Editor’s note: Richard “Monty” Montgomery writes a real estate advice column for Creators Syndicate. He is the author of “House Money: An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home.” He advocates for industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice.
Dear Monty: We have 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’s Answer: 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.
THE BEGINNING PHASE
1. Locate the home site. Choose from three sites. Here are some tips on how to choose a builder.
2. Design the home to fit the lot. Designing the home first may limit your site selection.
3. Clear the lot and excavate the foundation. Ensure your final grade will direct water flow away from the house.
4. Pour footings and basement walls. Precision here is a necessary component. Subsoils must be sufficient to support the weight of the home.
5. Insulate the foundation. Insulation reduces energy costs. Include drain tile and sump at the base. Water is the eternal enemy.
6. Backfill with appropriate soil for the home site. A poured foundation or concrete block, depending on soil type.
7. Public utilities. Laterals for sewer and water plus electric and natural gas. A rural lot requires a drilled well.
THE INTERMEDIATE PHASE
8. The wood sill plate bolts the home to its foundation. The bolts are inserted in wet concrete when they pour the wall.
9. The floor plate is an engineered truss system to support the 250-ton weight of a 2,500-square-foot ranch home.
10. The subfloor is half-inch or three-quarter-inch plywood sheathing secured over the truss system and exterior base walls.
11. 2-by-4-inch studs frame interior walls. The plumber, electrician and HVAC workers rough in functioning components per the blueprints.
12. The roof truss system is waterproof sheeting, tar paper and heavy tar and asphalt shingles that cap the roof.
13. The exterior walls are covered with waterproof sheeting, then completed with brick, stone or various types and colors of siding.
14. Windows are built in factories, shipped to the site and installed there by the builder. The windows complete the protection of the home.
15. The insulation is installed between the studs.
16. Sheetrock is typically screwed into the studs as it provides a solid bond to secure the heavy material permanently.
17. Plaster, of several varieties, encapsulates the sheetrock.
THE FINISHING PHASE
18. Painting is completed when the plaster is dry. Now is when the planning and decor begin to show.
19. Rough-in flooring sets the elevation base for the cabinetry, future doors and trim.
20. Cabinetry today is built in a factory and delivered pre-finished. There are many choices of style and finishes.
21. Finished trim is milled and pre-finished in factories and installed by finishing carpenters.
22. Lighting fixtures and finished floors are the final inside tasks. The installers want the owners to be the first to set foot on them.
23. Landscaping is often the wrap on construction. Many variables, particularly weather, can affect the planting of grasses, shrubs and trees.
A MOVING TARGET
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 for industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty.
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