How Long Does It Take to Build a House

How Long Does It Take to Build a House? – 6 Variables in the Timeline

Have you ever wondered how long does it take to build a house, especially knowing the world’s first 3D-printed home was constructed in just 24 hours? The timeline for building custom homes from scratch using traditional methods must take numerous variables into account.

On average, building a house from scratch can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months, though the exact timeline will depend on several variables, including the size of the home, the complexity of the overall design, the experience of the construction crew, and inclement weather that arises along the way. Understanding what to expect is the only way to set realistic timelines, create budgets, and coordinate the move-in process.

In this guide, we’ll dissect the typical steps for building a house and see how all of the above factors contribute to the timeline so you can have a better idea of how to prepare.

What Determines the Timing of Building a House? The 6 Key Factors Explained

Once you’ve acquired the lot to build on, you’ll start moving through the 6 home-building phases, all of which can affect the overall timeline.

1. Pre-Construction Phase

The RBC Homes client and architect evaluating the features of the house she need

According to the most recent data from the Census Bureau, the average time it takes to get through the pre-construction process is around 1.3 months for a single-family unit.

So, what does this phase entail?

For custom builds, it means:

  • Meeting with the architect or home designer
  • Creating a floor plan
  • Deciding on structural features
  • Curating design details

Once you make your way through the design phase, you’ll start focusing on permits and regulatory approvals. When we build luxury custom homes here in coastal Virginia, we take care of securing the necessary permits.

However, it’s important to note that if you’re building a home on your own, the permits you need will depend on local and state laws, and in many cases, actually acquiring them takes a long time. Planning ahead is the best way to expedite the process.

Our Happy as a Clam project was one of our latest success stories in this regard. Even with significant height restriction setbacks, we were able to design a beautiful beach home while adhering to code.

2. Construction Phase

Once the permits go through and the city gives the construction team the go-ahead, the construction phase can begin.

For our luxury custom homes, we split the average time it takes to build a house into several mini-phases.

Foundation (1-3 weeks)

The first step in the construction process is lot preparation. In this phase, the groundworks team will ensure your lot is cleared of any debris, such as rocks and trees, so we can begin leveling the ground.

Before laying the foundation, we’ll assess the substructure to determine how to best strengthen the home’s load-bearing capacity. This process could include excavating and placing retaining walls made out of stone, concrete, or blocks.

Next, our team will pour the concrete foundation. The timeline here can vary based on the foundation’s size, though we often like to estimate around 1-3 weeks.

Of course, we may also opt for a different foundation, such as concrete pilings or wood pilings, depending on the design of the home and the soil we’re working on. The important thing to note here is that each foundation option comes with its own pros, cons, and timeline considerations.

Our Aquadesiac Project

There are cases where we built luxury custom homes on sites with high water tables, which required a reinforced concrete beam to support the weight. Even though it required a bit of additional work and added to the timeline, it was a necessary decision for long-term stability.

Our gorgeous Aquadesiac beach home is an excellent example of a home built atop a large foundation, offering a roomy floor plan with eight master suites, plenty of living space, and a versatile outdoor area with an outdoor cabana and a pool.

Let’s explore the next step in order to understand, how long does it take to build a house?

3. Framing and Structure (2-3 weeks)

The RBC Homes client is evaluating the framing and structure of the house he need

Once the concrete is dry, we can move on to the framing phase.

In the initial part of the phase, we’ll erect the floors, walls, and roof trusses. Think of this as the “skeleton” of the house. Many of our clients who build custom homes want unique architectural features, which can lengthen the duration of this phase.

Once the skeleton is up, however, we can move on to installing the walls, the roof, and the windows. In the new construction business, this is called the dry-in process. A dried-in home should have all external barriers installed, making it weatherproof so the construction crew can focus on the interior without worrying about rain, wind, or snow.

How long it takes to build a house is often impacted by poor weather conditions or the intricacies of the window and roofing materials you choose. Building a custom home in an area with frequent rain, for example, would make the structural phase more susceptible to delays. 

Our All-Sea-Suns Project

Our Virginia Beach All-Sea-Suns project is an excellent example of a complex structural project our team undertook. It includes a centrally-located elevator, extra-wide ADA-compliant doors, ramps, eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and more.

4. Roughing-In (1-2 weeks)

At this point in the construction process, your custom home will have taken shape. The crew will begin laying the foundational network to make your home functional, integrating essential services like:

  • Plumbing: Installing water and sewage lines
  • Electrical: Setting up the main panel, running wires, and placing boxes for switches and outlets
  • HVAC: Installing ducts for A/C and heating

Once everything is installed, the next item on the agenda is making sure it’s up to code. For this, you’ll need local authorities to come by and perform an inspection.

Delays during this phase are often attributed to:

  • The size and complexity of the home build
  • The availability of local inspectors
  • Whether or not the rough-in meets standards or needs modifications

Our Aquatic Dreams Project

In certain custom home-building projects, clients want to integrate their homes with smart features, such as integrated HVAC systems, which can lengthen the process.

When we constructed our award-winning Aquatic Dreams project, we had to overcome the challenge of roughing-in on the Virginia Beach coastline. Even with the unpredictable climate, we were able to quickly create an expertly appointed, open-concept living space with nine bedrooms, custom-designed kitchens, a game room, and a movie theater.

Let’s take a look at the next phase to better understand how long does it take to build a house?

5. Interior and Exterior Work (3-4 weeks)

Finished interior works by RBC homes from their client

One thing we always say when people ask us, “How long does it take to build a new house?” We often say that this phase is where that house begins to feel like a home.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pin down a general timeline for the interior and exterior work, as it truly depends on the scale of the project and the types of materials you choose.

