How to Build a New Construction House
A Guide to the New Home Construction Process
You’ve been looking for a new house, yet nothing has caught your eye or filled you with dreams of playing in the backyard with your grandchildren. Nothing says this is where I want to spend the rest of my life. So, you’ve decided to build a new home. What a great choice!
A newly built home gives you more control over room size and style and gives you a chance to make a unique dwelling for your family that can be passed down through the generations and many other benefits.
When we say you’re building a home, that doesn’t mean you’re strapping on the tool belt and putting it up yourself. You can. People do it. But, more likely than not, what you’re talking about is hiring a company, like Revere Homes, to build you a custom or semi-custom home.
Even though you’re not hauling lumber yourself, you don’t just hire a company, walk away and return in a few months to move into your new home. There are stages and a process to building a house, and, as the owner, you should understand what goes into making a new home.
So, here is an excellent, clear step-by-step overview of what goes into building your new home. From lot to finish, here is what will happen in your new home odyssey. Here we go!
Purchase the Land
This is step one. Find the land where you’re going to build your new home. If you go with a builder like Revere Homes, they have land in developments, so you’ll choose your spot. But, if you’re going it alone, you’ll need to find the land in an area where you want to live.
Now, there are some questions to ask when buying land, do you want to live closer to the city or in a rural area with a big yard? Do you want to buy a plot in a growing development? Does the land already have access to utilities like water, sewer, and electricity?
Now the law and reality dictate that you cannot just go out and buy any vacant lot; the land has to adhere to the zoning ordinances of where you want to build and live. Some standard zoning designations are;
- Residential: Areas designated for single-family homes
- Commercial: Areas designated for businesses like restaurants, retail shops, and so on
- Industrial: Areas designated for factories
- Rural: Areas designated for farming
- Historical: Areas designated for the preservation of historical landmarks or buildings
- Environmental: Areas designated for the protection of natural habitats
- Aesthetic: Structures must adhere to a particular “look,” as zoning codes outline.
So, step one is pretty involved. Make sure you find a plot where you’ll be happy for a long time. Look around. Is the neighborhood growing, going out of style, or has it been the same for some time? What do you want in the community where you’re building? Ask these questions and ensure you have a plot exactly where you want.
What kind of house do you want?
Step number two is deciding what type of home you will build. Much of this choice will depend on cost, what is allowed in the area and what you and your family need and want. Take your time and do some research. Think about all the different types of homes and which one will fit your needs and wants.
While you’re daydreaming about a castle with a moat, here are the three basic types of builds available to you.
Spec or speculative homes are single-family homes built in a development with no particular buyer in mind. They are sometimes used as model homes for potential buyers to wander through and imagine themselves in.
If you go under contract early enough on a spec home, you may have the opportunity to choose some features such as flooring, paint colors, kitchen appliances, or other features.
If not, you can buy the spec home as-is and make changes yourself along the way.
Tract homes are when a developer buys a large plot of land and divides that land into individual lots. They’ll then construct homes from specific architectural options planned for that community. These could be single-family homes, condos, or even townhouses.
These are homes where you own the land and hire a builder to create a home exactly as you want. All features, rooms, style, all that is up to you.
Now, while deciding on the type of home you want, remember some basics you will want to discuss with your builder. Such as:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Open floor plan or not
- The layout of your perspective home
- Number of floors or levels
Hire the Building Team
Do not rush this step; it’s an important one. Take all the time you can afford to research builders. Call people who have worked with them, and get detailed information about how they work, how easy they were to work with, did they come in on time and within budget? Were there problems on the site? Did they bring in good subcontractors? Be a pest and ask all the questions you need.
