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Pegging the wood skeleton for a new home on a concrete foundation this is the
Building A New Home

Building A New Home Building A New Home

The addition of a playroom, game room or multipurpose room sounds enticing, but only plan to build a room that will actually get used. What good is a wasted home gym where the treadmill is used to hold clothes from last season? Often an unused room becomes a dumping ground to place those things that never get used. If you plan on adding a spare room, make sure that it is a room that can transition well from one type to the next. A sewing room may never get used, but a sewing room or office that also doubles as a guest room could indeed get used often.

You’re going to build your dream home and you’ve thought it all through – or so you’ve thought. You know exactly what you need and want to have in your home, but have you thought about what you don’t want and what you don’t need? Have you really thought the whole thing through? You have given much thought and consideration to what will work for you, but have you taken the time to think about what won’t work?

INSPECTIONS 2, 3 and 4: Rough framing, plumbing and electrical and mechanical systems are inspected for compliance with building codes. Most likely these will be three different inspections. At the very least, the framing inspection will be conducted separately from the electrical/mechanical inspections.

Blanket insulation, which comes in batts or rolls, is typical in new-home construction. So is loose-fill and blown-in insulation, which is made of fiberglass, cellulose or mineral-wool particles. Another insulation option, liquid foam, can be sprayed, foamed-in-place, injected or poured. While it costs more than traditional batt insulation, liquid foam has twice the R-value per inch and can fill the smallest cavities, creating an effective air barrier.

Learn about the six key steps to your new home: Get expert advice from leading real estate writers, builders and recent new homebuyers in our New Home Guide.

1. Prepare site and pour foundation: Often, site preparation and foundation work are performed by the same crew, but this may not be the case with a wooded lot. Using a backhoe and a bulldozer, the crew clears the site of rocks, debris and trees for the house and, if applicable, the septic system. The crew levels the site, puts up wooden forms to serve as a template for the foundation and digs the holes and trenches. Footings (structures where the house interfaces with the earth that supports it) are installed. If your home is going to have a well, it will be dug at this point.

Building your new home is exciting, especially when you understand how the process works.

To help you prepare for and understand your new home’s construction, this article outlines the typical steps your builder will take in the construction of a home and will help keep you abreast of what happens at key stages.

2. Complete rough framing: The floor systems, walls and roof systems are completed (collectively known as the shell or skeleton of the house). Plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing is applied to the exterior walls and roof and windows and exterior doors are installed. The sheathing is then covered with a protective barrier known as a house wrap; it prevents liquid water from infiltrating the structure, while allowing water vapor to escape. This reduces the likelihood of mold and wood rot.

9. Install mirrors, shower doors and finish flooring; finish exterior landscaping: Mirrors, shower doors and carpeting are installed and final cleanup takes place. Trees, shrubs and grass are planted and other exterior landscaping completed.

Here’s what to expect during the major phases of construction

Poor planning here can lead to issues with moisture and terrible mold growth. This can lend itself to great health concerns. Furthermore, careful attention should be given to the size of your units. Models that are too small will be underperforming and won’t cool and heat your home efficiently. You’ll come to regret this when your home is too cool in the wintertime and not cool enough during the hot summer months. Conversely those that are too large will utilize too much energy.

Here’s what to expect about how long it will take to build a home and the top five factors that can affect your building time.

INSPECTION #1: When the curing process is complete, a city inspector visits the site to make sure foundation components are up to code and installed properly. This inspection may be repeated depending on the type of foundation (slab, crawl space or basement). Your builder will then remove the forms and begin coordinating step 2, the framing phase.

After the concrete is cured, the crew applies a waterproofing membrane to the foundation walls; installs drains, sewer and water taps and any plumbing that needs to go into the first-floor slab or basement floor; and backfills excavated dirt into the hole around the foundation wall. 

This is a very personal decision. I’ve had laundry rooms in the basement, and off the mud room far away from all the bedrooms. Neither were ideal. Placement of the laundry room, or washer and dryer, should be relatively close to the bedrooms. I love an upstairs laundry room but many do not.

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These 10 steps will help you choose the right home builder for your new home – and add confidence to your decision.

4. Install insulation: Insulation plays a key role in creating a more comfortable, consistent indoor climate while significantly improving a home’s energy efficiency. One of the most important qualities of insulation is its thermal performance or R-value, which indicates how well the material resists heat transfer. Most homes are insulated in all exterior walls, as well as the attic and any floors that are located above unfinished basements or crawl spaces.

6. Finish interior trim; install exterior driveways and walkways: Interior doors, baseboards, door casings, window sills, moldings, stair balusters and other decorative trim are installed, along with cabinets, vanities and fireplace mantels and surrounds. Walls get a finish coat of paint and are wallpapered where applicable.

The most common types of insulation used in new homes are fiberglass, cellulose and foam. Depending on the region and climate, your builder may also use mineral wool (otherwise known as rock wool or slag wool); concrete blocks; foam board or rigid foam; insulating concrete forms (ICFs); sprayed foam; and structural insulated panels (SIPs).

