Dear Monty: We’ve decided to build a new home. We have seen no existing home we like well enough to own. What are the actual steps in the construction process?
Monty: Assuming a poured concrete full basement and a 2,500-square-foot ranch home, without comment on cost, financing, timetable or builder variances in step order, here are the actual steps.
» Locate the home site. Choose from three sites. Click here for tips on how to choose a builder.
» Design the home to fit the lot. Designing the home first may limit your site selection.
» Clear the lot and excavate the foundation. Ensure your final grade will direct water flow away from the house.
» Pour footings and basement walls. Precision here is a necessary component. Subsoils must be sufficient to support the weight of the home.
» Insulate the foundation. Insulation reduces energy costs. Include drain tile and sump at the base. Water is the eternal enemy.
» Backfill with appropriate soil for the home site. A poured foundation or concrete block, depending on soil type.
» Public utilities. Laterals for sewer and water plus electric and natural gas. A rural lot requires a drilled well.
» The wood sill plate bolts the home to its foundation. The bolts are inserted in wet concrete when they pour the wall.
» The floor plate is an engineered truss system to support the 250-ton weight of a 2,500-square-foot ranch home.
» The subfloor is half-inch or three-quarter-inch plywood sheathing secured over the truss system and exterior base walls.
» 2-by-4-inch studs frame interior walls. The plumber, electrician and HVAC workers rough in functioning components per the blueprints.
» The roof truss system is waterproof sheeting, tar paper and heavy tar and asphalt shingles that cap the roof.
» The exterior walls are covered with waterproof sheeting, then completed with brick, stone or various types and colors of siding.
» Windows are built in factories, shipped to the site and installed there by the builder. The windows complete the protection of the home.
» The insulation is installed between the studs.
» Sheetrock is typically screwed into the studs as it provides a solid bond to secure the heavy material permanently.
» Plaster, of several varieties, encapsulates the sheetrock.
» Painting is completed when the plaster is dry. Now is when the planning and decor begin to show.
» Rough-in flooring sets the elevation base for the cabinetry, future doors and trim.
» Cabinetry today is built in a factory and delivered pre-finished. There are many choices of style and finishes.
» Finished trim is milled and pre-finished in factories and installed by finishing carpenters.
» Lighting fixtures and finished floors are the final inside tasks. The installers want the owners to be the first to set foot on them.
» Landscaping is often the wrap on construction. Many variables, particularly weather, can affect the planting of grasses, shrubs and trees.
To build a home can be a fun and rewarding experience for many. It can also be a nightmare for others. Careful planning, committing the time, and solid consultants are key.
— Richard Montgomery is the author of House Money: An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home. He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Click here to ask him a question at DearMonty.com, or follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.