August 12th, 2020
Building a house can sound like a daunting process. With all the information available on the internet it can be overwhelming and create confusion about where to start. To help make your journey in building a house—whether it’s your first time or otherwise—a low stress and rewarding one, we’ve compiled everything you need to know to understand the process.
The two major phases when building a house are Pre-Construction/Planning and Construction but many smaller steps occur in between. These are the points in the project that often cause first time home builders stress. When navigated correctly, these steps transform from stressful to rewarding and help you build the house of your dreams. We are experts in directing this process at Lee Town & Country Homes (LT&CH) and are always happy to discuss it with you; whether you’re ready to get started or just testing the waters.
Once you’ve selected an experienced home builder, your first step will be to set an initial meeting. This meeting is where you and your home builder come to an understanding on your goals and how they can be integrated into the building process. At LT&CH, we discuss our past, present, and future projects with you. We foster a relationship built on trust, stress the importance of communication, and assess whether we are good fit to accomplish your goals. In this meeting you will also discuss your build’s prospective location, design goals, and budget. Your home builder will examine your budget in regard to your location and design and work with you to ensure that it is attainable while still accomplishing the goals that you have set.
Architectural plan sketch
You and your home builder will then set a design meeting. Design is important and effects everything from cost to the ability to pull-off the desired look for the build. To achieve your desired design, it is important to use an architect and not just builders’ draftsman. We have multiple architects that we use throughout the year and have the knowledge to connect you with the architect that best suits your specific design needs. At this meeting with your home builder and selected architect, you will discuss what your spatial needs are, your desired aesthetics, and any other design goals that you have for your building.
After the design meeting, your architect will draw up building plans based on your specifications. Once you have reviewed these plans and are happy with them, contract ratification occurs. At this step, it is not only the contract that is finalized but the specifications sheet as well. The specifications sheet spells out the fit and finish of your build as well as contract allowances. During contract ratification you will sign off on the contract, initial specifications sheet, final building plan, and site plan at a minimum. Permitting takes place immediately after contract ratification and is taken care of by your home builder and architect.
The selection meetings are the final meetings before construction begins. These meetings will occur between you, your home builder, and their cabinet, countertop, appliance, plumbing, material, and lighting vendors. We have multiple vendors for each category and will never limit you should you desire other vendor options. This is your custom home and we want you to have as much input on the finishes as possible.
The selection meeting is aptly named; in these meetings (some require multiple meetings with each vendor) you are selecting the finishes you want for your home. These selections revolve around an allowance pulled from the specifications sheet where you and your home builder decide on a dollar figure you are ‘allowed’ to spend on finishes. This allowance is generated after many meetings with you and your home builder where an understanding of the fit/finishes is established, and a healthy reflective allowance is provided. In the case that you should go over the allowance amount, the contract amount would go up. If you are under the allowance amount, the contract amount would go down.
The first modification to your building site that marks the beginning of the construction process is called groundbreaking. This usually occurs 2–3 months after the initial meeting but can happen sooner if you have house plans finalized before the initial meeting. Between the initial meeting and groundbreaking, various site visits are performed to determine site grading, house location, basement area, outdoor spaces, landscaping and more. This process can take about a month but typically takes closer to two or three months. Sites that require their own well and septic system usually require an extra month. From there, some sites require Architectural Review Board approval to navigate. This can take a few additional weeks. Permitting happens once this is finalized.
Much less is required from you during the construction portion of the project than was in the pre-construction/planning portion. Our expertise, and that of our subs and vendors, allow construction to be a relaxing yet exciting part of the process for you. This is accomplished from experience; there are very few areas within the construction process that LT&CH has not navigated before. When problems arise, we deal with them seamlessly and efficiently to keep your home build on budget and within its timeline.
