Building A Custom Home In Pittsburgh? How To Choose A Good Lot

The Pittsburgh area offers many options in terms of building lots. If you are planning on building a custom home in Pittsburgh there are many things to take into consideration: school district, proximity to the city, shopping areas, or even whether you want to remain close to your work or family.

Choosing the right lot can be a crucial decision in the long-term enjoyment of your home. A custom home is meant to be a “dream home,” a significant investment, and the lot that the home will stand on is a key part of that investment.

Choosing a General Area

This is probably the first and most important step in choosing a lot for a custom home. The the greater Pittsburgh area and its surround counties offer many options with plenty of sites to consider when building your dream home. If you have, or are planning to have children, school district is also something to consider. There are plenty of online resources available to research local school districts.

When choosing a home site, be sure to also take into consideration how long you want to commute to your job and to area shopping. Solitude can be peaceful, but you may regret it later if you are spending a few hours a day driving to and from work.

Municipal services are also an important factor in a custom home site. You are going to want to be sure that your home is serviced by a police and fire department, and that water and sewerage lines are available. You also want to be sure that in severe weather, that the local township will be maintaining the roads around your area, otherwise they could be inaccessible.

It is also a wise idea to check local planning office for residential density areas on a map. If a particular area is zoned primarily for commercial use, you run the risk of being surrounded by strip malls and fast food restaurants. Areas that are heavily commercial can bring the property value of your custom home down. The local zoning and planning office is also a good source of information as to any building restrictions there may be in regards to your custom home.

Cost of Land

It is the general recommendation that you spend no more than 20% of the total cost of the house and land on a custom home site. For example, if you have $275,000 to invest in a home, you should spend no more than about $55,000 for the land. There are other costs involved as well, generally referred to as “prepping” the land for building. Some of these costs could include:

  • Tree survey
  • Plot survey
  • Soil testing
  • Lot clearing
  • Septic or sewer design and engineering
  • Distance of home from street
  • Utility tap fees
  • Permitting

It is important to research as much as possible in advance. Knowing exactly what the costs are, as well as the area, will only help you in negotiating a better land deal. Consulting with an experienced Pittsburgh Custom Home Builder can assist you with evaluating your land as well as helping to prep it for your custom dream home.

It’s also important, if possible, to reserve your lot prior to building.  This will ensure you have the exact lot you want, when it’s time to build.


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