  • Carrollton (15 miles): Pop. 139,248. +17%

In 2020, personal finance technology company SmartAsset named Carrollton one of the Most Livable Cities in the U.S. and one of the Best Places to Do Business in Texas. In 2021, the company also named Carrollton as one of the Top Safest Cities Nationwide.

  • Plano (17 miles): Pop. 287,677. +11%

Over two dozen Fortune 1000 companies have corporate headquarters or major regional offices in Plano.

  • Allen (20 miles): Pop. 105,623. +25%

In 2017, CNN Money ranked Allen #2 in both its Best Places to Live and Best Places to Launch a Career lists.

  • Forney (21 miles): Pop. 27,236. +86%

Homes.com ranks Forney #2 on its list of the Best Suburbs to Move To in 2021.

  • Wylie (24 miles):  Pop. 53,067. +28%

In 2016, NerdWallet ranked Wyle as the #1 Small City for a Family.

  • Frisco (25 miles): Pop. 207,748. +78%

WalletHub ranks Frisco #6 nationally and #1 in Texas on its list of the Fastest-Growing Cities in America.

  • Little Elm (28 miles): Pop. 53,126. +105%

In 2013, the FBI proclaimed Little Elm to be the Safest City in Texas.

  • McKinney (32 miles): Pop. 199,177. +52%

In 2014, Money magazine rated McKinney as the Best Place to Live in America. 

  • Prosper (34 miles): Pop. 31,700. +264%

Conveniently, the North Dallas Tollway runs through Prosper, making for an easier commute.

  • Denton (40 miles): Pop. 141,541. +25%

Denton is home to two colleges: the University of North Texas and Texas Women’s College, with a combined enrollment of over 45,000 students.

  • Melissa (40 miles): Pop. 12,117. +158%

Melissa students graduate at a higher rate and score better on standardized tests than the state average.

Looking at the population explosions in these DFW suburbs, you can see that the top custom housing trend in Dallas is that people are flocking to the suburbs, more than happy to trade a daily commute for a happier overall lifestyle. 

What About Planned Communities?

Another growing trend that affects custom home building in the Dallas area is the expansion of master-planned communities. Because the development process takes years, these communities often have hundreds of empty lots available. Right now, there are dozens of master-planned communities in the DFW area, with tens of thousands of opportunities available. 

Although they are often thought of only in terms of pre-designed “cookie-cutter” houses, in reality, most master-planned communities do allow custom-built homes that stay within their architectural guidelines.

It’s the best of both worlds — the home builder adheres to standards set by the community and the owner gets the custom-built home of their dreams.

How hot is this particular trend locally?

According to RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, 4 of the top 50 fastest-growing master-planned communities are here in North Texas, each within commuting distance of DFW.

  • Woodcreek Fate (Little Elm)
  • Union Park (Little Elm)
  • Silverado (Aubrey)
  • Pecan Square (Northlake) 

Landscaping: Your Public Face and Private Space

For most people who build a custom home in Dallas, their landscaping is somewhat of an afterthought. They focus so much on the house itself that they do not give enough consideration to the flora and fauna of the surrounding grounds. 

That’s unfortunate, because your landscaping acts as your welcome mat to the world for both visitors and even passers-by, by expressing your personality and your pride of ownership. For yourself, your landscaped areas represent beauty, relaxation, and recreation, whether it’s for gardening, cookouts, or just getting in touch with nature.

Look at it this way — on average, Dallas enjoys 234 sunny days a year. That means you are going to be spending a lot of time outside. In other words, your landscaping matters.

And, if you ever decide to sell your home, the right landscaping can have a huge positive impact on the all-important curbside appeal to potential buyers. In fact, Turf Magazine says that upgrading your landscape from “average” to “excellent” can increase your home’s value by as much as 12 percent.

Longtime Dallas real estate professional Diane Bearden Barrett says there are 5 landscaping trends to watch out for in 2021:

  • Low-Maintenance Options: If you don’t relish the idea of spending hours maintaining your yard and plants, try incorporating no-fuss landscaping ideas such as lighting, rocks, statuary, or even potted plants, which typically need less care than in-ground plants.
  • Native Plants: Not every plant can thrive in the North Texas climate. Instead, opt for native plants like White Honeysuckle, Maximilian Sunflowers, Engelmann Daisies, Indian Paintbrushes, Post Oaks, and of course, Bluebonnets.
  • Multi-Season Plants: With a little bit of planning, you can enjoy flowers and greenery year-round. This means that your garden should have a mix of flowers and other plants that bloom during different seasons.
  • Pollinator Gardens: One of the most eco-conscious trends is to include plants, vegetables, and flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. This is an important contribution you can make, because in some parts of the world, 40% of butterflies and bees are threatened or have declining populations.

Outdoor Living Spaces Blur the Lines

Social distancing during the pandemic highlighted the importance of maximizing your home’s potential. Following this trend when planning your custom home could include building a gazebo, deck, pergola, firepit, or pergola to create an extra “room”.

In fact, multiple experts predict that outdoor kitchens and dining areas might be the next big thing in custom home design. What used to be as simple as setting up a grill and a picnic table in the backyard has evolved into a much more elaborate, yet-popular addition increasingly seen in new constructions.

An outdoor kitchen is exactly what it sounds like — the top setups will have virtually everything your interior kitchen has, including appliances, refrigeration, lighting, electrical outlets, plumbing, countertops, and cabinetry. The biggest difference is, in an outdoor kitchen, everything also has to be weather-resistant and able to stand up to the elements. 

Your Custom Home’s Interior: Spending Quality Time

In many ways, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forever changed our lives, including how we view and use our homes. Now, we expect more of our living spaces, demanding better comfort, functionality, versatility, and aesthetic value, and those expectations are reflected in these 2021 design trends for custom homes in Dallas.

The Home Office is Now a Necessity

According to Fixr’s 2021 Single-Family Home Trends Report, home offices are the most-requested additional spaces in new construction projects.

Even before the pandemic began, remote jobs in Dallas-Fort Worth were on the rise. Between 2005 and 2017, the number of full-time telecommuters soared 123%, to a then-total of over 160,000 people. In fact, pre-COVID-19, the Dallas-area remote job share was already above that of the average of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas…and still climbing.

In 2016, FlexJobs named Dallas as one of its Top 5 Cities for Remote Work.

Because of social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates, working from home became the new normal. Consider these statistics about telecommuting and COVID-19:

  • 97% of U.S. companies cancelled their work-related travel plans.
  • 88% of businesses asked their employees to work from home.
  • Companies had 38% fewer employees actually in the workplace.
  • Having worked from home, 77% of employees now want to have a hybrid telecommute/workplace schedule.
  • Only 12% want to go back to the way things were.
  • Even with the vaccine and the ability to physically go back to work, it is predicted that by the end of 2021, up to 30% of employees will work from home at least one day a week.

Of special relevance, 29% of people who work from home find it hard to achieve a good work/life balance. 54% of remote employees feel stressed during any given workday, and 45% feel extremely anxious.

Part of the problem is that most people do not have a dedicated distraction-free workspace in their home where they can focus on their job. They end up working on the couch, the kitchen table, or in their bedroom, all places where they are sure to be interrupted. Including an office in your home design plans solves that problem.

Work Out Without Going Out

Similarly, the coronavirus outbreak changed Americans’ exercise habits. Sheltering in-place meant people had more time on their hands, and many decided to use that time productively. By June of 2020, 60% of people polled said they were meeting the physical activity recommendations of the World Health Organization. That was a significant 11% increase over their pre-pandemic fitness routines.

