Building a home is a long and laborious process, but most of us don’t know what the actual steps of home construction are. If you’re planning on building a custom home, you’re probably interested in what happens from the time builders first set foot on a lot to the moment you’re handed your keys. Let’s find out what happens in the months it takes to build a custom home.
The 5 Phases of Home Construction
There are five steps of construction when building a home: preconstruction, foundation, framing, interior and exterior work, and near-completion to hand-over. Though these phases are broad, we’ll dive deeper into the nitty gritty of what happens during each of these phases, what happens when, and how long things take during each stage.
During the pre-construction phase, your builder will develop a plan for your home and submit them to their local municipal permitting office for approval. During the review process, site tests are performed and the engineering of the plans are scrutinized to perfection. Before you proceed anywhere with your build, you’ll need three different site tests to ensure that the lot is ideal for your property location: soil testing, site survey and levels, and a detailed property report.
Soil testing looks at things like bearing capacity, reactiveness, and establishes fill/scrape recommendations to properly support the home being built. Bearing capacity is essential since it tells the engineer important information about the stability of the ground for the foundational design of your home. Reactivity tests are important for determining the likelihood of the soil moving, contracting, and expanding. Reactivity ranges from A – non reactive, to P – problem site. Depending on which class your soil falls under, the foundation may need extra reinforcement, you have to take steps against chemical abnormalities that can affect your home later on, or you may not be able to build at all.
Site surveys and levels will tell you important information about a number of elements for your property. A wind rating tells the designer how to design the home to withstand the wind gusts and speeds of your location. Existing retaining walls need to be noted since they can create stresses in the ground that affect your foundational design and cost. The slope of the land may require leveling or additional structural steps for your safety, so site levels and contours are another important aspect of your land survey. There are dozens of questions that your surveyor will investigate during this step as well, including water mains, fencing, storm water pit, sewage, gas, and power connections, site access, and more.
A property report provides a complete picture of your lot so your builder knows what to expect before starting construction. This is a crucial step to prevent delays, costs, and complications during the build. The report will include information about building restrictions, subdivision information, heritage requirements, designated land works, temporary fencing requirements, sewage, alpine and high corrosion areas, and more.
Building a foundation follows 5 general steps. First, your builder will clear the ground of all debris, including sticks, rocks, plant life, and garbage. Next, the area will be thoroughly prepped. To do this, the builder will dig an area 2 times deeper than the actual foundation will be. They will level and compact the soil, add gravel or sand to block out moisture, and then lay a polyethylene overtop for total waterproofing.
Next, we need a frame. The builder will use screed rails on both sides of the wood outline of your foundation, lay a straightedge across the frame, and add supports to rails to keep them sturdy and straight during pouring. Now the concrete can be poured to fill the foundation frame, using the straightedge to level it out as it fills. To finish, simply remove the rails and straightedge, fix any flaws, and allow the foundation to cure.
When framing a home, you always start from the ground up. The first step is to construct a floor on top of the foundation, and this is accomplished by anchoring sill plates to the foundation and fastening floor joists to these plates. Joist headers will be used to box in the ends so that everything sits flush with the outside of the foundation. After this, a subfloor is added that will support the wall construction. Sole plates will be nailed to the subflooring or anchored to the concrete slab. Studs are then nailed to the sole plates and then top plates are nailed to the studs to keep everything secure. Windows and doors will be mapped out in advance to be framed around. Once all studs are in place and the doors and windows are framed in, the headers can be installed. The wall will be built at once and then raised into place and secured in position.
Interior and Exterior Work
Once the framing is complete, the real work can begin. This stage includes plumbing, electrical, HVAC, insulation, drywall and interior fixtures, hard surface flooring, countertops, mechanical trims, bathrooms fixtures, doors, carpeting, paint, exterior finishes, and landscaping. Throughout these steps, there will be numerous inspections to make sure that everything is installed up to code and in accordance with all regulations.
Near Completion to Handover
In this stage, all the finishing touches are completed. Everything will be cleaned and tidied, debris will be taken away, and all finishing touches will be put in place to get the home move-in ready. If you’ve coordinated with a designer, you may also have help furnishing the house during this stage as well. You’ll have the opportunity to do a final walkthrough as well to make sure that everything is in place. Then, you’ll be handed the keys to your brand new home!