Building your dream home doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a lot of work from both you and your builder. There are decisions to be made and permits to be pulled, and in Kansas, the weather is always a factor. But, having realistic expectations for the timeline and what’s involved in building a new home can make the process smoother and less stressful. Barring major interference from Mother Nature, here’s what you can expect from the building process, and how long it should take to build a new house.
Keep in mind, the exact steps and timeframe can vary, so talk to your builder about the specific building process for your home. This is especially important if your design calls for a lot of customization or elaborate finishes.
Once you’ve chosen your new home’s floor plan, chosen a lot, and selected a builder, there’s still a lot of work to be done before construction can begin. The home has to be financed, surveys will need to be done, and permits will be pulled. During this time, you may be asked to make some selections and decisions about finish materials. Your builder may also want to visit the site with you to address any unique features or issues the location present. All of this could take 4-6 weeks.
HOME CONSTRUCTION STEPS
Preparing the site, excavating and pouring the foundation
This is one of the most exciting parts of the process, when you see the first signs of progress on your new home. First, your lot will be cleared of any trees, rocks and debris, and it will be leveled. Stakes are put up to mark the outline of your home, and then digging can begin.
If you’re building a house with a slab foundation, holes are dug for the footings that provide support, then forms are added and the concrete for the footings is poured. Then, trenches are dug between them for the plumbing, electrical and other utilities, and the slab is poured.
If your home has a basement, the hole is excavated and then forms are added for the footings and concrete is poured in them. Afterward, the basement floor and walls are formed and the concrete is poured. The next step is waiting for the concrete to cure. This takes 2-3 weeks, and no work can be done on the site during that time.
After the foundation cures, a waterproof coating is applied to the outside, drains are installed, and sewer and plumbing lines are added. Then the hole is backfilled, which is when excavated dirt is used to fill in the hole around the basement or foundation.
Depending on whether your home’s foundation is a slab, basement or crawl space, a city inspector will come out once or twice to make sure it’s installed correctly and built to code.
Compared to the wait for the foundation to cure, this step goes relatively quickly. The skeleton or shell of the house is built, which consists of the floor, walls and roof. Then, the roof and exterior walls are covered with plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). A house wrap may be applied next. It’s a protective covering that goes under the siding and helps prevent mold and rot by repelling liquid water while letting water vapor out. Finally, the windows are installed and the exterior doors are added.
HVAC, electrical and plumbing rough-in
The siding and roofing are installed next, which puts the home at the “dried in” stage, because it’s rain and snow resistant. Inside the house, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors install the ductwork for the furnace and air conditioner and add vent pipes through the roof.
The plumbing contractors runs pipes, water supply lines, sewer lines, and vents through the ceiling, floors, and interior walls. At this point, bathtub and shower units are installed while there’s room to move them in.
The electrical contractors start running wiring through the ceiling and the interior walls, then outlets, switches and light receptacles and installed and wired to the breaker panel. There will be inspections for the framing, electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems when this phase is complete.
Your home will most likely have insulation installed in each exterior wall, the attic, and any upper floors. Unfinished basements and crawl spaces are generally not insulated. Insulation will help keep your home at a consistent, comfortable temperature and increase its energy efficiency. There are different types of insulation used in new homes today, and they each have a different R-value, which is a measurement of its resistance to the transfer of heat. In Kansas, homes are usually built with rolls or bats of blanket insulation, blown-in, loose-fill or liquid foam insulation.
Drywall install, taping and texturing
The drywall, also called Sheetrock, gypsum board or wallboard, is hung and the nail holes and seams between the sheets are taped and mudded to create a smooth surface. If there will be any texturing like knockdown on the walls or ceiling, it’s applied now as well. Then, the walls are primed.
Interior trim and exterior sidewalks and driveways installed
This is the point when the inside of the house really starts to come together. The interior doors and casings are installed, as well as the baseboards, moldings, window sills, stair railings, and any other decorative wood trim. Fire place mantels and surrounds are added if they’re in your home’s plans, and your kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities are installed. The walls are wallpapered or painted as requested.
Outside the house, your sidewalks patio and driveway will be poured. Many builders wait until this stage to do this so the concrete doesn’t get damaged by heavy equipment coming on site.
Exterior grading, interior countertops and hard-surface flooring install
A finish grading is done do smooth out tracks from the backhoes, delivery trucks and other heavy machinery that’s driven on the site. It also ensures the land around your home slopes away from the foundation to ensure proper drainage.
Any wood, ceramic tile, or vinyl flooring gets installed now, along with the kitchen and bathroom countertops.
Plumbing, electrical and HVAC trims and fixtures installed
This includes, toilets, sinks, faucets, light fixtures, electrical switches and outlets, as well as central air registers and equipment.
Finish interior; exterior landscaping if applicable
All the final details are wrapped up at this point, like mirrors and shower doors being hung, carpeting gets installed, and cleaning is done. If you’re having any landscaping done as part of the process, like installing sod or planting grass, shrubs and trees, it will be done now, too.
When all of this is complete, a building code inspector will come and complete a final inspection. If everything is up to code, he or she will issue a certificate of occupancy (C.O.), meaning the property is complete. If he or she finds any defects, however, a follow-up inspection may be needed to make sure they’ve been taken care of.
Final or pre-settlement walk through
You and your builder will walk through your new house and go over all the features and systems so you can learn how they work. The builder may also go over your warranty coverage, claim procedures, and expectations for maintenance at this time.
Another important aspect of the walkthrough is to check for items that need to be fixed or completed, so it’s important to look carefully at the walls, floors, fixtures, and countertops to check for damage.
As you’ve seen in the timeline, there are several inspections scheduled throughout the building process. Most are mandated to check for code compliance, and your building may also do quality checks during critical phases of the project. The purpose of these is to find and address potential problems before construction is completed. However, it’s important to know that some issues may not be found until after you’re living in your home.
It’s important to talk to your builder early about your attendance at inspections early in the process. There may be some you’re required to be there for, but others may just be a good chance for you to learn about your new home and see how everything will work. If you wish to hire an inspector yourself to do an additional check on the home, let your builder know before construction begins.
Due to both safety and logistical reasons, most builders discourage clients from stopping at a construction site unannounced, so talk to your builder ahead of time about arranging walkthroughs, progress updates, and on-site visits to your home.