That is good news for local residents, because in 2019, the American College of Sports Medicine released their annual list of the Fittest Cities in America, and Dallas did not score very well, ranking #61 among the 100 largest cities in the country.   

COVID-19 also interfered with people’s ability to go to the gym, and many were afraid to even perform solo fitness activities like cycling, walking, or running. Stuck at home for months, exercise enthusiasts became accustomed to working out in-place.  

Now that lockdowns have ended, people want to keep enjoying the convenience of exercising at home, but they want their bedrooms, living rooms, and garages back. This is why there is a growing demand for dedicated fitness rooms where people can set up home gym equipment like weight benches, treadmills, stationary bikes, yoga mats, and other fitness products.

How hot is this trend?

The Washington Post reports that revenue from health and fitness equipment more than doubled between March and October of last year, climbing to $2.3 billion. Treadmill sales jumped 135%, and stationary bike sales nearly tripled.

Having It Your Way with an Open Floor Plan

In a poll of the building and design industry’s leading experts, 91% responded that open floor plans are the most popular option for new custom homes.

Again, this trend was influenced by the pandemic, as we all had to rely on our homes more than ever before. They needed to be not just our homes, but also our restaurants, schools, gyms, theaters, playgrounds, offices, and libraries.

Only one floor plan is this versatile. By design, an open floor plan is adaptable so the interior spaces of your home can fulfill whatever needs you and your family have at any given time.

Open floor plans are particularly popular with larger or growing families with hectic schedules. For example, on busy mornings when everyone is rushing around trying to get ready for school or work, the “traffic” moves a lot smoother within the great room common area than it would with the walls and doors of a closed floor plan.

Open floor plans also make it easier for family members to communicate and be together, even when they are doing their own thing. Because they aren’t separated by barriers, family members can talk with each other, parents can keep an eye on young children or pets, and everyone can interact, even while they might be individually cooking, working, studying, or playing.

Bigger is Still Better, But So is Versatility

With the aforementioned increased demand for home offices and fitness rooms, it is no surprise that most experts believe that new homes will be getting bigger. In fact, take a look at what people are requesting, in order of preference:

  • Home Offices
  • Extra Storage (closets, pantries, etc.)
  • Playing Spaces
  • Home Gyms
  • Learning Spaces
  • Disinfection Spaces
  • Meditation Spaces

Although some of these will most likely be separate rooms, in other cases, you can have your individual needs met by having multi-use rooms. For example, with the right storage, a learning space can easily convert to a playroom when lessons are done, or your meditation space can be in your fitness room. 

But either way, homes ARE trending bigger, in terms of both number of bedrooms and the overall square footage.

According to Today’s Homeowner, 89% of new single family home construction projects have 3 or more bedrooms. Even more telling, in 2010, only 35% of new single-family residences had 4 or more bedrooms, but today, that number has climbed to 43%.

The Bottom Line About Custom Home Trends in the Dallas Area

Ultimately, the choice of which trends, if any, you choose to follow when you build your Dallas custom home will depend on your preferences, your family’s needs, and your budget. We hope this information has served as a good jumping-off point that has given you something to think about as you start the process of designing and building your dream home here in the DFW area.

At the same time, we want to hear from YOU about your experiences during the whole process. Please leave any comments or questions and feel free to reach out if there is a specific topic you would like to see addressed.   

SOURCES:

Dallas-Fort Worth new home construction soared in 2020 despite COVID – Dallas Business Journal (bizjournals.com)

Dallas-Fort Worth new home sales hold strong, but market is tightening – Dallas Business Journal (bizjournals.com)

Zillow Q1 2021 Home Price Expectations Survey – Summary & Comments (economicgreenfield.com)

Market Hotness Index – Realtor.com Economic Research

Texas Quarterly Housing Report – Texas REALTORS® (texasrealestate.com)

Dallas Housing Market: Prices | Trends | Forecast 2021 (noradarealestate.com)

Dallas nails ranking as second busiest home construction spot in U.S. – CultureMap Dallas

Where are Texas’ fastest-growing cities? Check the suburbs | The Kinder Institute for Urban Research (rice.edu)

Dallas Ranks #2 For The Fastest Growing Suburbs – Destination DFW – Dallas Fort Worth Relocation Guide

The Best Small American Cities For Families (forbes.com)

Fastest-Growing Cities in America (wallethub.com)

FBI Names Little Elm The Safest City In Texas – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth (cbslocal.com)

Allen, Texas: MONEY’s # Best Place to Live in 2017 | Money

Carrollton Ranks as One of the Most Livable Cities in the U.S. | Latest City News | City of Carrollton, TX

The Best U.S. Suburbs to Move to in 2021 | Homes.com

DFW Dallas Fort Worth Master-Planned Communities (texasnewhomerebates.com)

North Texas Master-Planned Communities Among 50 Fastest-Growing in U.S. – CandysDirt.com

The Top-Selling Master-Planned Communities of 2020 (rclco.com)

How Much Does Landscaping Really Add to a Home’s Value? – Turf Magazine

Trends in Landscaping | Diane Bearden (dianebeardenrealestate.com)

Pollination and Pollinators (psu.edu)

The 8 Major Home Design Trends That’ll Be Big in 2021 – Redfin

https://comfyliving.net/work-from-home-statistics/-

Dallas works its way up the work-from-home ladder, report shows – CultureMap Dallas

Work from Home Before and After the COVID-19 Outbreak – Research Dept. Working Paper No. 2017 – Dallas Fed

Hottest home design trends for 2021 (globalsources.com)

Study: People in U.S. exercising more, but less intensely, during pandemic – UPI.com

Here’s How Dallas Ranks For Physical Fitness | Dallas, TX Patch

Home-fitness gear surges during pandemic – The Washington Post

Single-Family Home Trends 2021: Construction and Remodeling Report (fixr.com)

10 Different Design Trends That Will Be Everywhere in 2021—and Beyond (realtor.com)

Characteristics of New Housing (census.gov)

Trend Reversal:  Homes are Getting Bigger Again (inside.lighting)

2021 AIA Home Design Trends Survey – Q2 Home and Property Design

New Homes Bigger Than 10 Years Ago but Apartments Trail Behind (storagecafe.com)

Of all the decisions you will make on your journey to your dream home, choosing your builder is probably the most important.

If you make the right choice, you will have a genuine partner who will take your dream from concept to reality. By contrast, choosing the wrong builder can be a disaster.

As we are currently going through the process ourselves, we are documenting the steps and details involved in building a custom home, and sharing objective information so that other aspiring home owners can make informed decisions. 

The information in this article is intended to make the process straightforward for you, so come along as we share our checklist for choosing an experienced and affordable custom home builder in Dallas (or anywhere in the world). 

Why you need a custom home builder

If you’re still undecided about the importance of hiring a custom home builder, you should read this section.

Hiring a custom home builder is a smart choice for the following reasons:

1. Years of Experience & Knowledge in Home Construction

When you hire an experienced custom home builder, you are leveraging their expertise and experience to build your home. And, you’re saving yourself the stress of handling things and the risk of making a mess of things. 

Building a custom home is difficult and complicated.  It requires a great deal of knowledge, talent for construction and a wide network of solid industry contacts and relationships. 

When you engage the right custom home builder, you get a team of professionals who fully understand every aspect of building a home. 

Your custom home builder will be responsible for sourcing the materials, managing the process, and ensuring that construction is completed on schedule, accurately, and professionally.

