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New Home Construction:

A Step-by-Step Process of Building a New House

Building your own home is exciting and a dream for many Americans. Owning a home that smells new and just finished construction gives you a quiet sense of satisfaction that you never quite have when purchasing an older resale home. Plus, new homes are subject to higher building standards and are increasingly more energy efficient.

It also allows you considerable freedom, with the option to have a say on floor plans, the number of baths and bedrooms, and preferred fixtures and fittings.

When buying a new home, you benefit from having everything you want inside a neighborhood with parks, walking trails and other amenities.

But what's involved in building your dream home, and what can you expect from each stage when working with a home builder?

In this essential guide, we'll walk you through the different phases of the new home construction process. From the initial site preparation to the finishing touches made to your yard, this guide will give you insight into what to expect as the expectant owner of a newly constructed home. Remember, this is a general guide; every home builder has their processes and procedures.

Site Preparation and Foundation

The new home construction process's first step doesn't involve much physical labor. Instead, it's paperwork heavy. Your new home builder must secure all necessary permits covering all aspects, from zoning to the electrical and plumbing work your new home will require.

Homebuilders often build new homes in planned communities, with lots earmarked for development. These lots have relevant permits already signed off and ready to go – meaning there's no need to wait months for licenses the land developer has already secured.

Then, it's time for the work to start in earnest. The first step includes clearing the site to prepare it for construction, including removing any debris, before grading (stabilizing and leveling) the lot. With the site graded, professionals dig excavation trenches for the footings. These are usually made of poured concrete and will need time to cure before moving onto the foundation.

The type of foundation will depend on the kind of home. You may have a crawl space, concrete slab, or full basement. A concrete slab is the most common; again, it needs to be poured, allowed to cure, and waterproofing measures need to be applied.

At the end of this stage, inspections usually take place to ensure everything is up to code before building the property's structural frame.

The Home’s Structural Framework

With a solid foundation, it's time for the builder to erect the home's structural framework. During this phase, a house will go from a concrete base to a three-dimensional structure in a short time, this is often the process's most 'transformative' step.

Lumber will arrive on site, and a team of joiners will erect the stud walls and install floor joists. With the wooden walls and floor support in place, attention turns to the roof. The specific process for a property's roof will depend on the design of the home (e.g., gable, flat, clerestory). Contractors will place trusses or nail rafters in place to make the basic structure of the roof.

After framing, sheathing is applied to the exterior walls and roof to deliver an extra layer of rigidity. This sheathing is then covered in a 'wrap' or felt paper to add waterproofing qualities to the home and prevent the wood from prolonged moisture exposure.

Work continues on the roof, applying the roof covering (most commonly asphalt shingles) until completion. Windows and exterior doors also go in at this stage.

Exterior Enveloping and First-Phase Rough In

With the sheathing and roof complete, it's time to finish the exterior 'envelope.' At this stage, the exterior envelope is the outer finish, such as brickwork, stucco or composite siding. During this part of the process, there may be additional waterproofing works, such as installing a vapor barrier or adding more insulation to enhance the home's ability to withstand the elements and operate efficiently.

Concurrently, the builder may begin what many call the 'rough-in' phase. In short, this is the home's electrical, plumbing and HVAC system(s). Workers install electrical boxes, plumbing lines and ductwork for the HVAC or heating and cooling system.

It's common practice to have several inspections take place at this point to ensure the framing and the preliminary electrical and plumbing work comply with building codes.

Interior Systems Installation

With the property's exterior finished applied, attention turns to the interior. In many ways, this is the second phase of the rough-in process. Plumbing, electrics, HVAC, and other relevant systems are picked up and carried on from their initial exterior installation.

Electricians install outlets, light switches, and junction boxes and run wiring throughout the house. Likewise, a plumber will install internal water, waste pipes, and other features that need to be in place before the drywall goes up, including bathtubs and shower trays.

On the HVAC side, the central unit is installed and connected to the respective ductwork. An HVAC professional will test the home's system to ensure balanced heating and cooling in every room.

