Most homebuyers have a lot of questions about the construction of their home:

  • How long will it take to build?
  • What happens when?
  • What does each step involve?
  • When can we visit the site and see our home in progress?
  • When do we have to make final decisions about cabinets, fixtures, flooring and so on?
  • When do the building inspections take place?
  • Will we have a chance to inspect it our-selves before we take possession?

Below is an outline of the typical construction process today. Bare in mind that this is a generalized description, your own builder may use a different approach or timeline. The process and schedule will also be affected by the size and style of the house, the lot, the construction techniques used by the builder, the amount of customization required, whether the home is located in a large development, and many other factors. Ask your builder for the specifics on your own home.

Phase One: Pre-Construction

Before any construction begins, plans for the home are developed, finalized and submitted to the municipal building permit office for review. Permits may be required for all or some of the following work: building, electrical, plumbing, septic system and sewer connections.

Prior to this, a number of site tests may be conducted to examine the water table, the soil and the bearing capacity of the ground and to conduct environmental tests. With this information, the final engineering touches can be applied to the plans.

Phase Two: Construction Begins

With the Foundation (1-2 weeks) The house is staked out and the land is prepared. Often, the topsoil is removed and piled elsewhere for later use. Excavation is done, and the footings (concrete slabs to support the foundation walls) are formed and poured. Water, electricity, telephone and cable services may be brought in at this time.

The foundation walls are erected (may use poured concrete in temporary wooden forms or permanent insulated blocks, concrete blocks or preserved wood). The foundation may be insulated and damp-proofed. Weeping tiles are installed to drain ground moisture away from the house. Once the foundation has passed municipal inspection, the outside perimeter is backfilled.

At this time, the builder may ask you to begin making your selections such as deciding on flooring, tiles, cabinets and so on. While it will be weeks before these items will be installed, they must be ordered early to prevent delays later.

Phase Three: Framing (1-4 weeks)

Exterior walls, interior partitions and the roof are assembled. This usually means erecting a framing skeleton and applying an exterior sheeting, or another framing technique may be used. Frames are built on the floor, one wall at a time and then lifted in place. Roof trusses are most often brought to the site ready for installation, and roofing is completed as quickly as possible, to prevent accidental damage as work progresses on the lower parts of the home. Windows and doors are installed. The builder’s aim is to get to “lock-up” as quickly as possible to protect the structure from the elements.

The basement floor is installed. Electrical and plumbing services are roughed in, and ducting for heating, cooling and ventilation is put in place. At this time, your municipality will probably require a structural inspection to ensure that the home is being built according to code. Electrical and plumbing inspections will likely be conducted as well.

Phase Four: Interior and Exterior Work to Near-Completion (4 – 10 Weeks)

For the next number of weeks, a great deal of work will happen inside and out, much of it at the same time, or overlapping. Proper scheduling is key to smooth progress.

The exterior walls and the roof are insulated, and a vapour barrier is applied. After another inspection to ensure this work has been done properly, the drywall can be installed. Heating and cooling systems are installed, including fireplaces.

Walls and ceilings are painted, flooring is laid, and kitchen and bathroom cabinets are installed. Plumbing and electrical fixtures are put in, trim is applied, and interior doors are hung.

Siding is applied on the outside, along with eavestroughs, and porches and decks are installed. Final lot grading is done, and the driveway and walkways are put in.

Several additional municipal inspections may occur; for instance, after completion of the interior to check stairs, handrails and other health and safety related items, and/or after final grading outside. Plumbing and electrical work will probably require final inspection.

During this period, your builder will stay in regular contact with you, to update you on progress and to meet deadlines for selecting finishes and other decisions you may need to make.

Phase Five: From Near-Completion to Possession (Less than a Week)

At this point, your builder and crew are busy completing the final touches and cleaning up. You will be asked to do a walk-through of your home with the builder. Any last-minute touch-ups will be done. On the date of possession, you will be handed the keys. The home is now yours!