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  • Andres Betancur

10 Phases of Building a New Home


The process of building a new home in Texas typically follows a general timeline, which can vary greatly depending on the skill, efficiency, and network of subcontractors that a builder has. A builder's skill can generally be explained by their ability to listen to the homeowner and resolve the many hurdles of the desired build before these problems ever have the opportunity to manifest. It is the job of a builder to be an expert problem solver and a master communicator, to be the person who connects all of the dots that help transform a distant dream into plans and then into a real structure where families exist and children grow.


Here are eight basic steps in the home-building process and a rough approximation of the the time required for each step:



1. Financing

It is foolish to design any home without first analyzing and understanding what you can afford. Prior to any design or aesthetic decisions it is imperative that your budget is solidified and your financing is secured. Most banks help potential homeowners through a “pre-approval” mortgage application process to help focus future discussions with builders. After being pre-approved by a bank for a particular mortgage, it typically takes 30-45 days to close on a loan.

It is foolish to design any home without first analyzing and understanding what you can afford.

2. Planning & Design

Once a firm budget is understood, a home can be designed to maximize dollar value and living function. The design of a home will be forever felt by all inhabitants. Everything from orientation of the house to placement of electrical receptacles. No one wants to sit on the couch with blinding light from the setting sun that prevents them from watching their favorite show or game, just like no one wants to need an extension cord inside your own home.

Schematic home elevations found in a set of house plans
Schematic Home Elevations

The planning and design stage is where finishes are selected for every room in the house. From floors to cabinets, countertops, hardware, shower tile, to paint, etc. It is the job of an expert home builder to guide homeowners through the thousands of variables in an enjoyable fashion where everything is considered and nothing is overwhelming.


During the planning and design stage of a build the communication skills of your builder will be manifested. It is here where the questions and opinions you didn’t know existed must come to the surface in order to truly build the house of your dreams.


There exist levels of “custom” and the design period can range from days to weeks, to months. Many builders offer basic floor plans with several customizable options and different finishings. While this is the most common type of “custom build”, some homeowners have completely original ideas and prefer to start from scratch. A truly custom and original home requires a much longer design time and is typically considerably more expensive.



3. Land & Site Preparation

Before any construction can begin, the building site must be prepared. This may include grading the land, installing utilities, and clearing any debris or obstacles. Different site

Heavy machinery packs down dirt on site of a future home preparing the pad for concrete work.
Preparing the Pad

locations will demand different levels of preparation. Some sites already have electrical power and sewage drains upon purchase while choosing to build on a remote piece of land will present considerable obstacles. Site preparation typically takes a few weeks to a month in urban/suburban developments and new subdivisions. Preparing raw acreage in rural areas requires considerably more time. If new utility poles for power, a well for water, and a septic system for sewage are required site preparation could take as much as 2-4 months before “construction” even begins.



4. Foundation Work

The foundation is arguably the most important part of any new home, as it provides the structural support for the rest of the building. Foundation work typically involves excavating the site, building a pad, drilling/digging piers and footers, and then pouring concrete. The quality of skill and expertise required for concrete cannot be overstated, once a foundation is poured there are very few repairs that can be made. The foundation must be level, square, and true to the plans and the design of the home. This step can take several weeks to a month, depending on the size and complexity of the foundation.

Underground plumbing stubbed out before concrete foundation  is poured
Plumbing Stubs

Before the concrete is poured, both the electrician and plumber must be onsite for “rough installations” of conduit, water, sewage, and other piping. Again, it is crucial that the general contractor have complete understanding of the actions and decisions of all subcontractors before concrete is poured. Once concrete is poured, future reversals and edits are either mostly impossible or substantially expensive. The GC needs to be on top of everything at this stage–and every stage–of the game.



5. Framing

Once the foundation is in place, the framing of the home can begin. This involves

Construction Framework of a home with stacks of lumber and material next to the site.
Framing Day 2

installing the wood or steel framework that will support the walls, floors, and roof of the home. Some homes also plan for large timber trusses for both structural and aesthetic purposes. Framing typically takes several weeks to a month and is the most transformational stages of the entire build. A quality framer can compensate for and overcome some shortcomings and errors from the concrete pour. It is also possible to make some last minute edits to the floor plan and layout of particular walls.


