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Building a Home

How Long it Takes to Build a House

Published on:

3/11/20

written by:

Carrie Barker

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I’m not gonna lie … this is a tricky one to answer. Six months is the average for how long it takes to build a house. However, timing DEPENDS on many factors.

In this post, you’ll learn the major factors that can affect how long it will take you from breaking ground to moving into your new home … including the things that you DO have control over (hint … these are what you should focus on).

Note: This blog post focuses on the amount of time to actually build the house. This doesn’t take into account the pre-building meetings or the steps you need to take before you even break ground.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD A SINGLE-FAMILY HOME?

The average length of time to build a home is six months BUT, as mentioned above, it depends on many factors.

Let’s start with the NUMBER ONE factor that contributes to how long it will take to build your home … whether you choose to build a custom or production home.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BUILD A CUSTOM HOME

The low end of the spectrum to build a custom home is roughly six months. The average is 10-16 months from the time you break ground until you move in. Some custom homes can take years to build.

The biggest variables that contribute to how long it takes to build a custom home are:

(1) the size and complexity of your home and,

(2) YOU!, the homeowner

The more you change your mind (and this inevitably happens), the longer it will take to complete your home.

There are MANY decisions to make with a custom home, so it generally takes several months longer to build a custom home than it takes to build a production home.

Note: it took us seven months to build our custom home from start to finish (i.e. breaking ground to moving in). We spent several months creating, modifying, and perfecting our floor plan before we could even think about breaking ground.

HOW LONG IT TAKES TO BUILD A PRODUCTION HOME

A production home takes about 4 months to build but can take longer if the weather is an issue or, again, you change your mind on finishes.

A production home is faster to build than a custom home because the builder is familiar with the floor plan specifications.

He/she builds from only a small amount of floor plans and builds them many times, so getting permitting and materials are usually much faster than with a custom home.

It’s also faster to select finishes for a production home because you are given a narrow range of options.

A production builder has easy access to the finish selections and is sometimes even able to buy them in bulk (which can help you stay on budget).

COMMON ISSUES THAT CAN DELAY YOUR HOME BUILD

There are many things that have the potential to slow down your build, but I have GOOD NEWS … some of these variables are within your control!

Take full advantage of doing what you CAN to keep your build moving along smoothly.

Three variables that you DO have control are:

(1) Construction Type

(2) Selecting finishes in a timely manner

(3) Reducing change orders.

CONSTRUCTION TYPE

As discussed above, whether you choose to build a custom home or a production home plays the biggest role in how long it takes to build your house.

A production home is generally much faster to build than a custom home.

NOT SELECTING FINISHES EARLY IN THE BUILDING PROCESS

It’s really important that you start selecting your interior finishes (as well as exterior finishes) early in your home build.

Your builder will most likely give you a timeline of when you need to have various finishes selected.

I know it seems odd to choose flooring (or other materials) so early in the process, but there’s always a possibility for unknowns when you order your finishes (we’ll go over this more below in ‘availability of supplies’).

CHANGE ORDERS

A ‘change order’ refers to making a change to any specification as written in your construction contract.

Changes can be to your floor plan, design material selections, or any other items that are different than what you originally asked for when your contract was drawn up (e.g. changing your ceiling height).

Aside from weather (and construction type), change orders typically are the greatest factor in delaying a home build.

As the homeowner, it’s up to YOU to make your decisions and stick with them (unless the selection is no longer available).

The less you change your mind, the smoother (and quicker) your home build will go.

This is why it is so VITAL that you really think about what designs you want before you even break ground.

If you want to prepare thoroughly (in the right way), download my *FREE* Custom Home Build Prep Guide and learn the 5 crucial steps to prepare for a successful home build with less stress, more confidence, and without going over budget.

Unfortunately, there are some variables that are simply out of your control. Don’t be discouraged … just stay focused on the things that you DO have control over.

Factors outside your control include:

(1) Permit Wait Time

(2) Weather

(3) Availability of Workers

(4) Availability of Supplies

PERMITS

Your builder will most likely be in charge of getting permits for your new build, and he/she will let you know if there are any steps you need to take in order to get permitting.

The length of time it takes to secure permits is highly dependent on where you live. In my small Midwestern city, it’s relatively quick and easy to get permitting.

However, I have a reader building a home in New York City and she waited about a year to get her building permits.

WEATHER

Weather can be a huge factor in slowing down home builds. Depending on the climate in your area, chances are you’ll have some type of weather that gets in the way (here in the Midwest we deal with snow in the winter and rain/storms in the spring/summer).

There’s nothing you can do about the weather, so just try to stay positive and focus on the variables you do have control over :).

AVAILABILITY OF WORKERS

There are times during the year when construction workers are readily available; other times they are swamped if it’s prime time for home construction in your area.

The availability of workers circles back to your home build construction type. Typically, production home builders have a group of subcontractors that work closely with them, so it’s not as much of a problem to have subs on hand as it is with custom home builds.

AVAILABILITY OF SUPPLIES

Some design materials that you choose might have a long lead (delivery) time. This is EXACTLY why you should choose materials early on in your build.

On occasion, design finishes will be discontinued during your build or will get caught up in customs, so you’ll have to go back to the drawing board and choose something different. This certainly affects your timeline.

CONCLUSION

Six months is the average for how long it takes to build a house from breaking ground to moving into your new home. However, timing DEPENDS on many factors.

Some of these variables (i.e. weather, permitting, worker availability, and supplies availability) are out of your control, BUT you DO have control over other variables that influence how long your build will take.

Focus on the factors that you DO have control over (home build type, choosing design finishes early, refrain from making changes unless necessary) to keep your build moving along smoothly.

In this post, we covered the amount of time to actually build your house, but there is an entire pre-construction phase that can take time as well. Learn the five steps to prepare for a successful home build before you even break ground.

  1. Viggo Crowe says:

    It makes a lot of sense that the custom home would take a lot longer to build because the builders aren’t familiar with the floor-plan. My sister is trying to build her own home this year and she wants to do something custom. That way, she can get all the features that she wants and build it to her specifications.

  2. Carrie, thanks for informing me that it would take approximately 10 to 16 months from the time I break the ground of my empty lot until I move into my newly-built custom home. My family has always lived in this one-story home in the city, and I’m planning to have a custom-built home constructed soon in the lot I bought just along the outskirts of the city. Perhaps I should start looking for design-build home service soon, so my family can hopefully move into our brand new house by the fourth quarter of 2021.

  3. As you mentioned, the more the homeowner changes their mind, the longer it will take to build the home. My sister is wanting to have a custom home built, so she can have her forever home. Would it be a good idea to have all the house plans before she hires the builder?

    • Hi Shaylee! I personally think it’s important to hire all of your building professionals at the same time if possible. This way your builder can ensure the architect is working within what is realistic for your budget.

  4. Jesse Ford says:

    I like how you mentioned that building a custom house can take anywhere from roughly six months to possibly even years. My wife and I are thinking of looking at lots for sale because we’re considering building are dream house since our family has outgrown our current living space and we both received promotions at work. It seems like a good idea for us to think about getting a reputable lot and hiring a great contractor to help us build the home we want to best fit our family’s needs.

  5. I’m planning to have a modern house built this coming year, which is why I’m currently looking for reputable home builders that may execute my plan successfully. I agree with you that it would be best to select the right finishes and do it as early as possible. Well, thank you for also sharing here that a change in weather may delay the construction.

  6. it takes atleast 6months to build a proper house. It also depend on the contractor who is building the house. Some time it takes less then 6 months.

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