Helpful Resources

If you are considering building a new home, take some time to learn about the building process. The basic information in this section will help you get started and provide a general understanding of the steps and people involved in building a new home.

Choosing a General Contractor

With the beginning phases of building, there is no particular order when it comes to choosing a builder, a home design and lot, but many will argue, there are huge benefits to choosing a builder or general contractor first, so we will begin there. The builder or general contractor is the person who oversees the actual construction of the home. This is the person you will be in contact with most often throughout construction, so it is important that you hire a person you communicate well with and feel comfortable discussing all of your thoughts and ideas with. Start by interviewing builders that have been recommended by friends or associates who have recently built a new home. Talk to referrals and visit jobsites where you can check out each builder’s work. Remember, the builder is the person you will put all your faith in to build your new home. And, by choosing your builder or general contractor first, you will gain the benefits of his or her assistance and valuable opinions when it comes to selecting a lot, choosing home plans and even hiring an architect to assist you with any minor changes you might desire.

Choosing a Lot For Your New Home

Now it is time to choose a lot. Take time to consider, the neighborhood, municipality, city and surrounding areas of any lot you consider. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of the neighborhood and not just pay attention to the good qualities of the lot. If you are sure the neighborhood is right for you and your family, invite the builder to look at the lot and evaluate it. Ask for his or her opinions about the appropriateness of the lot and what he or she sees as pros and cons. Generally, the builder can quickly identify any potential problems preventing you from buying a lot that will not satisfy your needs, create issues with construction or cause difficulties in the future.

Researching Home Plans

Your next step is to choose a home plan. When it comes to pre-drawn plans, there are thousands of choices for home plans in a multitude of sizes and styles designed with just the basics or the latest amenities. Browsing stock plans on line can be fun and exciting allowing you to search by a preferred square footage, one story or two, the number a bedrooms, the type of foundation your prefer or require and so on. This can also save in design time with an architectural designer, as to begin with a head start. Don't get frustrated if you can't find that perfect plan, thats where an architectural designer comes in.

Consult an Architect or Architectural Designer

After selecting a stock home plan or plans, it is necessary to consult and work with a local residential designer or architect. Your builder will know if this is necessary and will be able to suggest a professional for you to work with. Even though the pre-drawn plans you have researched are close to what you are looking for, you will want to make changes to the floor plan or exterior to accommodate specific needs. There will be areas with your concepts that you like, but areas that you do not. The designer or architect will be able to make these changes and additions for you. Also, many municipalities require that the plans are brought up to local building codes and certified before construction begins. This will require the expertise of an architect or designer as well. Remember, this the most important process and part of your proposed project. The finished documents will effectively translate your dreams and ideas on paper, but will also be an effective communicator between you and your contractor as well. It is a huge win if you choose a design build firm! This will be the most satisfying route and save you big bucks in the long run.

How to Obtain Financing

Construction cannot begin without adequate financing, so your next step is to obtain a construction loan. Necessary funds can be obtained by taking out a mortgage. Often buyers will need a construction-to-permanent loan in order to fund the construction of their new home. By working with a mortgage broker or lender, you can obtain a construction loan. In most cases, the construction loan funds the actual construction of the new home and then automatically converts to a permanent loan. These types of loans are very attractive because most often, you will only have to pay closing costs and legal fees one time saving you money. Be aware that the lending company may require a copy of the blueprints and building specifications, appropriate building permits and a licensed and bonded contractor before they consider approving you for your construction/permanent loan. Investigate all financing options before making your final selection for a lending company.

Clearing and Grading Your Lot

Clearing and grading the land is the next step in the construction process. It may be necessary to clear the lot of underbrush and trees, or grade the lot making it suitable for the foundation. Once the lot is cleared, the foundation is laid according to the site conditions and your preferences.

Framing Your Home

Now your home is ready to be framed. This simply means the skeleton of the home is built. Typically the exterior walls are built with 2x4 or 2x6 studs. However, other methods can be used such as concrete block or CMU. Floor framing is prefered to be engineered, utilizing floor systems of I-joists, or open web trussing. These systems are great for large open spans with little deflection. Roof framing is also included here. The roof can be framed conventionally using various sizes of lumber, which meet local building codes, or it can be framed with prefabricated trusses, which are the most efficient way to frame the roof.

Exterior Veneer and Windows

After the home is framed, it can be dried-in, meaning all of the exterior finishes are added protecting the interior from the outdoor elements. Doors and windows are installed in this phase as well. Be sure to choose the very best quality doors and windows you can afford. These items are critical for energy efficiency and security. Also, it is time to give the exterior of your home its identity. Exterior finishes and trim comes in a variety of styles and colors – brick, vinyl siding, stucco, etc. Roof covering is also available in an array of choices. Sometimes exterior finishes are easily interchangeable. Something to remember is some exterior finish materials may be dictated by the area where you live in regard to climate and/or architectural covenants. Consult with your builder when choosing exterior finishes and trim.

Once the shell of the home is complete, construction will move inside. Any interior walls that have not already been framed are framed at this time. This phase also includes installation of all the rough-ins for plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling (HVAC). (The subcontractors will return to the jobsite at a later time to install the finished fixtures such as vent covers, switch places, towel bars and faucets in the bath, and lighting fixtures.) Insulation for the walls and the roof is added during this phase. Your builder will help you select the right type of insulation for the climate where you are building. Drywall is installed as well. After all of these items are tended to, you can move on to interior finish and trim.

The Finishing Touches

Your new home will come to life with this phase of construction. An array of details comprises the interior finish and trim of a structure giving the rooms in your home their character and personality. This portion includes paint, carpet, flooring, trim, wallpaper, cabinets, fixtures, countertops, appliances and much more. Consider these items early on and make decisions about what you plan to have in your house. When the time comes to install fixtures and paint, you will be ready. Once you’ve made decisions about the interior finish, stick with what you’ve selected rather than changing your mind. This wastes time and money.

When construction is completely finished, the local building inspector will give a final inspection. If the home complies with all the local building codes, you will receive an occupancy permit from the county deeming the home structurally sound and habitable.

Finally, your builder will schedule a final walk-through with you. This is your opportunity to do a final inspection of the home. You and your builder will make a list of any problems that need to be corrected, fixed, adjusted or completed. Take your time, note any detail that doesn’t seem quite right. Think of the walk-through as your very own “quality assurance” review with the builder. After you’ve completed and gone over the list of adjustments with your builder, request a schedule of when you can expect each item to be fixed or corrected.

After the final walk-through you will close on your home loan, at which point the construction loan converts to a permanent loan, sign legal documents and receive the title to your new home. Now all you have left to do is move in and start enjoying your new dream home!