How Long Does It Take to Build a House?

Marwa Hasan
Written by Marwa Hasan
Updated January 11, 2022
The exterior of a house on a bright day
EricVega/E+ via Getty Images

The average house takes between four to 12 months to build

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You may like the idea of custom-building a house to have your dream home and move into a brand new house with all the latest features and trends.

Building a house is a big commitment, from planning and permitting to the building phases required for occupancy (excavation, framing, electrical, etc.). But before investing in land, you may want to know how long it takes to build a house.

The answer is that it depends on many factors, such as the region, the size of the house, and the site. But the national average time to build a single-family house is between four to 12 months, from permitting to completion.

Time Frame to Build a House

After acquiring the lot to build your new home, several factors affect the time it takes to build a new house. However, here is an outline process of the average time it takes to build a house. This way, you can start to commit to the time frame to build your new home that’s all your own.

Pre-Construction

If you’re doing a custom build, this includes the time when you meet with the designer or the architect, designing your floor plan and structural features, and choosing all of your design details.

After the designing phase comes the permits phase. In some cases, getting proper approvals and permits can cause delays, so it’s better to plan ahead.

Before the builder starts building your home, the home’s lot must be prepared. That means clearing trees, rocks, and rough grading, in addition to leveling for the foundation.

Construction Process

From digging and pouring the foundation, the foundation work is the first step in the construction process, and the time it takes is based on the foundation type.

Once the concrete is completely dry, the next step is building the framework, or the skeleton, of your house, starting with the exterior walls, floors, roof rafters, and then sheathing, which is applied to the walls and roof.

Once the frame is finished, the building crew can start working on siding, roofing, wiring, and setting up plumbing. At this stage, water heaters and the HVAC system are also installed.

Walls are installed at the midpoint of the building process. Next, the interior walls and ceilings are covered with drywall or plasterboard, then sanded and primed, followed by painting.

Now your new house starts to have a personality with the installation of the flooring, doors, windows, trims, etc. Next, it's time to set up new utilities and install electric and plumbing fixtures, cabinets, and countertops. The last step is finishing the exterior facade along with working on the driveway, and finishing all the landscape work before the new house is move-in ready! 

Factors That Affect Construction Time Frame

A worker building a house frame
Jenn Austin-Driver /Image Source via Getty Images

Many factors can affect the time to build a house and might make it last longer than expected. Knowing these factors will help you streamline the process, prevent mistakes, and avoid home building delays.

The Building Crew

Hiring skilled builders can make or break the plan of building a house. A reputable and experienced home builder will typically take less time to complete your new home and will likely make fewer mistakes.

Permitting Process

The time it takes to get permits from your local building department may vary. If you come across any issues, such as zoning or property line disputes, it’s likely going to take longer.

Location

Depending on where your new home will be, building times can be affected by factors like the type of soil or the site typography—building a house on a hill can take more time than building on a level site.

Not to mention that the building season in the north is shorter than in the south, because the weather will affect the construction process. Building in the freezing cold or during snow might cause some delays—it can take nearly a year to construct a home in colder regions. 

The Type and Size of the House

The type of house is a massive factor in determining the timeline. Custom-designed homes will usually take longer to build than a standard house design.

Single-family homes generally take less time than multi-family houses. They require less plumbing and electrical and fewer kitchens and bathrooms, which can all be time-consuming projects.

Changing the Plan

When designing the plans, they may look great on paper, but sometimes things change once the work is in progress. Unexpected issues, miscommunication about specifications, and changing your mind about finishes during the construction phase can cause delays, especially in the case of custom-built houses.

It’s better to make all decisions in the planning phase and stick to the timeline to avoid delays.

Structural Type

The structure of your home may influence construction time. The more standard the structure and construction features, the less amount of time it’s likely to take. So while you may want to customize your new home plan, expect that any unique features that may require a change in the structure will require more time to complete.

Supply Availability

A shortage of building materials and supplies can also affect the construction time. Sometimes, you need to wait around for the next lumber shipment or for the prices of your dream tiles to get lower, which will delay the work and will also affect the original plan.

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