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So You Want to Build? 7 Basic Steps to Creating a New Home

Everybody wants to build their own home--from the first settlers in the Colonies through westward expansion--there's something iconically American about building a house. Whether it's a two room cabin on the prairie or a mountainous retreat, we love the idea of building something. The building dream usually crashes into the reality of construction, and most potential home builders become home buyers instead--choosing to purchase an existing home, or new builder construction.

If you're bold enough to face the challenges of building, it's an incredibly rewarding experience that you won't regret, unlike a decision to settle for a builder's model with some okay custom features. Once you've committed to building, here are seven steps to creating that new home--from vision to execution to the first backyard barbecue.


Building is expensive. If you're a construction novice, be prepared for some sticker shock. You'll have to buy your lot, pay for grading, water, and sewer hookups, house plans (either architect's custom plans or a customizable existing plan), and a deposit to the builder--all before you go through the permitting for the house, which is another cost. If you're not stung by the sticker, proceed to the next step.

Excavation and Foundation

After the lot is graded, excavation is next. The depth of the excavation depends on whether the house has a crawl space or is being built on a slab, but there isn't much difference in time and expense. The foundation is built, using footings foundation walls, or the concrete slab is poured. Once this happens it gets really exciting--you can see a house is really being built. This is also when the wiring and plumbing are "roughed in"--pipes are laid and electrical conduits are installed under the house.

Frame to Roof

This is when it gets really exciting--when the framing is up, you can see the house in 3D for the first time. The frame is wrapped in a weatherproof, metallic looking membrane prior to the exterior siding installation. Finishing the exterior depends on the material you choose--masonite or vinyl goes on much quicker than hand-laid brick. Then the roof goes on, and voila--it's a house

Finishing the Interiors

Several things start to happen at once after the house is under roof. And, you're a lot less at the mercy of weather delays. The plumbers and electricians come back to finish those installations, the insulation goes on the walls, and finally it's all buttoned up when the drywall is hung (very few new homes have plaster walls anymore). Then the mouldings and millwork are installed, cabinets go up, and the walls are primed for painting. Flooring is laid as one of the final steps, once the house isn't a construction zone.

Final Touches

When the construction is done and the dust literally settles, it's time for a pre-clean (you'll want to get rids of all the building mess and dust) prior to painting and installing appliances and countertops. This is when lighting goes in, appliances are installed, and you'll do a walk through with the contractor to ensure everything is where it's supposed to be, and any problems are addressed and a plan for corrections is made.


Don't neglect landscaping the property around the new house. You don't have to complete your master gardening plan right away, but at least lay sod and put in some foundation plants and a couple of saplings if you've built on a bare lot. Not only will that make your new neighbors happy, it will combat erosion when it rains.

Final Inspections

Your lender will require a final inspection before closing, so the repairs you found on the walk through should be completed by that date. The city or county will also have to come out and approve the plumbing, electrical, and gas lines, as well as provide a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) that you'll need to move in. Some municipalities require the CO before utilities are turned on, so that is a really big deal.

These seven steps are obviously a broad overview, and every situation is different.

One thing that all new homes have in common is custom millwork, and Worthington Millwork can provide unique mouldings and millwork in a wide variety of materials--the perfect touch for your perfect home.