First thing you’ll need to find is the general contractor or custom home builder. These are the folks that will be overseeing the home build from start to finish. Some of their duties will include;
- Getting estimates for labor and materials
- Vetting and hiring subcontractors (some will have a team of subcontractors they generally work with and will hire an outside subcontractor for electrical and plumbing work)
- Assigning tasks to subcontractors
- Making sure the team meets deadlines
It’s important to note that custom builders and general contractors are not the same. They are similar; however, a custom home builder draws blueprints and specializes in custom homes, whereas a general contractor does not.
Get Your Permits
Pay attention to this part; you don’t want your new home halfway built only to find that you didn’t get all the proper permits, nightmare!
Before construction starts, your contractor or new home builder will contact the local municipality and discuss your building plans. They’ll know all the permits you’ll need. And, if your builder is reputable and has been in the business for a while, they might have a relationship they’ve built up with the municipality, which could speed up the process.
Here are some of the permits you will need;
- Building permit ($1,200 to $2,000)
- Electrical permit ($10 to $500)
- Plumbing permit ($50 to $500)
- HVAC permit ($250 to $400)
- If a grading permit is needed ($100 to $1,000)
Yes, you could get the permits yourself if you want to stay on budget. However, if you get the permits yourself, you’ll be considered the contractor and be held liable for any problems during construction or inspection.
DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BEGIN CONSTRUCTION BEFORE OBTAINING PERMITS.
If the city learns that you’re building without permits, you could be strapped with extra fees to get the permits; you could be forced to shut down construction until permits are obtained, or they could tear down the work that has already been completed.
Get your permits!
Clear the Property
Now a professional land-clearing team steps in. They are usually a subcontractor that your builder is familiar with. They remove any trees, rocks, shrubs, or vegetation that is confounding the building site. They will also remove stumps and root systems, so you don’t have saplings growing up through your kitchen floor.
Side note: If you have many trees, you may have the option of selling them to a commercial logging company that will repurpose them or turn them into lumber. Maybe lumber that is used on someone else’s dream home!! Kismet!
Level the Site
The land is cleared, and now the team will fill in all holes and divots and then drive in wooden stakes to mark the area where the foundation should be poured.
If your plot of land has hills, bumps, or dips, the team will grade the ground, so it is a nice, even flat surface for your house and driveway.
Prep the Land for Foundation or Basement
Now the team will start digging holes and trenches. They’ll mark the area with wooden stakes and lay out the configuration for the foundation, basement, utilities, and a septic system if that’s applicable.
Footings are usually made from concrete or brick and are commonly used with shallow foundations. Footings distribute the weight of vertical loads directly into the soil. Footings are generally wider than the foundation and sit one foot below the frost line. The frost line is the typical depth at which the ground freezes in your particular climate.
Next, they will construct footing drains. These are important as they are built to ensure water drains away from the house.
Pour the Foundation
With the footings in place, now comes time for the foundation. Here you’ll either have a slab foundation, a crawlspace, or a full basement constructed or poured.
Concrete is a curious animal that must undergo a curing process to reach its maximum strength. This process can take anywhere between 28 and 60 days. However, if the weather is good, construction can begin again after one week.
And, no matter what type of foundation or basement you have, it will be waterproofed.
Drains, Sewers, and Taps
Once your foundation has completed the curing process, drains, sewer lines, water taps, and other plumbing required on the first floor will be installed.
Next, the team will fill in the trenches they dug around the foundation. They will use excavated dirt for this part of the job.
Have Your Foundation Inspected
Now is the time for the first of many inspections. Once the foundation is laid, and the footings, plumbing, and electrical basics are installed, you will have your foundation inspected to ensure it was done correctly and all local codes followed.
Some of the things an inspector will look for are;
- The footing’s width, depth, and condition
- Reinforced bars
This inspection will cost anywhere between $300 and $1000. Your contractor should arrange for the inspection. If your contractor fails to do this inspection, hire an inspector yourself and get a new contractor. This is not an inspection you can or want to skip. Your house basically relies on a solid, well-constructed foundation.
Build the Frame
You’ve crossed your fingers, did a little dance of hope, and your foundation has passed inspection. Now comes the framing.
