Here’s what to expect during the main phases of construction.
Building your new home is exciting, especially when you understand how the process works. The following summary outlines the typical steps your builder will take to realize your home, and will help you stay on top of what’s happening at key stages.
Remember that the process of building a house can vary from region to region and builder to builder, especially if you’re building an elaborate house made to your needs. Be sure to ask your builder about their specific policies and procedures.
1. Preparation of the ground and foundation
Often, ground preparation and foundation work are done by the same team, but this may not be the case if it is wooded land. By using a backhoe and excavator, the team cleans the ground of rocks, debris and trees to build the house, and if necessary, takes care of the septic system. The team levels the ground, places the wooden formwork that serves as a template for the foundation, and digs the holes and trenches. The bases are installed (structures that serve as an interface between the house and the land on which it rests). If your house is going to have a well, it will be dug at this stage.
If the house has a basement, the hole is excavated, the formwork of the bases is placed and the concrete is poured from them, and the formwork of the foundation walls is placed and the concrete of the same is poured. If it is the installation of concrete slabs at ground level, the bases are excavated, the formwork is laid and the concrete is poured; the area between the bases is leveled and installations for services are made (for example, slots for drainage pipes and electrical installations); and the concrete slab is poured.
Once the concrete has been poured into the holes and trenches, it will require a time of setting or hardening. During this period, there will be no activities on the construction site.
After the concrete has been set, the equipment applies a waterproofing membrane to the foundation walls; install drains, sewers and water taps and any plumbing installations that need to be placed on the first floor slab or basement floor; and then the hole around the foundation wall is filled with the previously excavated earth.
INSPECTION No. 1: Once the setting process is complete, a city inspector visits the site to make sure the foundation components comply with the codes and are properly installed. The inspection can be repeated depending on the type of foundation (slab, semi-basement or basement). Your builder will remove the formwork and begin coordinating step 2, the laying phase of the structure or frame.
2. Complete thick work structure
The systems of floors, walls and ceilings (known collectively as the shell or skeleton of the house) are made. Plywood cladding or oriented fiber boards (OSBs) are placed on the exterior walls and ceiling, and exterior windows and doors are installed. The coating is coated with a protective barrier known as a home insulator, which prevents liquid water from seeping into the structure, but allows water vapor to escape. This reduces the chances of mold forming and rotting wood.
3. Complete installation of thick plumbing, electrical systems and HVAC works
Once the structure or skeleton has been finalized, the siding and ceilings can be installed. At the same time, electrical and plumbing contractors begin laying pipes and wiring through interior walls, ceilings, and floors. Drainage and venting lines are installed, as well as water supply lines for each appliance. Units such as tubs or tubs and showers are put in place at this stage, because there is more room to maneuver with large, heavy objects.
The ducts for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and possibly the furnace, are installed. HVAC ventilation pipes are installed through the ceiling, and insulation is placed on the floors, walls, and ceilings.
After installing the roof, the house is considered “dry.” The electrician installs the receptacles for the power outlets, lights and switches and places the wires from the switch panel to each receptacle. Wiring for telephone, television and music systems is included in this work.
It should be noted that HVAC and plumbing ducts are usually installed before wiring, because it is easier to lay the wires around the pipes and ducts than the opposite.
INSPECTIONS 2, 3 and 4: Structural, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems are inspected for compliance with building codes. Most likely, there are three different inspections. At a minimum, structural inspection shall be carried out separately from inspections of electrical and mechanical systems.
At this stage, the drywall sheets (also known as panels, sheets or plasterboard) are delivered to the construction site. The name Sheetrock®, a registered trademark of USG Corporation, is sometimes used as a generic term for gypsum sheets.
4. Installation of insulation
Insulation plays a key role in creating a more comfortable and coherent indoor climate while significantly improving the energy efficiency of the home. One of the most important qualities of insulation is its thermal performance or R-value, which indicates how well the material resists thermal transfer. Most homes have insulation on all external walls, as well as the attic and any floor that is located above unfinished basements or semi-basements.
The most common types of insulation used in new homes are fiberglass, cellulose, and foam. Depending on the region and climate, your builder might also use mineral wool (also known as rock wool or slag mineral wool); concrete blocks; foam sheets or rigid foam; insulating concrete formwork (ICF); sprayed foam; and insulated structural panels (SIPs).
