Category Archives: New Home Building Tips

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.

Flooring

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.

Kitchen

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.

Paint

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!

Start Planning Your New Home

Build Your Dream Home This Year

There is no better time to start planning your new home construction project. Whether you need more space for your family, custom features so family members can age in place, or want to put down roots in a new neighborhood, you can get things underway now and move into a house designed just how you want it by summer. Continue reading

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.

Convenience

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.

How To Choose A New Home Neighborhood

choosing-neighborhood-paragon-blogConsider House Locations Before You Build

If you’ve decided to take the exciting step of building a new home for your family, you may also already have a particular neighborhood in mind. If not, choosing the perfect location for your future house will take some research and careful consideration of your lifestyle and priorities. Continue reading

A New House For Your New Family

Keep Children in Mind When Looking For a New Home

Tuesday Tips from a Pittsburgh Custom Home BuilderA new baby brings overwhelming feelings of joy — and sometimes an immediate yearning for more space. Whether you have already welcomed a new family member or are planning to have kids a few years down the road, there are lots of things to consider if you have decided to buy or build a new house.

Overall house size is usually tops on everyone’s list, and there is no question that it’s a biggie.  An extra bedroom or two will be helpful when grandparents come to visit or if one parent is working from home and needs extra office space.  But you should weigh more than just the number of bedrooms and total square footage in a house. Pay attention to features in the house that could affect your ability to keep an eye on your little one or make it harder for you to keep a fast-moving toddler out of trouble.

When you are searching for or designing a house, new or expectant parents might want to look for or include the following:

 

  • An enclosed room or another area on the first floor that can be used as a playroom when your kids are younger and a den or media room when they are older. Open floor plans are appealing as far as giving toddlers room to move around, but it’s good to have a safe spot for them if you need to step away for a moment.
  • Roomy garage or other storage space that makes it easy to store/hide larger kid toys and bikes.
  • Fenced in outdoor space that is free of safety hazards such as standing water and retaining walls that young children could climb.
  • Lots of flexible indoor storage for kids’ toys and other gear. Large closets are essential, but don’t forget about entryway closets and cubbies, laundry room storage, and window seats and other built-ins for fast clean-up in each room.
  • Placement of inside staircases, railings and loft spaces. Look at interior home design through the eyes of a crawling baby. Architectural features that are impossible to baby proof might not be worth the headache and worry, even though the baby/toddler phase seems to fly by.

Whether you are looking at an existing new home or shopping for a lot to build on, one of the best things to consider as far as suitability for your young family is how many other young families you see in the neighborhood. Seeing kids outside in strollers or on bikes means you and your children will not only enjoy the new house, but could make a lot of new friends.

How to Finance a New Home Build

Borrowing Basics for Homebuilders

how to finance a custom homeFinancing a new home build is a bit different than taking out a mortgage on an existing home. The process doesn’t have to be difficult – we’ve outlined the borrowing basics of a new home build so you can get started on the fun part: building your dream home!

Cash is king of the land

Typically, lenders are cautious of lending money for the purchase of raw land. This is because if the borrower defaults, the land can be difficult for the lender to resell. As a result, some banks may request a large down payment with a high-interest rate. Land purchase lenders may be difficult to find, but fortunately we have some great ones in Pittsburgh that have made new homes a specialty. They understand the challenges and can often roll everything into one loan for customers to help eliminate this problem.

Putting the bucks behind the blueprint

Simply put, there are two major ways to finance a new home. The construction loan and the end loan. The end loan is more similar to a regular mortgage, where the buyer signs a contract to purchase the home when it’s complete. These types of loans are great for home buyers who don’t have a lot of money to put down or want to buy an already completed new home, the downside is that end loans are generally a lot more expensive than construction loans.

In a construction loan, the bank will set aside a pool of money equal to the total value of the mortgage and disperse money to your builder little by little as the home is complete. Many people will tell you that this means you have to pay your mortgage before you even get to live in the house, but this is somewhat misleading. New home buyers are responsible for interest during the time the home is being constructed, but only on the portion of the loan distributed to date so in general, the payment in a very small percentage of the future mortgage payment for most of the construction period. Essentially, it comes down to affordability. If a new home buyer has the cash to do a new construction loan they will end up paying a lot less in the long run, just like buyers who make larger down payments end up paying much less overall.

Eliminating risk – tips from the pros

As you can see, putting up the money to build a new home differs from taking out a conventional mortgage. Here are some helpful tips to help save your time, money and sanity:

  • Shop around. Look for lenders that offer combination financing, which may roll together all or at least part of the deal, minimizing costs and paperwork. Every lender is different in their approach, so shop around. If your builder forces you to use their lender in order to get the special pricing, odds are you are not only overpaying for any “freebies” elsewhere in the home, but paying way too much for your loan as well.
  • Budget wisely. The loan amount will be based on a budget you provide and the appraised value of your new home. It’s important to carefully consider and detail all costs of the project, including plan and permit fees, construction costs and loan fees. Many on your lot builders don’t include the full cost of things like utility lines, soil conditions or sewage. Make sure you know ahead of time who is responsible to pay for which items and compare apples to apples. If costs exceed the original budget – your wallet makes up the difference.
  • Be aware of changes in rates and construction costs. This is something we hear all the time, a buyer shops for a home, and decides to save up a little more money in order to put more money down or pay for a larger home. Unfortunately, when they come back the next year, the cost of lumber, concrete or other materials goes up regularly may have risen and eaten up what they saved. Ask your builder and lender if they can be flexible, there is a good chance you can start now when prices are low and if your builder lays things out right, you can add that sunroom or extra garage bay in a year or two.
  • Use these increases to your advantage. Most people know that the future value of your home will be determined by the value of your neighbor’s homes and how well your homes holds up to the bumps and bruises of everyday life. Given that construction material costs are constantly rising, the first half of the new home buyers on a particular street stand to gain much more appreciation than those who wait. It’s likely that the last person to build will end up paying 10% more or higher than if they were the first person who built and when a new buyer comes looking in 10 years, it’s the buyer who acted fast who reaps the extra money.
  • Make sure your home will stand the test of time. Ask a buyer who built with the same builder 5 or 10 years ago how their house is holding up, the internet is full of people who will tell you their experiences. Have they had to put a lot of money into upkeep or did the materials their builder used originally spare them this expense. The same thing is true of new homes that is true of many other products. The item that seems cheaper now might end up costing you more later, and that money can’t be rolled into a mortgage.