Learning the step-by-step process of building a house is imperative before contacting your building contractor or home builder. It is important to learn all you can about the process in order to understand and explain what you want. It is also a vital step in finding the right home builder or contractor to build your home.
1) Site Preparation – Trees and brush must be cleared. The land which will be under the house and immediately surrounding it must be scraped level with heavy equipment.
2) The Footings – Footings are dug deep, framed with wooden boards as a form, reinforced with rebar and poured with concrete.
3) The Foundation – There are three different types of foundations; slab, crawlspace and basement. Which type you need is not only determined by cost and your desires but also according to weather conditions. In cold climates the footings and foundation need to be below the frost level. A high water table makes basements difficult to impossible because if the water table is higher than the depth of the floor it is difficult to keep the basement from filling with water. Crawlspaces work best where the soil has high clay content. Slab foundations are least expensive but there are many logistic problems associated with not having accessible space under the house. Most of the downside includes potential for flooding, plumbing problems, and pest control.
4) The Sill Plate and Joists – These boards will support the entire house and should be at least 2”x 10” lumber. The stronger the better is the rule when discussing sill plates and joists. It is also important that the boards be placed so that they are exactly level with each other.
5) Sub-Floor – Thick plywood or similar material which the house will actually sit on. Before accepting any sort of substitute for ply-wood, be sure to investigate the materials thoroughly, especially how resistant they are to water damage, rot, termites, and warping. With so many new materials it is beyond the scope of this article to evaluate all of them, but be skeptical until you research new materials. The subfloor is very important.
6) Stud Walls – Traditional construction is composed of either 2”x 4” or 2”x 6” lumber studs. Naturally 2”x 6” is preferable and much stronger. There are many new materials which may replace stud walls. Insulated Concrete panels are just one of the many exciting options which are more energy efficient or green construction related. Evaluate all options before selecting the one that is right for your home.
7) Attic Framing, Rafters or Trusses – Trusses are cheaper, but framing with rafters enables a usable attic. Roof pitch of course varies, and there are many different types of roof framing to choose from.
Plywood Sheathing on the roof. The entire roof must be covered with ¾ inch ply wood. Using any other material would be highly questionable, and any substitute must be considered carefully, in much the same way as the sub floor, and perhaps more so. In an insulated concrete home that material is quite superior for roofs however.
9) Tar paper on Roof – Framed roofs must be covered with tarpaper as extra protection before shingles are applied. This keeps the roof from leaking, so it is important. The only time it would not be necessary would be in the case of a concrete or tar roof.
10) Roofing – There are many kinds of roofing materials these days. Evaluate them all. Consider solar shingles and solar panels for the roof.
11) Insulation – The standard of insulation has changed quite a bit, and continues to change quickly. Research and stay current on new advances in insulation.
12) Sheathing – The entire home should be covered in plywood. However with some of the new materials this may not be applicable.
13) Rough wiring. Before drywall and ceiling materials are applied wires are run to all the outlets and locations for electrical fixtures.
14) Rough Plumbing – Similarly, pipes are run which will attach the water supply to plumbing fixtures.
15) Exterior Siding – You will be asked to choose the exterior finish for your home. There are many types. One of the most cost effective is vinyl siding, but real timber cladding has also become popular. Many other choices are now becoming available, as well as traditional choices like wood, brick and stone.
16) Drywall – Drywall is hung on interior walls and is generally preferred to other interior wall choices such as plaster or wood paneling.
17) Floor covering – Carpet, tile, stone, hardwood or linoleum must be laid over the subfloor.
18) Cabinets – Either custom or stock cabinets and countertops will be installed in your home. You will be asked to make choices between natural stone and various grades of Formica choices.
19) Plumbing Fixtures – Plumbing fixtures will be brought in and attached to plumbing pipes which are already in place.
20) Install electrical outlets and fixtures – Any time after dry wall and ceilings are installed, electric lighting fixtures, outlet plates and switch plates may be installed.
21) Painting and Wallpaper – These are the finishing touches which will be applied.
These are the basic steps for building a home. In addition there are many other small things that will occur, and the order of operations is not set in stone. Porches, decks and patios may be added at logical times during construction or saved as a home owner’s weekend project to be completed later. It is possible to have plumbers, tile layers and electricians working at the same time in different rooms, towards the later stages of construction. The step-by-step process of building a house sometimes varies with weather conditions or due to availability of various contractors.