How long does it take to build a house? | Things to know | Average timeline to build | Do you need a realtor? | FAQs
If you're building a new house, expect it to take about seven months, but don't be surprised if the process takes up to 12 months (or more)!
How long a house takes to build will be specific to your circumstances, such as where you live or what type of builder you're working with. But there are also a few other variables you can account for early on that will save you time, and maybe even money, down the road.
To help you prepare to build your new home, here are some things to consider, a general timeline for new constructions, and other important information you'll need to know when you build your new home.
How long does it take to build a house?
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, your home's construction will take anywhere from six to 12 months depending on two big variables: the type of build and which region of the country you live in.
Type of build
Hiring a contractor or buying from a production builder can mean months difference in your timeline. Based on various build types, the average time it takes to build a house can be:
⏰ Time frame
What is it❓
🏡 Building in a pre-specced development with a production builder
These builders have a library of floorplans for you to choose from and are used to building these floorplans, meaning the process can happen much more quickly. They'll bring in their own contractors, subcontractors, and specialists, and often build out large tracts of homes in a single community.
👷 Building from spec with a contractor
A contractor will typically have a full team and build from a set of blueprints or plans that are familiar to them. You'll have room for customizations, but this will be more similar to a production builder's process.
🛠 Building custom/owner built
Instead of relying on a builder or general contractor, you'll be responsible for the steps of your build. You hire an architect and engineer, working with them to build a blueprint for your new home. They might offer to work from some pre-designed plans as a template, but there's a lot of room for customization.
Averages sourced from 2019 data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau
Some U.S. states might have better or worse weather, which can impact your timeline. Or, different municipal bureaucracies can impact how long it takes to go through permitting and inspection processes. Unfortunately, these elements are out of your control when you're considering how long it takes to build your new home.
Additionally, labor markets are different everywhere. If subcontractors are in high demand where you live, you will have to work with their schedule and could end up waiting a bit longer for certain types of work, such as your electrical wiring or plumbing, than you originally planned.
Where you live also affects how long it takes materials to get to your build site. For example, if you're building in the suburbs of a large city, it might be quicker because your local industrial hubs are relatively close. If you're building in a mountainous area that's more isolated, materials might need to travel further to get to you.
U.S. Census Bureau data gives us a general idea of what you can expect based on what region of the U.S. you're building in.
Things to consider when building a house
Building a new home can be exciting — you have the power to build the home of your dreams, right on the lot you want! But that also means there are a lot of details and steps that need your attention.
To start, you'll have an initial meeting with your builder to decide on floor plans, sign a sale contract, and communicate your needs and expectations.
After your meeting, you'll work with your builder to negotiate and finetune the specifics, like the floor plan and material specifications. Then, your builder will probably require a deposit upfront to get started on construction.
If you want to start this process on the right foot, these are a few things you should consider before you get to that initial meeting:
Just like you would for a traditional home purchase, you'll want to get prequalified with a mortgage lender before talking to a builder. Once you're prequalified, you'll have an idea of what you can afford to spend on your new home.
It's also a good idea to give yourself at least 10% of the total price in extra funds. This way, if the cost of materials increases while you're building or some unexpected weather patterns lead to increased costs, you're prepared for it.
Also factor in that you'll likely have a few additional financing costs, like your builder deposit and construction loan if applicable.
💸 New construction financing costs
A non-refundable deposit, paid up front to your builder when you sign your paperwork. Builder deposits are typically 5–10% of the total price of constructing the home.
A construction loan covers the cost of labor and materials. It usually requires a 20–25% down payment. If your builder requires you to take out a construction loan, you'll usually only have to pay interest on it until the home is completed.
Loan origination fee
This fee is usually equal to 0.5–1% of the loan you apply for.
Mortgage down payment
A mortgage lender will require a down payment on your loan, due at closing. The down payment can be anywhere from 3.5–20% of the home's total value, depending on your lender.
How much space you need
Planning on how much square footage you'll need helps you anticipate how much the build will cost and makes it easier to set expectations with your builder right from the start.
When thinking about space, consider how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need. Do you want a single-story or multi-story home?
The size of your lot will also impact how much space you actually have to build, so knowing how much space you want can help you decide where you want to build, too.
These are all important questions to answer early in the planning process, and might even help you narrow down your list of potential builders to choose from.
Unique design choices
Deciding early on unique aspects of your home means you can share your vision with your builder from the get-go, and they can order hard-to-find materials as early as possible.
For example, maybe you want an exposed beam and high ceilings in your living room. Large, sturdy pieces of wood that are long enough to fit the length of a room might be hard to find and take a while to arrive. Or, do you need wheelchair-accessible door frames and bathrooms? Your builder will want to know about those needs ASAP so they can incorporate them into your blueprint.
This means it's crucial to decide on unique design choices as early as you can and communicate them to your builder so they can get the ball rolling on your order.
Ability to compromise
Likewise, planning a list of must-haves versus what you're willing to leave behind helps save you time later when you sit down with your builder to sign a contract and commit to a timeline.
Out of your list of design and floor plan options, what are you willing to compromise on with your builder to meet your timeline? What part of your vision for your new home are you willing to compromise on if it comes down to cost?
A real estate agent is also a useful expert who can guide you through what changes can be made at your discretion after your build is complete. Having this information ahead of time could potentially save you tons of money and time.
>>SAVE: If you're looking for an agent with experience in new construction, Clever can help!
