New Home Construction – What to Expect
Part of what makes purchasing a new home exciting is the personal selection of colors and options. Then comes the actual construction of the home, and many new home buyers don’t quite know what to expect. I almost always warn my new home buyers that the construction process is not always a pretty thing. There are a large number of different contractors and workers that are in and out of the house, and there are many messes made throughout the different stages of construction. The main thing to remember is that the end result will be a well built, clean and exciting new home for the buyer.
The following is a rough guide to the construction stages of the home. Some of the stages go by very quickly, while others take much longer to complete. There might even be a few days where it doesn’t appear that any work is being done at all on the home. This is all very normal for the process, but be sure to talk to your homebuilder’s sales representative with any specific questions you have about the process.
First Things First – The Building Permit
The very first thing that the builder needs in order to begin construction is a building permit from the city, and for that, the builder needs to have all the information in place to apply for that permit. This is why the builder asks for very specific options to be selected upfront because they have a bearing on the permit process. These things include patio options, the house placement on the lot, interior structural options and the like. Some builders prefer to have the flooring, cabinets, and countertops selected early on, but these items are not usually necessary to apply for the building permit. After applying for the permit, the time to receive it can vary based on how quickly the city can process the request and issue the permit.
Lot Preparation and Foundation
Once the builder has a permit in hand, it is now time to get the lot prepared for the foundation. Soil testing and compaction is performed on the area of the lot where the foundation will be poured. Foundation form boards are then put in place that show the boundaries where the foundation will be. Underground plumbing is then dug and installed.
Many builders today are utilizing post tension foundations. These foundations are comprised of a monolithic slab of concrete with crisscrossing patterns of sleeved steel cable that run within it. The steel cables are set where they will lay within the foundation, and then the concrete gets poured and shaped into the foundation. After the concrete cures, these steel cables are then put under tremendous tension which applies compressive force to the foundation making it much stronger and less resistant to cracking.
The actual structure of the house comes next with the wood framing of the home. The framing crews work fast, often completing the rough framing in just a few days. A crane is used to place the prefabricated roof trusses onto the top of the house. Bathtubs and windows are installed at this time.
After framing is completed, work on the roofing continues, and electrical and plumbing lines are installed within the framed walls. Ducting for the air conditioning system is installed. This is also when any structured wiring such as for future speakers or a computer network is installed. Wire and Styrofoam are installed on the outside of the house in preparation for the stucco finish to be added later. Roof tiles are placed on top of the house.
There are many city inspections that take place throughout the construction of the home, but one of the major inspections takes place once all of the electrical wiring and plumbing are fitted and the house is ready for insulation to be installed. This is the perfect time for the inspector to come out and view everything inside the walls prior to them being packed with insulation and covered with drywall. Once this inspection is passed, then the exterior walls and ceiling are insulated, and the house is stocked with large 4’x8’ sheets of drywall. The drywall installation crews usually take a few of days to install, tape off the seams, and texture the drywall in the house. Floorboards get installed at this time, and holes are cut out of the drywall where future lighting, plumbing, and electrical outlets will go. Doors are installed during this timeframe as well.
Paint/Cabinets/ Countertops/ Stucco
The construction of the house is now hitting the home stretch. The exterior of the house gets a covering of grey stucco added to it, and then painters paint both the inside and outside of the home. Cabinets are installed, and both kitchen and bathroom countertops come in next.
The last few pieces of the puzzle come together with the installation of flooring into the home as well as trim work for light fixtures, electrical outlets, bathroom fixtures and the like. Once these final items are installed, painters come back out to touch up the paint, and a cleaning crew cleans the house so that it will be clean for the new owner.
And that pretty much sums up the new home construction process from start to finish. If you have any comments or questions, I would love to hear them.