5. Complete drywall and interior textures; start exterior finishes: Drywall is hung and taped so the seams between the boards aren’t visible, and drywall texturing (if applicable) is completed. The primer coat of paint is also applied after taping is complete. Contractors begin installing exterior finishes such as brick, stucco, stone and siding.

A survey of the New Home Source Insights Panel found that most panelists are interested in tracking the progress of their new homes – whether that be via email communication from the builder, drivebys or even through the use of drones. Before you head to the homesite unannounced, talk to your builder early on about attending inspections, with or without your real-estate agent. Even if your presence is not required, it’s an opportunity to learn more about what’s behind the walls of your new home and how everything works. If you’re planning to hire your own inspector to do an additional review of the home, notify your builder prior to the start of construction.

Ductwork is installed for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and possibly the furnace. HVAC vent pipes are installed through the roof and insulation is installed in the floors, walls and ceilings.

Here’s what to expect during the major phases of your home’s construction.

Our panel of experts can answer any questions you may have about new homes, the buying process, locations, and more.

Note that HVAC ducts and plumbing are usually installed before wiring, because it’s easier to run wires around pipes and ducts than vice versa.

Generally, exterior driveways, walkways and patios are formed at this stage. Many builders prefer to wait until the end of the project before pouring the driveway because heavy equipment (such as a drywall delivery truck) can damage concrete. But some builders pour the driveway as soon as the foundation is completed so that when homeowners visit the construction site, they won’t get their shoes muddy.

Prepare construction site and pour foundation Construct rough framing Complete rough pluming, electrical and HVAC Install insulation Complete drywall and interior textures; start exterior finishes Finish interior trim; install exterior driveways and walkways Install hard-surface flooring and countertops, and complete exterior grading Finish mechanical trims; install bathroom fixtures Install mirrors, shower doors and finish flooring, and finish exterior landscaping Final walkthrough with builder

3. Complete rough plumbing, electrical and HVAC: Once the shell is finished, siding and roofing can be installed. At the same time, the electrical and plumbing contractors start running pipes and wires through the interior walls, ceilings and floors. Sewer lines and vents, as well as water supply lines for each fixture, are installed. Bathtubs and one-piece shower/tub units are put in place at this point because there’s more room to maneuver large, heavy objects.

For safety as well as logistical reasons, builders discourage customers from dropping in unannounced at the construction site. If you’d like to pay a visit, be sure to arrange it in advance. Chances are your builder will conduct regular walkthroughs to bring you up to speed on the progress of the work.

I had two homes where the kitchen was nowhere near the main point of entry. When it came time to bring in groceries, one had to walk through the house in order to deposit the groceries into the kitchen. I absolutely hated its location. The kitchen should be placed, preferably, near a garage or back entrance, as well as near the dining and living areas. The kitchen tends to get a lot of through traffic and it would therefore be best to divert the foot traffic from constantly traipsing through the main living areas. For more kitchen mistakes to avoid see our Top 10 Mistakes you Don’t Want to Make in your Kitchen Design.

The bedroom needs to be as far away from the noise and traffic as possible. The master bedroom should not be near or above the garage if members of your family are likely to be coming and going while you are asleep or resting. It would be advisable to keep the master bedroom away from the central living areas as well. If your home is to be on one level, the master bedroom should ideally be at the far end of the house, the end furthest away from the garage. The master bedroom, ideally, should not share a wall with the central living area.

Light fixtures and outlets should be plentiful. As should windows. Windows should be present in every room and as large as possible. Natural light, when possible, should be the main source of light. Think about adding skylights as well.

Keep in mind that the homebuilding process may vary from region to region and builder to builder, especially if you’re building an elaborate custom home. Be sure to ask your builder about his or her specific policies and procedures.“We encourage our homebuyers to make an appointment with their agent or project manager to come out and walk through the home at any stage,” Perschino says. “We suggest that it be by appointment to cut down on some of the safety concerns or limitations when a house is under construction. It also gives us a chance to offer a one-on-one conversation that may not be the same via email.”

If the home has a full basement, the hole is dug, the footings are formed and poured, and the foundation walls are formed and poured. If it’s slab-on-grade, the footings are dug, formed and poured; the area between them is leveled and fitted with utility runs (e.g. plumbing drains and electrical chases); and the slab is poured.

Poor planning and budgets that are too small can lead way to some wayward, inconvenient and disastrous mistakes. When you plan on building a new home, you must look at the home from many angles. You must consider your current and future lifestyles. You need to take family planning into consideration – Will your family be expanding? Or will your children be leaving the nest?  Do you entertain often and host overnight guests regularly? Take your time and do your research both online and in person. Be sure to take the time to meet with professionals in the industry. Poor design choices can make your home not only uncomfortable, but downright unhealthy. Architects, engineers and builders are all trained to help you make effective decisions. They will help guide you as to where you can save a few dollars and where you absolutely should not cut corners. If you aren’t building but are selling your home, look at these Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling your Home.

