How to Build a House

By PropertyClub Team
May 9th 2022
Nowadays, building a house can be surprisingly easy and affordable. As long as you take the time to adequately plan each step and know what options you have for contractors, supplies, and other important factors, you should be able to fit within a reasonable budget and get the project done on time.

It’s important to understand that this will take a while. Even if you meticulously plan everything, you’ll still need at least a few months for the actual construction. On top of that, you’ve got various additional steps like obtaining permits and connecting to your local utilities.

hash-markHow to Build a House Steps

  1. Identify a Suitable Lot
  2. Secure Funding
  3. Obtain Permits
  4. Prepare the Site
  5. Lay the Foundation
  6. Build the Framing
  7. Install Plumbing and Electrical
  8. Install Flooring and Ceilings
  9. Install HVAC and Insulation
  10. Hook Up Fixtures
  11. Complete the Interior
  12. Complete the Exterior
  13. Get a Final Inspection

hash-mark1. Identify a Suitable Lot

The first step in building a house is identifying a suitable location. Many factors go into this consideration, and it’s a decision you should not make lightly. You’ll want to pick land that’s stable and can support a full house. But there’s more to it than that.

Pay attention to your surroundings as well. Is the area already developed? Are other houses planned to be built on surrounding lots? Is the whole area zoned for residential use? Just because you’re building on a lot surrounded by empty land doesn’t mean things will stay that way forever.

Pay special attention to any commercial or industrial zones in your vicinity. Those may one day turn into businesses that produce a lot of noise, unpleasant smells, and other factors that can negatively affect the quality of your life.

Should You Get a Survey Done?

That leads us to an important point. Surveying is not mandatory in most cases, but it’s usually a good idea to avoid any potential future conflict. If you don’t get a survey done, you might run into unpleasant surprises down the road. For example, one of your neighbors could claim that your land was not properly marked and your house is partially built on their property.

These conflicts can get messy quickly, and they can be avoided by just paying for a survey once before the whole project commences. The more you’re investing into your house, the more sense it makes to go through this step to avoid expensive problems later on.

Is Insurance Necessary?

Depending on where you live and which construction company you’re using for the job, you may be required to take out certain types of insurance yourself. It’s advisable to work with companies that carry their own liability insurance. Otherwise, your construction project can get significantly more expensive if you hire a larger crew and build close to other structures that might get damaged in the process.

It’s also good to get a separate consultation for this instead of discussing it exclusively with the construction company. They might not be fully aware of all legal requirements that concern you as the person ordering the construction, or they might simply not care enough to look into the situation in enough detail. 

hash-mark2. Secure Funding

You can skip this part entirely if you can pay out of pocket for the whole project up front. But for most people, a construction loan will likely be necessary to finance the entire project. This is one of the more challenging types of loans to obtain. You should have a flawless credit record with a sufficiently high score and enough income to comfortably pay off the loan while still having enough money for your regular expenses.

If the project is not urgent, you might want to take a year or so to build up your credit score before you start seeking funding. This will present you with more opportunities and make the loan terms more favorable in general. Depending on your current credit score, you might not need to wait that long. Just make sure that you know exactly what your score is before looking for an appropriate loan so that there are no surprises.

hash-mark3. Obtain Permits

You’ll need a building permit to put up a house pretty much anywhere in the US, with some small exceptions. And that’s just the baseline requirement – in many cases, you’ll need various additional permits on top of that. For example, you might need separate permits for electrical and plumbing work and permits for any special fixtures you plan to have on your property, like a septic tank or an HVAC system.

You should start applying for those permits as soon as you have all the necessary documentation. Don’t underestimate how long this process can take. You may have to wait months to get everything in place in some cases. No reputable construction company will commence work until everything is sorted out on the legal side. Failing to plan for this can incur a huge delay in your project.

hash-mark4. Prepare the Site

Before the foundation can be poured, the construction site must be prepared. This involves clearing out any growths and debris and leveling the land. If you’re planning any advanced landscaping that will involve natural water features, you will usually want to prepare the land at this stage to save on landscaping costs down the road.

Depending on the layout of your house and the land it’s being built on, you might need to clear and level a larger area around the construction lot. This is often the case if you plan to build additional roads, driveways, or other features that require their own foundations and separate construction work.

hash-mark5. Lay the Foundation

For many people building a home for the first time, this is often the most exciting part. The construction crew will prepare the site for the foundation and pour it in. Preparations involve a final measurement of the lot and installing frost footings to prevent frost damage.

hash-mark6. Build the Framing

Once the foundation is in place, you’re ready to put up the framing of your future home. This process can be surprisingly fast – it shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks in most cases. It’s one of the most impactful parts of the whole construction project, as this is where you will start to see some semblance of an actual house.

