How Long Does It Take To Build a House?
How long does it take to build a house? It's a question often posed by people looking to buy an idyllic piece of land so they can construct their dream home from the ground up. If this describes your current housing sitch, you've come to the right place!
So before you invest in that spacious lot with stunning views and mature trees, it's wise to consider the time it'll actually take to build the place you'll be living in.
How long does it take to build a house?
Depending on the site and zoning classification, it typically takes from three to six months to build a house.
A ballpark average is four months if you have the pedal to the metal, says John Melsheimer, a contractor who builds homes in Central Oregon.
The key to any successful build is having approved permits, a process that can be quite lengthy in some areas. So plan ahead. The biggest obstacles to obtaining a permit are poor due diligence, neighbors who oppose construction, and a backlog at the building department.
Main factors that affect a build timeline
"Location and what I call environmental conditions can slow down or speed up a build greatly," says Bill Green, co-founder and COO of Hinged.com.
What kind of environmental conditions? Factors such as soil type and site topography. For example, building a house with a slab on a level site with stable draining soil conditions would likely take half the time of constructing the same house on a hilly lot. Building in a coastal earthquake or mudslide zone, or in a fire hazard zone, will also add time to a build.
Another main factor of how quickly a home goes up is how skilled the builder is. An experienced builder typically equals a shorter build time. Choose one with a good reputation among the local municipality and real estate community. When issues arise, they'll get taken care of quickly, says John Kuroda, manager at Sleight Farm, a subdivision of new-construction homes in LaGrange, NY.
What can increase the build time?
The overall time of a build usually depends on weather—elements of construction can easily be delayed due to either temperature shifts or too much precipitation. That's why concrete must cure and framing needs to be completed when it's dry outside. So the time of the year a project starts can greatly influence the amount of time it takes to build a house.
Other potential time drags? "The owners," says Todd Whalen, owner and CEO of Eclipse Building Corp. Yes, that's you!
If you fail to select finishes or decide to make changes during construction, you can significantly prolong the process. As much as possible, stick with your design and don’t decide after the drywall is installed that you want the kitchen on the other side of the house. Real estate markets experiencing a building boom may also face a shortage of laborers and subcontractors—another thing that will lengthen the overall time.
How to shorten the build time
Planning is far and away the most important way to shorten the building time frame, according to Bill Green, former president of WR Green Homes, a custom builder in Connecticut and Colorado.
All the components of a house are interrelated, so if you plan the build, you can reduce the chance of delays and mistakes from happening. For instance, the thickness of the tile you select for a bathroom will determine the exact location of pipes that need to be in place before your foundation can be built.
Make sure you understand the lead time on products such as windows and doors in order to have them on-site when needed. During the build, an extra few weeks waiting for something can warp your timeline. Having all the different work crews—electricians, plumbers, HVAC specialists, etc.—working as promptly as possible in the building process helps speed everything up, too.
You should hold the builder accountable by including a penalty in your contract if the builder misses the agreed-upon completion date, says Jesse Fowler, president of Tellus Build. Being active and staying on top of things throughout the process—such as scheduling weekly site walks to track the progress—can help keep everything on track.
Guest Post by: Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.