2. Custom home builders have greater negotiating power

If you want the best products, labor and materials at the best prices available, consider hiring a well-established custom home builder. 

These expert home developers build several homes each year and have made strong connections with manufacturers and building material suppliers over the years.  

They are able to buy many components and materials in bulk, which allows them to negotiate lower prices, which benefit you.

3. Custom home builders work with dependable subcontractors

With a good custom home builder in charge of your home building project, you can be confident that they collaborate with top subcontractors in your region who can build your home to standard and on schedule.

4. It takes time and a lot of effort to build a house

Custom home construction requires time, dedication and construction expertise. 

Construction isn’t something you can do in your spare time. It requires active involvement, hands-on management, and your physical presence on the job site.

Choosing a custom home builder relieves you of the burden of managing all parts of your home’s construction, allowing you to focus on other priorities in your life.

5. Established and Proven Timeline Management

A custom home builder will manage your home construction project based on the specified delivery schedule. 

Professional home builders have perfected their skills through many years of trial and error. Consequently, builders have the necessary expertise to manage the development of your dream home.

They will schedule the subcontractors, check up on their work, and adhere to your deadline to guarantee that everything is completed accurately.  

Also, a good builder is capable of managing any delays that may have an impact on your construction financing. 

When to hire your custom home builder

The best time to select your builder is before you begin the design process. Bringing a builder on-board early in the design phase ensures that your house plan and budget remain consistent. 

During the house plan design process, a professional custom builder will ensure that:

  • The house plan can be built with your budget
    • When choosing a house plan, you may be tempted to build a castle for a home. Your builder will tell you what you can and cannot afford.
  • The design is structurally achievable
  • The house design is allowed by local building ordinances and property owners associations (usually Home Owners Associations, referred to as HOAs for short)

How to Find and Hire a Reliable Custom Home Builder in Dallas, Texas

Before we start, you should be aware that anyone can work as a builder in the state of Texas. State regulators in Texas don’t require residents to earn a license or certificate to work as custom home builders, as in some states

The downside to this fact is that people without experience can parade as top home builders, when in reality they are usually general contractors looking to make extra commissions on a deal. So, you shouldn’t accept any builder’s claims until you have verified them, and you have investigated their prior projects and resume.

Find a custom home builder in Texas through referral

If it is possible for you, this is hands-down the best way to hire a custom builder in Texas, or anywhere for that matter. 

If you don’t know anyone who has a referral to a builder in your desired area, you might spend some time knocking on doors.  Find attractive homes in the area and ask the owners who they would recommend.  

Find a custom home builder in Texas using the internet

You can find great builders on the internet as long as you know what to look for, and how to filter candidates.  There are rules to follow when using the internet to find your builder: 

Rule no. 1: Make your search as detailed as possible

Instead of searching for “Dallas custom home builders,” try searching for “award-winning custom home builders in DFW” or “Best custom home builders in North Dallas” (or any area you are interested in). Be specific about the location and caliber of expertise you want to build your home.

Be prepared to review dozens, if not hundreds, of companies who will show up in your search results for Dallas and Fort Worth, and other surrounding areas.

Rule no. 2: Filter by reviews and ratings

Reviews and ratings are good indicators of expertise and experience.  Start by ranking candidates based on their online reviews.  Try to narrow your list of potential builders to the top 10 companies through this process, then be prepared to dig deep to verify the reviews and ratings as well as other details about the prospective builder.

Rule no. 3: Investigate thoroughly

Trim the list of prospective builders to your top two or three by conducting extensive internet research and contacting them directly via their website or phone. Look for responsiveness, organization, and a physical address. 

If a builder responds within 24 hours of sending an inquiry, they are likely available to work, or provide great customer service, or both. 

Also, pay attention to custom builders with a physical office.  Although not absolutely necessary, having a formal office lends a degree of legitimacy and implied stability to a prospective company.

Online research tip:

Do as much research as possible to assess each builder’s experience, portfolio, team strength, communication style, values, industry reputation, and reach. If the builder checks all the boxes impressively, you should consider hiring them.

Helpful hint for reaching out:

Call the builder’s office or fill out the “Contact Us” form on their website. The communication that follows will give you a sense of their team’s responsiveness, professionalism, and eagerness to assist you.

Making the Final Decision

This will be the most time-consuming but vital element of the hiring process. You should organize a face-to-face appointment with each builder and ask to see a completed home or visit a current job site with them.

A face-to-face meeting will allow you to evaluate:

  • If their procedures and processes are organized, effective, and transparent
  • Their team’s strength and relevant experience
  • The builder’s communication style and personality

Visiting a worksite will help you evaluate:

  • If their construction and finishes are of high quality
  • Professionalism, cleanliness and safety precautions on the jobsite
  • How informed and hands-on the builder is with their clients and projects

Other indicators of the caliber of builder you are interviewing:

  • Are they on time for meetings, fast to reply, well-organized, and have sound business judgment?
  • Do you have the impression that you are their valued customer and a top priority?
  • Are they willing to provide detailed answers and clarifications to all of your questions?
  • Do they disclose any concerns openly and transparently while also suggesting workarounds?
  • Pre-construction services – An expert custom home builder will provide you with a full cost estimate (several pages that cover everything – even the brands used) for a fee. Pre-construction services such as this take time, so it is reasonable that a professional, established builder would want to be paid for their time. Not charging for such services may be a red flag. The builder may be either inexperienced and don’t know their worth, or they may be trying to make it too easy for you to commit to them because they don’t have clients.
  • Check to see whether they have insurance to cover workplace hazards and accidents. This cannot be overemphasized as construction comes with a high degree of accident risk. If the builder does not have liability protection in the form of insurance covering their workforce, then you may be held accountable for damages, medical costs, missed payments and even lost wages.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any allegations or complaints have been filed against the builder.  Keep in mind that companies can change their names easily and often, so ask if they’ve previously done business under other names, as well. 

Digging Deeper – Top 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Custom Home Builder

  1. Do you have experience building the style and quality of home that I want?

While this may seem to be an obvious question, be sure to ask it and ask for specific examples of their work.

This question is vital because each house style has unique challenges, so it is better to hire a custom builder with in-depth experience building the house style you want. You want to be confident that your builder knows how to deliver a finished home without cutting corners or trying something new.

And if possible, ask for a walk-through of a completed project or ongoing construction of your style of house.

  1. Do you have an estimating process?

Most experienced builders will provide a preliminary estimate for the cost of your finished home, based on historical hard costs and current market trends.  One such example is the price contrast between the pre-Covid years (historical data) and the Covid years (current trend). 

Later, they will provide you with a detailed budget estimate which is prepared after the house plan and specs are completed.  As this estimate will be based on bids from suppliers, you should ensure that your builder obtains multiple bids from reputable vendors for each cost component at this stage of the estimation process.

  1. How long will it take to get an estimate for my home?

When shopping for a custom builder, you will contact different builders and ask for the same information for comparison. This is an opportunity to measure availability based on response time. 

You should ask the builders on your interview list for a timeframe to provide an estimate for your home. 

Builders that are swamped with work may give a long turnaround time, which could be an indication that the builder may not have time to get involved in the details with you or pay specific attention to your project. However, it can also indicate that the builder is in demand due to the high quality of their work. 

If you believe this to be the case, and you’re interested in hiring the builder, you can ask for their work calendar to manage a timeframe that works for both of you.

  1. Do you charge a fee for your pre-construction services?

This question is important to understand if you will be charged up-front for certain services, or if there will be an add-on cost during the construction phase. 

