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Building Your Home; From Start To Finish

Building a custom home is an exciting project if you understand what’s going on and what to expect. If you haven’t a clue what to expect, the entire experience may just be a big ball of confusion for you. The more familiar you become with the process of building, the more you will get out of the experience.

Once your lot has been cleared and it’s time to begin the construction of your new house, there is a sequence of events that you will need to be apart of. This is where it gets fun, but it’s only as fun as you make it out to be. Keep reading if you are interested in knowing the step by step process of a new home construction.

Laying the Foundation

The first stage in construction involves the foundation of your house. There are several different approaches to foundation; basement foundation being the most common. Other techniques include slab-foundation and pole and pier foundations. Slab-foundation is common in areas where soil conditions are not suitable for a basement. Pole and pier foundations are a necessity in areas such as coastal states, where homes are sometimes built either partially over water or in floodplains.

If you chose any kind of basement foundation, you will likely see a crew arrive on site first. They will begin by digging a hole that is larger than the foundation to accommodate to workers doing their job around the foundation forms. Poured concrete is the most common basement foundation method, but treated wood, brick or concrete blocks are also used. It all depends on your location and soil type. With poured concrete, you’ll see the foundation forms go up and reinforcing bars go into the forms. You will also see openings being marked for windows and utilities.

After the concrete is poured into the forms, anchor bolts are placed into the still-soft mixture. These bolts are responsible for securing the exterior walls to the foundation. Once the concrete hardens sufficiently and the forms are removed, you will probably see waterproofing measures being taken. Such measures include an impermeable membrane or asphalt coating being applied to the foundation wall to prevent water from seeping in. After the waterproofing measures have been done, the surrounding soil is backfilled against the exterior of the foundation wall.

Constructing the Framing

Framing is the next step of the building process. Floors are framed first and then the walls. If you have a basement foundation you will notice a subfloor will be installed first. Subfloors consist of joists with 4x8 flooring material nailed or screwed to the joists. If you have a slab foundation, the exterior walls will be mounted directly on the slab.

The framing stage provides a glimpse of the future shape of your home. In many ways, framing is the skeleton of your home. You will see holes for windows and doors appear in the building’s envelope and the interior will begin to show its form as well. The interior walls and closets will be framed within.

Framing follows an upward progression. The walls of the first floor are framed, then the second floor and the second set of walls (if there is a second floor), and lastly the roof. Roof trusses are placed on top of the walls and then linked to the exterior walls by metal straps. Next they are tied in to each other by 2x4s. Roof sheathing, usually 4x8 sheets of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB), is nailed to the roof trusses. This provides a deck on which the roofing material can be fastened.

Installing the Roofing

When it comes to roofing, an additional step is needed for those that live in colder regions. For colder regions, the first thing to go down on the roof deck is an adhesive, impermeable membrane, which is placed along all the eaves. This membrane prevents ice-dam-trapped water from backing up under the shingles during the winter. It costs more than asphalt paper or roofers felt, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. Once it is put into place, asphalt paper is applied to the rest of the deck.

Roof covering is the next step. Asphalt shingles are most common. They are designed to last 25 or 30 years, although longer-lasting (thicker) shingles are available. Additional roof-covering choices include clay tiles, slate, cedar shakes, and sheet metal. Prices will vary among them.

Putting Exterior Trim in Place

Now that we have the skeleton of the home in place, its time to give the home some skin! Exterior trim is the home’s skin. This step is often performed while the roofers are still carrying out their duties on the roof. The same sheathing material that is used on the roof is used to cover the bare exterior framing studs. At this time, a vapor barrier is stapled to the sheathing to help prevent moisture and air from seeping in and rotting the studs. This is also when the windows and doors are installed, as well as fascia boards and soffit boards.

Exterior cladding is the next step in the exterior trim process. This could be cedar siding, stucco, brick, stone, vinyl or cement fiber siding. Once the cladding is up, gutters can be installed. Keep in mind; it’s a good idea to wait until the roof is complete before you begin installing the gutters. You wouldn’t want a workers ladder to ruin your new gutter system.

Mechanical Systems

The mechanical systems include your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. They are better known as your HVAC systems. This step is completed in two steps, the first being worse then the second. The first step requires the workers to install the internal components that will be hidden once your house is complete. These components include your house’s water pipes, ducts, and wiring. The second step is when the subcontractors return at a later date and time to install the light and water fixtures, heat registers, etc.

Insulating the Home

Insulation is a huge step in the building process but it plays such an important role in the comfort of your home. Not to mention energy savings. This step requires the exterior wall cavities between the studs to be filled with whatever type of insulation you specify. Popular choices include fiberglass batts and blown cellulose, but a growing number of home builders are using foam insulation as well.

For those of you interested in “Green Building”, there are environmentally friendly insulation choices. A popular environmentally friendly insulation choice includes UltraTouch, a batt-type insulation made from reclaimed cotton. Other choices include insulation made from newspaper and low-density concrete.

Putting up Drywall

It is now time for the drywall. Drywall is hung, or nailed to your interior walls and ceilings, providing more structure to your home. After the drywall is hung, you will notice the builders spreading a thin, fibrous tape over the seams between the sheets. Joint compound is then spread over the tape. Typically, about three coats of the compound is applied, allowed to dry and sanded smooth before the walls are ready for the final step.

It is now your turn to decide what kind of walls you want. For example, do you want to paint, wallpaper or apply a textured effect to your walls? If you aren’t going to paint or wallpaper, then now is the time where you can have a texture applied to your walls as a nice finishing touch.

Putting Interior Trim in Place

Interior trim begins with your doors. Lengths of trim wood are applied to the outside edges of the door openings and base molding pieces are applied to the walls where they meet the floor. Crown moldings cover the walls where they meet the ceiling. Once the doors trims are finished, other trim needs such as stair rails and fireplace mantels are installed.

Painting and Staining

We are now approaching the final steps to the completion of your new home. It is now time for the painting and staining processes. Any trim pieces that were installed unfinished can be painted or stained and any untextured walls can be painted or wallpapered. Be sure to prepare all of the areas that you plan to paint or stain. Sometimes the drywallers leave compound joint on the walls and it should be filed down before you paint or stain.

Finish Work

Ok, it’s definitely time to get excited! It is now time to bring in your beautiful kitchen and bath cabinets, and maybe that granite countertop you’ve always wanted. The tiles, the carpet, the blinds and curtains, the appliances, the furniture, and all the other aesthetic touches are now finding a place within your new walls. In no time, your house will begin to feel like your home! This is also the time when the subcontractors come back to install the heat registers, light fixtures and water fixtures.

Cleanup & Landscape

A home is definitely judged by its cover. The final steps include your driveway and/or sidewalk being installed, the landscape being created, and the process of clean-up beginning. Try saving a few bucks and tackling the clean-up on your own. This process can be made easy if you call your garbage company and have them drop off one of those oversized trash receptacles to throw away any remaining debris that you find.

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