HOW TO BUILD YOUR CUSTOM HOME

When it comes to building your dream home the first question everyone asks is:

"Where do I start?" 

We've broken down the process into easy steps, decisions and checklists, and developed a massive library of free content for you to use on your homebuilding journey.

The Home Construction Checklist

1.) Budget & Financing

The first step is determining your budget and what that budget can afford you. Check out the articles below to help you accurately budget for your build:

-->Cheaper to Buy or Build?

-->Cost-to-Build

-->Home Construction Financing

-->5 Tips for Cost Savings

-->Do New Homes Hold Their Value?

2.) Lot Selection

Selecting a lot is one of the biggest challenges because of availability and feasibility. Below are some resources to help select the perfect lot:

-->Finding a Lot

-->Evaluating Land to Build

-->Perc. Testing

-->Tear-Down Demolition

3.) Home Design

Designing your custom home is one of the most rewarding parts of the process. Here's some helpful links on navigating the design phase:

-->Architect vs. Drafter vs. Stock Plans

-->Custom vs. Tract vs. Spec Homes

-->Modular/Maufactured Homes

-->Get a Sense of Scale

-->Designing an ADA Accessible House

-->Engineering

-->Customizing Plans

-->1-Story vs 2-Story Cost Savings

4.) Materials & Specifications

'Specifications' (or 'specs') are the owner selected materials, equipment and workmanship reuired for your home build. Check out out detailed posts below to help you make information spec decisions:

-->Overrated vs. Underrated Home Features

-->Backup Power

-->2x4 vs 2x6 Exterior Walls

-->Insulation

-->Fire Sprinklers

-->Fireplaces

-->Hot Water Heaters

-->Septic Systems

-->Indoor Air Quality

-->Ultimate Siding Guide

5.) Bidding

Bidding a new construction home is both exciting and challenging. Here's some helpful posts on navigating the bid process:

-->Vetting a Builder

-->How to Evaluate a Bid

-->Cost-Plus vs. Fixed-Cost Contracts & Fees

-->The Owner-Contractor Relationship

6.) Scheduling

There's many factors involved in picking a time to start building and managing the project schedule. Below are some inciteful posts on the topic:

-->When to Break Ground

7.) Permits & Inspections

Passing your permits and inspections on the first try can save you both time and money. Here's some helpful posts on how to manage that:

-->Understanding Permits & Inspections

-->Final Walk-Through Inspections

-->How to Get a Street Address

8.) Construction

You've done all the leg work, so now the easy part, actually building it! The key to this phase is controlling costs and quality. See below for some articles for navigating this phase successfully:

-->Controlling Costs During Build

  • PRE-CONSTRUCTION & SHELL

    ☐ 1 BUDGET & FINANCING PRE-APPROVAL 

    ☐ 2 LOT SELECTION 

    ☐ 3 ZONING COMPLIANCE REVIEW 

    ☐ 3.1 → Land Use 

    ☐ 3.2 → Easements, Set Backs 

    ☐ 3.3 → Access, Street Improvements 

    ☐ 3.4 → Utility Availability 

    ☐ 4 HOUSE PLANS 

    ☐ 4.1 → Purchase (& Modify) Stock Home Plans 

    ☐ 4.2 → Custom Plans (Architect or Draftsman) 

    ☐ 4.3 → Equipment & Material Specifications 

    ☐ 5 STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING (if applicable) 

    ☐ 6 LOT SURVEY 

    ☐ 6.1 → House & Driveway Placement 

    ☐ 6.2 → Well Locaton (If applicable) 

    ☐ 6.3 → Septic Location (If applicable) 

    ☐ 6.4 → Site Plan Drafted 

    ☐ 7 DUE DILIGENCE 

    ☐ 7.1 → Percolation Test (If applicable) 

    ☐ 7.2 → Geotechincal Engineering (If applicable) 

    ☐ 8 GENERAL CONTRACTOR (if applicable) 