Pre-construction services are quite tasking and time-consuming, because a builder has to pore over the details of your house plan to identify cost-saving opportunities, review quotes from suppliers, and more. 

Every part of this process requires time and focus, so you should expect a fee for this service. 

Tip: Request pre-construction services when you’re satisfied with the builder’s portfolio, reviews, and response to interview questions.

  1. What is your project management-communication process; how will my requests, concerns, and questions be handled during construction?

During construction, you may observe house features that don’t fit your style or wish to add a specific feature to improve aesthetics. 

If your request takes the project outside the scope of work agreed upon, the builder’s project management process will help you understand if in-project changes are allowed and how such changes will be handled. 

A good home builder should have a process to accommodate requested changes, although they may add extra cost.

  1. Will my project be under direct supervision or assigned to another builder during construction?

Most custom home builders work as an organization, with multiple team members on-staff. As such, several people within the organization may handle the actual construction of their homes in process. So, your project may be managed by another builder on the team, different from the person you are interviewing.

There shouldn’t be issues if both builders are on the same team, but it is better for the builder in charge of costing and pre-construction preparation to manage the construction process. This way, you can be confident that the builder understands your vision from the beginning, and can deliver the vision you both agreed upon.

  1. How long do you expect the construction of this home to last?

After you are satisfied with the builder’s projected cost of building your custom home, you should ask about the timeframe. You want to know when you can move into your home and plan your transition accordingly. 

The response will vary based on the size and detail of your home, and it can take anywhere between 6 – 24 months to complete a custom home. 

Also, ask about the builder’s process for managing challenges during a project. Challenges could include a change to your home’s features, a shortage of materials, an on-site accident, etc. 

A good builder should have a process for handling such challenges with the agreed project completion date in mind.

  1. Do you offer cost-plus or fixed-price contracts?

To put things in perspective, let’s define these contract types:

A fixed-price contract means that a price for products and services has been determined and your pricing will remain constant, independent of actual production costs.

Cost-plus pricing refers to a contract in which the price is based on the actual cost of production, plus an agreed-upon profit or fee.

Each model comes with its own set of risks and rewards for both buyers and sellers. Some builders offer fixed pricing contracts when they can make cost predictions with accuracy and the outcome is defined, while other builders use cost-plus pricing because it mitigates their risk, and it is simple to understand and calculate.

  1. Do you have a work portfolio and customer references?

You should expect the builder to put their best foot forward by providing references. If they are not offered you should definitely request them, and specifically ask for clients who built a house similar to your design.

The builder may have to reach out to their past customers to get permission to share their information. However, if there is a hesitation to share references, consider it a red flag. 

  1. Finally, contact the references!

Make sure you contact the references provided by the builder. Expectedly, the references will be clientele who had a good experience with the builder. Still, these chats can be useful in determining the builder’s strengths and flaws.

Questions to ask your references include:

  • Did you have a good time working with this builder?
  • What do you think their strengths are?
  • Were they able to complete your project on time? If not, what were the causes of the delays?
  • Was the builder’s schedule communicated clearly?
  • Did the builder implement requests promptly?
  • Were you satisfied with your initial budget estimate?
  • How accurate were the builder’s budget estimates?
  • Was the project completed on time and within budget? What were the causes of the overages?
  • Did the builder make the costs clear and transparent?
  • How did the builder handle tense situations?
  • What role did the builder play after the project got underway?
  • Who worked on your project specifically? 
  • Who would you hire if you had the opportunity to build another custom home?
  • Was the project tidy and well-organized?
  • Were there any subcontractors on your project that you would strongly advise against or strongly recommend?
  • Since you moved in, how has the builder handled warranty issues?
  • Would you choose this builder again if you were building a new home?

General Contractors vs. Custom Home Builders 

The roles of a general contractor and a custom home builder are similar, but fundamentally different. 

As the title implies, a general contractor is responsible for the general management of the many sub-contractors or vendors working on a building project.

Simply put, a general contractor is the traditional team lead. They put together the team needed for a project, supervise the building process and ensure it meets your specification.

By contrast, a custom home builder is usually a construction business with an organization that specializes in developing and building custom homes from start to finish.

Custom home builders have the experience and capabilities to take on the entire project, from drafting to final finishing (consequently, custom home builders are also referred to as “design-to-build” firms). 

Advantages of working with a custom home builder vs. a general contractor

No subcontractor delays: When you hire a custom home builder, you get the full team for the project. You won’t have to wait for the custom builder to gather a team of subcontractors for the project, and that is a primary advantage of a custom home builder over a general contractor.

No bidding war: Possibly the most mind-numbing and frustrating part of working with a general contractor, rather than a custom home builder, occurs before the project is actually started. 

After the house plan has been approved, a general contractor has to show the plan to different sub-contractors to get bids. This opens the floor for a bidding war, as you and your contractor have to review every bid to ensure it is comprehensive and authentic. 

There is so much paperwork, price cross-checking, background checks, and interviewing involved that it can easily become an overwhelming experience. 

And while this may seem like a good way to control costs, keep in mind that low prices don’t equate to high quality.

By contrast, you won’t have to deal with this process or evaluate bids with a custom home builder. The entire project cost will be made available as soon as the house plan is ready, because the custom home builder will work only with his trusted sub-contractors and knows their prices.

Direct and streamlined communication: Another advantage of working with a custom home builder is simplified communication. As the property owner, you will interface with only the home builder. 

When you want something done or need changes, you simply send an email or put a call in to the builder, who will take action. 

With a general contractor, communication isn’t always streamlined. You may have to juggle communication between your general contractor and subcontractors. However, a general contractor can offer streamlined communication if they have excellent relationships with their subcontractors, so you must look closely at their customer reviews and contact their referrals to verify they communicate well.

Better Quality: With a custom home builder, the construction process works smoothly and more efficiently. A team of custom home builders will likely work seamlessly compared to a team put together for a project by a general contractor.

If you’ve led a group or party at any level or industry, you will understand the initial challenges an ad-hoc team faces in the beginning. So it follows that a team of custom builders will work better and produce excellent results faster because of their close work experience.

Red Flags to Check For When Choosing a Custom Home Builder

We have discussed the positive qualities to look for in a builder at length. Now, let’s specifically take a look at the red flags to check for when choosing a custom home builder:

1. They are unwilling or unable to answer your inquiries: If a builder is unable to answer your questions or unwilling to share information about cost, delivery timeframe or process, these are indicators that they don’t have the knowledge needed, or they are not sufficiently organized (or worse – might be a shady operation).

Whatever the cause, don’t use an unresponsive builder that avoids vital questions. You should be able to ask questions about anything concerning the service delivery.

2. They are late for meetings and take a long time to answer you: This is an indication that their priorities are elsewhere. You may be better off working with another builder if your preferred builder does not give you the attention you need. 

3. They always recommend cheaper materials: This could be a red flag depending on your perspective. Sometimes, a custom builder will recommend more affordable alternatives for a project because the client is overly cost-conscious. 

If that is not the case for you, then such behavior is a red flag. Your builder should provide the best materials that will make your home stand the test of time, and only look at cheaper materials if they offer better or different benefits.

4. They provide you with free quotations and hazy, one-page estimations: Nothing beats a comprehensive breakdown to show what is being purchased and the price. Anything short of a detailed quotation is suspicious. 

A good builder will take the time to explain costs because they understand that finance is a sensitive part of the business. You want to be confident that your builder has your interest at heart.

5. Their prices are out of line with other builders: Most builders source their materials from the same manufacturers or tap into the same labor community when hiring subcontractors or workers. 