As you might expect, a city inspector thoroughly inspects all of this work to ensure it meets building code standards.

Insulation and Wall Finishing

With much of the heavy lifting done, attention switches to making the home as comfortable and energy-efficient as possible. That's when the builder installs insulation.

The specific type of insulation will come down to the builder. Still, popular options include rock wool, fiberglass and foam insulation. Your chosen location and, by extension, the area's climate will have a big say in which material suits your new home best.

Regardless of the chosen insulation material, the application is usually the same across the board – namely, to all exterior walls, ceilings, and sometimes floors to create a thermal barrier. With insulation in place, drywall is the last step to complete the walls. Construction workers affix sheets of drywall to the wooden stud frames erected earlier.

Workers apply tape and, in some cases, drywall joint compound to provide a seamless finish for any points where the drywall meets (seams). When the walls are complete, they are inspected and primed for painting.

Fixtures, Fittings, and Interior Detailing

When your home has the drywall up, it's nearly complete. Now comes the part where the true personality of the house comes through.

Work will start on the kitchen and bathroom, adding cabinetry, fitted closets or walk-in dressing areas. Electricians, plumbers and contractors will install faucets, light fixtures and other vital hardware during this stage. The house will quickly shift from a shell to an almost functional home.

Here, leading home builders will include designer upgrades and install top-of-the-range appliances to make their homes stand out and provide value for potential buyers.

Next, the construction team will hang the interior doors and adjust them as needed before the trim is added (trim is also often added to windows). The painters and decorators also get busy during this stage, adding the chosen paint colors to the walls and ceilings. Then, flooring, whether carpet, hardwood or a composite material, is installed and often complemented with further trim.

You could walk through the home and see how the finished space looks and feels at this phase.

Landscaping and Exterior Work 

With the interior almost finished, work will continue outside your property. At this point, the builder will tackle hardscaped elements such as walkways, patios and driveways. On the softscape side, landscapers will add sod lawns, borders and other greenery. They'll install any required irrigation system (vital in low-rainfall areas).

With your outside space coming together, the builder's team will work on adding backyard fencing and other exterior features, such as lighting or finishing touches on the covered patio.

Remember that landscaping and the extent of front and backyard landscaping will differ from builder to builder or community to community; some will not do front yard landscaping. That said, every home should have the front and backyard graded before a homebuyer moves into the property.

Final Quality Checks and House Inspection

With construction all but complete, it's time to dot the i's and cross the t's. The process will usually begin with your builder performing their walkthrough, noting any defects or snags, and informing the relevant personnel of any issues. They will inspect everything from your HVAC system to the door trims to ensure everything meets the highest quality and safety standards.

It's then over to a third-party inspector for some builders.

After a home is complete, a city inspector will perform a final inspection and sign everything off, producing a Certificate of Occupancy.

After receiving a certificate of occupancy, it's your time to inspect the home. The homeowner(s) perform a walkthrough with the builder. The final walkthrough is your opportunity to check everything, ensure it's to your satisfaction, familiarize yourself with your new home's various systems and ask any questions. Don't be surprised if you find several minor issues; the homebuilder will address any problems.

Once satisfied, you get the keys to the home! The warranties, manuals and inspection certificates are yours; often, the builder will review essential items with you.

Your Guide to the Process of Building a Home

Building a new home is a multifaceted, rewarding process. With your newfound understanding of the process, you can now navigate each phase with confidence and excitement.

The process is even more enjoyable with the right professionals by your side.

At LGI Homes, we offer a simplified way to buy new construction homes with designer upgrades, chef-ready kitchens, energy-efficient appliances and smart home technology included at no extra cost to the homebuyer.

We're committed to making the new homebuilding process as simple and stress-free as possible, allowing you to focus on the joy of moving into your dream home.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you find the home of your dreams.

You may also be interested in our homebuying guide or learning about the types of loans for first-time homebuyers.

*This guide is a general overview of the process builders go through when building your new construction home and should not be used to make a house. This step-by-step guide is for informational purposes only. This document may need proprietary information and processes added to be complete. Please consult with a professional before building any residential property.