Moving into a home of your own is a huge step in your life. It’s not just cutting out a new space for yourself. It also means taking the next steps for your future and creating a safe and secure living situation to accommodate your future needs.
You have an endless number of options for finding and creating that new home. While many prospective homeowners look toward existing homes, others look to build an entirely new home from the ground up. This comes with its own benefits and complications.
Understanding how much it costs to build a new house in California can vary, but on average, building a new house costs around $300,000 or about $200 per square foot, though that only comprises the cost of construction, not the plot of land. However, building a new house can give you complete control over the looks, design, and accommodations that you want in the property.
The exact time required to build a new house, from a plot of land to a usable, functional property, will vary based on dozens of different factors. That includes your location, the size of the home, the building material, and the construction team that you hire. Even inclement weather can potentially push back the timeline.
According to the 2018 Survey of Construction from the U.S. Census Bureau, it takes about 7.7 months, from authorization to the final walkthrough. However, this timeline is for homes built for sale, like those built in a new housing development community where there are already set floor plans and existing blueprints. Building a fully custom home will take longer. You can expect upwards of 12.5 months for a custom-built home.
Keep in mind that these construction times don’t take into account all of the planning and financing that are necessary before you ever even break ground.
Your specific timeline will vary because of all the different factors involved, and processes can see some slight differences based on the builder you hire and the region. Even with good planning, expect something to go awry. However, the basic timeline is as follows.
Before anyone can pick up a hammer or even begin digging, there’s a lot of preparation and planning involved. First, you need to get your design approved by your city and municipality, and you need permits for just about every aspect of the build, including:
The requirements for the building permit might vary from state to state, so make sure to look that up way before construction begins. Once the permits are acquired, your team can actually start preparing the site. This involves clearing any rocks, trees, and debris from the plot of land.
Once the site has been properly cleared, the crew will lay the foundation. A good foundation is essential to a solid home and a safe construction process overall. Usually, the site preparation team is the same as the crew that sets the foundation, but it’s not always the case. This starts with leveling out the ground and putting up wooden forms, which gives the crew a general layout for the foundation. The crew digs trenches and holes and installs the footings where the house makes contact with the earth.
If you want a basement, the crew has to dig down into the site before pouring the concrete. For slab foundations, the crew levels the footings and fits runs for plumbing, electricity, and other utilities between them before pouring out the slab.
Once the foundation is poured, the concrete needs time to dry and cure, during which time the crew can’t actually do anything. Once the curing is done, the foundation has to be inspected to make sure everything is safe and up to code. The crew will also install sewage and plumbing that needs to be on the basement or first floor.
The frame or skeleton of your house is integral to the stability of the property and ensures that the home is safe and secure enough to withstand the natural elements. The frame essentially comprises bones of the walls, floor, and roof, typically made of wood, but metal studs are also available.
The crew then applies sheathing to the frame, which is then covered with a wrap. The wrap prevents any moisture or water buildup that could result in wood rot or mold. Much like the foundation, the frame requires an official inspection before your builder can proceed. If you purchased a modular home, that usually means most of the framing (and even the entire structure) was already constructed. The crew’s job is to assemble the home onto the foundation.
With the shell and frame complete, the crew can begin a rough installation of the utility systems, along with the siding and roof. Contractors will begin running the pipes and water lines through the walls and install supply lines for every fixture. The ductwork, central air conditioning, and furnace get installed as well.
With the roof complete, an electrician can begin installing wiring, including inserting all the outlets, lights, and switches. This also consists of any cables for TV, internet, and audio systems. The electrical wiring typically comes after the HVAC and plumbing have been installed, as wires are easier to work around pipes and ducts.
Each part of this process requires an inspection before your team can proceed. That means official inspections for the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems.
Insulation ensures your comfort, keeping in the warmth while keeping out the cold. Good insulation also maintains your home’s energy efficiency. It’s fairly standard to insert insulation in all exterior walls, the attic, and any floors located over unfinished basements.
There are numerous different types of insulation. New homes typically use batting or rolls of blanket insulation, but other common forms of insulation include:
Your builder may use a combination of these.
Once the insulation has been installed, your builder will apply the drywall or plasterboard to the interior walls and ceilings. This is then sanded smooth and primed. They may also apply the first coat of paint. Contractors may also apply exterior finishes, like stucco, brick, stone, and siding.
This step begins with installing all the decorative trim in the interiors, like the baseboards, moldings, and windowsills. Your contractor may also install the cabinets, mantels, and other surrounding touches. The walls also get their finished coat of paint or wallpaper.
This is also when your contractor begins putting in the flooring. You usually have your choice of wood, vinyl, or ceramic. However, any carpeting will come later.
This is when the plumber, electrician, and other subcontractors finish all the interior elements, from light fixtures and switches to HVAC equipment to all the sinks and toilets. All your kitchen appliances also get installed, and if you decide to go with carpeting, this is when that gets put in, too.
With the interiors mostly completed, it’s time to make the exteriors aesthetically pleasing and functional. All the exterior walkways, patio, and driveway get formed. This usually happens closer to the end of the construction timeline because any heavy equipment, like delivery trucks, can damage the concrete or prevent it from setting properly. However, some builders will pour the concrete for the driveway almost immediately with the foundation to give you something to walk on aside from mud and dirt.
With all the major fixtures and even some furniture set up in the home, you and your team can begin cleaning up the interiors and getting ready to move in.
With the exterior walkways and driveway set and cured, you can hire a contractor to work on the landscaping. This can be as extensive or as minimal as you want. Work with your landscaper to design a yard and outdoor space that suits all your aesthetic and personal needs. You can, of course, add a garden, flowers, trees, and other greenery later, but it’s a good idea to get the basic layout and foundational pieces placed where you want.
Before you can actually move in all your things, a building code official has to perform a final inspection to make sure every single element is up to code. If everything checks out, the inspector provides you with a certificate of occupancy. If they find any defects, you can typically schedule a follow-up inspection to make sure that you fix things or make any necessary repairs.
With your certificate of occupancy in hand, your builder will give you a final walkthrough of the property. This tour or pre-settlement demonstration is a complete walkthrough of your home and a physical demonstration of all the systems and features. This is a good time to act as your own inspector to spot any issues or problems that your contractor can fix before closing any deals.
The building process and timeline can change depending on the kind of house you want to build. The duration it takes to build a tract home is different to a spec house. Before construction begins, you should also know what the difference betwen tract homes and spec houses are to help you determine which type is right for you.
Building a new house can come with plenty of complications, and the above timeline is just an example that assumes everything goes smoothly. You also need to factor in how much does it cost to build a new house. If you need any assistance, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties can navigate you through the process. Our team offers years of experience and can connect you with the right people to ensure the home of your dreams.