Many things happen in life and variables change from time to time. A good builder is there to serve the desires of a homeowner and should be happy to make adjustments to the satisfaction of the homeowner. Some adjustments are easy and do not affect the price of a build, while other edits are extremely costly and difficult to achieve.


During the framing stage the true communication skills of the builder from the design stage come to light. Does the actual structure being built match the design and image that was in your head during the design stage? As you walk through the “stick house” does it feel and function as you thought it would? It is during this stage of the build where emotions are high and nothing but blue skies exist.



6. Electrical and plumbing and HVAC

Once the framing is complete the electrician, plumber, and air conditioning teams come back to the site and run wires, pipe, and duct lines throughout the entire home. This stage is the infrastructure and function of the home. These teams all have work to do before sheetrock is installed and then all come back to the site after paint has been completed for final installations.

Flex duct running through the framework of an unfinished home

New technologies and techniques are developed all the time and it is important that your builder be well educated on ways to better serve your home. Simple ideas like “door jamb light switches” to programmable lights and receptacles all have the ability to improve the function and livability of your home. The knowledge of your GC and their subcontractors are there to serve you and provide for you the best home they can.


Depending on the complexity of your project the electricians, plumbers, and air conditioning guys might be on site for a combined one month completing

rough-installations “rough ins”.



7. Insulation and drywall

After the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems are in place, the home can be insulated and the drywall can be hung. Insulation helps to create a comfortable, energy-efficient living space and protects homeowners from the harsh temperature swings that we receive in Texas.

Sprayfoam and rockwool insulation set in the framing of a home.
Sprayfoam and Rockwool Insulation

Sheetrock installation is another highly transformative event that often brings jaw-dropping excitement to homeowners. Now rooms become isolating and true sight lines of the home are manifested. At this stage of the build homeowners are oftentimes anxious to finish the project and move into their new homes. Much work still awaits, but at this point light exists at the end of the tunnel.



8. Cabinets, Flooring, & Tile

Installing flooring, installing fixtures such as cabinets and countertops, and installing tile often happens concurrently. Teams of men and different crews come and go from the job site like bees hovering around their hive. Lots of decisions are made and problems are solved at what seems like warp speed. Colors manifest throughout the house

Kitchen with green cabinets and geometric tile backsplash

and space seems to get smaller with each new installation.


New surfaces appear everywhere around the home and provide textures and character to the home that were missing to this point. Depending on the complexity and volume of work, this stage requires another 4-6 weeks of time.


 


 


9. Trim, Paint, & Final Instals

After everything is in carpenters come back to the house and install trim (baseboards, crown molding, closet shelving, etc). Trim adds details and beautiful lines throughout a home. Rooms and spaces become more crisp, better defined, and flow together after trim has been installed.

View of kitchen, dining, and living room in an open concept home with oak wood floors. White cabinets with concrete countertops and high wainscoting in the dining area.

Painters come and bring color and “life” to a home. The personality of the homeowner manifests and people become giddy at the proximity of move-in dates approaching. After painters finish the electricians, plumbers, and HVAC teams return to install light fixtures, sinks, plumbing fixtures, vent grills, etc. and all the rest. Homes truly function at this point and the move in date is days or weeks away.



10. Finishing Touches

The GC is ever present during these final stages ensuring the desired details of the homeowner are achieved and that great care for the home is provided. The painters are called back to the home for final touch-ups and spot painting. Light switches and all other infrastructure systems are tested and put into use.


Homeowners are provided with final walk-throughs and are given the opportunity to ask for light corrections and edits. The home is complete and move-in is imminent.

 

The WalkThrough Podcast:

 

Conclusion

Overall, building a new home in Texas can be a complex and time-consuming process. With careful planning and attention to detail, it can also be an exciting and rewarding experience. It is likely that your overall experience will be determined by the quality and communication skills of your builder.


At Southern Oak Custom Homes we aim to deliver a better build experience. We commit to serve you to our maximum and trust in our ability to produce for you a quality home and a wonderful building experience along the way.


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