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10 Steps on Building a Home

1. Prepare site and pour foundation: Site preparation can take a week or longer depending on the grade and

soil. 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 is begun. The crew levels the site, then the foundation work begins. 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 and the footings are formed and poured, and the foundation walls are formed and poured. The area

between them is leveled and fitted with utility runs (e.g. plumbing drains and electrical chases). 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. 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. Then the

crew backfills excavated dirt around the foundation wall.

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. Your builder will then remove the forms and begin

coordinating step 2, the framing phase.

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.

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.

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.

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 cable TV and music

systems is included in this work.

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.

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.

At this stage, drywall is delivered to the building site.

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.

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 for

sealing any cracks is liquid foam, it s sprayed, foamed-in-place, injected. 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.

Fiberglass and mineral-wool batts and rolls are installed in inside walls, and crawl space, blown in is in attics,

vaulted ceilings and walls.

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 stone and siding.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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. Now is the time to make note of these because if 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.


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