What's your cost per foot?
This question is usually prefaced with “I know you can’t tell me exactly but what is your approximate or general cost range per foot”? In all fairness, that question is not entirely appropriate for a custom home project and here’s why.
Try to imagine the types of building products and services as a continuum with production homes on one end and custom homes on the other end with build-on-your-lot homes somewhere in the middle. It is a continuum, so there can be a blending of building products and services as you move from left to right.
Production ⇒ Build-On-Your-Lot ⇒ Custom.
On the production end of the continuum, the builder makes most if not all cost related decisions, whereas on the custom end, the customer makes those decisions with guidance by the builder. You are buying a product on one end and paying for a service on the other end. So a more appropriate question for a custom builder would be “what services do you provide and what do you charge for those services?”