During this phase, carpenters will build the full framing, including the walls and roof of the house. The structure is then ready to be fitted with electrical, plumbing, and other systems and to start putting up actual walls. In many cases, walls will be erected as part of the framing itself, using wood to define the shape of the house and the areas that will later be fitted with drywall and other materials. 

hash-mark7. Install Plumbing and Electrical

After framing a house, you’ll want to put in the plumbing and electrical installations. Some construction crews might start working on those before starting the framing. In some cases, you might already have some parts of the plumbing laid down along with the foundation. In any case, the foundation should already have holes for the necessary connections at this phase.

This part of the project can take a while as it requires a lot of careful inspection after every step. One small fault in the plumbing or wiring of your home can lead to expensive repairs down the road. And that’s in the best-case scenario. In the worst case, you might be looking at severe damage that could jeopardize the whole house.

hash-mark8. Install Flooring and Ceilings

You can start the flooring and ceiling installation before the plumbing, and electrical work is done. Still, it’s usually a good idea to wait until that’s finished, though, as it will minimize any interference between different project workers and make it easier to bring supplies into the house. In addition, flooring work can require a lot of materials, and it will be very helpful to have everything in place to facilitate that part of the project with minimal friction.

When in doubt, consult the construction crews. They will let you know if anything is preventing them from completing the installation of the flooring and ceilings.

hash-mark9. Install HVAC and Insulation

In some cases, HVAC might be installed along with the plumbing and electrical installations, but it could also be a separate job, depending on how your project is structured. It may require a completely different construction crew that specializes in HVAC work. This is often the case if you’re installing a modern system with advanced requirements.

In any case, HVAC installation requires at least the basic framing work to be complete. Your contractors might also request that you finish building the walls before starting work. That’s not always the case, though. Sometimes, putting in the HVAC system before the walls are finished can make the rest of the construction easier as it minimizes the need to drill holes.

This is also the stage where you’ll insulate your home almost completely. Workers will typically start with the walls and move up to the ceiling. Once again, this may be handled by the general construction crew or by a specialized contractor. Working with an insulation expert is often worth the extra money if you can afford it. They will often have access to advanced equipment and supplies and will be able to get the job done faster than a general construction crew.

hash-mark10. Hook Up Fixtures

It’s good to hook up any electrical and plumbing fixtures after you’re done with the HVAC and insulation. While it’s technically possible to put in electrical outlets and similar fixtures before the insulation is in place, it will severely complicate the work of your insulation contractors. That’s why most contractors recommend that HVAC be installed after the drywall.

It can be tempting to handle this yourself as it usually doesn’t look like a complicated task. However, you should always leave this in the hands of professionals. In fact, depending on where you live, taking a DIY approach to this might not even be an option. For example, if you’re building your home in an area with particularly strict building regulations, you must ensure that everything is hooked up by a professional.

hash-mark11. Complete the Interior

Now you’re ready to finish the interior. This involves putting in additional wall panels, painting everything, and putting up any wallpapers or other decorative elements. This is also the phase where some of your furniture will be installed, especially kitchen cupboards and countertops requiring a professional approach.

You might be able to help out with some parts of this phase if you’re willing to. At the very least, you should be able to do some of the painting yourself or even put up some of your wallpapers. Remember that you don’t have to do any of this on your own if you don’t feel comfortable. Always leave these details in the hands of professionals. 

hash-mark12. Complete the Exterior

Once the interior is finished, you can move to the exterior. This can be a quick job for some projects, while others will require more work. If you’re planning to get any advanced landscaping done, it will be handled during this phase of the construction project – but once exterior work on the house itself has been finished.

Schedule everything properly to avoid any conflict between the different crews working on your home’s exterior. You will typically have a separate team handling the landscaping, and if you don’t plan correctly, you will find your workers constantly getting in each other’s way. Don’t expect construction crews to resolve this between themselves. You will have to mediate it if you’re handling the project.

It’s a good idea to finish the driveway as early as possible. This will provide you with some additional flexibility for the rest of the exterior work that needs to be done. In some cases, you will have to put down at least some part of the planned roads to allow construction crews to navigate the site properly.

hash-mark13. Get a Final Inspection

Once everything is said and done, all that’s left is to get a final inspection of the whole project. Some people might be eager to skip this part as they are excited at the prospect of moving into their new house. But you shouldn’t fall for that temptation, and you must make sure that everything is properly verified by a professional. Otherwise, undiscovered faults can easily lead to expensive problems that may be very difficult to resolve.

The final inspection may not even be optional, depending on local regulations. If you don’t go through this part, you may risk violating building codes. Always consult an expert to find out exactly how much is required of you in this regard, and make sure to fulfill your obligations entirely. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that nobody is going to notice. Even if that doesn’t happen now, any future problems with your home’s structural integrity might lead to the discovery of the fact that you’ve skipped the final inspection.