Category Archives: New Home Building Tips

Our Most Requested Custom Home Features

Pittsburgh custom homesNew home design trends are always changing. We thought we’d share a few of the things that our recent clients have been asking about and/or including in their custom home projects. Watch this space in the coming months for more stories about other popular home features we are being asked to customize for homeowners.

Finished Basements

The finished basement never really went away, but homeowners are approaching this space much differently than the days when a pool table and a corner bar created a “rec room”. Today, clients are looking to build their lower level as a stylistic extension of the main living area, with similar materials and lighting.

Open concept layouts in the finished basement add extra light and spaciousness to lower level, if you are willing to visually divide the space into common areas for lounging, watching TV, or working out. Walk-out basements are very popular right now, and some homeowners intentionally work with the slope of their lot to make a walk-out basement with full windows possible. Adding a full, finished basement to your custom home project means that you can design the space for an unlimited number of uses — wine cellar or craft beer brewing space, soundproof office or music room, home theater, gym or yoga studio, or a full guest suite.

In-Law Suites

Along the lines of a guest suite, in-law suites are a new home feature currently in demand. Building new lets you add flexible space to your floor plan to accommodate grandparents, or to allow for a walk-out basement that gives relatives private access to a bedroom, bathroom and even a lounge space and kitchen. More working families are relying on the older generation for help with childcare or are themselves helping to care for an older parent. Incorporating additional living space into your home can add to both your quality of life and the value of your property.

First Floor Master Suite

A custom home is a big investment. And, ideally, once you start enjoying life in your new home you won’t want to leave. Many of our clients like the idea of a large master suite on the first floor so that they can extend their time in the home if and when mobility becomes an issue. We love working with clients to design master bedrooms, baths and closets that turn their bedroom into a true retreat.

When you work with us on a custom home project, we listen to your exact wants and needs, whether they are trendy or not. In the end, your home will be uniquely yours! Contact us to talk about the features you’d like to have in your new home.

When is the Best Time to Build a Custom Home?

Pittsburgh custom home builderDo you think you are ready to build a new custom home? Maybe you have been shopping for existing homes for a long time, and just can’t find the house that has everything you want in the area where you want to live. Or you might have the perfect home design all mapped out, but you are still deciding on a new home neighborhood or are waiting to sell an existing home. No matter your circumstances, there are lots of factors that can make certain times more favorable when it comes to getting started on a custom home project. Continue reading

Building New Home in 2018? 5 Questions for Home Builders

Pittsburgh custom home builderMost of us make lists for the New Year, even if they are only mental lists. Get in shape. Organize paperwork. Eat more vegetables. Maybe you are looking to make some bigger life changes, like looking for a new career or job, starting a family, or building a new house and putting down some roots in a great Pittsburgh area neighborhood.

If you have made a New Year’s resolution to find a builder in 2018 and start the process of building a custom home, here are five good questions to ask prospective builders: Continue reading

Benefits of Building a New Home

Starting Fresh Can Save You Money

Pittsburgh custom home builderMaybe you’ve settled on a neighborhood or area you want to call home, but you are still house hunting. Reality television makes renovation of older homes look incredibly easy. And fast. But as many people know from experience, owning and fixing up an older home in real life can be stressful and costly. According to research compiled by New Home Source, a residential construction industry advocacy group, counselors cite home renovation projects as one of the top three factors in divorce. Continue reading

5 Things To Splurge On When Building a New Custom Home

Building your dream home lets you discover who you are, how you want to live, and exactly where you want to put down roots. It is a significant investment that you are making, and you would like everything to go exactly right, especially during building. The main advantage to building your own home is that you get to customize it to include everything you want, down to the little details. Setting your budget is essential. Depending on your budget, there are areas in your home that are worthwhile splurges. Cutting corners on the following items or features to save money might only cause you regrets, and more money, down the road:

Wiring and Electrical Outlets

Placement of wiring and outlets is governed by code requirements, so many people don’t look closely at the electrical system when designing a home. Since this work is done early in the building process and requires opening walls later on if you want changes, really think about your family’s electrical usage and needs early in the design stage. Consider your hobbies, who has electronic devices and where they like to charge them, and where you might need additional outlets down the road.


Splurging on the high-quality flooring you really want will save you the hassle of clearing out the room when you want to replace it, or have to change it because it didn’t hold up to the constant running of your pets and/or kids. There are so many options for wood, tile, carpet and other flooring materials these days that it might take you a good bit of research and time to figure out what style and material suits your taste and lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to ask us for advice.

Storage space

Custom built-ins and additional closet and storeroom space is worth the splurge, especially if you have a large family or expect your family to grow. Storage space is high on the list for most homebuyers, also, so investing extra money in built-in space in your custom home upfront will only add to its value later.


The kitchen is one area you will love showing off to your friends, and the room you will probably be in the most. So it’s definitely worth spending a little more here so that it is finished according to your taste and style. High end appliances, countertops, sinks, cabinets and vent hoods aren’t just for looks, they will have the use and maintenance features that work for you. With Paragon, high end finishes and appliances are standard features in every new home we build. But homeowners still have plenty of style choices to get the look they want.


You have a couple of options with paint, and not just with colors. The type of paint makes a big difference in your home, and we can help you choose the best finish for how you will be living in each space. If you have small children, a more expensive, more durable paint will last longer and be easier to keep clean. Paint that is rolled or brushed on will appear thicker than paint that is sprayed on. And take the time to really research the colors you want in your home so you won’t be painting again in a year to cover up a yellow that turned out to be a little too sunny.

When you build a custom home with Paragon Homes, we will really listen to all of your needs and wants. Then we can help you manage your budget to splurge on the home features that will have the biggest payoff for your lifestyle.