It typically takes around eight months to build a house. The process starts with ‘rough’ trades and finishes the with ‘fine’ trades. First steps revolve around site work: clearing trees, putting in driveways, digging the basement, and installing building footers. Next is the foundation. Most of the foundations that we build are basements with poured concrete walls. Next comes rough framing, followed by mechanicals (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, and Gas). These are typically installed in tandem with the siding and roofing. Once those are completed, insulation and drywall can be installed.
After all the ‘rough’ trades are done, the ‘fine’ trades commence. These consist of the installation of floors, trim, paint, countertops, and appliances. Near the end of construction, we ‘trim out’ the electrical and plumbing then do final touch ups on all the trades, from sheetrock/paint to cleaning and final inspections. Lastly is the final walk through, issuance of a CO, and closing.
The pre-drywall meeting takes place right before the mechanicals are installed in the construction process. In this meeting, you will walk the house with your home builder, electrician, low voltage contractor, and plumber to determine what items the house needs that were not included in the residential plan. These items may include extra outlets for decorative lights, a hot water line in the garage for hot/cold spigots, surround sound hookups, or internet boosters, just to name a few. LT&CH is always present at the pre-drywall meeting. Years of experience allows us to catch even the most minor details to help you get the best finished product possible.
After the modifications you discussed in the pre-drywall meeting have been installed and the rest of the finishing touch have been completed, the final walkthrough happens. This walkthrough includes you and your house builder. It usually occurs a week before closing and takes around 90 minutes. During this time, the entire house is walked and any defects, usually of the visual nature, are identified. These can include sheetrock pops, paint inconsistencies, and tile grout and calking defects. We have a home inspector do an inspection a few days prior to this and we review the systems in the home like HVAC, appliances, water shutoffs, and the electrical panels to make sure everything is working properly. This ensures that any issues found in the final walkthrough are minor and easily remedied.
The final walkthrough is part of the ‘handoff’ of the home from your home builder to you. In this step we make sure that your expectations of the finished product have been met. Closing attorneys often request to have this completed as part of closing. During closing, any unfinished items from this stage can have a monetary value applied to them and be held in escrow.
Closing is when the property changes ownership from the builder to you. This step is only applicable if the builder owns the property, like in the case of a subdivision. Closing is when you sign the documents required for the deed to transfer ownership from the builder to you. This typically happens with an attorney or closing company present. This is also when loan documents are signed if a mortgage is being used to finance the purchase. We are happy to recommend attorneys and lenders that we have worked with before if you do not already have one. It is not as important of a step if you own the lot to start with. If you already own the lot, the loan (construction to permanent) Is already in place, as is the deed transfer which happened when you bought the land. After closing is done, the house is officially yours and you can move into your exceptional home.
We continue to support our clients after closing. First, we provide a one-year builder warranty. We offer to do a walkthrough of your home 90 days after move–in, and again after 11 months, to address any defects that may have surfaced in that time. It is impossible to build a ‘perfect’ house. We believe that this step is crucial to ensure that your house continues to perform at, or above, your expectations. Should any issues arise immediately after move–in (Plumbing leak, HVAC malfunction, etc.) we are there promptly to take care of it. Word of mouth about how home builders handle issues after closing is critical in the real estate world and in creating trust with clients. Our reputation for excellence and commitment to our clients precedes us. We are committed to supporting you in all stages of the build process, even after closing.
Building a house can be confusing and stressful. That’s why it is a good idea to do as much research on the process as possible before hand. It is also important to find an experienced and reliable home builder who is committed to helping you through every step of the process. An experienced home builder can save you a lot of stress and work by taking care of issues as they arise in a way that reflects your best interest. Communication is also important between you and your home builder. Clear communication will ensure that your finished product is how you imagined, and it will help keep the build on schedule and within budget.
Building a house should be a rewarding and exciting process. If you want to know more about this process or would like to discuss a build of your own, feel free reach out to Lee Town & Country Homes. From pre-construction/planning through construction and beyond, Lee Town & Country Homes is here to help you realize your vision.