If you’re looking to build a home from the ground up, you’re probably wondering how long it will take. That depends. According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data, it takes an average of 4-6 months to build a single-family home. However, construction time can vary by environment and region. Homes built in the Northeast, for example, average 7 to 9 months of construction time, while homes built in the South and the West average just 4 to 6 months until completion.
It stands to reason that larger homes with more bedrooms and bathrooms usually take longer to build, while smaller, simpler homes can be completed more quickly. But regardless of the size of your new home, there are some important considerations to address to help keep your home’s construction on track:
- Selecting an established homebuilder will minimize potential construction delays and ensure you get the quality you expect.
- Choosing the time of year when big shifts in temperature or too much precipitation are unlikely in your area will prevent construction delays.
- Deciding on interior finishes, fixtures and appliances early on will ensure they arrive on time and are installed on schedule.
- Finally, consider the fact that during the height of the construction season subcontractors may be in short supply and that may delay the completion of your home.
To better understand factors that determine how long it will take to build your new home, let’s take a more detailed look at the construction process
Understanding the Process of Building a House
A. Pre-construction Phase
This phase can take 1-2 months and is in addition to the construction time.
1. Obtain building permits
Once you sign your purchase contract, your new homebuilder will apply for building permits. Building permits are the way counties, towns and municipalities enforce their building codes. Local governments adopt those codes in order to ensure that all buildings meet minimum safety and structural standards. The exact length of time will depend on how quickly your local government agency can process applications and whether any complications arise.
2. Select design options and finishes
While you are waiting for the permits to be issued, it is your responsibility to visit the homebuilder’s design center and select your interior options and upgrades. Completing this process early on will ensure timely delivery and installation of interior finishes, fixtures and appliances.
3. Obtain financing
Unless you are paying cash, be sure to get pre-approved by a lender and finalize your loan early in the process to avoid surprises later on.
B. Construction Phase
This phase will most likely be completed within 4-6 months. Most of the steps below will require sign-off from a local building inspector.
1. Land prep, footings and foundation
The first step in the construction process is getting the land ready. This includes clearing the area, digging trenches and having utilities installed. Then your foundation, made of concrete reinforced with steel rods, will be poured. Depending on the part of the country you’re building in and the design of your home, you may have a slab foundation, crawl space or full basement.
2. Framing and roof
During the framing step, your house will start to take shape. Framing includes the floor joists, subfloors, studs that form the walls and roof trusses. Your builder may also install windows, roof shingles and siding during this step.
3. Plumbing, electrical and HVAC
Once the home is framed in, the builder will start installing the home’s major systems, including plumbing pipes, electrical wiring and heating and cooling ducts.
Insulation will be applied to exterior walls, basements, crawl spaces and attics. Fiberglass, cellulose and foam insulation are the materials used.
Drywall panels are hung with screws, taped and mudded, and a spray texture is applied. Then the new walls are primed with paint.
6. Interior and Exterior Finishes
In this step, most of the home’s interior features will be added. This includes doors, baseboards, casings, window sills, stair balusters, kitchen counters and cabinets, bathtubs, vanities, and hard-surfaced flooring. Exterior finishes include driveways, walkways, patios and final grading to direct water away from the home. Landscaping may be done during this step too.
7. Fixture installation
With the house close to completion, toilets, faucets, light switches, heat register covers, the hot water heater, the electrical panel and the HVAC systems are all installed.
8. Flooring installation
Carpet and hardwood flooring are added in this late stage.
C. Final Inspection
Once construction is complete, a final inspection will be conducted by a local building official. Upon passing, you’ll receive a certificate of occupancy, which gives you the green light to move in.
D. Final Walkthrough
Before you move in, you’ll want to do a final walkthrough with your builder to identify punch list items that need to be repaired for the job to be considered complete. Common punch list items include electrical defects like nonfunctioning outlets, damage to drywall and paint, or missing fixtures.