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The Building Process:
Understanding the construction process involves breaking it down into its basic phases. The building process is extremely dynamic in the way that each phase has many different components that interact with the next or previous part. For example, sometimes rough-ins happen before framing and sometimes not- each step ends up being project-specific.
The Pre-Design Phase is when you are deciding to build a home. Some of the things to consider during this time are questions like what style of home you want, how many bedrooms/baths, if you want the laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms, etc. This is called building a program for the structure.
Once you get serious about the possibility of building, you should get a pre-approval for financing. This is most often a construction loan which will be closed on or after completion, and then the lender will switch this to a mortgage, which you will need to close on again. That said, oftentimes if you can find a lender without a construction loan closing, you can save yourself some money.
If you haven't found a site for your home, this is also a good time to start looking. Some lenders will allow the property and home all in one loan. This will get rid of a third closing cost, which is always desirable.
The Design Phase can be a lengthy process, depending on how well you've researched your project, and on how much thought you've given to determining exactly what you want in your finished product. If you think about these things ahead of time, it will greatly decrease the time it takes to receive a completed set of plans.
During this phase, you will be in constant contact with your architects and your builder. Questions will need answers as quickly as possible. Questions such as: Do you want the tan or white siding, You may think it is not a big deal, but the builder will need to order some items ahead of time to ensure they arrive on site in time to install them. During this time, the contractor will also be putting together a schedule of events, along with a time frame for each of the events. This will give you a good idea of how long your home will take to build.
Site work is done before the home can be constructed, such as clearing the topsoil, and doing all the rough groundwork. This will prep the site for the start of construction. This will also include excavating a hole for the foundation, stripping the topsoil for future use, and surveying the house on the lot. The next step includes the foundations, along with any required inspections for the bank, as well as the Town or Municipality for the property.
The foundation of the home is put in next. This includes the concrete footings and the poured stem walls on which the home will sit. This usually doesn't take too long, depending on the complexity of the plan. The fewer outside and inside corners, the quicker and cheaper this can be done. Now, don't think I'm telling you to make a box for a home, but instead of making a bump out with a stem wall, you could cantilever the joists and do the same thing, as long as it's not an 8' bump out. Before the floor is put on, there will be pressure treated sill plates laid down over the stem walls with anchor bolts.
The framing starts with the floor, then foes to the walls, and then to the roof. The floor is essentially a series of joists spanning across from one side of the foundation to the other, on which will be plywood or OSB (oriented strand board), and it should be tongue & grooved, glued, and screwed down for the best performance. The interior walls are then put up. Traditionally, the studs in the walls are 2x4, and are 16 inches on center. Next, the roof framing will commence. The roof rafters or trusses are most often at 16inch centers and covered with 1/2in plywood or 7/16in OSB (This sheathing does not have to be tongue and grooved). Then roofing felt (tar paper) is laid down, over which your roof covering will go. Once the installation of the windows and doors is finished, the initial "dry shell" construction of the home is complete.
The Internal Phase of the home building process comes next. Rough-ins begin, including the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC (heating, vent, air conditioning) stubs. During this phase, the sewer lines, water lines and vent lines will be installed. Usually these will just be run from outside into the "rough" area of where the final hookup will take place, or in the case of HVAC, from the are of the heating/cooling, throughout the house to where the approximate final hookups will take place. The reason for this is to facilitate ease of installation of final appliances and fixtures. Try to imagine running an electrical wire through a wall that's already been enclosed with drywall on both sides. Not easy.
Interior finishes will be next. These include everything from drywall to stucco, to waterproofing behind tub and shower enclosures. Sometimes, this will also include painting, depending on what each situation warrants (For example, if the painters like to cut-in the paint around the trim and such, or if they would rather just paint and then put the trim over the paint).
The type of siding being used determines what is done first on the exterior. If a vinyl siding is used, there are some guidelines from the manufacturer that they recommend doing. Wood siding also has its order in which items are installed. Usually, the trim around the door and windows is installed, and then the siding is butted up to the trim, making for a nice, clean finish. The paining or staining of the house is then started.
The landscaping is usually the last thing done on any project. There is one simple fact behind this, and that is because, if it is done any sooner, it usually gets torn up before all is said and done. Landscaping can include pools, rock gardens, sod-laying, tree-planting and earth placement/removal.
This is about the time that the project is called "substantially complete". There is usually a signing of a form that states something to the effect of "the project is now substantially complete, and upon completion of the punch list items, the ownership of the home will be transferred from the builder to the homeowner". In other words, the home is almost done, except for some loose ends. The punch list is filled out by the homeowner, most often when the contractor is present, and will entail such things as "front door needs catch plate", etc. Usually, it is a list of small tasks, but sometimes, it gets into larger areas.
After the punch list items are completed and the home is ready for occupancy, we will provide you with a certificate of occupancy, and a warranty, plus all the manufacturers warranties for the appliances and fixtures that were installed. Make sure to read these documents carefully. If it takes several days, then take several days plus one.
We recognize that we have presented quite a bit of information here, some that may be clear, and some that may not be. I ask you to contact us if you have any questions, or would like to set up an appointment. No question is too small or insignificant.