Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How House #Construction Works

Second in our series on the steps that go into making a new home. You’ve asked yourself some of these questions before. How is a house built? What holds up the ceilings and the walls? What keeps the rain out? What parts go into making a house? How many different people are involved when a house goes up?  Here we focus on site preparation so read on.

Grading and site preparation

Time to "break ground! The first step in the actual #construction of your new home is site preparation. Site preparation consists of clearing away the trees from your building site, doing whatever rough grading (smoothing out the holes, mounds and slopes) that is necessary, and staking the house location in preparation for installation of the footings and foundation.

Before staking, you will need to go over the things that will affect or be affected by the placement of your home on the lot with your contractor. These are;

Setbacks and Easements
Topography (slopes)
The Sun's Exposure
Trees you want to keep
Well and Septic Tank Location
Your Relationship to other houses in the area/neighborhood
Distances you'll have to run utility lines to hook up with municipal services

OK, if you already took all these things into consideration before you did your site plan, do yourself a favor, check them all again - before you begin your site preparation. It's much easier to make changes now . . . BEFORE the concrete if poured!

Clearing the Lot

This involves the removal of trees, roots, and other vegetation from the building site. 

Rough Staking the Home

Here is where to start laying out the home. 

Just be sure to check the new location against setbacks and easements and the required distance to your septic tank drain field. Also be sure to advise your building department and get their OK before going forth with your new location.


If your home will have a basement, it'll need to be dug - excavated. Some builders like to pour the concrete for their driveway at the same time they pour their slab. This makes it a lot easier to build the home, since you can get out of the mud early.

. . . Since there is "Rough" grading, there must also be "Finish" grading! This will be done when the construction on the home is completed and you are ready to tackle the exterior stuff. It's the fine tuning of the drainage patterns around your home and the set up for your landscaping.

Erosion Control

"Erosion control" is really a bit of a misnomer. You won't really control erosion, but you may be required to take special precautions to prevent the runoff from your cleared land from carrying mud to adjacent roads and property. Check with your building department to see what may be required. There are a number of materials/systems used to minimize the problem. They allow water to pass through but screen out fine particles. They can be as simple as bales of hay. 

We’ll will walk through foundation and framing in our next blog so that you can understand what’s involved and start to see the outline of your house come alive. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How House Construction Works

Have you ever wondered how a house is built? What holds up the ceilings and the walls? What keeps the rain out? What parts go into making a house? How many different people are involved when a house goes up? If you always wanted to know the answers to questions like these, or if you have simply been curious to know all the steps that go into making a new home, then read on. You'll learn how the houses we develop are actually built.

Setting the Stage

So let's start at the beginning. What is a house? According to Wikipedia, a house is "A building that functions as a home for humans or other creatures, including simple dwellings ranging from rudimentary huts of nomadic tribes and complex structures composed of many systems." I don’t know about the “other creatures” part but you probably have a very specific mental image of the "typical house." It is a structure on its own piece of land, generally with a lawn and plants outside. It has a pitched roof, walls covered in brick or siding, windows and doors. Inside there are rooms like the kitchen, the living room, bedrooms and bathrooms.

I can show you a hundred pictures of houses and they may all be completely different in their specifics, but they will all share those basic characteristics.

Steps to Building a House

One of the amazing things about American homes is that the huge majority of them are built using completely standardized building practices. One reason for this consistency is a set of uniform building codes that apply across the country. Another reason is cost -- the techniques used to build homes produce reliable housing quickly at a low cost (relatively speaking). If you ever watch any house being built, you will find that it goes through about twenty or so steps:

1. Grading and site preparation
2. Foundation construction
3. Framing
4. Installation of windows and doors
5. Roofing
6. Siding
7. Rough electrical
8. Rough plumbing
9. Rough HVAC
10. Insulation
11. Drywall
12. Underlayment
13. Trim
14. Painting
15. Finish electrical
16. Bathroom and kitchen counters and cabinets
17. Finish plumbing
18. Carpet and flooring
19. Finish HVAC
20. Hookup to water main, or well drilling
21. Hookup to sewer or installation of a septic system
22. Punch list

Many of these steps are performed by independent crews known as subcontractors. For example, the framing is generally done by one subcontractor specializing in framing, while the roofing is done by a completely different subcontractor specializing in roofing. Each subcontractor is an independent business. All of the subcontractors are coordinated by a contractor who oversees the job and is responsible for completing the house on time and on budget.

We will walk through some of these various stages in more detail in our upcoming blogs so that you will know what is involved, understand all the steps and learn about the different materials used in the construction process.