    ☐ 8.1 → Vetting 

    ☐ 8.2 → Bidding 

    ☐ 8.3 → Contract 

    ☐ 8.4 → Construction & Draw Schedule 

    ☐ 9 INSURANCE 

    ☐ 10 FINALIZE FINANCING 

    ☐ 10.1 → Financing or Mortgage Type 

    ☐ 10.2 → Approval 

    ☐ 10.3 → Closing Costs 

    ☐ 11 BUILDING PERMITS 

    ☐ 11.1 → Fees 

    ☐ 11.2 → Inspection Schedule 

    ☐ 12 PROCUREMENT 

    ☐ 12.1 → Quantity take-off 

    ☐ 12.2 → Subcontractor Bidding 

    SHELL

    ☐ 13 DEMOLITION (If Applicable) 

    ☐ 14 LOT CLEARING 

    ☐ 14.1 → Debris Removal & Clearing 

    ☐ 14.2 → Dump Fee 

    ☐ 15 DRIVEWAY, rough grading 

    ☐ 15.1 → Grade 

    ☐ 15.2 → Base Rock, Culverts, Construction Entrance 

    ☐ 16 UTILITIES 

    ☐ 16.1 → Temporary electrical hookup 

    ☐ 16.2 → Septic OR Public Sewer Hookup 

    ☐ 16.3 → Well OR Public Water Hookup 

    ☐ 17 LAYOUT HOUSE FOOTPRINT 

    ☐ 17.1 → Establish Finish Floor Reference Height 

    ☐ 17.2 → Staking - Check Set Back Distances 

    ☐ 18 EXCAVATE FOUNDATION 

    ☐ 19 FOOTERS 

    ☐ 19.1 → Formwork & Rebar 

    ☐ 19.2 → Concrete Poured 

    ☐ 20 TERMITE TREATMENT 

    ☐ 21 RADON CONTROL SYSTEM (if applicable) 

    ☐ 22 FOUNDATION WALLS 

    ☐ 22.1 → CMU Block + Rebar + Concrete 

    ☐ 22.2 → ICF Block + Rebar + Concrete 

    ☐ 22.3 → Formwork + Rebar + Concrete 

    ☐ 23 → Exterior Waterproofing 

    ☐ 24 COLUMNS/BEAMS INSTALLED 

    ☐ 25 UNDERGROUND PLUMBING 

    ☐ 25.1 → Sanitary Plumbing 

    ☐ 25.2 → Drain Tile, Sump Plumbing & Gravel Backfill 

    ☐ 26 CONCRETE SLABS & FIREPLACE HEARTH 

    ☐ 26.1 → Gravel, formwork 

    ☐ 26.2 → Rebar 

    ☐ 26.3 → Concrete pour 

    ☐ 27 BACK FILL, rough 

    ☐ 28 FRAMING 

    ☐ 28.1 → Floor Framing & Sheathing 

    ☐ 28.2 → Structural Timber Framing (if app.) 

    ☐ 28.3 → Wall Framing & Sheathing 

    ☐ 28.4 → Stair Framing 

    ☐ 28.5 → Roof Framing & Sheathing 

    ☐ 29 WATERPROOFING & VAPOR BARRIER 

    ☐ 29.1 → Taping and/or House Wrap 

    ☐ 29.2 → Flash Window/Door Openings 

  • FINISHES

    ☐ 30 ROUGH-IN PLUMBING 

    ☐ 30.1 → Sanitary 

    ☐ 30.2 → Water 

    ☐ 30.3 → Fire Sprinkler (if applicable) 

    ☐ 31 ROUGH-IN HVAC 

    ☐ 31.1 → Ductwork 

    ☐ 31.2 → Hydronic (Heated floors or Radiators) 

    ☐ 31.3 → Exhaust Fans & Vents 

    ☐ 31.4 → Outside Air Supply (ERV/HRV) 

    ☐ 31.5 → Refrigerant Rough-In 

    ☐ 31.6 → Fireplace & Chimney Flues 

    ☐ 32 FIRESTOPPING & BLOCKING 

    ☐ 33 WINDOWS/DOORS/OPENINGS 

    ☐ 33.1 → Windows 

    ☐ 33.2 → Exterior Doors 

    ☐ 33.3 → Skylights and Light Tubes 

    ☐ 34 FASCIA 

    ☐ 35 ROOFING 

    ☐ 35.1 → Ice/Water Shield 

    ☐ 35.2 → Flashing, Drip Edge 

    ☐ 35.3 → Roofing 

    ☐ 35.4 → Ridge Vents 

    ☐ 36 SOFFIT & SOFFIT VENT 

    ☐ 37 SIDING 

    ☐ 37.1 → House Wrap, window/door flashing 

    ☐ 37.2 → Corner Trim, Soffit Trim 

    ☐ 37.3 → Siding 

    ☐ 37.4 → Shutters, Architectural accents, Rafter Tails, etc. 

