The Building Sequence
It's fairly self evident that to successfully build a home, you
need to know not only the parts involved, but just as important,
how they all go together . . . and in what order!
Here then is a description, in broad
terms, of the actual construction sequence for
a typical home.
An important disclaimer is in order here.
things including, among others, the area of the country where
it is being built, the design of the home, the availability
of subs and materials, and the preference of the contractor,
i.e. you, determine the actual sequence of construction. Here's
Many builders prefer to delay pouring
the driveway until the end of the project.
This is to prevent
damage by heavy equipment like the drywall delivery truck,
and to conserve construction loan interest, since concrete
is fairly expensive.
There is a builder in Atlanta who
likes to pour his driveway as soon as the foundation is
in. When you go to his site, you are always able to stay
out of the mud!
In addition, as you
will discover in the pages on planning your construction
schedule, frequently more than one
construction activity can be going on at the same time!
all that in mind, here is a general construction sequence with
a brief explanation where terms may be unfamiliar. You
will get greater detail on all of these as you link to their own
1. STAKE LOT
This will usually involve a surveyor who will come out and accurately
drive stakes to locate your home on the lot. They will be used
by the excavators and foundation subcontractors to guide their
2. TEMPORARY UTILITIES
You will need to have water, electric power, and toilet facilities
available during the construction process.
3. CLEAR AND ROUGH GRADE
Clearing is the removal of trees and undergrowth from the
actual construction site and yard areas.
Rough grading is moving
the dirt around to establish the approximate drainage patterns,
yard areas, drive and walk levels, etc. that you hope to achieve.
If you are going to have a well, you might as well dig it up
front so that you will have the water available for construction.
This is where a piece of earth-moving equipment digs the hole
for your foundation, and, if you will have one, your basement.
This is the structure where the house interfaces with the earth
it. All of the weight of the home rests on the footings.
The foundation is the wall on which the first floor rests.
It may be short - if you will have a crawl space, or tall
- if you will have a
8. WATERPROOFING AND FOUNDATION
A waterproofing material or membrane (or both) is applied to
the foundation walls which will be below grade to minimize
water accumulating in the basement or in the crawl space. Foundation
drains run along the footings and remove water accumulating
in that area.
9. SEWER AND WATER TAPS
If you are connecting to municipal water and sewer, this is where
the pipes are laid to the house and actually connected (tapped
into) the water and sewer mains.
Pushing the excavated dirt into the hole next to the foundation
wall around the house (inside and out). This is a good time to
establish the necessary drainage away from the house at the foundation
11. SLAB PLUMBING
Any plumbing that needs to go into the basement floor is installed
12. SLAB OR BASEMENT FLOOR
The “slab” is the concrete
basement floor. It is poured at this point. In some parts of the
country, plans may call for a “structural wood floor” (more
on this later). Now is when it would be installed.
13. FRAMING, WINDOWS, AND EXTERIOR
This is where it starts to look like a house! The floors, walls,
ceiling, and roof are the focus of this construction activity.
The framer usually installs the windows and exterior doors.
SIDING AND TRIM
Whatever you’re using - brick veneer, siding, stucco, etc.-
here is where it gets done.
15. GARAGE DOOR AND EXTERIOR LOCKS
Some people wait until the end to get the garage door in. But
we think having it in place creates a good place to store
materials and equipment during construction. Installing the
exterior locks means that the wholehouse is secure.
16. BACK-OUT FRAMING
This is a general category that includes partition walls that
have not been installed, pillars, soffits for wall cabinets,
and drywall nailers.
17. FIREPLACE AND CHIMNEY
A prefabricated fireplace should be installed before the roughs
(below). A prefab will have a framed chimney. A masonry fireplace
and chimney can be installed before the brick veneer (see “Exterior
Siding and Trim” above).
Get these in now so that the subs working inside can get from
one floor to the other without depending on ladders.
The HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) sub is the
first of the three “mechanical” subs (plumbing, electrical,
HVAC) to come to the job. He will install the duct work for your
HVAC system and possibly the furnace. He comes first because the
stuff he puts into the walls is the biggest and most inflexible.
Next comes the plumber to install his pipes.