Average timeline to build a house
These are the typical steps a builder will take to construct your home:
1 month +
1 month +
*All time frames are average estimates and will vary based on your specific circumstances.
It's important to note that many of the steps to build a house can happen simultaneously. Since each stage requires different subcontractors or specialists for installations, they can often work at the same time on different parts of the site.
To prepare you for how long it takes to build a house, let's break down the details of each step.
Permits and inspections
Most cities will require you to apply for permits and have inspections conducted of the construction site.
Once these are complete, construction can take a month or more to begin. If you're working with a production builder, they'll likely already have this step taken care of before you approach them, though.
No matter what type of build you're doing, inspections will be required periodically throughout the construction process and typically after key stages of the build, like checking the foundation or the quality of the electrical work.
These add time but are important for your safety. Inspectors ensure features are up to code and don't present current or future hazards.
Every city will have different permitting and inspection requirements. Check your city government's website for more information.
Every home needs a solid foundation! Whether it's just a slab or a full basement, your foundation will need anywhere from two to four weeks to cureⓘ before it can support your home.
Weather will affect this step a lot, too. If temperatures fluctuate, it could take your foundation longer to cure. So depending on your local climate, it might be a bit longer before you're ready for the next step of your build.
Your city will also want to inspect your foundation before the builder moves onto framing, so account for this time, too.
Next, it's time to put in the bones of your home! On average, expect framing to take around a week or two. However, the time it takes to frame your home depends on a couple of factors like square footage and how many floors it has.
If you're working with a general contractor or production builder, they'll probably be more efficient when doing your framing. If you're working directly on a custom build, be prepared for framing to take longer.
After your framing is complete, an inspector will ensure the frame is secure and that it's safe to move forward with the next steps of your build.
Technical and mechanical
Now it's time for your essential systems, such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC.
Installing these different components requires specialists, so it could take a week or more to complete. It might take longer if there is high demand for these services in your area and you have to work around a specialist's schedule.
During this time, your builder will also likely get started on the roof and windows, and add a house wrap to protect your home from water.
Make sure to walk through with your builder before the next step to ensure you're not missing any essentials, like HVAC vents or ethernet ports. After all these systems are in place, an inspector will usually also check that everything is installed safely.
Walls and insulation
Here is where the house starts to become a home! After your essential systems are installed, your insulation and walls go up. Installing your insulation and walls will probably take just a few days but won't begin until all of your mechanical elements are in place.
Insulation is crucial to creating a livable home and reducing your energy usage, helping you save on utility bills. The most common type of insulation is fiberglass batting rolls, but what your builder uses will depend on your local climate.
Now it's time for your house to take on some character. At this stage, you'll see your siding and other exterior features installed, such as brick or stucco.
This will probably take a few days to a week and possibly happen concurrently with your details and finishes. Some landscaping might also occur, including planting trees or shrubbery.
Details and finishes
Now it's time for your trim and finishes, which includes a lot more than you might expect!
Since some of these features require different subcontractors, this process can take a while: up to a month or more. However, many of these elements are installed at the same time, so again, expect some overlap between steps.
You'll also see your floor go in around this time, too — probably after things like cabinets and appliances are installed to prevent dirt tracking onto your new carpet or damage to your new hardwood floors.
You're almost there! Now that everything is installed and constructed, it's time to do your final walkthrough with your builder, sometimes called the "punchout."
At your punchout, you're encouraged to bring a punch list, or a list of things to go over in detail, to ensure that your new home meets the requirements laid out in your contract. If you have one, your real estate agent will also be a great resource when checking for errors and potential problems, so be sure to bring them along! You may also choose to hire your own inspector to help, too.
During your punchout, note anything that you'd like fixed or any errors you notice. The following new construction punchout list example can get you started.
Things to look for during your punchout
🔦 Attic, basement, and insulation
🚰 Kitchen and bathrooms
After your builder makes whatever fixes necessary, your city may need to inspect your new home to ensure everything is up to code before you close and move in.
Do you need a realtor for new construction?
You don't need to use a real estate agent if you're building a house, but if you're buying from a production builder, it's a good idea to bring an agent along! An agent can help you navigate your sale contract, ensure your package is priced fairly, and help you keep track of the build process.
Plus, having an agent doesn't cost you anything because most builders account for a buyer's agent fee in their marketing budgets! So, there's usually no discount if you choose to go it alone.
While your builder will probably encourage you to use their representative instead, it's important to note that their agent represents them — not you.
FAQs about new construction timelines
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, your home's construction will take anywhere from six to 12 months depending on two big variables: what type of build you're doing and which region of the country you live in.
There are more than a few steps to building a home, many of which can happen simultaneously. On average, your timeline to build will look something like this:
1. 🖊 Permits and inspections
2. 🏗 Foundation
3. 👷 Framing
4. ⚡ Technical and mechanical
5. 🔨 Walls and insulation
6. 🏡 Exteriors
7. 🚪 Details and finishes
8. 📋 Final walkthrough
Many of these steps will require special contractors for installations, so you should expect to coordinate with their schedule a bit.
You don't need a real estate agent if you're building a house, but if you're buying from a production builder, it's a good idea to bring an agent along! An agent can help you navigate your sale contract, ensure your package is priced fairly, and help you keep track of the build process.
Plus, having an agent doesn't cost you anything because most builders account for a buyer's agent fee in their marketing budgets. So, there's usually no discount if you choose to go it alone.