We’ll start by installing insulation and hanging drywall to form the walls and ceilings in each room throughout the house. The type of insulation you want (spray foam, fiberglass, etc.) or the style of finish you’d like for your drywall (smooth, textured, etc.) can significantly affect the timeline.

Material Considerations

Some builders will use a combination of materials.

Once the basics are complete, we’ll start integrating finishing touches, such as hard surface flooring, paint, and interior trims, such as the windowsills, molding, or baseboards.

While we can certainly (and often do) use specialty finishes and materials for our interiors and exteriors, some may require more time to source or install. For example, working with marble requires a high level of care compared to other materials.

Our Count Your Blessings project had several exterior challenges we had to overcome. The main unusual feature of this project was the massive composite deck, atop which we built a cabana bar. We also raised the foundation higher than the FEMA standard, offering a safer, longevity-focused solution compared to other homes in Sandbridge.

6. Final Touches (2-3 weeks)

During the final phase, your custom home vision comes to life.

The construction team will install key components like fixtures, cabinetry, and appliances.

If you’re considering high-end appliances that aren’t readily available or custom cabinetry that requires more intricate craftsmanship, it could extend the timeline. The same can be said for installing unique lighting or plumbing fixtures.

Our team often likes to complete the landscaping portion of the construction process in tandem with exterior finishes, whether that means installing a basic lawn or custom hardscaping.

After a thorough clean-up, we’ll perform a final walkthrough and quality inspection with you to make sure you’re happy with the home and that everything is functioning as it should.

One of our favorite projects was our Virginia Beach Summer Baycation build, which was unique due to the shape of the lot and the number of elements our clients wanted to include in the home. Even so, we were able to add some beautiful final touches, including a screened-in porch, a cabana bar, and luxury landscaping.

Factors Influencing the Timeline of Building a House

The clients have just evaluated some factors before building a new house and accepted the RBC Homes contract

When our clients ask us, “How long does it take to build a house?” We often take them through the many factors that could affect the timeline. Knowing these factors can help you avoid delays and streamline the process.

When you’re ready to start your home-building journey, get in touch with our team at RBC Homes to get a personalized estimate.

Size and Complexity of the House

The size and complexity of your custom home often carry the most weight when determining a timeline. For starters, building your own home will naturally take much longer than erecting a pre-fab or pre-built home.

Plus, the more intricate your home, the more time will be required in the planning and design phases.

Weather Conditions

Weather can be unpredictable, especially here in coastal Virginia. Oftentimes, rain or snow can halt construction activity, especially during the foundation and exterior phases.

Availability of Materials and Labor

Supply shortages can also impact the construction timeline. Looking to install those hand-painted Spanish tiles you’ve always dreamed of? You may have to wait for prices to drop if you’re on a strict budget.

The same goes for labor. Demand for skilled laborers may be much higher around the same time you’re looking to build your home.

Changes in Design or Unexpected Issues

We spend a decent amount of time in the planning phase to avoid design changes down the line. However, they happen, which is why it’s important to account for them. You may have envisioned something different for your home than what actuality presents you with, and that’s okay. Just note that delays may come with it.

In the same vein, unforeseen issues can pop up. The team might discover hazardous materials on the build site, which need to be cleaned before the foundation phase can begin, or cracks on the back patio from poor weather.

Average Timelines of Building a House

So, how long does it take to build a house?

Generally, the timeline looks something like this:

  • Pre-Construction and Planning: 1-2 months
  • Foundation: 1-3 weeks
  • Framing and Structure: 2-3 weeks
  • Roughing-In: 1-2 weeks
  • Interior and Exterior Work: 3-4 weeks
  • Final Touches: 2-3 weeks

The above timeline is for traditional or custom construction. This means the house was built from the ground up using a custom design and blueprints. While you get the benefit of customization and high-quality materials, the process is far more involved, adding to the timeline.

A pre-fab home, on the other hand, won’t give you the same level of customization, as most of the major components are assembled off-site before they’re transported to the home location for assembly. These homes are often more cost-effective, thanks to the reduced need for labor and relatively minimal design flexibility.

Expert Insights of RBC

One of the RBC Homes manager great the new owner and turn over their new house

With 30 years of experience and a team of tireless construction and design experts, RBC Homes has renovated, remodeled, and constructed custom homes from the ground up throughout Vriginia Beach and the surrounding coastal communities.

Our hallmark homes have been a testament to our experience, even with the challenging terrain and complex projects we undertake. Thanks to our proactive planning and careful project management, we’re often able to minimize the duration of typically long-term builds.

If you’d like to take advantage of our deep commitment to quality construction, contact us today to see how we can turn your dream home into a reality.

FAQs – Understanding the Construction Timeline Variables

Let’s take a look at some of our most frequently asked questions regarding the construction timeline.

Can a Home Be Built In 3 Months?

With today’s cutting-edge technology, it is possible to build a home in three months. In fact, this California home was finished on-site in three months.

How Quick Can You Build a Home?

The actual process of building a standard home can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months, though it depends entirely on a number of factors, including the size and complexity of the project, the site, the zoning, and much more.

What Part of Building a Home Takes the Longest?

One of the most time-consuming parts of the home-building process is often getting the permits, permission, approval, and consent. In the worst-case scenarios, this part of the process can take over a year.

Conclusion: How Long Does It Take to Build a House from the Ground Up?

The above guide is simply an estimated timeline for building a house, and depending on the type of house, the experience of the construction crew, and other external variables, the duration of your project can change.

From the pre-planning to the construction phase, and the framing to the final touches, RBC Homes offers the expertise to manage the variables that impact the timeline with finesse, delivering high-end custom homes that are tailored to your vision. 

If you’re ready to build your custom dream home, we invite you to take the next step. Schedule a consultation, explore our portfolio, and get in touch with us today so that we can exceed your expectations!