Insulating coverage, which comes in sections or rolls, is typical of new construction. So is loose-filled and blown insulation, which is composed of fiberglass, cellulose or mineral wool particles. Another insulation option, liquid foam, can be sprayed, foamed in situ, injected or poured. Although it costs more than traditional insulation in rolls, liquid foam has twice the R value per inch and can fill the smallest cavities, creating an effective barrier against air.
Fiberglass and mineral wool are normally installed on side walls, attics, floors, semi-basements, high ceilings and basements. Manufacturers often place a coating of stencil paper or kraft or aluminum kraft paper to function as a barrier to steam and/or air. In areas where insulation will be exposed, such as basement walls, insulating sheets sometimes have a special flame-resistant coating.
5. Completion of the installation of plaster sheets and interior textures; start of exterior finishes
The plaster sheets are hung and glued with adhesive tape so that the joints between them are not visible, and then finish the texturing work (as appropriate). The base paint layer is also placed, after finishing placing the adhesive tape. Contractors begin installing exterior finishing elements, such as bricks, stucco, stones, or siding.
6. Completion of interior details; access roads and external roads are installed
Interior doors, skirting boards, door frames, window frames, moldings, stair balusters and other decorative elements are installed, along with cabinets, vanities and shelves for fireplaces and others. The final coat of paint is given to the walls and the wallpaper is placed, if applicable.
Usually, access roads, paths and courtyards are made at this stage. Many builders prefer to wait until the end of the project before pouring the concrete for the access roads because heavy machinery (such as the gypsum sheet delivery truck) can damage the concrete. But some builders pour the concrete from the access roads as soon as the foundation work is finished, so that when the owners of the house visit the work the shoes are not filled with mud.
7. Installation of floor coverings and countertops; completion of exterior leveling
Ceramic tiles, vinyl coatings or wooden floors are installed, in addition to countertops or stops. The leveling of the exterior finish is completed to ensure the correct drainage out of the house and to prepare the garden area for landscaping or gardening work.
8. Completion of mechanical adjustments; installation of bathroom accessories
Lamps, plugs and switches are installed and the installation of the electrical panel is completed. HVAC equipment is installed and vents are finalized. Sinks, sinks, toilets and faucets are placed.
9. Installation of mirrors, shower doors and floor finishing; gardening finish in outdoor areas
Mirrors, shower doors and carpets are installed, and then the final cleaning is done. Trees, shrubs and grass are planted and other gardening work is completed.
INSPECTION No. 5: A building code officer conducts a final inspection and issues a certificate of occupancy (C.O.). If defects are found during the inspection, a follow-up inspection can be scheduled to ensure they have been corrected.
10. Final route
Your builder will give you a final tour of your new home so that you know its characteristics and the operation of the different systems and components, and will explain your responsibilities in terms of maintenance, as well as the details of warranty coverage and related procedures. This is what is often referred to as a pre-settlement tour. It is also a good opportunity to detect things that need to be corrected or adjusted, so you must be attentive and be observant. Examine the surfaces of countertops, fixtures, floors, and walls for possible damage. Sometimes disputes arise because the owner discovers a defect in a countertop after moving and there is no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s work team or by the homeowner’s move-in charge.
A few words about inspections
Your new home will be inspected periodically during the construction period. In addition to mandatory code compliance inspections, your builder can perform quality reviews at critical times in the process. (In the previous article, we pointed out the times when such inspections are normally carried out.) The idea is to spot as many potential problems as possible before construction is complete, although some issues might not be apparent until you’ve lived in the house for a certain period of time.
Talk to your builder on time about going to inspections, with or without your real estate agent. Even if your presence isn’t required, it’s an opportunity to learn more about what’s behind the walls of your new home and how it all works. If you’re planning to hire your own inspector to do an additional overhaul of your home, notify your builder before construction begins.
For safety and logistical reasons, builders prefer that customers do not arrive at the site without warning. If you would like to make a visit, be sure to organize it in advance. Your builder will likely take regular tours to keep you abreast of the progress of the work.
Working together with the builder who will be in charge of making your new home is the fifth of the six steps to your new home. Here in our Guide to a New Home, you’ll find useful and inspiring articles, presentations, and videos that will make your journey to a new home easier and more rewarding.
Learn the six key steps on the road to your new home
Get expert advice from leading real estate writers, builders, and recent new home buyers in our Guide to a New Home.
Here are six simple easy-to-follow steps to your new home including: new home 101; shopping online and in model houses; buy, finance and insure your home; work with a builder to design and build your home; and settle down to enjoy it.
Just click on any of the six steps to your new home in the welcome graphic on the home page of our Guide to a New Home, to learn more about that step on the journey to your new home.