How to Build Your Own Home in New York

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New York is a desirable residence for many people.

Building your own home takes time and patience. In the state of New York, you'll need to make sure that everything from the land you build on to the materials you use are in compliance with state building laws, including New York's environmental regulations and fire codes. No matter where you build in the state, you'll need a team of professionals to oversee the process. Even if it seems as if you're taking two steps back for every step forward, the reward of a custom-built home can be well worth the effort.


Step 1

Finance the construction. Obtain a bank loan, if necessary. Weigh your budget against the cost of living and real estate prices across the state of New York. Any construction project in or near New York City, for example, will be more expensive than building in a less populous, more rural area upstate.


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Step 2

Select a lot in New York on which to build your home. Work with a Realtor and a general contractor to help make your decision. A Realtor will help with considerations that include any costs to direct water and sewer lines to your property; costs and availability of utility services; and any deed restrictions on types of structures allowed. The general contractor will help ensure that the lot selected is suitable for building.


Step 3

Work with a builder or land surveyor to conduct soil testing. Not all parts of your lot may be suitable for construction; some areas of soil may be unable to support the weight of a building or unable to accommodate the foundation material. Refer to local building codes in your area of New York for soil testing requirements.


Step 4

Choose your house plans. When selecting plans, either stick with them exactly as drawn or work with an architect to make modifications based on your budget, preferences and the specific features of the lot on which you are building.

Step 5

Work with your contractor and architect to ensure your plans meet New York standards for energy efficiency and fire prevention. Before you apply for a building permit you must be able to demonstrate that you will meet construction standards. State requirements include a height of at least seven feet for all ceilings; and emergency escape routes for all bedrooms for fire safety. Energy-efficiency requirements include proper insulation and use of energy-efficient lighting in at least half of all permanently installed fixtures in the house.


Step 6

Apply for a building permit from the local building authority in your region of New York. Submit documentation of your lot and building plans to show that your project is in accordance with local zoning and deed restrictions and meets fire code and energy-efficiency requirements.

Step 7

Hire a team of professionals and subcontractors to begin the construction process. Your general contractor can recommend workers or assemble the crew for you. These professionals will be able to construct your home in compliance with all statewide and local building codes and regulations.


Step 8

Oversee the construction process. Make sure your team is working with and for you. Expect complications and delays. Building a home in New York is rarely straightforward. Stay involved in the process from the excavation of the lot and building the foundation through to painting, trim and finishing touches.


Step 9

Schedule a final inspection of the house once construction is complete. The local county or city building authority in your area of New York must make a final inspection to ensure the property is in full compliance with local codes and restrictions. The lender who financed your construction loan will also make a final inspection before disbursing the full balance.


You may choose to be more involved in the building process if you have specific requirements for your home in mind. It's possible to design your home yourself or act as your own general contractor if you wish, but you'll need to assume responsibility for designing a home that's structurally sound and in compliance with New York building codes.

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