Nothing diminishes the thrill of building your dream home more than making decisions you later regret.

For instance, “If only I’d . . .” or “I really should’ve . . .” are two phrases you don’t want to say after completing your new house.

Since building a custom home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime, it’s too important to leave to chance. An experienced and trustworthy guide will help you avoid common mistakes and achieve your goal.

Here are the top mistakes PA and NY home builders make and how you can avoid them:



It’s important to remember your mortgage will be for a 15- or 30-year term, so be sure your monthly payment is manageable. It’s possible to keep your home loan reasonable and still build your dream home.

Start by visiting a few lenders to discuss their construction programs, interest rates, closing costs, whether you’ll need private mortgage insurance, and how much you’re preapproved for. That amount plus any savings you have for a down payment reveals your budget for the land, site development costs, and the house.

Also, the building materials, design, and size of the house influence your final cost. If you love particular features, say so right away. A reputable builder will help you price everything out so you can decide what you can afford.


Once you determine where you want to live, you need to purchase the land your home will sit on. The site plays a significant role in your home. On a practical note, the size, shape, and view of your lot will influence the house plan you select.

Other considerations for your home’s location include:

  • local traffic
  • the school district
  • proximity to work, shopping, and health care services
  • property taxes

You should also be aware of the land costs and restrictions associated with the home-building process. For example, grading a lot, installing a driveway, connecting sewer, water and gas lines, the minimum size of the home required, and what you can and cannot do once you live there. If the lot’s in a subdivision, utility hookups may already be approved. If not, make sure it’s possible to connect these essential services.

In addition to building in communities in select areas, Fine Line Homes also builds on the customer’s lot. We offer complete lot assessment and lot layout services.

Visit our website to find out more about building on your own lot.


Many first-time home builders consider being their own contractor to save money. But building your custom home this way may not be a wise choice.

If you’re considering acting as your own contractor, ask yourself if you’re comfortable with the following responsibilities:

  • Reviewing home plans for potential problems
  • Obtaining building permits and following appropriate codes
  • Estimating the cost of materials and labor
  • Hiring and scheduling employees and subcontractors
  • Ordering materials and handling deliveries
  • Supervising the quality of work

If these tasks feel overwhelming, it’s time to talk to a building professional.

A reputable builder will save you stress and help you get your dream home on time and within budget. And because they have years of experience selecting quality building materials, identifying problems, and working with subcontractors, you may find hiring a builder saves you money.


After you have the lot, it’s time to choose a custom home builder. Some communities have exclusive builders. This ensures similar styles and construction quality throughout the development. But if the land is your own, you’re free to hire any builder you prefer.

Here are some questions you should ask potential home builders:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Can you provide referrals from previous customers?
  • What features come standard and what are upgrades?
  • Can you customize an existing floor plan?
  • Do you include a home warranty?
  • Is landscaping included in the cost of construction?
  • Do you use allowance pricing?

Research all potential builders to make sure your bids are coming from reliable, reputable companies. After all, your builder is responsible for making sure your home is completed on time, on budget, and to high standards.


Many people look at the estimate’s total price and select the lowest bidder. Unfortunately, they later discover their finished home costs much more than they anticipated. They may also find the quality isn’t what they expected.

Knowing how to read and compare bids will help you decide which home builder is right for you. First, find out what pricing method they used for their estimate. There are three common pricing methods: square foot, assembly, or unit.

Square foot pricing is the least reliable. It assigns an average price to each square foot of the space but doesn’t necessarily take into account specific material costs. Assembly pricing is more accurate and detailed. It’s based on how much each component costs to build instead of just using the average. Unit pricing is the most accurate because it’s based on the price of all of the supplies included.

Also, ask if the builder uses allowance pricing. Often a home builder who includes allowances offers the lowest bid. But a higher bid with real prices is better than a lower bid with allowance pricing.

Fine Line Homes’ process is straightforward: Up-Front Pricing. We sit down with you and identify what features you want in your home. Based on your preferences, we generate a final price we will honor.


Selecting your home design is one of the most exciting parts of the building process. But many home builders hastily choose their floor plan and later regret their decision.

It’s important to consider your space needs, lot restrictions, and budget before choosing a floor plan.

When you’re looking at home designs, ask yourself these questions:

  • What rooms do you spend most of your time?
  • Do you cook regularly?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
  • Do you have children?
  • How often do you entertain?
  • Do you have regular overnight guests?
  • How much storage would you like?

You can purchase plans online, but frequently the most affordable solution will be to select one of the tried and proven home plans offered by a reputable builder. Often you can customize their plans for your specific desires.


Changes during construction can be expensive. And the cost isn’t just financial. These changes may also cause delays to acquire needed materials or installation services.

While it’s common to customize a floor plan, you’ll want to make all changes during the design phase, not during construction. You can reduce the possibility of changes by considering your needs early in the process and by taking the time to view sample materials.

In reality, many people have trouble visualizing what their home will look like from small material samples and displays. For this reason, Fine Line Homes has an exclusive new feature: The Visualizer.

Fine Line Homes’ Visualizer is fun and easy to use.

In the site navigation, click on “Home Plans,” and in the drop-down menu select “View All Plans.” Next, pick the home plan you like most and click on “Color Visualizer” to see what that house looks like with various materials.

If you’re considering one of our floor plans, see what your finished house will look like before you build!


In conclusion, building your dream home is exciting, but it comes with challenges too.

Because there are many unknowns when you’re learning how to construct a new home, you’ll probably have questions during every step of the process. The decisions you make before and during your home’s construction have a significant impact on how happy you’ll be with the result.

There’s no substitute for experience. And for more than 45 years, we’ve helped numerous first-time PA and NY home builders get their dream home. We understand mistakes are stressful, time-consuming, and costly. More importantly, we know how to avoid problems and ensure a delightful building process from start to finish.

If you’d like to build a new home in Central or Northeast Pennsylvania or Southern New York, Fine Line Homes can help. Contact us to learn how to get started.