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Steps To Building A Custom Home

By Edited Sep 20, 2015 1 1

The Process of Building A Custom Home

Most of the people that intend to start building a custom home for themselves usually don’t know exactly how the entire home building process works, and often find themselves wondering about the correct steps in planning their custom home  and completing it or the correct timeline of these steps. Although each custom home building process may have some variation in the stages based upon factors such as location, weather and design features such as solar panels, adding a deck, etc. for the most part, the process moves in a step-by-step fashion.
Some people might choose to merge some of these home building steps or switch their order, but the correct ones in a typical custom home building process are as detailed below.  You should think carefully from deviating too far from the order in which these steps are presented as it may cause delays in the custom home building process.  Custom home building contractors and subcontractors are used to having their work planned out to avoid unnecessary delays.

Building A Custom Home Timeline

  • Decide you’re ready to tackle the custom home process
  • Meet with financial experts and get organized
  • Prepare cash flow with financing on your existing house
  • Find suitable land for your custom home and make an offer
  • Obtain land financing
  • Close escrow on the building site
  • Get surveys and soil reports
  • Get well and septic approvals if required
  • Hiring an architect - interview and pick an architect, if applicable
  • Create your custom home's preliminary design
  • Get zoning and design review approval
  • Pick all your electrical and plumbing fixtures and materials
  • Submit the plans for building approval
  • Make the required plan changes
  • Put the home plans out to bid with building contractors
  • Interview and choose a contractor
  • Apply for a construction loan for your custom home
  • Get a home appraisal based on future value
  • Get final approval for building permits and pay fees
  • Close escrow on the construction loan
  • Set up disbursement account
  • Set up communications with the building contractor and sub contractors
  • Prepare the building site for work
  • Grade and/or excavate the property
  • Trench for foundation, water, and sewer
  • Pour the concrete for foundation and let cure
  • Frame the exterior of the home
  • Frame the interior
  • Install the windows
  • Install the fireplaces
  • Install the rough HVAC
  • Install the rough plumbing systems
  • Install the rough electrical
  • Shingle the roof
  • Install the outer sheathing
  • Apply the exterior siding or stucco and paint
  • Install the drywall
  • Install the cabinetry and millwork
  • Install tile, counters, moldings, and finish carpentry
  • Install the doors
  • Paint the interior and finish woodwork
  • Arrange for plumber to install the plumbing fixtures
  • Install the electrical fixtures and hardware
  • Select the types of flooring materials you want and have them installed.
  • Request the final loan disbursement
  • Request final inspection and receive certificate of occupancy
  • Roll to permanent financing
  • Install the landscaping, including deck, pool, spa, and so on
  • Sell your old house
  • Move in

When it comes to the timeline of such a project, things are also very subjective, since the custom home building process depends on a wide variety of factors. These factors can affect the time frame so that the overall custom home project can stretch from six months to six years.
Although some of the steps in building a custom home mentioned above might be skipped, the whole construction process can be divided into four typical rough timelines.

Selecting A Site for Your Custom Home

Since land is hard to find, the exact duration of this step is hard to estimate and it depends upon the availability of land in the area you desire, ranging between three and nine months for finding it and another 30 days to six months for purchasing it.

Custom Home Design and Approval Process

This stage of building a custom home usually lasts between three and six months, but can also extend to around two years in some cases. The design and approval process requires that everything goes perfectly and you can quickly make your choices.

Custom Home Construction

This phase depends on the availability of labor and the size of the project, design and complexity of your interior design, etc. Smaller houses or kit homes may go up in six to nine months, while large detailed mansions may need 18 months.

Landscaping Your Custom Home and Moving In

This last stage is very subjective as landscaping your home depends entirely on your specific preferences unless there are specific requirements due to neighborhood covenants and the like. You may be required to finish landscaping your home in some neighborhoods within a year of completion, but the average duration of the landscaping stage is less than six months.  This being said, it would be advisable however to be patient and take your time in building your custom home since want to have a house you love for the rest of your life rather than years of regret because you rushed the home building process. 



Oct 2, 2012 8:03am
Great article noryanna, good overview of a very complicated process. I would suggest adding a step for interviewing and "short listing" builders prior to putting the plans out to bid. Good job!
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