Building your dream home can be as intimidating as it is exciting. There are a lot of building blocks —pun intended—that make up a construction project; most often with details that you may not be able to prepare for until you’re knees deep into it.
Depending on the builder, state, weather, and the availability of labor and materials, a home building process might take from a few weeks to up to a couple of months. While each builder has its own time management and building processes which may differ from those of the others, all home building projects roughly follow the same steps and entail similar components which we are going to cover to help you have a better understanding of what you should expect.
Plotting the Raw Land
In case you’re building on raw land, you need to have that piece of land platted. There are a lot of things that have to happen with a piece of raw land before you can get building permits and start putting structures on it. Plotting is an essential step of the land development process to ensure order in the growth of the cities. In this process, a piece of land (often large) is divided into subdivisions on a map to determine how many houses can be on the land and where they should be located while ensuring that they all have access to a public right way.
In addition to easements, streets, and roads, the developers have to run utility lines such as water, sewer, gas, and electricity to each individual home site. This process is often handled with the help of an engineer or a firm such as Tucker Engineering as its technical and regulations surrounding it vary by state.
After everything has been laid out, house plans for each lot can be sent to the city for approval. If you are building on a subdivision or a land lot, you don’t need to worry about any of it as it’s been handled by the original developers of the property.
Laying the Foundation
Once you have the building permit in hand, you can start the process of building your house. First, the site is cleared of debris, rocks, trees, and vegetation before any kind of excavation takes place. The construction and selection of the foundation type highly depend on the condition of soil which is assessed by geotechnical testing. The adjoining structures, design of the house, and available budget are other factors that may affect the decision.
Depending on the foundation type, groundworkers perform the appropriate excavation work, level the site, and install the footings. At this stage, the poured concrete needs time to cure, thereby there will be no activity for a few days. After that, the foundation walls are installed along with any plumbing that has to go into the basement or floor slab. Then, the excavated dirt is backfilled around the foundation wall.
Next, the building’s skeleton is set up by assembling studs and other structural members to provide a structure that supports the roof, walls, and all interior and exterior coverings. This is the first time that the blueprint of your house takes form. For roof framing, there are two widely used approaches each having its own pros and cons: hand-cut roofs and truss roofs. Factors like the budget, roofing material, and the requirements for the attic space are usually taken into account before deciding between the two.
Rough Exterior and Interior Layout
The next step is sheathing the exterior and interior of the house which includes the floor, walls, and the roof, and is done by installing panel material to form a substrate to apply other materials on. The most common materials used for sheathing are plywood, chipboard, and OSB. These engineered pieces of lumber are designed to help strengthen the structure of the home and tie together the studs which in turn, improves the rigidity of walls and the overall construction.
After the panels are positioned, house wraps are applied to the sheathing panels to work as a barrier for the wall assembly against rain and moisture to prevent mold and rot. Also, depending on the style and materials, roofing and siding are usually installed and completed at this stage of the construction.
Plumbing, HVAC, Electric, and Insulation Installations
Concurrently with the installation of siding and roofing, other trades such as electricians, plumbers, and technicians start running wires, pipes, and ducts through the floors, walls, and ceilings. Water supply lines, sewer lines, and ductwork for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning are all installed in place. Heavy objects such as bathtubs are also installed at this point. Then, the receptacles for switches, lights, and outlets are installed and after that, exterior walls are insulated.
Exterior and Interior Finishes
At this stage, all the final tasks in the construction project are performed, from the application of drywall, paint, and exterior finishes to the installation of doors, windows, cabinets, baseboards, finish flooring, light fixtures, and everything in between. Outdoor components like exterior landscapes, driveways, and patios are usually built and formed last after everything in the main structure is complete.
Finally, it should be noted that during the course of your construction project, inspectors regularly visit the site to make sure that everything is being built up to code. Ensuring compliance with the code throughout the project can save you a lot of headaches, time, and budget in the long run.