If you’re entering the new home building process, you’re about to experience one of the most exciting time periods you’ve ever lived through. You’ll have something new to discover almost every time you visit your new construction site. At the end of the process, you’ll move into your dream home after watching it literally take shape in front of your eyes.
Some buyers are more nervous than excited. Even once they’ve settled on plans and secured financing, there are a lot of unknowns. That’s why we’ve created this guide.
There are basic steps of the new home building process almost every construction project goes through. We’ll break down what happens from start to finish. Our hope is once you have a guide in hand, you can sit back and enjoy every part of the process.
Before we get started, there are a few things about the new home building process we want to point out. The rest of the guide will lay out new home construction. We’ll look at one aspect at a time, but keep in mind they don’t all happen in isolation. Each situation is unique.
Obviously, your builder won’t put the roof on before workers pour the foundation. That doesn’t mean several steps won’t happen at the same time. Sometimes your electrician and plumber might be finishing up while other subcontractors install bathroom and kitchen counters and cabinets. Sometimes the weather or materials availability causes delays and one group can’t work at all until things change.
If your new home building process happens slightly out of order, don’t worry. When you work with WestWind Homes, you get a seasoned team that knows exactly how to keep your project on time and within budget.
We’re glad to sit down and explain the new home building process to you before we get started. We’re also here if you have questions along the way. Here’s what you’ll see during different stages of construction.
Prepare Construction Site
At the very beginning of the new home building process is what you often hear called “breaking ground.” You’ve chosen the land where we’ll build your home, now it’s time to prepare the land. Often, the process starts with rough staking.
Basically, a professional locates your property lines and measures from those to the corners of your new home. That allows you to visualize what’s around and inside your future home’s footprint. Sometimes at that point, people find out they’ll have to remove trees they wanted to keep. If that happens to you, it’s much easier to modify plans now than it will be later on.
If there are trees in the way, your site preparation crew will clear it. If you’re purchasing a lot in one of our existing communities, we’ve already done this for you so you can skip this step. Clearing involves taking out trees, their roots and any other natural elements that will get in the way.
Before experts can pour your foundation, teams will level your home site. If you need your land’s slope to be altered to drain water away from your home, they’ll do that too. They’ll bring heavy equipment like a backhoe and a bulldozer and get to work. If you need a septic system, they’ll do the digging for installation at this point.
It looks like a mess because at this point your beautiful lot starts to look like just a dirt pit. Sometimes it rains after contractors start and they have to wait for things to dry out before pouring your foundation. You also might need dirt brought in or additional work to your lot’s surface characteristics. This is actually an extremely important part of the process, so have patience.
Pouring Your Foundation
Once your site is level, your site preparation and foundation crew will move on to the next step. They’ll build a temporary wooden form to hold the concrete. They’ll dig or form footings depending on your foundation type. Before adding concrete, they’ll add plumbing drains and electrical chases.
Sewer pipe and electrical conduit become encased in concrete. Your team also reinforces the slab with wire mesh and steel reinforcing bars. Then they’ll pour your foundation.
A Note on WestWind Homes Foundations
All WestWind Homes are built on carefully designed foundations. We don’t build pier and beam homes. The disadvantages of pier and beam foundations outweigh the advantages in our book. Advocates say that type of foundation is less prone to flooding and moisture since it’s elevated, but that’s not a problem in the dry climates in which we build.
The wood platform is a tasty lure for termites and pests love to nest in the crawl space. Floors are prone to sagging, creaking and bouncing. However, our foundations last forever. In over 25 years of construction, we’ve laid more than a million square feet of foundation, and not one foot has ever failed.
New Home Building Process – First Inspection
Once your team pours concrete, it needs time to cure. That amount of time depends on temperature and moisture. Most contractors won’t start the next phase until at least three days after, and many prefer to wait a week or more. While it looks like nothing is happening, your foundation is becoming strong enough to support your home for a lifetime.
At this point, typically an inspector from the city will visit to make sure your foundation and components are up to code. Once your home has passed it’s first “test” and the foundation has had time to cure, it’s on to framing.
Framing Your New Home
If you thought breaking ground was an exciting part of the new home building process, wait until crews start framing. This part happens fast!
Crews create walls of 2×4 lumber, then add an outside layer of plywood or OSB sheathing. Then they’ll use trusses for roof framing. In a matter of days, you’ll see your home’s skeleton take shape.
Crews cover your exterior sheathing with a house wrap. The protective barrier keeps rain and other moisture out, but it also allows water vapor from inside to exit. After framing, crews will move on to adding your roof and exterior materials. Your asphalt shingles will often be on in less than a day, with other changes happening almost as quickly.
Suppliers deliver your windows and doors in a stack. We place them in rough openings and secure them in place. One of the reasons our homes are so energy-efficient is the type of windows we use and the fact we apply Polycel sealant around all windows and doors. We always install double pay low energy efficiency clear windows throughout.
Whether you chose stucco, siding, brick or other options, the appropriate subcontractors often install them now, but they may wait until later to add the final details. From the outside, your new construction now looks like an actual home.
Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC Installation
If framing provides the skeleton, this next step is like your home’s circulatory and respiratory systems. Separate sub-contractors may all be working at the same time to install plumbing, electrical and heating and cooling in your home’s walls, floors and ceilings.
Crews bring in large items like bathtubs and shower kits while it’s still easy to maneuver inside. Plumbers install supply lines and drains. HVAC contractors put in heating and cooling ductwork and vent pipes.
WestWind homes have bath and kitchen exhaust fans vented out and all plumbing fixtures are water sense certified. We only install energy-efficient water heaters. Another extra we provide is a pre-plumbed water supply for your refrigerator and ice maker.
Once your roof is complete, electricians connect outlets, switches and any other wiring. They run wires from your breaker box to every point of access throughout your home. For WestWind homes, that includes the electrical connections for ceiling fans in every bedroom. Bedrooms also get telephone and cable wiring during this time.
Your plumbing, electrical system, mechanical system and framing each receive their own separate visit from an inspector. Some people get nervous when they think about so many inspections, but they’re actually a positive. You want these systems scrutinized by an expert. That way you know your home is up to code and built to last.
Winters in our area are mild, but during summer temperature soars. We have days that are hot and days that are blistering hot. Your home’s insulation keeps things consistently comfortable and heating and cooling costs down.
A Little About R-Values
The U.S. Department of Energy rates insulation by how it resists heat flow. Heat transfers from one place to another three different ways:
- Conduction – How heat travels through your hand from inside a ceramic coffee mug
- Convection – How warm air rises off the Wal-Mart parking lot on sunny July days
- Radiation – Heat that travels in a straight line from the source like warmth from the sun or a fire
Heat always flows from warmer to cooler. So during the summer, those soaring temperatures outside your Texas home are trying to get inside. In winter, the heat you distribute inside will also try to move into the cooler attic, garage and outdoor spaces.
Experts classify insulation in terms of its ability to resist heat flow. Thermal resistance receives a number called R-value. The higher the R-value, the better its efficiency. The R-value you need depends on where you live. Our part of Texas is in zone 2. WestWind Homes are built with insulation that goes above and beyond. The energy package on new homes includes features like the following:
- R-38 Insulation at attic space
- R-15 wall insulation with Poly Sealant at sole and top plates, doors and windows
- Sealed R-6 insulation ductwork for A/C
Outside your home might have looked like a house for a while now, but inside it’s still hard to imagine the final result. Now that starts to change. Now crews will install drywall or sheetrock. Again, you’ll receive materials delivered in stacks. Drywall is very heavy, but drywallers make quick work of putting it up.
Throughout your entire home, the installation might only take a few days. One day you’ll step inside and find you have walls and ceilings.
Drywallers then cover all cracks and nail indentations with spackling compound, also sometimes called mud. It usually dries white, and your experts will make sure your walls are completely smooth. Then your walls are ready to receive texture and primer.
Interior and Exterior Finishing
When you started the process, you probably spent a lot of time picking out the most beautiful parts of your home. You spent hours deliberating over cabinets, paint colors and exterior trim. Now you get to see all those pieces come together.
Contractors place trim around all your windows and doors. They install molding and baseboards. It feels like being on your own HGTV show as they carry in bathroom vanities, fireplace mantels and staircase banisters.
Painters apply the color schemes you’ve chosen to interior walls and outside trim. If you picked wallpaper for accent walls or bathrooms, professionals install that too.
Also, if contractors didn’t pour your garage, driveway or walkways before, they do so now.
Hard Surface Installation
Contractors wait to install flooring and countertops until almost the end. There’s less chance someone will scuff your hardwood or drop a heavy gallon of paint on your countertops when most of the work is already complete. If you browse our move-in ready homes in Laredo or quick move-in homes in Rio Grande Valley, you’ll see the variety of quality flooring types you can expect in our homes. In current homes for sale you’ll find features like the following:
- World Fair V Plank Flooring
- 18 x 18 ceramic tile floors
- Granite with bullnose trim countertops
- Cultured marble vanity tops
- Wilson Art High Definition Finish Countertops
We also install Shaw brand carpet flooring in WestWind homes, but that typically doesn’t happen until almost the very end.
Rough grading prepares your lot for the foundation pour. Finish grading gets it ready for landscaping and long-term enjoyment. Sometimes for landscaping to take root you’ll need additional topsoil. Often we’re able to use topsoil we removed from your lot in the beginning.
We’ll correct drainage with grading equipment and form your land’s final contours. We also take out rocks and debris so your yard is smooth and unblemished. Then we’ll plant vegetation far enough from your foundation it won’t trap water. We’ll provide front yard sod, shrubs and trees.
Mechanical Trim and Fixtures
Contractors put on your light switchplate covers and electrical outlet covers. They hang your light fixtures and complete your electrical panel. A/C contractors install your actual heating and cooling unit and hook it up.
Plumbers install your toilets, sinks, faucets, dishwasher, shower sprayers and other components so you can take showers and wash dishes your first night home.
Glass Surfaces and Carpet
Mirrors and glass shower doors are fragile, so we wait until almost the end to carry them in. If your bathroom mirrors have custom framing, once they’re installed we’ll add that too.
Many homeowners prefer the warmth of carpet flooring in bedrooms and on second floors. At this point, we install carpeting according to the original design plan.
Final Home Inspection
Before you move in, a lot of critical pieces have to fit together perfectly. No matter how experienced and diligent the builder, a lot of hands have contributed to your new home building process. At this point, a building-code official will examine your home for defects. If your home passes, you receive a certificate of occupancy. If not, they’ll let you know what needs addressing and schedule a follow-up date.
You’ll also perform a walk-through with your builder. Take your time in every room to look it over from floor to ceiling. You might find a spot the painters missed or a cabinet missing hardware. You also may have questions that don’t occur to you until the end. Mark items you need addressed with blue painter’s tape or make a note of them somewhere you won’t lose.
Talk to your builder about what you can expect in terms of follow-up. Small things might be okay to fix after you move in. If you have a plumbing leak or your air conditioner isn’t cooling properly, that will need to be addressed right away.
Be thorough, but know it’s okay if you discover something after the walk-through. If you move in, then you notice tasks that aren’t complete or one of your systems has a hiccup, we’ll still be available. Our customer assistance response team is available 24/7 if you have an emergency.
Start Your New Home Building Process Today
WestWind Homes can get you started on the path to home ownership right away. Even if you have credit problems, we have solutions. Our Home Buyer’s Club has been helping Laredo and Rio Grande Valley residents move into the homes of their dreams since 1993. Get in touch to find out more about our process or to get started today.