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How Long Does It Take to Build a Custom House?

For homeowners who have compromised on home size and home design in the past, building a custom home that ticks every box and satisfies every design must-have can be a dream come true. By definition, a custom house refers to a one-of-kind home that a client designs with the help of a professional architect who will consider the client’s specifications and ideal locations. 

While the end product may be well worth the financial investment, some homeowners aren’t willing to interrupt their daily routines long enough to undergo the custom home building process. As part of the planning process, a client will select the rooms’ size and layouts, place rooms on the first, second, or third floors, outline the room’s dimensions, and finalize the fixtures built into your home’s structure.

Every homeowner imagines their dream home differently. By envisioning the custom features, you can settle on a list of non-negotiables. To choose the house plan that accommodates your family’s lifestyle needs and satisfies your desires, you can flip through different house plans here, and decide later on what specifications you’ll need—if you don’t have a list of must-haves in mind. 

Whether you’ve designed your custom home to a tee or pieced together your vision step-by-step, most homeowners will want an estimate of the duration of the building process. Here’s how to calculate the length of time it’ll take to build your custom home. 

Studies on custom home building 

Logically, a custom house project will take longer to build, as these homes are more complex and are more large-scale than the construction of a model house. According to a survey conducted in 2017 by the U.S Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R), from authorization to completion stage, the average duration of a custom home build ranges from six months to 18 months. A new sale-built house usually takes half a year, while a contractor-built home takes three-quarters of a year. For an owner-built home, a homeowner should expect the project to last about a year-and-a-half. 

The figures mentioned above account for construction time only. The custom home building process involves more than just construction, however. A future custom homeowner will have to hire electricians, plumbers, interior designers before they officially move in. 

Model homes vs. custom homes 

Model homes are move-in-ready, have pre-selected and pre-approved building sites, mirror the design of other homes in the area, and are complete with built-in features and fixtures. The seemingly effortless quality of model homes isn’t the case for custom houses. When building a custom home, your home building team starts the process from scratch.

Therefore, completing a custom house will be time-consuming due to the seemingly endless list of decisions a client has to make regarding hardwood finishes, paint colors, floorboards, and even window treatments. Hiring a reputable home building team can reduce stress and alleviate the burden placed on your shoulders, as the homeowner. 

Organize a qualified team 

To hire the most qualified team of experts, a homeowner must conduct a thorough investigation, interview potential candidates, and handpick a home building team that meets your expectations and can execute your dream home. A bidding process can narrow down your contractor options. Once the bidding process is complete, the homeowner will need to locate and purchase a building site that satisfies their dream home must-haves. 

After the following steps are completed, the most time-consuming phase of the process begins. The client will work with an architect to design the perfect home, draft a house plan, and later select amenities, fixtures, and built-ins to incorporate into the final product.

A reality check 

Before the construction process can commence, the client also has to obtain a building permit, which is often a lengthy process. All these factors combined make the process of completing a custom house a time-intensive process compared to buying an already-constructed model home. 

Unfortunately, recruiting a team, purchasing land, drafting home design, and acquiring the products and materials necessary for your dream home could take months or even years. With quick decision-making skills and open communication, a homeowner can shave weeks or months off their estimated completion time. Remember, a client is in the driver’s seat and can make last-minute changes at the drop of a hat. The quicker they take action, the faster the construction comes to an end.

Make quick decisions

On average, a custom house will take two years to construct. Groundwork and preparatory construction activity can take one year. Depending on how prepared a client is, the average home builder should carve out a period of about three to six months to acquire the necessary documentation that clears builders for construction. 

Architects often estimate a year-long building process to allow time to make revisions and reflect on your options. Contractor interviews, negotiations, and the bidding can take up to three months—drawing out the process even longer.

Clients will need to be directly involved in construction to expedite the building process. The process can take longer if clients procrastinate finalizing project details regarding building equipment, interior decor, etc. For streamlined execution of your dream home, stick to the schedule, and try to make decisions in a timely manner. 

Primary differences

For model houses, preparing and pouring the foundation on the site takes typically three weeks. Pouring the foundation of a custom home takes significantly longer. Oftentimes, custom houses require tree removal, erosion controls, and extensive leveling for sloped land before pouring the foundation—further complicating the process. 

Sheathing and roofing, installing security systems, plumbing pipes, electrical wiring, and vents take about four weeks in a model home. Since a custom house is more complex, it requires a more extensive supply of materials and higher-quality craftsmanship. Therefore, it will likely take more than four weeks.

Along with the pouring the foundation and installing roofing, the time estimation will depend on the time it takes to install doors, windows, interior trim, plumbing fittings, HVAC systems, drywall, landscaping, flooring, and entertainment.

Approximate timeline for the building of a custom house

Below is a simplified timeline breakdown of every stage in the process of building a custom house:

Pre-construction stage (9 to12 months)

• Investigate, interview, choose, and bid for the construction team (3 months)

• Picking the site location (2 months)

• Interior design and drafting (3-6 months)

• Acquiring building permits (1 month)

Construction stage (one year)

• Acquire all the necessary documents (2 months)

• Site preparation (1 month)

• Prepping and pouring foundation (1.5 months)

• Framing (2 months)

• Installation and Insulation (One year)

Cleaning, punch list and closing (one month)

It is important to note that these tasks are completed concurrently to maximize the time allotted for construction. In this stage, your home building time will finish the building process. Once construction is complete, you can use a checklist to confirm whether the final product meets your expectations. 

Remember, a reliable home building team, quick decision-making skills, and a solidified vision for your dream home are all essential components of a successful and time-efficient construction process. When constructing your dream home, don’t hesitate. Thrive under pressure. 

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