Contact Us
ny custom home builder gerber

Upstate NY Custom Home Building Blog

You Have Land and You Want a Custom Home - Now What Do You Do?

Posted by John Graziose

Wed, Sep 6, 2023 @ 08:09 AM

You Have Land and You Want a Custom Home - Now What Do You Do-1

Having land in Upstate New York is a dream for many, especially in picturesque areas like Canandaigua, Rush, or Macedon. But how do you make the most of that piece of paradise once you have it? Many landowners ponder, "I want to build a house on my land; where do I start?" If that's you, here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the exciting journey of turning your raw land into a beautiful custom home.

Tips for Building on Your Land in Upstate New York

Assess Your Land 

Before anything else, take inventory of your land. This includes its size, topology, soil quality, and any zoning or environmental restrictions. What utilities are available on the property? What utilities are available in the area? Many city lots for sale include utilities on or near the site.

New construction lot in Ontario, New York

Set a Budget 

You already have the land, but how much will it cost from here? Consider expenses like preparing the land for a home, creating infrastructure, home construction, landscaping, and unforeseen costs that naturally arise.

Stay Informed on Land Value

Land is a substantial investment. It's smart to keep an eye on market trends. Is buying land a good investment in 2023? In areas like Upstate NY, owning land, especially in burgeoning communities, is generally considered a wise investment due to the area's growing popularity.

Plan Your Timeline 

It's essential to decide when you want to build your home and understand the extensive work that goes into planning prior to construction. Designing and building your new home may take a year or more. Building immediately after your purchase or after owning the land for a while has pros and cons. Is it smart to buy land and build later? It can be if you anticipate land value to rise or if you need time to save funds. Observing your land through the seasons also gives you a better idea of drainage patterns and scenic spots to highlight for the best view.

New construction lot aerial view off of Ontario Center Road in New York-1

Choose a Reputable Builder 

For a seamless experience, partner with experienced "build on your lot home builders." At Gerber Homes, we specialize in custom home construction in the Upstate New York area. Partnering with a reputable builder in your area ensures that your vision aligns perfectly with the expertise of professionals familiar with the region.

Preparing Raw Land for Building: The Contractor's Blueprint

Transforming a piece of land into a build-ready site is no small task. It's a meticulous process that requires the expertise of experienced contractors to ensure that the land not only looks good but is structurally sound for construction. Dig into the steps a seasoned contractor might take to prepare your land for your custom home to understand whether this route is right for you.

Exterior view of construction progress on Rochester custom home

Site Assessment and Surveying

Before any physical work begins, a comprehensive site assessment is crucial. Contractors will bring in surveyors to establish property boundaries, assess the topography, and identify any natural features or potential obstructions.

Soil Testing

The type of soil determines the foundational work needed for construction. Contractors will extract soil samples and test for stability, drainage capabilities, and load-bearing properties.

Gerber Homes team evaluating home site of Orchard View Estates

Clearing and Grubbing

This is where visible changes start occurring. The site is cleared of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. 'Grubbing' involves removing the roots left behind after trees are felled.

Access Development

Contractors will establish a temporary road or access path for machinery and materials to reach the building site. This is crucial, especially in remote areas.

Aerial view of lot site for new construction in the greater Rochester region

Site Leveling and Grading

Depending on the house’s design and the land's natural topography, the ground may need to be leveled. Proper grading ensures efficient water drainage and prevents potential flooding issues.

Laying Down Utilities

If the plot isn't connected to local utilities like water, electricity, and sewage, contractors will need to lay the necessary infrastructure. This might involve digging wells, installing septic tanks, or trenching for electrical and water lines.

Foundation Preparation

With the site cleared and utilities in place, the contractor will then begin the foundational work, which could include excavating, pouring footers, or setting up a slab, depending on the type of house foundation chosen.

New construction foundation progress in upstate New York

Checklist for Landowners to Assess Their Land for Building

Discover key factors to evaluate when selecting the perfect land to buy to build your custom home in Upstate New York.

  • Natural Resources: Examine the existing trees, water bodies, or rock formations. How do these fit into your vision? What might need to be removed or altered?
  • Utility Access: Is your land already connected to electricity, water, and sewage lines? If not, factor in the costs and logistics of setting these up.
  • Soil Quality: Even if a contractor will do a detailed analysis, having a basic understanding of your land's soil can be beneficial. Is it rocky? Clayey? Sandy?
  • Topography: Assess the general lay of the land. Is it hilly, flat, or sloped? This can influence design decisions and construction techniques.
  • Sunlight and Wind Patterns: Understanding where sunlight hits the most or from where winds predominantly blow can help in optimizing energy costs and ensuring comfort.
  • Neighboring Properties: Look around. Are there other homes or facilities nearby? Who owns vacant land and how is it zoned? Their presence (or lack thereof) can impact your decisions on privacy, design, and more.
Front exterior of custom ranch home with attached garage near Rochester

Expert Help Building Your Dream Home in Your Dream Location

The journey from owning land to having a home on it is thrilling. Understanding the steps and partnering with the right professionals can make all the difference. If you have any more questions or if you're ready to start building in Upstate New York, Gerber Homes is here to assist you every step of the way.

Popular Home Building Topics

Home Design Trends Building a Custom Home Finger Lakes Lifestyle


NY Custom Home Floorplans (1)
upstate NY land for sale