So you’ve decided to build a new home- congratulations! Building a new home has many benefits - check out our blog post comparing whether to buy or to build.
Now that you are set on building your own house, what’s next?
First, select your architect. You can also go with a Design Builder, a company who does all design and construction under the same umbrella. Or you can go with an Owner’s Rep, who selects and vets all professionals on your behalf, so you can focus on what you care about most, and the Rep will enforce everything for you.
(Skip this step if you have decided to purchase from a builder who only offers a selection of houses to choose from.)
Next, select your contractor.
Now, onto the building process:
Step 1: Prepping the site and pouring foundation.
The crew clears your future yard of all trees and rocks to prepare the space for the foundation work. Footings are placed. They’ll pour concrete for the foundation, and wait for it to cure. Then, they apply waterproofing. After that, the crew installs all the first-floor plumbing connections, including drains, sewer, and water lines. The soil around the foundation is filled in.
Step 2: 1st Inspection.
The building inspector checks the foundation to ensure it’s up to code. This is very important because if anything was done wrong, or if any corners were cut, this will have catastrophic consequences later on in the house’s lifecycle. Best know now if you have to tear it out and fix it than later on when there’s a whole house sitting on top of it.
Step 3: Framing.
The house’s frame (wall, floor, and roof skeletons) is built by the framing carpentry crew, and then wrapped in protective sheathing such as Tyvek. This vapor barrier keeps the frame safe from water getting into the wood if there are any leaks from outside, which could lead to wood rot or mold. However the crew does plan for and build ways for the vapor to escape. Finally, the roof is added, keeping the home safe from rain before the interior work begins.
Step 4: Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC.
After finishing the framing, and while the walls are still open, it’s time for the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors to get started, setting up these systems. Vents, water supply, and sewer lines are put in. The HVAC guys install the ducts for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The plumbers and electricians run all the pipes and wiring through the house’s walls, floors, and ceilings.
Step 5: 2nd inspection.
The building inspector checks out the framing, electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems. You might have two different inspectors—one for the framing and another for the other systems.
Step 6: Insulation.
Now it’s time to insulate the exterior walls, floors, and ceilings. It’s important to insulate well and pay attention to the best type of insulation for your area – far north New Hampshire is going to require better insulation than Maryland. If you underinsulate, you will have higher than necessary electricity or heating gas bills in order to keep your house adequately heated or cooled.
Step 7: Drywall.
Drywall, aka sheetrock, comes next – finally the house will start to seem like a house! The drywallers tape the seams so they are smooth and apply a primer coat of paint before the painting team comes in.
Step 8: Exterior finish.
Whether it’s siding, stucco, stone, brick, or something exotic, now is the time to put on the exterior finishes, and paint them if applicable.
Step 9: Interior trim.
All the decorative touches, such as window and door trim, casings, moldings, mantels, railings, and other kinds of interior trim are installed by the finish carpenters and painted when the painters come through.
Step 10: Exterior walkways.
The walkways, driveway, and patio are constructed at this point, after the heavy equipment use is finished and the site has had a chance to settle, it’s time to put in any exterior sidewalks, paths, driveways, patios. This is also the time when an engineer assesses the site to make sure the grading is added to drain water away from the home and keep it dry.
Step 11: Flooring and countertops.
The flooring crew installs whatever options you choose - tile, wood, laminate or something else- and the carpenters return to install the countertops.
Step 12: Lights and mechanical trims.
The electricians come to install your light fixtures, along with the electrical outlets, switches, and the electrical panel. The plumbers come to install the plumbing fixtures such as toilets, sinks, and faucets. And the final details on the HVAC are finished.
Step 13: Finishing.
All the final minor details are addressed in this step. This includes carpeting, mirrors, shower doors, etc. Outside in the yard, the lawn and landscaping are completed.
Step 14: 3rd inspection.
The building inspector completes one more assessment to ensure your new home meets all building codes. When the building inspector approves, the building department issues a certificate of occupancy (CO). If any code related concerns are identified, the inspector sends a list of corrections, and the home will require another inspection before the CO is awarded.
Step 15: The walk-through.
Before closing on the house, make sure it’s everything you dreamed of - do a final walk-through to make sure any custom details you asked for are there (this is called punch listing). This is also your opportunity to learn how everything works— which light switches to flick, how the HVAC works, if the windows are tricky to open and close. You also need to observe details. If there’s a nick in a door or wall, a scratch on the flooring, a cracked tile, a dent in an appliance, make sure to point it out during this walk-through so that you can show the damage was done before you closed. Your builder will make a list of all repairs that must be completed. Determine the schedule for having all corrections completed, and get it in the contract. With good communication between you and your builder, the new home construction process is exciting. You get to watch your home emerging from a vision to a reality!