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How Long Does It Take to Build a New Construction House?

A lot of thought goes in to deciding whether or not to build a new construction house—including how long it will be before you get to finally move in. Unlike with pre-built homes, the process for moving into new construction requires that you wait it out for longer than just a closing period. You’ll have to factor in additional time for things like designing your house and finalizing all of the many details, as well as time for the home itself to be built. So how long does it all take? Below, we’ll share some data around the time it takes to build a new construction house in the U.S., as well as the steps that you’ll go through during the process.

Average Time to Build a New Construction House

The average amount of time to build a new construction house is about 7.7 months, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Survey of Construction. That includes about one month for building authorization and permits, followed by 6.7 months of actual construction, ending with the final walk through. Note that this timeline refers to houses built for sale, such as custom homes in a new housing development. Homes built by the homeowners themselves took considerably longer, at 12.5 months, likely due to less experience and smaller crews.

What’s not included in the census data is the planning process that happens prior to authorization and permits. If you’re doing a custom build, this includes the time when you meet with the sales office, choose your floor plan and structural features, and choose all of your design upgrades. You’ll also need to factor in time to get your financing in order, since most custom home builders will require at least some portion of your down payment before breaking ground.

As for how long that all takes, it depends on a few different factors, including how quickly you can make all of the many decisions that go into designing your home (and there are a lot of them). The more you can plan ahead in terms of things like structural features and financing, the shorter the planning process will be—and the sooner you can move on to authorization and construction itself.

Factors That Can Slow Down New Construction Builds

Ideally, every step of the process will go as smoothly as possible when you build a new construction house. But the reality of new home construction is usually a bit more complicated than that, and minor (or sometimes major) delays are always going to be possible.

There are a few factors that tend to put the brakes—at least temporarily—on new construction builds:

Authorization process. The amount of time that it takes to get authorization and permits from the local Planning and Building Department may vary, though as previously noted, the U.S. Census Bureau reports this takes a month on average. If you come across any issues though, such as zoning problems, easements, or property line disputes, it’s going to take longer to get the go ahead. Fortunately, if you’re building your home in a new housing development much of the legal issues have already been cleared, and it’ll just be a matter of getting the final “OK” from the town or city.

Weather. The weather is a huge variable in how long it takes to build a new construction house. Temperature and precipitation can both affect the timeline of a build, since in addition to possibly slowing down the workers themselves these factors can directly impact the amount of time it takes to do things like set the concrete for a home’s foundation and get the framing up. Once the house is under roof, however, the building time shouldn’t be so dependent on the conditions outside.

Location and topography. Where you’re building your home matters. Some soil varieties are tougher to break through and build in (such as clay), and topographical details like hills and rocks can also slow down the process. Your builder should have a good idea about the environmental conditions of a plot of land before the build starts, so be sure to ask questions and find out if any delays are anticipated.

Builder experience and crew. Inexperienced builders will usually take longer to finish a project, whereas those that have been in the industry for years tend to have it down to a science. If you’re looking to hire a contractor for your build and you want it to be complete as soon as possible, look for someone with a lot of experience who is confident about both the process and the amount of time it will take to finish. The size and quality of their crew will factor in too, with larger, more efficient crews helping to make the build happen faster.

Construction style. The more standard your floor plan and design features, the less amount of time your build is likely to take. So while there is certainly nothing wrong with getting fancy with your new home plan, expect that any unique structural or interior choices that you make are going to require more time to complete, and set your expectations accordingly.

Another notable variable in the time it takes to a build a new construction house is the client. In a custom build development, most—if not all—of the decisions that you make about your home will be finalized before construction begins, so there won’t likely be any delays from changing preferences. But clients can slow down the process by requesting regular oversight of the build. For efficiency’s sake, it’s a good idea to stick to the standard walkthrough schedule, which usually includes a couple visits with your lead contractor after major systems have been put into place and then again once the drywall is up.

Building outside of a development? You’ll have more leeway to make changes, but any changes that you make will ultimately slow down the process.

Tips For Getting a New Home Built Faster

You don’t want to rush a new home build since that could have a direct effect on the quality and safety of the final construction. But there are things that you can do to speed up the process itself and reduce the amount of time it takes before you can settle into your new home.

  1. Know What You Want

    Do some of your own research and planning before starting the design process of your new home. There are a lot of decisions that you’re going to have to make, from what type of flooring you want to where you want your light switches to go, and it can be hard to make those choices on the spot. If you do research ahead of time, you should have a better idea of what you want going into the process, which should reduce the number of design sessions you require to finalize the details.

  2. Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

    It’s always smart to know what you’re working with financially before you get started on your build. A mortgage pre-approval will help you establish your budget so that you know what you can afford when it comes to features and upgrades, and while you won’t be able to lock in your interest rate until the build is complete (since that’s when the loan will go through), you can at least get assurance that when the time comes you’ll be covered.

    If you’re building outside of a development project, financing will look a little bit different. Instead of a mortgage you’re going to need to get approved for a construction loan, which you can then refinance into a standard mortgage once the build is complete. Again, the sooner you start this process, the sooner you’ll have your financing in place and can move forward.

  3. Be Cool, Kind, and Respectful

    Making harsh demands isn’t likely to result in your home getting built any faster. Instead, make it a priority to form a positive relationship with your contractor that’s built on mutual trust and respect. There’s a higher chance then that they’ll go to bat for you when it comes to getting things done efficiently, as well as keeping you informed and up-to-date as the build progresses.

The final takeaway: When in doubt, ask! While you don’t want to hover over every step of the process, it’s perfectly fine to ask plenty of questions before and during the build to get an idea of how long it’s all going to take. This has the added benefit of setting your expectations in order, so that you’re not simply left wondering when your new home is going to be ready for move in.

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