During this step, you’ll be able to see your new home taking shape. A framing crew will erect lumber for walls, flooring, ceilings, and roof trusses. This build phase will take anywhere from one to two weeks to complete. Each day, you’ll see more and more of the bones of your house coming together.
Sheath Exterior Walls
Sheathing for the exterior walls is the large sheets of wood, oriented strand board (a type of engineered wood similar to particle board, formed by adding adhesives and then compressing layers of wood strands in specific orientations.), wafer board, or exterior gypsum that is nailed to the frame. Typically this sheathing is half-inch panels giving the structure more strength.
Sometimes insulation sheathing, either rigid foam or cellulose-fiber panels, is used for better insulation. In these cases, the insulation sheathing is attached directly to the studs, under the wood sheathing. It can also be attached on top of the wood sheathing. Your contractor will discuss which is best for your home.
Once the sheathing has been attached, it is covered with house wrap, a protective cover that prevents moisture from seeping into the wood, preventing mold and wood rot.
Welcome Windows & Exterior Doors
Now that sheathing has covered the bones of your house, windows and exterior doors can be placed.
When it comes to these components, ask your contractor or builder to look for energy-efficient windows and doors. These will keep the internal temp of your house consistent no matter the outside temp. You will have lower energy bills, and you’ll be helping the environment.
The HVAC System
At this point in the home building process, the HVAC team will come in and install ductwork throughout the house. This team will also install the air handler, condenser, and trim work as well.
A plumber and their team will now come and run pipes to the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and any other rooms with sinks, tubs, or showers. This team will also install vents, sewer lines, and bathtubs/showers.
Note that this step can and is usually done while installing doors and windows.
At this point, you’ll have another inspection, this time on the plumbing. Now, you may have hired a professional plumber; at least we hope you did; an inspector is still necessary to look over the plumbing work and ensure that things have been done correctly.
This time, the inspector will check to ensure there are no leaks and that the vents, drains, and sewer pipes all pass the pressure test.
Electrical Wires and Panels
Now, all the electrical work gets done. Things are coming together; are you excited? What does “all electrical work” mean? Well, it means;
The wires are run through the walls and ceilings. The HVAC is hooked up (including the thermostat), and the fans, lights, electrical outlets, external electrical work, and the circuit breaker are also hooked up and ready to go.
That’s all the electrical work.
Inspector #3, Electrical & HVAC
Once all the electrical work is complete and the HVAC system is up and running, an inspector should come out and ensure all systems are working and up to code.
Do You Need All These Inspections?
Simple answer; yes. Yes, you need to have things inspected and have the inspections done in order when specific jobs are done.
Staying up to code is imperative if you want the house signed off on when it is complete. Doing the inspections in an orderly fashion allows the inspector to have room to get to what they need to see and approve.
Also, you want to know what’s not working or not up to code before your building team and subcontractors leave. You want to know what needs to be fixed or brought up to code immediately, so you don’t have to chase your contractor down or delay moving into your house.
Inspections are essential, and you will face severe consequences if you try to avoid them.
Now, the Roof
Your roof also needs sheathing, which is generally done when the walls are sheathed.
During this stage of the building process, the roof will be completed. Roofers will install the flashings, which are a flat and thin material used to prevent water from entering the openings and cracks of a roof. It is placed underneath your roof’s shingles, and it redirects the water to another location.
Shingles will also be installed. These can be asphalt or clay, concrete tile, colored tile, slate, metal, or wood. You’ll decide on the shingle material before the roofers start their work.
Your location and climate will inform the type of insulation you’ll want to be installed.
Now some insulation has already been installed when the sheathing process happened, but you’ll also have insulation on the interior walls, attic, basement, crawlspace, and even the garage.
You’ll have discussed with your builder beforehand what type of insulation is called for, but some of the most common are fiberglass, cellulose, or foam spray.
