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How to Build a House: Complete Guide

How to Build a House: Complete Guide

Wondering how to build a house, but aren’t sure where to start? Look no further than our complete guide. We cover everything you need to know, including timeline, cost, and things to consider. Read on to learn more. 


Disclaimer: REthority is supported by ads and participation in affiliate programs. We may earn a commission when you click our links. The information included in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal or financial advice.


How to Build a House in 10 Steps:
  1. Find a Home Builder
  2. Prepare the Site and Foundation
  3. Rough Framing, Doors, and Windows
  4. Install Siding and Roofing
  5. Install Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC Systems
  6. Install Insulation
  7. Drywall, Trim, and Exterior Structures
  8. Floors and Property Grading
  9. Outlets, Bathrooms, and Landscaping
  10. Final Walk-Through
Click for Step-by-Step Guide
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1. Find a Home Builder

Graphic illustrating step one in the home building process titled Find a home builder and shows two people planning to build a house

Finding a good builder is the first step to building your new house. Typically, you’ll find a building contractor that employs a team of professionals, including architects, structural engineers, builders, electrical and plumbing professionals, and more.

The building company you choose is essential because they will work with you every step of the way through the entire process, from the initial design and blueprint of your home to the finishing touches and landscaping.

Builders will either supply or subcontract professionals for every part of your build:

  • Concrete and foundation
  • Carpentry and framing
  • Doors, windows, siding
  • Cabinetry and casework
  • Countertops and tile
  • Flooring
  • Electrical
  • Landscaping
  • Roofing
  • Masonry
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC

Homebuilders subcontract any professional that isn’t on their team to ensure all the work done on your house is done by a licensed, skilled professional. They also get all the needed permits.

This ensures your home is in full compliance with local regulations and rules. Finding a good builder means doing a little research. Most builders specialize in homes within a certain price point or a specific style of home.

Make sure you ask your prospective builders plenty of questions and ask to walk through an existing model build they’ve done before you decide to work with them

Read reviews and ask around to see what others’ experiences were like with them. After all, this will be one of the most significant investments you’ll make in your lifetime – it’s worth being picky about your builder!

How Much Does a Home Builder Charge?

The amount varies due to many different factors, but most builders combine their charges into the final purchase price of your home. If you’re financing your new home, you can include the builder’s payment cost into your loan amount. 

2. Prepare the Site and Foundation

The second graphic for a piece on how to build a house showing an excavator digging a foundation for a home

Your builder will start the process by preparing the site and laying the foundation. If the lot is wooded, trees will be removed by a bonded and insured tree service that the builder will hire.

Your builder’s crew will use heavy equipment like bulldozers and backhoes to remove the brush, smaller trees, and rocks on the building site. They may dig a septic system if the house is in a rural location.

Once the site is graded and level, the foundation is poured. If the home has a basement, it will be dug now. Your crew will set up wooden forms to outline the foundation, dig trenches and holes that will be filled with concrete, and install footings.

Then, openings for the home’s drains and electrical chases are added between the footings before the concrete slab foundation is poured. At this point, the concrete needs time to cure and harden.

This takes as many as 28 days, and all construction is temporarily paused until the concrete is fully cured. When it is, the wooden foundation frames will be removed.

The crew waterproofs the cured, hardened concrete and runs the first floor’s drains and plumbing through the openings created before the foundation was poured. 

Inspections

At this point, your home may have its first city inspection to ensure your foundation meets regulations and building codes. 

3. Rough Framing, Doors, and Windows

As a graphic for a piece on how to build a house, a home that is being framed for doors, windows, and roof

This is an exciting step for new homeowners – it’s when you’ll begin to see something that looks like a house! During rough framing, the floors, walls, and roof will be built.

Exterior walls may be built from plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). Holes will be cut in the wall panels to leave space for the doors and windows to be installed.

Now that there is a wooden structure on the foundation, it will need to be protected from the elements until the siding or masonry work is completed. Exterior doors and windows are installed at this point.

Finally, the crew will cover the exterior walls with a type of protective wrap called a house wrap. This keeps water out while letting water vapor escape the house and keeps your wood from rotting before the crew can finish the exterior. 

4. Install Siding and Roofing

An image titled Install Siding and Roofing and shows a guy working on the roof while another person supervises

While the roof’s rugged frame was completed in the last step, it needs to be covered in shingles or a metal roof to further waterproof the house. Depending on the type of roof, the installation should take about a day or two. 

At the same time, your chosen siding can be installed. You might select vinyl, wood, metal, brick, or stucco siding. There are cost differences between different types of siding, and your builder and designer will help you find the best option.

Roofing and siding are essential to get in place now to make sure no water makes its way into the house. The next steps involve electrical and HVAC system installation. 