So, the price differences between quotes shouldn’t be outrageous. If you find a really low quote (low-ball offer) compared to others, it is possible that the builder will cut corners to meet the cost, or perhaps they are using the quote as bait to get you to the discussion table. 

The latter is understandable, but you shouldn’t agree to work with a builder who will cut corners to meet a quote. 

6. They request a deposit or retainer above 10%: This is a sign that they may not have many clients or aren’t doing well. A deposit is only a security measure and, unless special circumstances merit, should rarely exceed 10%.

7. They are pushing for a commitment without showing sufficient proof of work or building trust: If you feel pressured by the builder to make a financial commitment, this is a red flag.

A well-established and highly regarded custom home builder will have plenty of business in their market, thus will not need to use pressure tactics to make sales.

8. Your “gut feeling” disagrees: “Gut feeling” is an important factor in human relationships, business, and decision-making in general.

A gut feeling can be described as your 6th sense. If something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right.

If a builder checks all the boxes on your hiring checklist, but you still feel a level of uneasiness hiring them, you should step away from the deal for a while to reassess the situation. 

Conclusion 

This guide is based on our experiences through the process of choosing a builder, so feel free to add your own criteria or requirements to your personal list to help you make the best choice possible. Building a custom home is possibly a lifetime commitment, so you want everything done right. And, if you decide to sell in the future, you want your home to be built well so that it holds value and sells as quickly as possible. 

Start your journey to a great home by choosing an experienced builder who meets or exceeds all of your requirements.

There you have it—a comprehensive checklist for choosing an experienced and affordable Dallas custom home builder. Of course, you can use this information anywhere in the country and around the world. 

Building a new home comes with all kinds of costs, some expected and some unexpected. These costs start to show when you’re in the early design phase of building your house, and will grow as you begin to add more features. 

Recognize at the outset that builders may offer a “customizable” home by offering upgrades to the basic features of their standard house plans.  Implicit in each upgrade is an upcharge. In the interest of helping all new home customers save money, we’ve compiled a few areas to consider, particularly in the early design stage.

Paint

As part of their initial cost offering, builders will usually offer a template of various neutral paint colors. These are typically referred to as “level 1” paints and will almost always be included in the cost of the house.

However, builders will may also provide other options for paints that will cost additional money. These options are usually referred to as “level 2” and above. Choosing upgraded paints can run up costs significantly.  There may not only be an additional cost for the upgraded color itself, but there may also be an additional charge for the labor to apply your unique color choice.

Repainting is relatively easy, and can be done at any time. If you want to save your building budget for other upgrades, consider going with the level 1 paint options offered by your builder and repainting later, on your own schedule and with your own paint choices.

Carpet and Flooring

Similar to the paint component mentioned above, builders will customarily offer options for carpet and flooring in a system of levels. With flooring options, level one will almost always be a least-expensive carpet option.

As with paints, flooring can easily be upgraded at any time. If budget is an issue, you can go with the builder’s low-cost option and make changes later- often for less cost than what the builder would have charged for similar upgrades. 

Granite Upgrades

Granite features will often be offered as an upgrade to standard materials. An interesting point to note here is that the difference in finished look and quality between the various levels of granite offered is not entirely noticeable to most people.  And, realtors will typically agree that it doesn’t matter so much what “level” of granite fixtures you choose.

Upgrading to any level of granite over standard materials might be a good choice up front, as upgrading later is not as simple as repainting or upgrading your carpet, and involves tearing out existing counter tops and fixtures.

Lighting Fixtures

Upgrading your lighting fixtures can be a great improvement to the overall aesthetic of your custom home, but can also be very expensive. As with other upgrade options, if budget is an issue, remember that you can always go with a lower-cost option now and then do your own upgrades in the future.

Having said that, there are a few cases where it can be better to upgrade lighting fixtures during the initial construction with the builders. These are cases where it may be difficult to upgrade certain fixtures yourself due to their complexity, or if they are relatively inaccessible after construction is complete.

Appliances

Pay close attention to which appliances are included in the cost of your home, and the cost of any upgrades offered.

Be sure to compare the costs of any upgraded appliances through your builder to those same or similar appliances available at stores where you could purchase them yourself. The cost difference can be huge, and may be the difference between spending $5,000 or $1,400 on a refrigerator, for example.

It is almost always more cost-efficient to purchase and install upgraded appliances on your own. 

Elevation

Elevation typically refers to the structural design for the exterior of your home, and changes can be very costly.

However, some elevation options such as larger windows, which allow more natural light into the interior, may be worth paying for during construction as they can be costly- and maybe impossible- to change later.

In other cases where the elevation choices are merely cosmetic, consider carefully whether it is worth spending the extra thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands of dollars, understanding that these choices may not be adding any real value to the livability of your home or resale value.

Like this article? You can read more here.

Every week thousands of people across the nation are searching the web for information on moving to Dallas and the North Texas area in general. Companies and individuals are moving here in droves due to our booming economy, laissez-faire government, low taxes and central geographic location.

Those who land on our blog are clearly contemplating building rather than buying a home here.  And while people read our articles for all kinds of related information, all of our readers want to know the same thing: 

How much does it cost to build a custom home in or around Dallas?

Whether you’re here because you can’t find an existing home to buy, or because you’re truly passionate about building your own custom dream home, understanding the process is essential to understanding the costs.

So, we decided to provide you with this comprehensive review of the costs, complexities, and inherent risks in building a custom home in Dallas or anywhere in North Texas.

Overview

Texas is a great place to build and live. There are practically limitless opportunities to develop private property, including building a custom home, in the state’s demanding but lucrative housing market.

According to current reports, formalized in a December study by Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center, the number of existing homes available for purchase in the Texas market is at a historical low. Homes are being sold as soon as they are listed, often at above-listed prices, creating scarcity and making new customers bid for a limited number of available homes. 

At the same time, there has been a surge in demand for new, custom-built homes. The Texas A&M analysis further revealed that Texas has experienced a steady increase in applications and approvals for single-family building permits. The state’s five largest cities approved 11,818 permit applications in October 2020 alone (the most current month measured in the study).

In other words, you will be in competition with many others desiring to build a custom home, well into 2021 and beyond.

When you plan for building in 2021, be aware of the Covid pandemic’s increasing ripple effects on supply chains and the construction industry in general. For example, last fall, supply chain problems caused the price of lumber in Texas to nearly triple until a tariff was imposed to restore equilibrium. However, current prices remain at historical highs, and if unpredictable price spikes occur, thorough analysis of pricing options and a flexible building plan are your best protection against overpaying.

With all of this taken into consideration, this article reviews the possible costs of building a new home in Dallas, covering every aspect of the building process and the information you will need.  Bear in mind that the following analysis and suggested costs are an attempt to capture “average” costs of “average” new houses being built in Dallas and North Texas in general. Your individual preferences and budget for your custom home design will determine final costs.

Land Prices in Texas

Before you start to design your custom home, you need to know where your property will be located, because location will affect both the overall price of your custom home as well as the flexibility you have in your house design.

On average, a 0.25-acre of land should be enough to build a family home with room for a garage, garden, and lawn space. 

You must check with the community in your preferred location to know the restrictions and allowances for building a family home, as many communities today are creating rules for lot size, building specifications, and usage to protect their community and maintain aesthetics. 

As with many metropolitan areas, the average cost of land in and around Dallas (and Fort Worth, its twin-city 30 minutes west) varies widely by location.  You can expect to spend anywhere between $2500 – $3,000 per acre for undeveloped land around the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  However, in areas where development has already started, land cost may be much, much higher.

