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How Long Does it Take to Build a House?

Understanding the Process of New Home Construction

Buying a home is one of life’s greatest investments. That is why understanding the many options available for homeownership should be considered an important part of the decision-making process.

Building a House vs. Buying a House

When building a new home, there are a few things that are different with timing than buying an existing home. The time it takes to buy an existing home is generally quicker than purchasing a home that is brand new and under construction. While there are some things that can cause a delay with the purchase and closing of an existing home, the process can usually be completed within two months if the financing goes through.

To answer the question of “How long does it take to build a house?”, there are several variables to consider. The purchase of a new home under construction can take upwards of six to eight months, depending on a variety of circumstances. Many of the delays for new construction are related to the different construction phases of the home as it is being built.

The most important decision factors on whether to purchase a new or existing home most often depend on what the buyer is looking for. There are significant benefits to buying a new home. One of the most important benefits is everything in the home is new. This helps secure the home buyers investment and increases the longevity of all the home’s mechanical systems. Another major benefit to buying a new home that is being built as a custom home is that it allows the new home buyer a great deal of custom design capability.

By contrast to buying an existing home, the buyer of a new home can help define their choices for accent lighting, bathroom fixtures, appliances, mechanicals, floor coverings, and more. New home buyers that are starting to build a home from a basic lot can also choose the style of the home they wish to build. This allows for extensive creativity in all design aspects of the home construction for the buyer.

How Long Does It Take to Build a House?

The construction of a new home can take roughly six to eight months, depending on a variety of circumstances.

Why Does Home Construction Take So Long?

There are a variety of circumstances that can speed up or extend the time for new and existing home completions. When it comes to purchasing a new home under construction, the biggest reasons for delays in completion and closing include:

• City Building Approvals
• Weather
• Delays in Material Deliveries
• Buyer Delays on Material Decisions
• Financing Delays
• Delays with Special Sub Contractors

In general, these are the primary reasons that new home construction and purchases can be delayed beyond a targeted completion date. If a buyer is purchasing a new home that is owned by a contractor, there are usually fewer delays than custom built homes. However, some delays are inevitable, no matter who owns the land and is funding the construction phase.

City Building Approvals—This can be a source of minor or major delays, depending on the circumstances and municipalities. Before a home is built, the plan for construction must be approved by the municipality that the home is being built in. For people who own their own land and are hiring a builder for their property, the process can take longer than contractor owned new home construction purchases.

Buying a home from a contractor that already has approvals for construction usually guarantees a quicker completion time. This is especially important to understand because the delay difference can be a few weeks or longer. Contractors that have city approvals for the design of the home already in place do not need to wait for town officials to start construction. They can finish a home in much less time than a home that requires a full approval process from the beginning.

The final approval for a home also can be a cause for delay. Final approval occurs when the local municipality gives the home a C.O. or Certificate of Occupancy. The home cannot get final approval for closing or for occupancy until the city building inspector verifies that all building codes have been followed and the home is safe to occupy. If the city official is backlogged on inspections, there can be a delay of several days, a week or sometimes longer to get this completed.

Weather—This is often the number one reason for delays in construction phases. Poor weather conditions can adversely affect a wide range of home construction necessities including:

• Proper Curing of the Cement Foundation
• Installation of the Roof
• Installation of the Septic or Sewer Lines
• Installation of Sheetrock
• Curing of Exterior Paint for the Home Siding, Trim or Stain for Decking
• Finishing Landscaped Details That Affect C.O. (Certificate of Occupancy) Releases

Cold weather can cause problems for many construction tasks. Additionally, any precipitation event, even rain, and hail, as well as high wind events, will cause delays for many construction phases.

Excessive moisture in the air and on the ground can prove to be problematic for many of these home construction phases. Materials that are coming from parts of the country where intense weather patterns are underway can cause transportation and shipping problems. These can cause delays of several days or weeks as well.

Delays in Material Deliveries—This is one of those areas well known to cause delays in new home construction. There are many reasons building material delays can take place. Even if the materials are coming in from the United States, many unforeseen availability, delivery, and distribution problems can arise.

Some of the major problems that can arise in building material delays include:

• Out of Stock Delays from Manufacturers Materials
• Transportation and Shipping Delays
• Manufacturer Recalls
• Weather Related Delays

Buyer Delays in Making Decisions on Building Materials—Delays created by buyers account for at least forty percent of most delays in home completions. However, many of these delays are short. Often new home buyers take a little time to decide what they want for materials in certain rooms. On more than a few occasions, new home buyers may make changes to their original decisions during the process. This can cause delays in getting material ordering properly completed, and installation finished in a timely manner.

Financing Delays—Delays caused by buyer financing can become a problem. While the most difficult delays come when a new home buyer is having a custom-built home completed with their own construction mortgage, other financing delays can occur too.

When a person has a custom-built home under a personal construction mortgage, the bank giving the construction mortgage can delay releases of some of the funds along the way. The mortgage company or bank only releases money based on levels of completed work, which then must be inspected by the lender. This can cause the entire process to be delayed by several weeks or longer, depending on the mortgage company. This is why many buyers ask builders, “Should I build a house or buy an existing new home?”.

Financing delays are common no matter whether the home being purchased is brand new or is an existing home, lack of getting proper paperwork and approvals in place from a mortgage company can cause complications and delays. If the buyer fails to get paperwork completed in time during the mortgage process, delays can arise. It is also not uncommon for banking institutions and mortgage companies to experience delays in processing as well. On occasion, there are delays that occur in getting the home appraised for financing. Final mortgage approvals cannot happen without a home appraisal. This is true for both new construction and existing home financing.

Delays with Special Sub Contractors—This is one of the biggest and longest delays that can occur with new home construction. While the primary contractor may complete all their work on time, specialty contractors may slow up the process. Which can include contractors for:

• Foundation Work
• Masonry
• Kitchen Cabinetry
• Flooring
• Lighting
• Roofers
• Exterior Siding
• Landscaping
• Water and Sewer-Well and Septic Installation and Hookups

In each of these circumstances, the secondary contractor can delay the overall project completion by a failure to finish their work within the scheduled time frame. Sub-contractors may have delays because of material deliveries or scheduling difficulties. Since sub-contractors often have many projects going at the same time, getting them pinned down to exact scheduling can be difficult sometimes. On occasion, if a sub-contractor has a delay that appears to be more extensive than a few days, primary contractors will replace them with a sub-contractor that can do the job quicker.

Professional custom home builders often use the same group of sub-contractors for all their projects. Doing this assures there is continuity in their homes. This can help the sub-contractors maintain greater loyalty to scheduling. Most sub-contractors have their greatest loyalty to their steady project providers, which are usually primary home contractors.

The finishing touches of any home completion is the landscaping. While some banks will allow a closing on a new home before the landscaping is completed, other banks and mortgage companies will not. Lenders may make exceptions to this if enough money for the completion of landscaping is held in escrow. Working closely with a good attorney and the bank or mortgage company can help this process be less complicated.


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