5 Things to Know Before Building a Custom Home in Lehigh Valley, Pa

Building a custom home is a very exciting process with your dream home at the finish line. Before you dive right into the process, there are a few considerations about building a custom home that deserve your attention to ensure your experience–and the end result–is even better than you expected. What are a few things you should know before designing and building your custom home in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania?

1. Understand the Custom Home Building Timeline

The custom home-building timeline, from beginning to end, could take up to 3 years. This includes 1 year for the design and pre-construction phases and 1 to 2 years of construction. It's important to note that your custom home-building timeline will differ based on factors such as design, home size, chosen materials, and site preparation. A great home builder will be able to give you a complete breakdown of the custom home building timeline so you’ll know just what to expect before the process is underway. 


2. How Much It Will Cost To Build A Custom Home In Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

On average, it could cost between $200 and $550 per square foot to build a custom home in Lehigh Valley. This is a fairly large range, so it’s good to understand what will determine where in this range your custom home will land. The main components that will determine your custom home cost are: 

  • Grade of finishes
  • Your land
  • Size of your custom home
  • Scope of work

How to Keep Your Budget Under Control

By working with a design-build team, cost-saving is built into the process. Other avenues for keeping your budget under control are:

  • Proper preparation for the design phase
  • Prioritizing needs and wants
  • Mixing luxury and midrange finishes
  • Choose finishes and features that require less labor
  • Choosing the right land for your custom home


3. How Your Lot Will Affect the Cost & Timeline of Your Custom Home 

The choice of land in the Lehigh Valley, whether already owned or yet to be purchased, impacts the timeline, cost, and the construction of your custom home. If you haven't acquired land, consult with a real estate agent to find suitable options. Your builder can also assess potential lots before you make an offer on the lot.

Land Development

Land with challenges like sloping terrain, drainage issues, unsuitable soil, or dense tree growth requires more time and investment for development. However, if the land is in your desired location, the extra time and expenses may be worthwhile. Your builder can assess the land, advise on necessary steps, and provide insights on budget and home design.

Site preparation is crucial for any custom home build. A flat lot with access to public sewer is easier to prepare compared to a tree-covered hillside lot needing an on-site septic system. Tree removal, septic installation, excavation, and geotechnical investigations increase costs and timelines. Moisture and contaminant issues require a survey, with additional recommendations and costs depending on the findings.


When planning your custom home, factor in additional costs for utility connections such as gas, propane, electricity, water, sewer, and storm drainage. For electricity, contact the local utility provider to confirm availability and inquire about fees. Assess the location of main power lines and determine the necessary lengths for connections. Regarding water and wastewater, most planned developments have access to water, but it's crucial to understand the connection location and length.


4. Your Design Goals 

You’ve likely perused homes on the market, design magazines, and other sources for custom home design ideas. This is a great starting point to gather ideas, now it’s time to zero in on what custom home characteristics are best for you and your family specifically. Here are a few other design aspects to consider when planning your custom home:


Most homeowners need more storage than they originally think. From custom storage in the kitchen and bathrooms to the ample cabinets in the mud room and laundry room, clever storage solutions are available at every turn. Work with your designer to plan for storage across the home so you won’t have to problem-solve with makeshift storage solutions down the line.


Some areas of the home will require more soundproofing than others. These are also spaces that could be placed further from areas of the home that are more heavily-trafficked, like the kitchen. The home office and nursery are prime examples of rooms that require less noise than others. 

Home Orientation 

The direction your home faces will affect how much natural light you’ll get in your home. Rooms on the south-facing side of the home tend to get more natural light. Homeowners tend to want the kitchen, living room, and home office to get the most natural light, so consider this when planning your layout. 

The way your home is oriented is also important if you’re planning to install a solar power system. Having more rooftop space for solar panels that face the south will absorb more sunlight and garner more power, reducing your utility bills. 

Aging in Place

After building a custom home, you won't likely want to move out as you get older. Or perhaps, in a few years, you may welcome an older family member into the home. Think about the future and consider accessibility. This means thinking about thresholds, the width of your hallways, accessing the second story, and many other details that will make aging in place more safe and feasible. 


5. Choosing a Design-Build Firm Will Save Costs & Time

Design-build offers time savings, budget adherence, less stress, and a higher-quality end result. With integrated communication, a seamless process, efficient cost control, and efficient project management, design-build ensures a superior renovation experience and more successful project. 

At Penn Contractors, we understand the hesitation many have about building a custom home. You’ve likely heard stories that are fraught with frustration, a ballooned budget, and project delays. By working with a design-build company with a track record for working within a budget and keeping a project on time, while delivering excellent design and impeccable craft, your experience certainly won’t be added to that list of stories.

Work with a Lehigh Valley custom home builder that will save you time and cost through a process that’s known to also save you frustration and worry. Contact Penn Contractors to schedule a consultation and let’s discuss your custom dream home. 


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