What to Expect When Building a Home: The 10 Milestones

Aside from having a child, there are few things more exciting for a family than building a new home. The entire process - from finding the perfect neighborhood and lot to seeing the home “rise” from the ground and take shape - is exhilarating. Unfortunately, it can also be nerve-wracking. 

Unforeseen delays in construction, caused by any number of factors, can be extremely stressful, especially if this is the first new home construction for a family. However, understanding the building process can help alleviate this.

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Perfect Storm = Delays

Historically low mortgage interest rates, combined with reduced inventory, have caused the demand for homes to far exceed builder supply. Plus, there is now a new factor impacting home construction in the post-pandemic period.

According to a CNBC report, “Though buyer traffic remains strong, some home building activity is being delayed due to material shortages,” said Chuck Fowke, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a builder from Tampa, Florida. “This is forcing builders and buyers to grapple with rising affordability issues, as soaring lumber prices have added more than $24,000 to the price of a new home.”

“This shows that, in the context of the broader housing market, builders are seeing increased delays in getting their products to their buyers. Some of the big public builders have said in earnings releases that they are delaying construction, so as not to be building while material costs are at their latest peaks.”

Jeremy Emler, a home construction expert with Acme Brick, noted, “Material delays are spread across the entire build process.  We are hearing of delays coming from concrete, lumber, brick, plumbing fixtures, flooring, appliances, and garage door openers.  Just as fast as one segment gets corrected and is removed from the list another one will be added in its place.”

All these factors can cause “high anxiety” among families who have decided to build a new home. The best medicine for this malady is knowledge. This starts with understanding the process and timelines for the construction of a new home.

The 10 Milestones for New Home Construction

Building a new home takes longer than it ever has.  

“There are no more 75 or 90 day build times for production builders,” Emler said. “These have been stretched out to 120-150 days because of material delays and the volume of homes on the ground under construction. Plus, more expensive custom homes have an even longer build time.”

According to several consumer guides to home construction, including this website, future new homeowners should expect these 10 steps from a builder after finding the perfect lot. 

1. Preparing the Construction Site and Pouring the Foundation

In this step, the builder will:

  • Apply for and acquire all building permits from the local government
  • Have the construction crew level the site
  • Put up wooden forms for the temporary foundation (either pier-and-beam or slab)
  • Footings (structures where the house interfaces with the earth that supports it) will be installed

After these steps are completed, a city inspector will visit 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). The builder will then remove the forms and begin coordinating step No. 2, the framing phase.

2. Complete Rough Framing

In this phase, the builder will:

  • Install the floor system 
  • Complete walls and roof systems
  • Fireplaces are built
  • Sheathing is applied to exterior walls and they are covered with a protective wrap

3. Complete Siding and Roofing, Rough Plumbing, Electrical, and HVAC

According to the above website, “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, 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.”

The builder will install:

  • Pipes and wires
  • Sewer lines and vents
  • Water supply lines
  • Bathtubs and shower units
  • Ductwork for HVAC system
  • HVAC vent pipes

“Rough framing, plumbing, and electrical and mechanical systems are inspected for compliance with building codes. Most likely these will be three different inspections.”

While the builder is hard at work, this phase is a good time to begin choosing brick colors and styles. There could be delays and staying “ahead” of these helps the project progress.

4. Install Insulation

Proper insulation is critical to saving homeowners money on utilities. Homes constructed of brick have additional insulation benefits over wood construction or those with synthetic siding. 

Common Types of Insulation in New Homes

  • Fiberglass
  • Cellulose
  • Foam mineral wool
  • Concrete blocks
  • Insulation concrete forms
  • Spray foam
  • Structural insulated panels
  • Foam board or rigid foam

5. Complete Drywall and Interior Fixtures, Start Exterior Finishes

  • Drywall is hung and taped
  • Texturing is completed
  • A primary coat of paint is applied
  • Exterior finishes - brick, metal siding, cladding, stone, or other exterior building materials are installed. Some homeowners choose to paint or limewash the brick during this phase.

6. Finish Interior Trim, Install Exterior Walkways, Patio and Driveway

  • Doors, windowsills, decorative trim installed
  • Outdoor entertainment spaces such as  patios or outdoor kitchens are added
  • Cabinets, vanities, fireplace mantles installed
  • The final coat of paint applied

This phase is a great time to visit Acme Brick, Tile & Stone to choose tile and flooring.

7. Install Hard Surface Flooring, 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

9. Install Mirrors and Shower Doors; Finish Flooring, Exterior Landscaping

  • Mirrors, shower doors, and carpeting are installed, and final cleanup takes place
  • Trees, shrubs, and grass are planted or artificial turf is installed and other exterior landscaping completed

During this phase, a building-code official completes a final inspection and issues a certificate of occupancy. If any defects are found during this inspection, a follow-up inspection may be scheduled to ensure that they have been corrected.

10. Final Walk-Through

This is the phase where any aspects of the home that need to be corrected are noted with the builder. It is during this time where professionals note that homeowners should “examine the surfaces of countertops, fixtures, floors, and walls for possible damage. Sometimes disputes arise because the homeowner discovers a gouge in a countertop after move-in and there’s no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s crew or the homeowner’s movers.”

Planning for Pivots

There will always be unforeseen challenges in any building process. The best advice is to prepare, after each milestone, before they occur.

“I would recommend that homeowners have a primary and secondary decision made for each segment of the house,” Emler said. “That way, when material is ordered, if the original selection is not available, they can pivot directly to ‘Plan B’ to save time.  

“If the homeowner must go through the entire selection process again, it will add to the build time. Don’t wait until you need a product to order it. Have all your materials selected in advance.”

Are you ready to build your dream home? Talk to your builder and click here to speak to the experts at Acme Brick for great ideas on quality products.