Anyone who’s lived near a new construction lot has witnessed the miracle of the new homebuilding process. It begins with moving dirt and debris and ends with a beautiful new family residence. While the whole process can sometimes seem like a confusing black box of moving pieces, there is an evident process that needs to be accomplished.
This article will take you through the process, from construction to keys, and will help to make the process a bit less confusing.
1. Site Work
The homebuilding process all starts with site work, which essentially means making the property “buildable” by clearing, scraping, and building the pad. Large equipment is used to clear trees, brush, and debris in the first step of the building process. Next, a surveyor stakes out the house, dirt is hauled in to build the pad, and a compaction inspection is performed.
This is, by far, one of the most critical steps in the entire homebuilding process. If real estate is all about location, location, location, then homebuilding is all about foundation, foundation, foundation. The foundation phase is all about rough plumbing, pouring slab, and (especially in Florida, the land of block construction) concrete block.
Before any sort of concrete is poured, the ground where the home will be placed is compacted in a process called backfilling. This levels out the surface and makes sure the dirt surrounding the house is dense enough that the house doesn’t sink too low when constructed.
Footings function as an enlargement of the base of a wall. Concrete is poured out in a slab directly under where the frame of the home will be placed later.
Every house settles down into its foundation over time, but too much settling can cause significant problems down the road. According to How Stuff Works, this is predominantly due to improperly compacted soil or soil that is filled with clay or organic material.
3. Rough Carpentry
After the foundation has dried and settled, next comes the rough carpentry stage. This is when framing is installed, along with roof decking, peel and stick roof underlayment, and exterior windows and doors—and you can really see the house take shape. The rough carpentry stage is also when the builder takes final cabinetry measurements before ordering.
4. A/C & Electrical
After the rough carpentry has been taken care of, it’s time to tackle the rough install of both the A/C and the home’s electrical. What does “rough install” mean?
In terms of the A/C, while the air handler won’t be installed at this point, the ventilation system will be routed throughout the house so that a new A/C unit can basically be plug and play. In the same vein, air-conditioning vents are much easier to install at this point as well. As far as the electrical component, now is also the best time to run electrical through the frame of the home and place it in rooms and spots where electricity will be needed.
After having the A/C rough install and electrical rough install out of the way, this is when attention shifts back overhead and the next layer of roofing can be installed (whether it be shingle, tile or metal). View Roofing Options On The Rise.
Stucco is extremely weather resistant and, for many Florida homes, the number one exterior choice.
Moisture is the number one enemy when it comes to choosing an exterior wall finish as it can cause molding on the wood frame of the house if not properly prevented. The first layer of stucco is primarily responsible for this job. The first layer is applied over the top of the waterproofing and scraped to add texture and more easily adhere to the second layer. The first coat of stucco is allowed to dry before either a second layer or the exterior walling is applied.
6. Insulation & Drywall
Next up is insulation and drywall. Insulation is one of the essential pieces of building an energy-efficient home. It can make or break your heating and cooling abilities more than any other factor outside of the air conditioner itself.
Insulation comes in a few different types.
Batt or Blanket: The easiest to install is called a batt or a blanket. This type of insulation is rolled up and easy to transport from place to place. It’s easy to get your hands on and is sold at places like Home Depot.
Loose-Fill Insulation: Whereas blankets are good at transport and bad at awkward spaces, loose-fill is the opposite. Loose-fill is made up of the same materials as batts and blankets. Exactly what the name sounds like, loose materials that can easily be stuffed in between the drywall and exterior walling, filling in all loose space in the process.
Blown-In: While more expensive than either batt or loose-fill, it offers a better air barrier with absolutely no air leaks.
After insulation is installed, next comes drywall. This step is where the house stops looking like a construction site and more like a home. After the insulation is installed, the drywall is placed over the wooden frame and held in place with drywall screws.
After installation, edges and screws are covered with joint compound, creating a smooth finish that can easily be painted later.
7. Interior Finishes
(Photo credit: The Home Depot)
Next up, we move to the home’s interior. During this stage, a lot of different things occur, including trim labor, first paint, garage door installed, faucets, cabinets, tile and carpet, countertops, and kitchen backsplash. We’ll touch more on some of these things below.
Trim installation: Trim comes in many shapes, sizes, and locations. While many people may think of the baseboard any time that trim is mentioned, trim can also refer to any decorative piece on or around the floorboards, closets, or doors.
First paint: If you haven’t already guessed, the next step is a first paint. Depending on the type of paint used in the project, the primer may or may not need to be applied to the wall before applying the final color. Primer comes in oil and water-based applications, and it’s important to match the type of primer with the type of paint to be used.
After the walls are ready, the chosen paint color is applied to all rooms, walls, and closets. The benefit of applying paint before installing flooring is that you don’t have to worry about getting paint on the floors.
Cabinets: Cabinetry and flooring are often installed alongside each other. It’s important to install cabinets after painting for the same reason as flooring. This step includes everything from kitchen cabinets, to sinks in the bathrooms, to bar areas in the kitchen. This is the step that transforms the house into a livable space.
Tile: Due to the durability of the tile, it is one of the first flooring type to be installed. Other floors, like carpets, for example, are very easy to damage, and things like sawdust are challenging to clean out of the fibers.
Countertops: Countertops aren’t too far behind cabinetry and flooring, understandably, as they’re usually placed atop the cabinets.
There are quite a few different options when it comes to countertop materials. We most commonly hear about granite, marble, and quartz, but concrete is becoming a popular option as well.
Countertop installation requires a high level of accuracy. Any mismeasurements can cause major visual issues. Sometimes the cabinets and walls where the countertops are supposed to be installed aren’t entirely level or have uneven edges. If this is the case, the countertops have to be sanded to fit or fitted with support strips.
Once the interior stage is complete, it’s time to move on to what people in the building industry consider “final”. This is when it’s time to install the final elements of the house, such as shelving, mirrors, screen enclosures, laminate and wood flooring, appliances, and final paint. At this point, you’ll also see things like railing installed on stairs, fireplaces mounted, and light fixtures hung.
9. Blue dots and touch ups
New homes have never been lived in, so the “blue dots and touch ups” stage is the final chance for builders to examine wall finishes, flooring, cabinets, doors, tile, light fixtures, and every square foot of the new home and then resolve any blue dot issues.
Blue dots mark the places needing touch-ups.
During this stage, the homebuyer also gets the opportunity to examine every inch of the home and request repairs for any blue dot issues. This is the homeowner’s chance to work with the builder to resolve any problems – like cabinet doors that don’t close properly or the final paint being visibly “off” before moving in.
Once the new home has been thoroughly inspected and rubber stamped by both the builder and the buyer, now comes the clean-up stage. It is the last and final step to get the home ready for move-in. Here are a few examples of what occurs during this stage:
- Rubbish is removed from the site
- Excess caulking is removed from around benches, fixtures, and fittings
- All windows, sliding-glass doors and other glass elements are thoroughly cleaned
- Ceilings, fans and light fixtures are dusted
- Both exterior and interior walls are washed to remove dust, smudges, dirt, and scuff marks
- Floors are vacuumed and washed (and hard floors may be waxed, polished, and/or buffed)
While there are many, many more steps that take place during the construction of a home, this article is a blueprint from the site clearing to final clean. Hopefully, this guide has opened up that black box for you and made the homebuilding process a bit more understandable. If you found this guide helpful, check out our post on taking your home to the next level with energy-efficient building practices. Read Five Energy-Efficient Must-Haves For A New Home.