Here’s a brief description and cost breakdown for each type:
Fiberglass insulation is used in unfinished walls, floors, and ceilings. It comes in rolls and is installed in-between studs, joists, and beams. The average cost for fiberglass insulation is between $0.64 to $1.19 per square foot.
Cellulose insulation is used in existing and enclosed walls or new open cavities in the wall. This insulation can be used in unfinished attic floors and other hard-to-reach places. This insulation can be poured but is usually blown into place using special equipment. The average cost of cellulose insulation is between $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot.
Foam spray insulation is much like cellulose insulation, as it can be applied to enclosed walls, new wall cavities, and unfinished attic floors. It is applied using a spray container (for smaller areas) or a pressure spray product (for larger areas). The average cost of foam spray insulation is between $1.50 to $4.90 per square foot.
Based on location and climate, talk to your builder and decide which insulation is best for your new home.
First, let’s talk about this. The term drywall is used a lot in construction, but what exactly is drywall, and why is it used?
Prior to World War I, walls were finished with lath and plaster. Lath is thin, flat strips of wood to which the plaster is then applied. Post-war, a housing boom erupted, and walls needed to be finished fast and cheaper, so drywall was invented. Now drywall is the primary material used for interior walls.
Drywall is a building material used to cover framing on walls and ceilings. It’s made from gypsum, which is a naturally occurring mineral in plentiful supply (making it an eco-friendly choice). The gypsum is mixed with added materials to create a slurry, which is sandwiched between two layers of paper and dried.
Drywall provides fire resistance and soundproofing for walls and ceilings on the interior of residential and commercial buildings. It’s screwed onto the framing structure, the joints between drywall panels are taped to hide the gap, then mud (also called joint compound, is a gypsum-based paste used to finish drywall joints and corners in new drywall installations.) is applied to smooth the transition and patch the screw holes. Once the mud dries, it’s sanded to a fine finish, and the wall is textured or painted, depending on the desired finish.
Drywall is hung throughout the interior of the house and the ceiling.
After the drywall is hung throughout the house, texture can be sprayed on; then, the walls are primed so they can be painted.
Texture is a choice; you don’t have to have walls textured if you don’t want. Talk to your builder.
Walls are Painted
We’re coming toward the finish line now; your house is really taking shape.
After the drywall is hung, textured, and primed, the painting can begin. This is where the house will start to feel like your home.
If you’re buying a spec house or a tract house, you may not have a choice of wall colors. However, if you’re building a custom home, you’ll have a color choice or even have wallpaper hung; that’s up to you.
Different types of siding can go on your home, which you’ll discuss and decide on with your contractor or home builder before the construction process begins.
Your types of siding are:
Vinyl siding is the cheapest siding material ($4.50 to $12.50 per square foot) and the most common material used for spec and tract homes. However, if you’re going custom, other options include:
- Wood ($8.50 to $14.50 per square foot)
- Fiber cement ($8.50 to $14.50 per square foot)
- Stucco ($7.50 to $14.00 per square foot)
- Brick ($10.00 to $20.00 per square foot)
- Metal ($7.50 to $25.00 per square foot)
- Stone ($11.00 to $35.00 per square foot)
Now the Floors
Once the paint on the walls has dried, floors can be laid throughout the house.
If you’re buying a spec or tract home, you may have some choices for flooring materials. If you’re going custom, your options are endless. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the flooring in your kitchen and bathrooms and talk with your builder about which type of flooring is best for those two areas.
Window Sills & Trim
When the flooring is laid and settled, next will come the trim.
Trim is installed around all the windows, doors, and floors. It can also be installed along the ceiling, where it’s called crown molding. It gives your new home a rather sophisticated touch.
It’s all coming together!!!
Cabinets & Vanities
Now the team will install all cabinets and vanities.
If you’re buying a spec or tract home, they usually come with builder-grade cabinets. These are the most basic forms of cabinets that are affordable and still look good.