Just two years ago, the median price for an acre was $2411, inferring that land costs are rising over 10% each year.

When buying land, keep in mind that there are two types of plots:

  1. Subdivided lots

A subdivided lot is a larger piece of land that has been subdivided into smaller lots by an individual or developer. As this category of land is intended for development, you may find amenities associated with  the property, such as highways or other infrastructure, shared community facilities like pools, parks and playgrounds, or a gated security entrance to the development.

A subdivided lot is registered at the county level, and it may be subject to deed limitations or a Home Owners Association (HOA) – more on home owners associations later.

  1. Unplatted or undeveloped land

Compared to subdivided lots, an unplatted property is usually less expensive per acre, but more expensive to build on. This is primarily due to the sizable costs you will incur for grading, infrastructure, driveways, utilities, etc.

Choosing a House Plan

Once you’ve chosen your location, you can choose your home’s design and specifications. As you do, don’t overlook the following considerations:

Budget

Note that we discuss specific costs to help you calculate your budget in the sections below.

While this is the exciting part of building a custom home because you get to decide the look and feel of your design, it is important to make the decision with your budget in view. 

If you don’t correctly forecast your budget, loan financing, and the total cost of building a particular house style, with all of your specific upgrades and amenities, you may outstrip your resources to finance the project. 

Restrictions and Limitations

Another consideration before choosing a house plan is the restrictions that may be imposed by deed and by any property owners associations your land may be subject to.  

  • Deed limitations

A deed may contain restrictions on  how you can use your land. Deed limits will control what you can and cannot do on your property, as well as what you can build on it. 

  • Property Owners or Home Owners Associations limitations

If applicable in your home’s location, a property owners association (usually the Home Owners Association or HOA for short) in your neighborhood may play a huge role with additional regulations, usually found in the association’s bylaws. Over the last 40 years, the influence of Home Owners Associations across America has skyrocketed, and this is true in Texas. It is estimated that 75 million residents in the United States live in areas governed by HOAs, which have  building standards and rules which are created maintain the character of the community, and which homeowners are legally obligated to follow.

Costs by House Type 

Unless you’ve got a rich budget and an exceptional architect, at the end of the day your custom-built home will be based off of one of the following styles of houses.  And, while all of the home styles detailed below offer endless possibilities for customization, it pays to keep your design in-line with conventional standards if are concerned about resale value. Extreme designs appeal to fewer potential buyers, while more conventional designs appeal to more potential buyers.

With that in mind, let’s review the top 7 types of house plans in Texas.

Top 7 Types of House Plans in Texas

1. Ranch-style house

Texas is known as the Cowboy Capital of the World, so it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular house styles in the state is the  “Ranch” style house. 

The ranch-style house, which dates back to 1932, rose in popularity during the 1950s and 1960s and is still popular today. Ranch architecture is characterized by a (typically) straightforward, single-story floor plan, low-to-the-ground appearance, and an open structure design.

Ranch-style homes stand out with a low-pitched roof and (usually) an attached garage.  In Texas, their yard size is limited only by the number of acres the owner can afford. Modern variations of these homes promote an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, with wide windows and sliding glass door designs. 

While ranch-style homes in other parts of the country often have basements, here in Texas that is not typically the case.  We would ascribe this to a) the high cost of excavating our rocky land to create the space for a basement, and b) the general availability of larger land lots, allowing us to expand our living space horizontally rather than vertically.

When you build a ranch-style home, you are automatically creating an in-demand property. Real estate sales data shows that ranch-style houses are popular and have the highest sale-to-list ratio in several markets including Texas, Virginia, Portland, Phoenix, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Diego. Translation: a ranch-style house is more likely to sell above the listed price in Texas.

To summarize, here are the typical characteristics of a ranch-style house in Texas:

  • Single story
  • Open concept floor plan
  • Rectangular, “U,” or “L”-shaped
  • Devoted patio or deck space
  • Large windows and sliding glass doors
  • Low-pitched roofline with wide eaves
  • Often features an attached garage

Ranch Houses Come in Five Varieties

While most ranch houses share similarities, there are some details that can set them apart. Here are several distinct ranch-style designs that cater to various homeowner preferences:

California Ranch

The California ranch, also known as a rambling ranch, is distinguished by an L- or U-shaped frame constructed low to the earth. This sprawling, single-story architecture is meant to fit in with nature. The California ranch has a pool and a front garden. (Related: Aged people, 50 and above, prefer California ranch-style homes because they are low to the ground and easily accessible.)

Suburban Ranch

While similar to the California ranch with its L or U shape and open-floor style, the suburban ranch is more streamlined and asymmetrical in form. Also, it comes with a garage and a courtyard.

Split-level ranch

The exterior of the split-level ranch is similar to that of the suburban ranch, but it has two floors of sprawling living space. A split-level ranch house has a front door that leads into the living, dining, and kitchen spaces. Also, they have half-flights of stairs that lead to bedrooms and additional living space.

Raised Ranch

Like the split-level ranch, the raised ranch has multiple  levels of living space but with a distinct style. The raised ranch’s front door opens directly to a staircase that leads upstairs, with the kitchen and bedrooms usually on the upper floor.

Storybook Ranch

The storybook ranch is distinguished from other ranch types by its ornate features. This architecture includes diamond-shaped window panes, decorative brick or stone chimneys, and a steep, gabled roof.

The cost of building a Ranch-style house in Dallas, Texas

A ranch-style home in Texas costs the same as most house styles. You can expect to spend between $100 and $200 per square foot on average. At the low end of the price range, ranch-style homes are simply one-story houses, with low-to-the-ground profiles and easy access from multiple sides of the property. However, sprawling ranch homes tend toward the high end of the price range, with larger-than-average footprints which cost more primarily because of the additional foundation costs.

2. Craftsman-style house

Late-nineteenth-century Victorian homes were designed to showcase American engineering advancements and industrial invention with their over-the-top detailing. By contrast, the Craftsman revolution that followed was a direct counter-response, favoring hand-made products and buildings over mass-produced goods. 

At the turn of the twentieth century, the American Craftsman architecture movement evolved from the British Arts and Crafts movement, which evolved as a similar reaction to Europe’s Industrial Revolution (viewed by many as devaluing human labor).

Craftsman-style homes share many characteristics that make them easily identifiable, and they are as common today as they were more than a century ago. In contrast to Victorian-style homes, Craftsman houses prioritize horizontal lines, with low-pitched gable (triangular) roofs that extend beyond the home’s outer walls, sometimes revealing the beams. 

Craftsman houses adopt an artisanal approach to surface decoration, fusing hand-made local materials with architectural features such as brackets, lintels, and rafters.

The over-extended eaves of Craftsman roofs allow for large porches on the front of houses with tall, tapered columns across the perimeter. The exteriors of these homes were mostly painted wood cladding; however, stucco or stone accents were used very often as well—the general theme was an emphasis on earthy tones.

The interiors of Craftsman homes are as distinctive and essential to the designer as the exteriors. Craftsman homes use wood for designs, from the thick trim around doors and windows, squared beams around the roof, built-in bookshelves, and window seats. Other prominent features include a fireplace (or two). 

The cost of building a Craftsman-style house in Dallas, Texas

The national average for building a craftsman-style home is between $125,500 and $345,000, which is in-line with Texas. Size and choice of building materials drive price.

3. Contemporary-style house

Simply put, contemporary homes embody today’s architectural standards. The contemporary house design is a response to the ever-changing architectural trends of the twenty-first century.