5. Install Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC Systems

An image for a guide on How to Build a House showing an electrician installing electrical and plumbing

Once the rough frame is up, the roof is complete, and the siding is up, your builder team will work on the “innards” of the house. This includes your electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems.

Whether they are members of the building crew or subcontracted professionals, your builder will have a licensed person take care of these essential steps in building your home. 

  • First, an HVAC professional installs the ductwork and vent pipes for your HVAC system. These are the ducts that will carry air-conditioned or heated air throughout your home. Ducts are larger than wires and pipes, and with them in place first, everything else can be efficiently run alongside or around the ductwork.
  • A plumber installs sewer lines and vents, your showers and bathtubs, and each fixture’s water supply lines in this step. Large bath units are installed now because it’s hard to maneuver around when all the interior walls go up.
  • An electrician runs electrical wires throughout the home’s ceilings, walls, and floors to ensure every room has power.

Now that the house is waterproofed and all wiring, ducts, and pipes are installed, the electrician working on your home determines where outlets and light switches should go and prepares those areas by running wires from each one to the main breaker panel.

Inspections

More inspections happen at this step in the process. The systems that were just installed must be compliant with all codes and regulations so that each one will be inspected and signed off on by a city inspector. 

6. Install Insulation

A person installing insulation as part of a guide on how to build a hosue

Insulation is an essential part of the home-building process because it keeps the temperature inside comfortable, holds heat or cold air in, reduces energy bills, and even adds structural integrity to your house (if you’re using spray foam insulation). 

Insulation will be added to all of your home’s exterior walls, the attic, and floors (if you have an unfinished basement). Most new home construction projects use fiberglass insulation that comes in rolls (called batts) by default.

If you want a well-insulated home that won’t need more insulation in 10-15 years, you may opt for the higher-priced spray foam insulation instead. It lasts for 100+ years and has more insulating power than fiberglass, never sags, and can even dampen sound. 

With the insulation installed, your builder will have your home’s drywall delivered to the house in preparation for the next step. 

7. Drywall, Trim, and Exterior Structures

Someone painting a brick wall in graphical form against a blue background

Your building crew will now turn their attention to finishing the interior walls and starting on the exterior finishes. The drywall panels that were delivered to your home will be hung to create your home’s interior walls.

The drywall technician will ensure no seams between the panels are showing. Once there is a clear, seamless finish, the first coat of paint will be applied to all panels in the color you’ve chosen. 

With the walls in place, your crew will start finishing the interior with crown molding, baseboards, and trim around the doors and windows, fireplace mantles, bathroom vanities, shower and tub surrounds, and more.

Those can now be installed if your cabinets are ready (custom cabinets can take a while to receive). Another coat of paint goes on once the decorative trim and finishes are in place.

While part of the crew is working on the interior of your home, others will be working on a few touches outside. Your walkway, patio, and driveway may be laid or poured at this point.

They will need time to cure if done in concrete, but not as much time as the foundation because they won’t need to support as much weight. 

8. Floors and Property Grading

The 8th step in how to build a house shows a person installing floors and doing property grading

Your home’s floors, which have been plywood up until now, are installed. You might have wood, vinyl, carpet, or tile floors, or a mix of a few types of flooring throughout the house.

While the floors are being installed, another professional will install your countertops (the cabinets should already be in place by now). 

Outside the home, your crew will work to properly grade your property to make sure water flows away from your home. They may also begin prepping to start landscaping around the home. 

9. Outlets, Bathrooms, and Landscaping

Person setting up the outlets, bathrooms, and landscaping for a piece on how do you build a house

The little details all fall into place now. Anything missing – light switches, faucets, toilets, sinks, mirrors, interior doors, landscaping – all finishing touches all taken care of now.

When the crew is satisfied with the results, they’ll do one final cleanup and get ready to show you your finished new home in the next step: The final walkthrough. 

Inspections

The last inspection happens now, when a building code official comes by, walks through, and gives a certificate of occupancy (allowing you to occupy the home because it meets all requirements). 

10. Final Walk-Through

Number 10 in the steps to building a house is to do the final walk-thru

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for for the last several months. You and your builder will walk through the house, going over everything that’s been completed, showing you how to operate systems, and any special extras they may have added.

This is your chance to speak up if there are any problems you notice. This walkthrough is also an opportunity for your builder to explain your warranty, home maintenance, and point out anything that needs your attention. 

When the walkthrough is complete, and you are satisfied with the home, you can finish handling the payment or financing process and begin moving in. Your new home is officially complete!

Still Wondering How to Build a House?

Still wondering how to build a house? It’s a long and complicated process, but we hope our guide has made it more manageable. From the moment you find your builder to the day you receive the keys to your brand new home, it could be a 6-9 month period

Building a house certainly takes longer than buying a house, but the results are worth it – a sturdy home with all your preferences built-in that you can enjoy and create memories in for decades to come. 

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