Simply click on any of the six steps to your new home in the welcome graphic on the main page of our New Home Guide to learn about that step in your new home journey.

It is preferable to the garage on the main level, near a mud room and kitchen. My garage often feels like Grand Central Station with people constantly coming and going and coming into the house with dirty sports attire, heavy backpacks, bags of groceries, and other large objects. I prefer the dirt and chaos to be limited to the kitchen and mudroom areas.

You best know your family and your family’s lifestyle and needs. Professionals can make suggestions but they cannot tell you what you do and don’t need. You and only you know what is best for you and your family. What have I not touched upon that is important to you in the overall design of your home?

When designing your own home you should take your lifestyle and habits into consideration. How long do you plan on staying in this home? Will you need to accommodate safety features for new or young children? Or might you need to think of your needs later in life as you reach retirement age and beyond? Think ahead, long term, to see where you will be and what you will need from your home.

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“They spend a good bit of time designing the home to be unique to their family needs and tastes so seeing it all come together is rewarding for them,” says Perschino.

A Few Words About Inspections: Your new home will be inspected periodically during the course of construction. In addition to mandated inspections for code compliance, your builder may conduct quality checks at critical points in the process. (In the story above, we point out when these inspections typically take place.) The idea is to catch as many potential problems as possible before construction is finished, though some issues may not surface until you’ve lived in the home for a period of time.

We’ve made it easy to follow six simple steps to your new home that include: new home 101; shopping online and in model homes; buying, financing and insuring your home; working with a builder to design and construct your home; and settling in to enjoy it.

Chip Perschino, senior vice president of construction at Edward Andrews Homes, says it’s understandable that buyers are excited to see their new home, from start to finish.“Our homeowners enjoy watching the home come together, from pouring the foundation to framing and watching the home take shape,” he says. “Once the home has drywall, they start to visualize themselves living in the space and how they’ll use it – imagining what furniture goes where and how they’ll entertain friends and family there.

7. Install hard-surface flooring and countertops; complete exterior grading: Ceramic tile, vinyl and wood flooring are installed as well as countertops. Exterior finish grading is completed to ensure proper drainage away from the home and prepare the yard for landscaping.

8. Finish mechanical trims; install bathroom fixtures: Light fixtures, outlets and switches are installed and the electrical panel is completed. HVAC equipment is installed and registers completed. Sinks, toilets and faucets are put in place.  

Working with the builder who’ll construct your new home is the fifth of six steps to your new home. Here in our New Home Guide, you’ll find helpful and inspiring articles, slideshows and videos that will make your new home journey easier and more rewarding.

At this stage, drywall (also known as plasterboard, wallboard or gypsum board) is delivered to the building site.

10. Final walkthrough: Your builder will walk you through your new home to acquaint you with its features and the operation of various systems and components and explain your responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep, as well as warranty coverage and procedures. This is often referred to as a pre-settlement walkthrough. It’s also an opportunity to spot items that need to be corrected or adjusted, so be attentive and observant. Examine the surfaces of countertops, fixtures, floors and walls for possible damage. Sometimes disputes arise because the homeowner discovers a gouge in a countertop after move-in and there’s no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s crew or the homeowner’s movers.

Unless you have plans to build a very large home, space planning and design is crucial. Ample storage is necessary, but pay attention to where you place your storage space. Does the master bedroom really need an oversized walk-in closet when the space could potentially be added to your bedroom or master bath? Pay attention to where you place your closets. There should be one in each bedroom and in a main hallway. But too many and the storage space takes away from the living space. Do you want a closet in the foyer? If you live in a cooler climate where coats are worn at least half of the year, this would be wise, especially if you entertain in your home and the front entrance is the main point of entry. If you have no use for a coat closet, don’t build one. Do you plan on adding a mudroom? If so there should be a closet there or space enough to add cubbies or some other similar storage area. If you clearly need more space, consider buying a larger home. First, see our 10 Things Nobody Tells you About Buying a Home.

Once concrete is poured into the holes and trenches, it will need time to cure. During this period, there will be no activity on the construction site.

INSPECTION #5: A building-code official completes a final inspection and issues a certificate of occupancy. If any defects are found during this inspection, a follow-up inspection may be scheduled to ensure that they’ve been corrected.

Fiberglass and mineral-wool batts and rolls are usually installed in side walls, attics, floors, crawl spaces, cathedral ceilings and basements. Manufacturers often attach a facing such as kraft paper or foil-kraft paper to act as a vapor barrier and/or air barrier. In areas where the insulation will be left exposed, such as basement walls, the batts sometimes have a special flame-resistant facing.

After the roofing goes on, the house is considered “dried in.” An electrician then installs receptacles for outlets, lights and switches and runs wires from the breaker panel to each receptacle. Wiring for telephones, cable TV and music systems is included in this work.

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