Most contemporary homes have a minimalist feel about them, with architectural cues from postmodernism and deconstructivism mixed in good measure. Unlike other house styles, contemporary homes emphasize the quality and effect of the construction material on nature. 

There is a strong focus on renewable and natural materials – using recycled materials to build furniture or a container-home, for example.

Contemporary homes are popular because they incorporate nature and defy conventional architectural styles. Historically, the latest architectural style is usually the opposite of its predecessor. For example, the simplicity of Craftsman homes contrasts sharply with the over-opulence of the Victorian period that preceded it.

However, contemporary architecture does not follow this pattern. In reality, this style takes after its predecessor, modern-style architecture, in many ways. It took what worked, as shown by the reliance on clear, basic lines and a link to nature, and corrected what didn’t. Contemporary homes have a warmer design than modern-style houses.

Features of contemporary interior design:

Clear lines: The interior design, like the exterior, has prominent, clear lines. The furniture is constructed from a variety of geometric forms and recycled materials. There can be boxed furniture and round seats in the same room. 

Minimal decor: Contemporary-style design follows a minimalist and practical approach. That means only useful furniture or features are used. As a result, contemporary rooms look larger when plain.

Simple decoration: Contemporary homes use one or two pieces of artwork to create a focal point in each room. The walls are kept bare so that they don’t obstruct the space or detract from the natural landscape seen through the windows.

Neutral colors: The color palette of contemporary rooms is limited. Walls and furniture are usually beige, cream, black, or green. To add contrast, one or two objects in each room can have a pop of color.

The cost of building a Contemporary-style home in Dallas, Texas

From this brief description of details, it is clear that contemporary homes are unique and require specialized skills in both design and construction. Consequently, they are more expensive to build than a traditional American home. In this category we are not able to provide a reliable price range due to the subjective nature of the designs and their associated pricing, but you can expect to pay 25% – 50% more for a Contemporary-style house vs. a traditional house design.

4. Modern-style house designs

The modern style arose in reaction to the late-nineteenth-century Victorian architecture, which was overly ornate, cluttered, and fancy. Compared to Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco homes, modernist-style homes had a distinct lack of decoration and flair. 

These types of homes have a precise horizontal composition, wide-open floor plans, deliberate asymmetry, and large expanses of glass windows or glass walls. The goal here is to build a simpler home with an emphasis on functional features to eliminate needless parts and furniture. Consequently, modern-style homes are spacious and great for living. 

Like contemporary homes, modern-style homes merge the inside and outside with ground-to-ceiling windows, open spaces, and manicured exterior to improve the view. Nature lovers will enjoy a modern-style home because of its minimalist approach and nature integration.

The cost of building a Modern-style home in Dallas, Texas

The cost of a Modern house design built in Texas, with vast expanses of ground-to-ceiling glass and many different floor plans available, ranges from roughly $750,000 to $15 million or more. This wide range in cost can be attributed to the wide-ranging prices of the land/location opportunities available in different areas, the square footage desired, and the complexity of each unique design.

5. Cape Cod style homes

A Cape Cod house could be described as a traditional American cottage, as these charming and simplistic designs are recognized as symbolic American homes. 

Although they can be scaled to any size, Cape Cods are typically just the right size for an average American family. These types of homes are easy to heat and decorate. 

This popular American house style takes its name from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The origin of the Cape Cod-style is traced to the time of the first Puritan settlers. Cape Cod was an adaptation of the concept of an English cottage, tailored to suit America’s climate.

For example, the symmetrical architecture centered on an expansive, open living room – or “hall”- is English in origin. 

Cape Cod homes use steep roofs, originally to reduce the weight of snow in winter, while the characteristic low ceilings save heat, and the unique shutters keep out cold winter winds.  While they are not common in Texas, they stand out when done well.

Characteristics of a Cape Cod-style home

Cape Cod homes have a few distinguishing characteristics that make them stand out:

Exterior

  • Symmetrical look with a centered front entry
  • Roofs have a steep pitch, side gables, and an overhang
  • Dormers with gables
  • Shutters on double-hung windows
  • Siding made of shingles
  • Chimneys that are centralized
  • Simple exterior decoration

Interior

  • One or two story designs 
  • Ceilings that are low
  • A symmetrical plan with a central hall
  • Large, open-plan living area
  • Bedrooms in dormers or underneath eaves
  • There are few aesthetic details and the lines are clean

 The cost of building a Cape Cod-style house in Dallas, Texas

The cost to build a Cape Cod in Texas ranges between $163,000 and $326,000. As with other designs, size, finishes and additional amenities drive price.

6. Colonial-style homes

The history of American Colonial architecture is somewhat self-explanatory: it emerged as a standard house style in the American colonies under colonial rule (the 1600s to mid-1700s). There are examples of Spanish, French, Dutch, and British Colonial architecture in the United States, as immigrants from many of those nations lived in various areas of what is now the United States for different lengths of time.

Traditional American Colonial homes are generally simple in design. Brick and wood are the usual building materials, and they are rectangular, usually two stories, and somewhat symmetrical. The size and dimension of the roof determine the overall appearance of an American colonial home. Typically, American-style homes have steep, side-gabled roofs, and you can only see the triangular part of the roof from the sides. When you view from the front entrance, you only see shingles.

The cost of building a Colonial-style home in Dallas, Texas

Based on the features of this home style, you can assume  that it will be less expensive to build than some other popular designs. That said, you can expect to spend from $140 to  $300 per square foot to build a classic American Colonial home. The choice of material and finishes determine the final cost.

7. Tudor-style homes

For the last century and a half, many Americans have been drawn to the dramatic, romantic, old-world feel of Tudor homes. You don’t have to be a design expert to recognize a Tudor home. Their distinctive gothic appearance separates them from other more symmetrical, lighter, and modern styles. 

Tudor houses come in a variety of sizes. Smaller Tudor homes have a cozy, fairy tale, storybook look, while larger Tudors reflect the charming ideal of an English country manor.

Tudor homes are built with expensive materials, solid masonry, and decorative features. Consequently, they are costly to construct and are often found in affluent suburbs or estates.

Characteristics of Tudor-style homes

Unique windows: Tudor house windows pay a rare homage to medieval architecture. Windows are tall and small, with several panes that may be rectangular or diamond-shaped. The windows are usually colored.

Triangular front door: The front door is an essential architectural feature on Tudor houses. They usually have a triangular arch at the top and are surrounded by a colored stone that contrasts with the brick walls. Finally, Tudor chimneys are another noteworthy feature; they are designed to be striking visually and to improve the home’s appeal from both inside and out

The cost of building a Tudor-style home in Dallas, Texas

While there is no specific range for the costs to build a Tudor-style home, it is generally accepted that Tudor homes are more expensive than other house designs in America. 

In general, you can expect to  pay anywhere from  $50 to $155 extra per square foot than the standard  rates for a traditional-style home in your area. The increased costs are due to the expensive nature of architectural elements of a Tudor home, which are all custom-made by skilled craftsmen.

General Cost Estimates for Each Stage of Building a New Home in Dallas, Texas

Building a new home requires wearing many hats; you have to know a bit about design, furniture, finishing, and construction. But the primary concern will always be the cost of building. You are going to pay for the whole thing, so you should have an idea of what it should cost. 

If you choose to work with a custom home builder or construction firm, you will have a dedicated project manager who will outline the cost of each project stage.

Note that you should add a “buffer” of around 10% of the cost of each of the following stages, for unexpected changes or cost overruns.