With plumbing and HVAC vent pipes through the roof, the roofer
can install the roofing.
22. ROUGH ELECTRICAL
Codes call for the house to be “dried in” before the
wiring is installed. With the exterior windows and doors in place
and the roof on, it’s time. For roughs,
the electrician will put in the boxes (switch, outlet, and lighting)
and will pull the wires into them. Cable, telephone, speakerwires,
etc. are also installed at this point.
23. ELECTRIC & GAS
You’ll need these in place to get some heat in the house
for the drywall installation.
24. GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS
It’s good to get the water away from the house as soon as
25. EXTERIOR PAINT
Many surfaces on the outside need to be protected from the elements.
So you’ll want to paint as soon as is practical.
Once everything else is in the walls and rough inspections are completed, it’s time to insulated your home.
With the meters set (above), the HVAC sub can get some temporary
heat in the house. This will be critical for getting the drywall
joint compound (mud) to dry in a timely fashion. The carpet sub
also needs a warm home so that the carpet is installed at a temperature
comparable to normal living conditions.
Sometimes called “Sheetrock®.” This will be “hung” (nailed
or screwed to the wall studs and ceiling joists), taped (at the
joints), and “mudded” (joint compound applied) . .
. after the in-wall plumbing, HVAC, electricals, and insulation
have been inspected!
Base and wall.
30. INTERIOR DOORS AND TRIM
The trim materials installed here may include the door casing,
base mould, window stool and apron, window casing, chair rail,
crown mould, built-in cabinets, stair railing parts, and others.
PAINT AND WALLPAPER
The first coat of paint is usually sprayed. Get it in before
the hard wood floors are installed.
32. HARDWOOD FLOORS
Now it’s time to install your hardwood floors.
Counter tops are next. this may involve a different sub than
the one who installed the cabinets.
34. VINYL AND CERAMIC TILE
Vinyl floor coverings and ceramic tile are installed. Two different
subs. Probably should have made these two different steps, but
I was trying to make it come out to an even 50!
AND FINISH WOOD FLOORS
This is the first of two finishes. The last is done just before
you move in.
36. APPLIANCES AND SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
This would include all of your major appliances - washer,
dryer, range, oven, refrigerator, as well as any other special
equipment you have specified.
37. FINISH ELECTRICAL
Here is where the electrician comes back to install the switches,
outlets, light fixtures, ceiling fans, door bells, etc. He will
also hook up the appliances, furnace, air conditioner, doorbell,
and so forth.
38. FINISH PLUMBING
The plumber will install the sinks, lavatories,
toilets, and all the faucets.
39. FINISH HVAC & FINAL
Your heating sub will install the registers and get the furnace
and air conditioning running properly.
40. SHOWER DOORS AND MIRRORS
Install shower doors. Hang mirrors.
Now it’s starting to feel like home!
42. HARDWARE AND
Typically, this is door, window, and closet hardware. Window
43. DRYWALL REPAIRS
You may need to get the drywall subcontractor back out to patch
some dings caused by the other subs’ work. This is normal.
This is the final interior clean up.
45. FINAL PAINT
Touching up drywall repairs and so forth.
46. FINAL WOOD
This should be your last inside job before moving in.
These outside jobs can be going on while the work proceeds
inside. You should not have these going on while the outside
is being painted.
48. WALKS, DRIVES, AND PATIOS
You should wait until the drywall has been delivered to
the home, because the drywall truck is VERY heavy,
and could damage your flat work
49. SEPTIC TANK AND DRAIN FIELD
Same as above on the timing with regard to the drywall delivery.
The tank holds the waste and allows microbic action on the solids.
The drain field is where the effluent leaches into the soil.
FINISH GRADING AND LANDSCAPING
The final finished grades are established to ensure proper
drainage away from the home, and to prepare the yard for landscaping.
Trees, shrubs, grass, etc. are installed.
We hope this overview of a typical
construction sequence has been helpful in allowing
you to get a grasp of the totality of your home building
project. As we have said many times, building a home
is not that difficult - if you understand the steps
involved. Knowledge is the key!
If you are "following the tabs," out
next step is an overview of the superintending function,
with additional details on it's linked pages. Click
here for Construction
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