7 Secrets to Successfully Creating an Outdoor Cooking Space

Each year when the weather turns warm the thoughts of many homeowners turn to all things outdoors. There are beautiful plants to maintain, pools to enjoy, lawns that need to be manicured, and outdoor sports to watch and compete in. Then there is one of the most pleasurable outdoor pursuits- cooking. With so many fresh fruits and vegetables in season and so many wonderful recipes to try out it is one of the best things about summer. Just as homeowners want the best in landscaping, pools, and lawn furniture to show off, they also want the best in outdoor cooking spaces to enjoy summer’s bounty.

1. Climate drives the choice of outdoor materials.

The first consideration when designing your dream outdoor cooking space must always be the climate that you live in. It is the driving force behind many of the elements in your design. First, it must dictate the materials you choose for your cooking space. Given the cost and the effort involved in installing the wood and brick that typically provides the foundation of an outdoor cooking area, it is extremely important to choose materials and designs that will stand up to the climate you live in. This is true whether you are living in a climate with harsh winters and hot summers, like New England, or a climate with long months heat and humidity, like the southern states or a climate with dry, arid heat, such as the desert southwest.

2. Let the natural space dictate design.

Look around at the natural beauty of your surroundings. Any outdoor cooking space should reflect and enhance the natural surroundings. When making choices about the materials used, the furniture and appliances, and decorative accents you should consider how they work with the natural surroundings. The good thing about designing an outdoor cooking space as opposed to an indoor kitchen is that you already have a backdrop for your design. Nature provides you with a palette of colors and a design motif to work with. You get to use that when you dream up your perfect outdoor looking space.

3. Use the light.

When you have an outdoor area for cooking and eating you have planned for variations in light and temperature. There are a variety of options when it comes to lighting. You should look at where you are creating natural spots for both cooking and gathering to eat when choosing the placement of light sources. The type of lighting you choose should work with the over design. The same is true of shade. You can choose from many different attractive ways to create shade for cooking and eating. For variations in temperature, there are a variety of fans that can circulate the air. Attractive fire pits and large grills create warmth in cooler weather.

4. Go small.

When you are designing an outdoor cooking space you should plan for the amount of food you will be storing and cooking. You will find that you might not need full-sized appliances. Smaller appliances such as mini-fridges can work for you. Since you most likely will only need to store and cook enough food for one meal smaller appliances can be a good solution. They are less expensive and take up less space, leaving more money and space for the more decorative aspects of your outdoor cooking space!

5. Go big- but not too big.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of designing your own personal outdoor cooking space. You want it to have all the impressive gadgets and for the furniture and appliances to have all the latest features. Let your imagination run free but then consider reigning it in a bit. If you take a moment to step back and analyze your lifestyle and the cooking you will be doing outside you might find that there are some gadgets and features you don’t really need. You don’t have to shell out money and make room for something you probably aren’t even going to use. Be deliberate in what you choose to include in your outdoor cooking space.

6. Just add water.

One of the most important features you should consider adding to your outdoor cooking space is a good sink. While the plumbing involved might be a little tricky it can be totally worth it to have a sink outside. Having a sink makes both food prep and clean-up easier and faster. It also makes it easy for people to wash their hands before eating. Think about including a sink in your plans.

7. The devil is in the details.

Time to get real. There is, after all, a difference between looking at pictures of perfectly manicured outdoor eating spaces with pristine furniture and the latest appliances and making it happen in your own backyard. To begin with, start with a design and a budget that is right for you. Don’t rush that first step. Then you should carefully vet any contractors you use. Make sure they are reliable and have a reputation for quality work. Before you begin any work check in at town hall and make sure you are following town regulations and ordinances and that you have any permits you need. Following those steps will make the process smoother and give you the outdoor cooking space of your dreams!

Moving to Pittsburgh? Collier and South Fayette are a good bet!

Moving to Pittsburgh- Build a Paragon HomeIf you are choosing to build a new house in the Pittsburgh area, you might be considering neighborhoods based on how close they are to your relatives, job or your kids’ school. If you aren’t locked in on a particular area, South Fayette and Collier townships are a good bet to build in, for a number of reasons.

Room to Grow

Both South Fayette and Collier have realized robust housing growth in recent years, in large part because they have premium land. Half of each township is made up with all the shopping and dining along Washington Pike and the area transitions quickly to suburban and even a rural and woodsy in feel in some places, both communities give homeowners the opportunity to spread out and build on spacious, scenic lots. New home neighborhoods offer a sense of community, but let everyone enjoy some privacy.

Grade A Schools

Younger families continue to be drawn to both of these communities because of the success of South Fayette and Chartiers Valley school districts. Both districts have taken on building projects in recent years to both accommodate the growing number of students and incorporate new technology and innovations for students. The Pittsburgh Business Times ranked South Fayette at the top district in Western Pennsylvania in 2015, bumping Mt. Lebanon School District from the number one slot and both South Fayette and Chartiers Valley scored at the top of the recent PA state Keystone Exams.

Low Taxes

South Fayette and Collier townships rank on the low end of property taxes, both in the bottom third of millage rates among the more than 100 municipalities in Allegheny County. At the same time, new homes built in these communities hold their value.


At Allegheny County’s Western edge, Collier and South Fayette are within 15 miles of downtown Pittsburgh, and close to both Pittsburgh International Airport and work locations in Allegheny, Beaver and especially Southpointe, Washington County.

The popularity of South Fayette and Collier have resulted in stable communities that let you live close to or in a natural, park-like environment, with shopping and other businesses just a short drive away.