Cost of House Plans and Permits

  • House Plans

You can expect to spend anywhere between $2,000 and $8,000 for a standard house plan, and far more for custom, elaborate designs. In fact we know several owners who paid over $100,000 for full custom plans for larger, elaborate home designs.  

A consultation with a qualified architect will provide you with an accurate estimate for the cost of your desired house plan, and as with most hired professionals involved in the building of your custom home, the best way to get an architect is through referral. 

Keep in mind also that you can find a variety of home design companies on the internet. Use history, reviews, and pricing to filter through the thousands of providers available.

You will need the following professionals to build and finish your home:

Architects: $130-$250 per hour

Engineers: $100-$150 per hour

Custom Home Builder or General Contractor: 10%-20% of the total project cost

Interior Designer: $50-$200 per hour

A word of advice: Allow your architect and contractor to collaborate on the house design, to ensure that your architect does not design anything unachievable or prohibitively costly to build.

  • Building Permits

Once you have selected your home style and design, and before you can begin construction, you must secure all necessary permits. According to HomeAdvisor, the average person spends $1,200-2,000 on permits and fees while building a home in Texas; however, prices can vary greatly based on local regulations.

Usually, you need a house plan to apply for a building permit. It takes around 11 weeks currently  to get a building permit in Dallas. Based on the permit application phases published by Dallas City Hall, you will go through a pre-screen, plan review, and application approval stages. 

The first stage is a preliminary check to ensure that the plans are formatted correctly, and all documents have been submitted. 

In the second stage, plan review, your plan will be reviewed based on the Dallas Development Code or the building codes of the city of your location.

In the third stage, your permit is issued once your plan has been approved and any outstanding fees/debts are cleared.

Permits are normally valid for the length of time it takes to finish constructing your home.

While the process of getting permits may seem overwhelming, it is a necessary step that cannot be overlooked or avoided. Homeowners who don’t have a building permit face steep fees, denial of insurance coverage, or even demolition.

Aside from the penalties, there is an even more critical justification to secure permits: your well-being and safety.

Municipalities require permits to ensure that homes are in compliance with current building codes. In Texas, these codes prohibit residents from constructing homes which might be unsafe or unsuitable for the standards of the area.

Construction Phases and Average Costs 

  • Planning phase – budget $18,000

Before you can start building, you need to survey the land, get a house plan, and obtain a building permit. Each step costs a significant amount of money, and you should budget around  $18,000 for this stage of the project.

The biggest expense here is the fees for obtaining a construction permit. Based on the current fee structure, you will be charged $0.004 per square foot for site plan review and $0.012 per square foot of building area for the plan review. 

Next on the list are the fees for sewer and water inspections, which can cost up to $4000. 

Also, if you purchased unplatted land, you may need to do excavation work which will require a special excavation permit.

Finally, be aware that the government could bill you as much as $2,000 (or more) as impact tax, which pays for public facilities such as bridges, parks, and water treatment, dependent on your location.

For a detailed cost breakdown of required permits, visit Dallas City Hall’s website.

In summary, for site preparation, survey, and house plan design (architectural design), you can expect to spend $18,000 or more. 

  • Foundation phase – budget $35,000 

The real fun starts with the foundation work. This is the stage where you break ground on your new home. Excavation or ground-breaking requires heavy-duty machinery and skilled operators to ensure that the land is level before laying the foundation of your home. 

While the size of your home’s floor plan may cause this cost to be higher, the average home budget for this phase is around $35,000.

Also, keep in mind that excavation costs may skyrocket if large rocks are discovered underneath your plot of land, which is common in many parts of Texas.

  • Home framing phase – budget $52,000 and expect to pay more

Prepare to be surprised. The frame of your house will be one of the most expensive items in your house-building budget, usually only surpassed by interior design cost. This stage can cost as much as $41,000 or more for a standard house of 2,500 square feet.

If the woodwork for the roof is not included in the cost of building the roof, you will need to add at least $6,000 to the framing budget. 

After the frame of the house is in position, you have to spend another $3000 for sheathing. Think of sheaths as the skin that protects the home’s frame. And, if you add aluminum or steel components, the framing costs can increase substantially.

Finally, due to the massive amount of lumber required to frame your house and the volatility of lumber prices, be prepared for unexpected cost increases in this phase of construction.

  • Exterior finishes phase – budget $42,000 

The exterior wall has one of the largest surface areas on your property. As such, it will cost a reasonable sum to complete the finishing (estimate for average cost = $19,000). 

Additional exterior finishing includes the installation of doorways, windows, and garage doors. You should expect those expenses to be in the range of $12,000. Roof finishes would cost an additional $10,000. 

  • Major systems installations phase – budget $44,000

In this stage, you will install several systems, including plumbing ($15,000), HVAC ($14,000), and electricity ($14,000). 

  • Interior finishes phase – budget $75,000 

The interior is typically the costliest phase in the construction of a home.  This makes sense, given that you’ll spend most of your time enjoying the inside of your home and the environment you create. 

At this stage, you will choose the finishes based on preference and in accordance with your house style. Do you like the look of granite countertops? Do you prefer hardwood floors? Do you want unique windows? Many such decisions must be made, each with their associated costs.

  • Landscaping and driveway work phase – budget $20,000 

Once the exterior finishes are done, the final phase of development would be focused on the external elements such as landscaping and a driveway ($7,000 each). These also include ancillary structures such as a porch, lawn, or deck (more than $3,000). Also, the final clean-up will cost up to $3,000.

  • Final phase, Miscellaneous Costs – budget $11,000

Aside from the “buffer” sums included at each stage of the construction, you should keep about $11,000 for miscellaneous expenses. These could include unexpected construction challenges, equipment replacement, additional excavation, or any number of other unanticipated costs.

Cost Savings: Do-It-Yourself vs. Hiring a Home Builder

Both your house style and choice of builder will have a tremendous effect on the price you will pay for your custom home in Dallas. If you have the time and the necessary skills, you can save anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 by managing the building of your house. 

Most of the savings come from being your own general contractor. You might as well call this as “payment for the stress” because overseeing construction requires physical and mental grit.

Building an average 2,500-square-foot home takes months, even with an experienced workforce and subcontractors leading the charge. If you choose to build independently, you will need to consider the nuances of planning, building codes, and coordinating trades and schedules. 

Unless you absolutely must reduce your costs, we strongly recommend using a custom home builder, or at the very least using a general contractor for the building and finishing. 

How long will it take to build a custom home in Texas?

Other things being equal, your house style and complexity will determine the construction time required. A simple, traditional-style house might take 8 to 12 months to complete. However, if you want to stand out in the Dallas architectural scene with a Tudor home, for example, you should expect the construction to take 10 to 16 months to complete. 

If you are wondering why the timeframe is significantly higher than the time posted by conventional builders, it is because those companies use pre-set designs and limited materials options for construction, reducing the overall timeline to completion. 

If you are building a truly custom home, you will need to design the plan from scratch, to your standards, and the customization process will be filled with back-and-forth consultations with your architect, builder and with contractors until you get the final design you want.

Also, building a custom home requires hiring specialists who may have tight schedules which you will have to work around, and which may prolong your construction schedule.

Conclusion

Building a custom home is a challenging but rewarding task. Since cost is a primary deciding factor, we’ve gone over the steps of building and the possible costs involved at each stage. 

It is important to note that there is no standard price for building a custom home, so the budget numbers provided above should only be used as a starting point. Be prepared to spend more, and be happy if you spend less, because the building process – even for similar house styles – is never the same.