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The 23 Construction Steps to Build a New Home

Richard Montgomery on

Dear Monty: We have decided to build a new home. We have seen no existing home we like well enough to own. What are the actual steps in the construction process?

Monty's Answer: Assuming a poured concrete full basement and a 2,500-square-foot ranch home, without comment on cost, financing, timetable or builder variances in step order, here are the actual steps.


No. 1: Locate the home site. Choose from three sites. Here are some tips on how to choose a builder. No. 2: Design the home to fit the lot. Designing the home first may limit your site selection. No. 3: Clear the lot and excavate the foundation. Ensure your final grade will direct water flow away from the house. No. 4: Pour footings and basement walls. Precision here is a necessary component. Subsoils must be sufficient to support the weight of the home. No. 5: Insulate the foundation. Insulation reduces energy costs. Include drain tile and sump at the base. Water is the eternal enemy. No. 6: Backfill with appropriate soil for the home site. A poured foundation or concrete block, depending on soil type. No. 7: Public utilities. Laterals for sewer and water plus electric and natural gas. A rural lot requires a drilled well.


No. 8: The wood sill plate bolts the home to its foundation. The bolts are inserted in wet concrete when they pour the wall. No. 9: The floor plate is an engineered truss system to support the 250-ton weight of a 2,500-square-foot ranch home. No. 10: The subfloor is half-inch or three-quarter-inch plywood sheathing secured over the truss system and exterior base walls. No. 11: 2-by-4-inch studs frame interior walls. The plumber, electrician and HVAC workers rough in functioning components per the blueprints. No. 12: The roof truss system is waterproof sheeting, tar paper and heavy tar and asphalt shingles that cap the roof. No. 13: The exterior walls are covered with waterproof sheeting, then completed with brick, stone or various types and colors of siding. No. 14: Windows are built in factories, shipped to the site and installed there by the builder. The windows complete the protection of the home. No. 15: The insulation is installed between the studs. No. 16: Sheetrock is typically screwed into the studs as it provides a solid bond to secure the heavy material permanently. No. 17: Plaster, of several varieties, encapsulates the sheetrock.



No. 18: Painting is completed when the plaster is dry. Now is when the planning and decor begin to show. No. 19: Rough-in flooring sets the elevation base for the cabinetry, future doors and trim. No. 20: Cabinetry today is built in a factory and delivered pre-finished. There are many choices of style and finishes. No. 21: Finished trim is milled and pre-finished in factories and installed by finishing carpenters. No. 22: Lighting fixtures and finished floors are the final inside tasks. The installers want the owners to be the first to set foot on them. No. 23: Landscaping is often the wrap on construction. Many variables, particularly weather, can affect the planting of grasses, shrubs and trees.


To build a home can be a fun and rewarding experience for many. It can also be a nightmare for others. Careful planning, committing the time, and solid consultants are key.


Richard Montgomery is the author of "House Money: An Insider's Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home." He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty, or at DearMonty.com.


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