Here’s what to expect during the major phases of construction. Building your new home is exciting, especially when you understand how the process works.
Our homeowners enjoy watching the home come together, from pouring the foundation to framing and watching the home take shape. Once the
home has drywall, they start to visualize themselves living in the space and how they’ll use it – imagining what furniture goes where and how they’ll
entertain friends and family there. They spend a good bit of time designing the home to be unique to their family needs and tastes so seeing it all
come together is rewarding for them.
To help you prepare for and understand your new home’s construction, this article outlines the typical steps your builder will take in the
construction of a home and will help keep you abreast of what happens at key stages.
Keep in mind that the homebuilding process may vary from region to region and builder to builder, especially if you’re building an elaborate custom home.
Be sure to ask your builder about his or her specific policies and procedures.We encourage our homebuyers to make an appointment with their agent or
project manager to come out and walk through the home at any stage. We suggest that it be by appointment to cut down on some of the safety concerns or
limitations when a house is under construction. It also gives us a chance to offer a one-on-one conversation that may not be the same via email.
1. Prepare site and pour foundation: Often, site preparation and foundation work are performed by the same crew, but this may not be the case with a wooded lot.
Using a backhoe and a bulldozer, the crew clears the site of rocks, debris and trees for the house and, if applicable, the septic system. The crew levels the site,
puts up wooden forms to serve as a template for the foundation and digs the holes and trenches. Footings (structures where the house interfaces with the earth that
supports it) are installed. If your home is going to have a well, it will be dug at this point.
If the home has a full basement, the hole is dug, the footings are formed and poured, and the foundation walls are formed and poured. If it’s slab-on-grade,
the footings are dug, formed and poured; the area between them is leveled and fitted with utility runs (e.g. plumbing drains and electrical chases); and the
slab is poured.Once concrete is poured into the holes and trenches, it will need time to cure. During this period, there will be no activity on the construction site.
After the concrete is cured, the crew applies a waterproofing membrane to the foundation walls; installs drains, sewer and water taps and any plumbing
that needs to go into the first-floor slab or basement floor; and backfills excavated dirt into the hole around the foundation wall.
INSPECTION #1: When the curing process is complete, a city inspector visits the site to make sure foundation components are up to code and installed properly.
This inspection may be repeated depending on the type of foundation (slab, crawl space or basement). Your builder will then remove the forms and begin coordinating
step 2, the framing phase.
2. Complete rough framing: The floor systems, walls and roof systems are completed (collectively known as the shell or skeleton of the house). Plywood or oriented
strand board (OSB) sheathing is applied to the exterior walls and roof and windows and exterior doors are installed. The sheathing is then covered with a protective
barrier known as a house wrap; it prevents liquid water from infiltrating the structure, while allowing water vapor to escape. This reduces the likelihood of mold
and wood rot.
3. Complete rough plumbing, electrical and HVAC: Once the shell is finished, siding and roofing can be installed. At the same time, the electrical and plumbing
contractors start running pipes and wires through the interior walls, ceilings and floors. Sewer lines and vents, as well as water supply lines for each fixture,
are installed. Bathtubs and one-piece shower/tub units are put in place at this point because there’s more room to maneuver large, heavy objects.
Ductwork is installed for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and possibly the furnace. HVAC vent pipes are installed through the roof
and insulation is installed in the floors, walls and ceilings.
After the roofing goes on, the house is considered “dried in.” An electrician then installs receptacles for outlets, lights and switches and runs wires from the
breaker panel to each receptacle. Wiring for telephones, cable TV and music systems is included in this work.
Note that HVAC ducts and plumbing are usually installed before wiring, because it’s easier to run wires around pipes and ducts than vice versa.
INSPECTIONS 2, 3 and 4: Rough framing, plumbing and electrical and mechanical systems are inspected for compliance with building codes. Most likely these will be
three different inspections. At the very least, the framing inspection will be conducted separately from the electrical/mechanical inspections.
At this stage, drywall (also known as plasterboard, wallboard or gypsum board) is delivered to the building site.
4. Install insulation: Insulation plays a key role in creating a more comfortable, consistent indoor climate while significantly improving a home’s energy efficiency.
One of the most important qualities of insulation is its thermal performance or R-value, which indicates how well the material resists heat transfer. Most homes are
insulated in all exterior walls, as well as the attic and any floors that are located above unfinished basements or crawl spaces.
The most common types of insulation used in new homes are fiberglass, cellulose and foam. Depending on the region and climate, your builder may also use mineral wool
(otherwise known as rock wool or slag wool); concrete blocks; foam board or rigid foam; insulating concrete forms (ICFs); sprayed foam; and structural insulated panels (SIPs).
Blanket insulation, which comes in batts or rolls, is typical in new-home construction. So is loose-fill and blown-in insulation, which is made of fiberglass,
cellulose or mineral-wool particles. Another insulation option, liquid foam, can be sprayed, foamed-in-place, injected or poured. While it costs more than
traditional batt insulation, liquid foam has twice the R-value per inch and can fill the smallest cavities, creating an effective air barrier.
Fiberglass and mineral-wool batts and rolls are usually installed in side walls, attics, floors, crawl spaces, cathedral ceilings and basements.
Manufacturers often attach a facing such as kraft paper or foil-kraft paper to act as a vapor barrier and/or air barrier. In areas where the
insulation will be left exposed, such as basement walls, the batts sometimes have a special flame-resistant facing.
5. Complete drywall and interior textures; start exterior finishes: Drywall is hung and taped so the seams between the boards aren’t visible, and drywall
texturing (if applicable) is completed. The primer coat of paint is also applied after taping is complete. Contractors begin installing exterior finishes
such as brick, stucco, stone and siding.
6. Finish interior trim; install exterior driveways and walkways: Interior doors, baseboards, door casings, window sills, moldings, stair balusters and other
decorative trim are installed, along with cabinets, vanities and fireplace mantels and surrounds. Walls get a finish coat of paint and are wallpapered where
Generally, exterior driveways, walkways and patios are formed at this stage. Many builders prefer to wait until the end of the project before pouring the driveway because heavy equipment (such as a drywall delivery truck) can damage concrete. But some builders pour the driveway as soon as the foundation is completed so that when homeowners visit the construction site, they won’t get their shoes muddy.
7. Install hard-surface flooring and countertops; complete exterior grading: Ceramic tile, vinyl and wood flooring are installed as well as countertops. Exterior finish grading is completed to ensure proper drainage away from the home and prepare the yard for landscaping.
8. Finish mechanical trims; install bathroom fixtures: Light fixtures, outlets and switches are installed and the electrical panel is completed. HVAC equipment is installed and registers completed. Sinks, toilets and faucets are put in place.