This can be one of the toughest decisions to make when it comes to actually executing your dream home build. The problem is multivariate, so we will look at three different considerations that might influence your decision on when to sign a contract to get your dream house plan built. First we look at how the weather affects the build timeline, then we dive into the statistics on building material seasonality and finally we talk about personal logistics that may influence your decision.
If you're too impatient to read further, we'll go ahead and tell you that October is the best time to break ground.
Depending on where you're looking to build, the weather can be a huge challenge for builders. Frozen ground and snow make for a tough time to dig foundations and get your concrete to cure properly. So if you live in a cold climate it's best to get your foundation dug, poured and cured outside of the coldest winter months. Snow and rain also result in delays so it's best to try to get your house dried in before the winter snow and the spring rain.
Typically it takes 8-12 weeks from groundbreaking to dry-in so we recommend breaking ground at least 3 months before it really starts to freeze. Typically for most of the Northern US, this is January so we recommend breaking ground before November at the latest.
Building Material Costs:
Because of the common understanding that the optimal weather for building is spring and summer, there's a surge in demand for both building materials and builders during those seasons. We downloaded the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the Producer Price Index for Building Materials and Supplies Dealers. We then aggregated the data by month and calculated the seasonality over the average cost. So for example, looking at the chart below, building materials tend to cost 2.67% less than average in January.
Notice that there's a steep drop off in November for building material costs! Next we look at how these costs add up using an example house:
We modeled a scenario with a house that takes 6 months to build with an even monthly draw of $50,000 for a total of $300,000 - we then applied the seasonal adjustment factors from above to result in the adjusted costs. Looking at the chart below, the most expensive month to start would be May at $305,961 and the least expensive month to start building would be November at $294,024. That's a potential savings of about $12,000 off your cost to build! In reality, it may be slightly better than that since most of your building costs are drawn in the first few months of the build. It may be best to start about a month or so before costs bottom (which lines up nicely with the weather!) For this reason we recommend October as the optimal time to break ground on your house.