If you’re building a custom home, you’ll have more choices in this area. Keep in mind custom cabinets cost anywhere between $500 and $1200 per linear foot.
Installation of Light Fixtures, Outlets, and Switches
All light fixtures, outlets, and switches are installed in this build phase. You can upgrade these features to match your personal desires, or you can go with basic white fixtures and upgrade them later.
Regarding things like fixtures and appliances, you have to decide if you want to upgrade now or wait until after you’ve moved in. It’s a personal choice; some people want to move into a completely finished, no changes needed house. Others will wait, find deals on fixtures and add them later.
Kitchen Gets Countertops & Appliances
Now come the countertops and appliances. Here there are a lot of choices you can discuss with your builder, but the most popular are:
- Quartz ($50 to $200 per square foot)
- Granite ($40 to $60 per square foot)
- Marble ($12 to $180 per square foot — depending on the type)
- Laminate ($40 to $80 per square foot)
- Solid surfacing ($52 to $120 per square foot)
- Recycled glass ($65 to $140 per square foot)
- Butcher block ($40 to $100 per square foot)
Again talk with your builder; maybe they have connections and can get you deals on countertops.
In Go the Bathroom Fixtures
In this phase, you’ll see faucets, shower heads, toilets, heat register covers, and all the other bathroom fixtures installed.
Also, in this phase, mirrors are hung. So bathroom mirrors, half bath mirrors, bedrooms, walk-in closets, and if you’re building a custom home, the workout room will also get mirrors.
Landscaping & Hardscaping
While you’re getting excited about all the changes and additions to the interior of your new home, don’t forget the exterior also needs love and attention.
A professional landscaper will now come aboard and install sod, trees, plants, and shrubs. They will also install walkways, patios, build decks, create garden walls, and more.
Put some time and thought into what you’d like to do with your outdoor spaces. You could be a model for the neighborhood.
Inspector #4, The Final Home Inspection
This is where the home inspector looks at EVERYTHING.
They’ll double-check the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. They’ll inspect doors, windows, the foundation, the roof, and more. If the structure passes the inspection, they’ll give you a certificate of occupancy, which means it’s inhabitable and safe to live in.
If there are issues and the inspector does not grant a certificate of occupancy, your contractor will have to fix the issues. Then another inspector will have to come in to check that the work is done properly, and you’ll get your certificate.
No inspectors here; this stage is for you and your builder. This is a chance for you to take a good, close look at the work and ensure your builder did everything you requested.
During this phase, you should have a copy of your contract and all notes about discussions you’ve had with your builder. You want to be able to show him proof if something isn’t complete or up to standards.
Take your time here, and make notes of everything that wasn’t done that had been discussed with your builder prior to the start of construction.
Also, use this time to note anything damaged during construction, chipped paint, gouges in the floor or countertops, dented or scratched appliances, or even damage to walls and ceilings. Be precise and make your contractor stick to their word.
This is not a time to compromise or say, well, it’s not too bad. This is your new home; you’re paying for it to be built, so make sure you get what you’re paying for.
And you made it! If no problems are found during the final walk-through, you can begin the closing process on your new home!
There it is, the nuts and bolts of what will happen each step of the way when you’re building a house. That’s all the parts of the construction process, but before any of that starts, you’ll want to start the financing process.
You’ll want to know all the costs connected with building a home. You’ll want to talk with your builder and see if they have an inside track with any lenders and speak to current homeowners and see if they have any tips to make the buying process less stressful.
If you’re moving from one house to your new home, you’ll want to know how long it will take, especially if you’re renting a temporary home.
There is much to think about before, during, and after your new home construction. It would be wise to talk to an experienced home builder, someone like Revere Homes, that can answer questions, point you in the right direction and assuage all your fears and worries; even if you don’t go with them, they’re happy to help.
If you do your research, ask questions, talk to professionals and understand each step of the buying and building process, you should end up with a lovely home that you’ll be happy in for years to come.