    ☐ 37.5 → Caulking 

    ☐ 38 MASONRY SIDING 

    ☐ 38.1 → Siding 

    ☐ 38.2 → Chimney cap 

    ☐ 39 GUTTER & DOWNSPOUTS 

    ☐ 39.1 → Stormwater Control Structures 

    ☐ 40 ROUGH-IN ELECTRIC 

    ☐ 40.1 → Main Panel 

    ☐ 40.2 → Junction Boxes & High Voltage RUns 

    ☐ 41 LOW VOLTAGE SPECIALTY SUBCONTRACTORS 

    ☐ 41.1 → Communications: TV, Phone, Ethernet 

    ☐ 41.2 → Central Vacuum 

    ☐ 41.3 → Security 

    ☐ 41.4 → Smart Home 

    ☐ 41.5 → Audio 

    ☐ 42 INSULATION ☐ 42.1 → Crawl Space, Basement 

    ☐ 42.2 → Ceilings 

    ☐ 42.3 → Walls 

    ☐ 42.4 → Attic, rafters (rafter venting) 

    ☐ 43 EXTERIOR PAINT 

    ☐ 43.1 → Siding 

    ☐ 43.2 → Trim 

    ☐ 44 DRYWALL 

    ☐ 44.1 → Hang 

    ☐ 44.2 → Tape 

    ☐ 44.3 → Block & Skim Coats 

    ☐ 44.4 → Sanding 

    ☐ 45 TILE FLOORING 

    ☐ 45.1 → Tile Underlayment 

    ☐ 45.2 → Tile 

    ☐ 45.3 → Grout & Sealer 

    ☐ 46 OTHER FLOORING 

    ☐ 46.1 → Wood 

    ☐ 46.2 → Vinyl 

    ☐ 46.3 → Carpet (Padding & Tack strips) 

    ☐ 46.4 → Stair Treads & Risers 

    ☐ 47 CASEWORK 

    ☐ 47.1 → Kitchen Cabinets, Bath Vanities 

    ☐ 47.2 → Kitchen Counter Tops 

    ☐ 47.3 → Bath Vanity Tops 

    ☐ 47.4 → Medicine Cabinets 

    ☐ 48 MILLWORK 

    ☐ 48.1 → Railings (Interior & Exterior) 

    ☐ 48.2 → Architectural Timber Framing (if applicable) 

    ☐ 48.3 → Interior Doors 

    ☐ 48.4 → Base Trim 

    ☐ 48.5 → Crown Moulding 

    ☐ 48.6 → Window/Door Casings 

    ☐ 48.7 → Closet Shelving 

    ☐ 49 INTERIOR PAINT 

    ☐ 50 FINISH GRADING 

    ☐ 51 FINISH DRIVEWAY 

    ☐ 53 WALKWAYS 

    ☐ 53.1 → Formwork, rebar 

    ☐ 53.2 → Concrete 

    ☐ 53.3 → Pavers 

    ☐ 52 GARAGE DOORS 

    ☐ 52.1 → Opener 

    ☐ 52.2 → Weatherstripping 

    ☐ 54 FINISH ELECTRICAL 

    ☐ 54.1 → Switches + Outlets + Plate Covers 

    ☐ 54.2 → Lighting Fixtures 

    ☐ 54.3 → Equipment Hookups 

    ☐ 55 FINISH HVAC 

    ☐ 55.1 → Thermostats 

    ☐ 55.2 → Install & Test Equipment 

    ☐ 55.3 → Registers & Diffusers 

    ☐ 56 FINISH PLUMBING 

    ☐ 56.1 → Fixtures installed & Tested 

    ☐ 57 LANDSCAPING ☐ 58 LAWN SEEDING or SODING 

    ☐ 59 APPLIANCE INSTALLATION 

    ☐ 60 FINAL CLEAN UP 

    ☐ 61 WALK THROUGH INSPECTION 

    ☐ 62 PUNCH LIST COMPLETE 

    ☐ 63 CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY