Any one considering building a new home in the Poconos is bound to have lots of questions. And when it comes to building your dream home, there are no stupid questions! There is one question that we home builders probably hear more than any other: “What’s it going to cost to build my new home?” It’s a good and fair question. How much should you pay for a home in the Poconos?
Not surprisingly, it’s a question that doesn’t have a single, simple answer. Let’s look briefly at the three major factors that will determine the answer for your specific house. There are other factors (and there are ranges of prices—and we’ll look at some information about that in a bit), but these three things probably play a bigger role than anything else.
You need a piece of property upon which to build a house. It sounds like a pretty obvious statement, but homeowners often overlook the fact that their property itself can account for 20 to 25 percent of the cost of a home. So what are the factors that influence the price of a lot?
- Location: We've all heard about how important location is, but location is more than an address. Obviously, you'll want to think about access. Is it easy to get to? Are there important amenities close by? What kind of neighborhood is it? Is it quiet? Is there even a neighborhood or community there? What kinds of services (i.e. utilities) are available? How are the views? The presence (or absence) of each of those things can affect the price.
- Suitability: Even if you find the most gorgeous piece of Poconos property out there, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to build on it. Unless you know what’s under the ground, you may have some expensive surprises awaiting you. Here’s the thing, you’re going to pay for this one way or the other. You may get a great price on an undeveloped piece of property, but if you have to do a lot of grading and work on the land before you build, you need to factor that into the price. In most developed communities, that’s been handled already. You might pay more, but you’re probably not going to hit too many surprises. That’s true of access to utilities as well. Remote areas may be cheaper (and you may be attracted by the peace and quiet), but you may also have to dig a well or pay extra for access to water, electricity, sewage, etc.
It’s no big secret that the larger your floor plan the more your house will cost. You’re looking at more materials, additional labor, and potentially a larger lot. There’s more to the picture than simple square footage, however. Certain styles of homes are faster, easier, and less expensive to build. And while it may sound counter-intuitive, a 1½ story home can cost more to build than a 2-story home in some cases.
There’s no doubt about it; customizing your home costs more money. Some of that is fairly obvious. Granite, Quartz, or Marble countertops cost more than laminate countertops. Top-end fixtures will cost more than standard fixtures. But materials are only part of the picture. If you choose non-standard sizes for your cabinets, they'll cost you more because they have to be custom made. The same is true for other features in your home. Non-standard shapes and sizes take longer to do and often require more materials so they cost more. That doesn't mean you shouldn't customize to get what you really want, but it will cost more.
One of the biggest culprits when it comes to increasing the cost of a new house is when changes are made after the owner has signed off on the plan. Moving the sink six inches may not sound like a big deal, but if you have to re-do carpentry and plumbing, it’s costly. Changing the location of a door or a staircase before construction starts isn’t usually a huge problem. Changing it after construction starts can really set you back some money.
What About “Ballpark” Costs?
Those are all things that can impact the final cost of your home. But what about ballpark figures for what you should spend? Can you get at least an average idea of what similar homes in the area cost so that you’re not building something that’s totally out of sync with other homes in the neighborhood?
Services such as Zillow.com or Trulia.com can give you a ballpark figure for what homes of a certain size in the area are going for. For instance, if you pick a 1,980 square foot, 4-bedroom, 2-bath custom home in Pocono Lake that was built in 1981 you can find it listed for $235,000. A slightly newer 1,410 square foot home in the same area is listed at $335,000. That provides you with a bit of a range.
Bear in mind that these are asking prices for existing homes. It’s a little different than having a home built to your exact specifications. What you see is what you get. But at least you have a rough idea of values.
But what if you want to build your own home?
Here’s how we price things at Liberty Homes. A lot of our clients begin with one of our plans. We have a wide variety of floor plans that reflect different styles, elevations, and sizes. Let’s just look at one that’s in the same range as the examples above.
Our Arden model offers 4 or 5 bedrooms, 3-bath, a Master Suite with its own bathroom, a deck, and a covered porch. If you look at the thumbnail description of the Arden on our Design Library page, you'll notice that it lists the price as, "Starting at $234,900." The reason we do that is that most of our clients want to add specific touches or make other modifications to the plan so that the house meets their particular needs and sense of design. You might want to change the sizes of some of the rooms; the placement of windows; or the location of the garage door. You might want 9-foot ceilings on the main level. Or you might even want to add a separate room as a media room. We’re happy to do any of those things (or more). Obviously, those things will impact the final price you pay. But at least you have a baseline from which you can plan.
How can you make things more specific? Start with a floor plan or two that you like. Talk to one of our professional staff about the kinds of changes or additions you’d like to make. Then compare that to the prices of existing homes in the same area to ensure you’re not overbuilding for your area. And of course, you’ll want to talk to your lender to make sure you’ll qualify for a loan on the kind of home you have in mind.