Do You Need A 1, 1.5 or 2 Story Home?

When you’re in the market to build a custom home, you’ll have many choices to make. One of these choices is whether to build a 1, 1.5, or 2 story home.


It’s important to weigh your options and consider your future needs. The following will give you some information to consider when designing your home. Continue reading

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.

Mediterranean Inspired Masterpiece in Jefferson Hills

This Pittsburgh Classic could be found in Italy or Greece, but it is a home located on top of a ridge in Jefferson Hills.  This home is just far enough from the road to give it a private feel, while, at the same time, having easy accessibility to major highways, shopping options, and restaurants.  A home with a secluded feel but an easy commute to downtown Pittsburgh is the result.

Mediterranean Style Home

Seven Steps to Successful Home Building- Pittsburgh Home Builders


When building a custom home in Pittsburgh — or anywhere else, for that matter — there are no hard and fast rules that apply across the board. The very nature of a custom home means it is different from others, so the building process often varies from home to home.

With that being said, there are certain steps you can follow to ensure your home building process is a smooth one:

1. Determine Your Budget – Having a custom home built may be the biggest financial decision you ever make. So before you start talking to a builder or looking at lots, you need to determine your budget.

Start by adding up your monthly expenditures. Leave housing out of the equation for now — just focus on food, shopping, lifestyle, car payments, insurance, investments, etc. Compare these figures to your monthly income to see how much of a house payment you might realistically afford.

If you currently own a home, this calculation will be much easier. You simply have to ask yourself, “How much more could I comfortably pay each month for a larger mortgage?”

2. Determine Your Location – When choosing a location for your new home, start with the obvious questions. Is it close to work, school and shopping? Are there major roadways, railroads or other noise-producers nearby? What are the taxes like? How are the school systems? (Quality of schools is important whether or not you have children, because it affects your property values.)

Once you’ve answered the obvious questions, move on to the less-obvious ones: What kind of development is planned for the foreseeable future? Will that beautiful meadow across the street be a parking lot in two years? As of this writing, there’s a lot of development and expansion happening in Pittsburgh so be sure you get a long-range picture of your preferred location.

3. Decide On a Builder – Choosing your custom homebuilder is a major step. Once you’ve established that a builder has a good reputation and a genuine commitment to your happiness, you need to ask the big question: “Does this builder create the kind of home I can see myself in? Does it feel right to me?” Take your time answering these questions and making your ultimate decision.

4. Choose Your Lot – Before you can start looking at floor plans for your new dream home, you need to choose a lot. Floor plans are often dependent on the lot you choose, so the lot usually has to be decided on first.

The reasons for this are sometimes obvious and other times not. Obviously, a longer home will require a longer lot. But there may be other considerations at work. For example, maybe the developer wants to stagger one-story homes and two-story homes throughout the community for overall appeal.

These considerations will vary from builder to builder. For now, just realize that the floor plan will usually depend on the lot you choose. So remember to ask plenty of questions about this along the way.

5. Pick a Floor Plan – One of the great things about a custom home is that it’s, well … custom. Sometimes a custom home builder will offer basic floor plans that you can modify as you wish. Other times, the floor plans are created “from scratch” in coordination with an architect. Either way, you have an opportunity to build a home around your present and future needs.

This step of the process will involve many questions. How much space do you need? How many rooms? One story or two? Any special features, like a 3-car garage? This can often be the most exciting part of the home building process, because it involves turning your vision into a reality.

6. Determine Options – Determine what options or upgrades are desired and fit into the budget.  Review the budget after options have been added and evaluate the totals.  Make any changes.

7. Contract – You are now ready to review your contract and specifications and get any of your questions answered so you are comfortable signing for your new home.

8. Have Fun! – Please Visit the best in Pittsburgh home builders for more info!

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