The CONSTRUCTION PROCESS
Nature of the Construction Process
For an outsider, the construction process can seem chaotic, hectic, and uncertain. Some activities go fast, and some drag out. The physical dimensions of the home appear to change. The foundation might appear smaller than envisioned, the framing might create larger spaces than anticipated, and then the sheetrock seems to shrink everything again.
Some days, multiple crews will be onsite. Parking might be difficult, and garbage and construction debris pile up. On other days, no one is there.
It often seems like there is little rhyme or reason to the construction process, and chaos rules. Home builders are masters of taming chaos. It’s what we do.
Without excellent management systems, tools, and experience, it is easy for the process to overwhelm a home builder, especially if they have multiple projects going on at the same time.
The vast majority of home builders rely on subcontractors to do the work. The subcontractors are separate entities, normally comprised of a small crew. Subcontractors can be foundation crews, plumbing crews, framing crews, and crews for roofing, sheetrock, painting, trim work, and finish work. The reason for independent subcontractors is that it is not economically feasible for a home builder to employ such a large labor force with the disparate skills required to build a home.
There are advantages and disadvantages to subcontractor crews. The advantages are scalability, access to quality work crews, and the ability to build in different locations and on different projects. The downside of subcontracting the work is scheduling. Most subcontractor crews need to be scheduled well in advance of their scheduled activity. They also work for different home builders. If one subcontractor does not finish in their allocated time, the next subcontractor might not be able to start work on time and will go to another job for another home builder. This creates a chain reaction with the schedule.
(This is another reason to avoid change orders! A change order stops the construction schedule, and it might take several weeks before the next scheduled subcontractor starts work.)
That’s why some days there might be several crews onsite, and other days, none. The home builder understands this and provides a buffer in their construction contract for such delays and issues. A 6-month project with daily activity will typically extend another month due to the nature of the labor force. Add other potential delays for product delivery, weather, inspections, etc., and a 9-month contract to build is common.
Components of a Construction Schedule
Although home builders use many different scheduling systems to schedule the hundreds of individual activities, most schedules are broken down to the following general categories.
- Permitting: Depending on the jurisdiction, permitting can take several weeks to several months. The average time for permitting is an important question to ask, because the home builder’s schedule does not start until after the building permits are released. Remember, the clock starts ticking on your construction loan as soon the loan closes — not at the start of construction. A 9-month construction contract should have a 1-year loan-maturity date to protect the home buyer.
- Excavation and Foundation: The home builder will lay out the foundation and elevations. This is a critical component for the home buyer to approve. Once the foundation is excavated, it is very difficult to change. If there is a basement, the drain lines will be placed prior to the basement slab being poured.
- Framing: Floor systems, exterior walls, and interior walls are framed. Toward the end of the framing job, trusses are delivered and installed, along with windows. Roof systems are then installed to secure the building frame against the weather.
- Rough-In: Installation of the plumbing, HVAC systems, and finally, electrical rough. It is important for the home buyer to physically inspect the location of the HVAC and electrical outlets and future fixtures prior to sheetrock being installed. It is a good idea to document completely all systems with photographs prior to installing the sheetrock.
- Sheetrock, tape, and texture completed.
- Interior/exterior painting competed.
- Hard-surface flooring, cabinets and doors, base, and case installed.
- Tile and other hard-wall surfaces (showers, etc.) installed.
- Soft goods and appliances installed.
- Final plumbing, HVAC, and electrical fixtures installed.
- Final cleaning and home builder correction list completed.
- Final walk-through by home buyer and home builder.
- Final “punch list” completed.
We Are Here To Help
At CDAhomeplans.com, we believe in providing our home buyers with as much information as possible so they can make the right decisions for their custom home.
Please contact us to schedule a call so we can answer all your questions — it’s free, and there is no obligation. We love to talk construction!
Call or text us at (509) 289-5305.
Todd J. Sullivan and dog, Loki in beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho