Home Building 101
Here’s what to expect during the major phases of construction.
Building your new home is exciting, especially when you understand how the process works. The following overview outlines basic steps Jefferson Area Builders will take in the construction your new home.
- 1. Prepare site and pour foundation: Using a backhoe and a bulldozer, the crew clears the building site of rocks, debris and trees and, if applicable, the septic system. The crew levels the site, puts up wooden forms to serve as a template for the foundation, and digs the necessary holes and trenches. Footings (structures where the house interfaces with the earth that supports it) are installed. If your home is going to have a well, it will be dug at this point. If the home has a full basement, it is excavated, the footings are formed and poured, and the foundation walls are formed and poured. If it’s slab-on-grade, the footings are dug, formed and poured; the area between them is leveled and fitted with utility runs (e.g. plumbing drains and electrical chases); and the slab is poured. Once concrete is poured into the holes and trenches, it will need time to cure. During this period, there will be no activity on the construction site. After the concrete is cured, the crew applies a waterproofing membrane to the foundation walls; installs drains, sewer and water taps and any plumbing that needs to go into the first-floor slab or basement floor; and backfills excavated dirt into the space around the foundation wall.
- INSPECTION #1: When the curing process is complete, a city / county inspector visits the site to make sure foundation components are up to code and installed properly. This inspection may be repeated depending on the type of foundation (slab, crawl space, or basement). Now we are ready to frame…
- 2. Complete rough framing: The floor systems, walls and roof systems are completed (collectively known as the shell or skeleton of the house). Plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing is applied to the exterior walls and roof, and windows and exterior doors are installed. The sheathing is then covered with a protective barrier known as a house wrap; it prevents water from infiltrating the structure, while allowing water vapor to escape. This significantly reduces the risk of mold and wood rot.
- 3. Complete rough plumbing, electrical and HVAC: Once the shell is finished, siding and roofing can be installed. At the same time, the electrical and plumbing contractors start running pipes and wires through the interior walls, ceilings and floors. Sewer lines and vents, as well as water supply lines for each fixture, are installed. Bathtubs and one-piece shower/tub units are put in place at this point because there’s more room to maneuver large, heavy objects. Ductwork is installed for the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, and/or furnace. HVAC vent pipes are installed through the roof, and insulation is installed in the floors, walls and ceilings. After the roofing goes on, the house is considered “dried in.” The electrician will meet with you and our staff to go over light, outlet and switch locations. Then he installs receptacles for outlets, lights and switches and runs wires from the breaker panel to each receptacle. Wiring for telephones, cable TV and music systems is included in this work. Note that HVAC ducts and plumbing are usually installed before wiring, because it’s easier to run wires around pipes and ducts than vice versa.
- INSPECTIONS #2, 3 and 4: Rough framing, plumbing and electrical and mechanical systems are inspected for compliance with building codes. At this stage, drywall (also known as wallboard or gypsum board) is delivered to the building site. Sheetrock®, a registered trademark of USG Corporation, is sometimes used as a generic term for drywall. We are now ready for insulation…
- 4. Install insulation: Insulation plays a key role in creating a more comfortable, consistent indoor climate while significantly improving a home’s energy efficiency. One of the most important qualities of insulation is its thermal performance or R-value, which indicates how well the material resists heat transfer. All of our homes are insulated in the exterior walls, as well as the attic and any floors that are located above unfinished basements or crawl spaces.Blanket insulation, which comes in batts or rolls, is the most typical and cost effective application in our new-home construction. So is loose-fill and blown-in insulation, which is made of fiberglass,\ eco-friendly cellulose or mineral-wool particles. Another insulation option, liquid foam, can be sprayed, foamed-in-place, injected or poured. While it costs more than traditional batt insulation, liquid foam has twice the R-value per inch and can fill the smallest cavities, creating an effective air barrier. Fiberglass and mineral-wool batts and rolls are usually installed in side walls, attics, floors, crawl spaces, cathedral ceilings and basements and is a great green building option. Manufacturers often attach a facing such as kraft paper or foil-kraft paper to act as a vapor barrier and/or air barrier. In areas where the insulation will be left exposed, such as basement walls, the batts sometimes have a special flame-resistant facing.
- 5. Complete drywall and interior textures; start exterior finishes: Drywall is hung and taped so the seams between the boards aren’t visible, and drywall texturing (if applicable) is completed. The primer coat of paint is also applied after taping is complete. Contractors begin installing exterior finishes such as stone and cement board or vinyl siding. Now we are ready for interior trim…
- 6. Finish interior trim; install exterior driveways and walkways: Interior doors, baseboards, door casings, window sills, moldings, stair balusters and other decorative trim are installed, along with cabinets, vanities and fireplace mantels and surrounds. Walls get a finish coat of paint and are wallpapered where applicable. Generally, exterior driveways, walkways and patios are formed at this stage. Jefferson Area Builders prefers to wait until the end of the project before pouring the driveway because heavy equipment (such as a drywall delivery truck) can damage concrete.
- 7. Install hard-surface flooring; complete exterior grading: Ceramic tile, vinyl and wood flooring are installed. Exterior finish grading is completed to ensure proper drainage away from the home and the yard is preapred for landscaping.
- 8. Finish mechanical trims; install bathroom fixtures: Light fixtures, outlets and switches are installed and the electrical panel is completed. HVAC equipment and registers are installed. Sinks, toilets and faucets are put in place. Kitchen countertops are templated and installed.
- 9. Install mirrors, shower doors and finish flooring; finish exterior landscaping: Mirrors, shower doors and carpeting are installed, and final cleanup takes place. Seed and straw are placed on the disturbed areas of the yard for erosion control.
- INSPECTION #5: A building-code official completes a final inspection and issues a Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.).
- 10. Final walkthrough: We will walk you through your new home to acquaint you with its features and the operation of various systems and components. We will explain your responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep as well as warranty coverage and procedures. This is also an opportunity to identify items that need to be corrected or adjusted, so be attentive and observant; examine the surfaces of countertops, fixtures, floors and walls for any possible damage.
Now your home is complete and you can enjoy your new space!