Considerations when building a house..

Some challenges in coordinating home construction

There are many ways to build a house, depending, of course, by what "building a house" means to you.

It may mean buying a lot in a new subdivision and modifying the stock plans of the developer, with his framing and finish crews coordinating the procurement and installation of everything from the cement for the foundation to the doorknobs on the interior doors, or it might mean that you buy a piece of land and shepherd the plans through the zoning and permitting process, oversee the installation of the foundation and then order and assemble the wood frame, siding, roofing and windows, coordinating the subcontractors who do the electrical, plumbing and heating, doing the wallboard and finish yourself and ultimately installing all baseboard, as well as the rest of the interior trim.

Between those two extremes lie an infinite number of possibilities determined by the amount of skill you posess, your income and how much time you have to pursue your income vs how much time you have on your hands to actually assemble a house. While the majority of future homeowners keep their involvement to writing checks and making finish selections, there are a number of other factors that would be common to most new house construction projects. If you buy an empty lot, you need to know if there is a public water supply nearby and a public sewer system as well. These factors determine whether you need to have a septic system designed installed or whether you can connect easily to a sewer, also whether you have city water or have to drive a well.

The neighbor hood you purchase a lot in may somewhat determine what style of house you design in concert with an architect or you may locate "stock" plans from one of the many firms offering them in the back of home design magazines and on the internet. If you go the "stock" plan route you need to ascertain if the company or individual offering them will supply services needed to conform to local building codes. Although there are several national codes, BOCA being one of the more widely accepted ones, individual cities, towns or states may have rules which emphasize particular concerns for a particular geographical area, in California, for instance, they tend to pay a lot of attention to earthquake protection in the foundation and structural assemblies, in New England, there is a greater concern for snow load on the roof, that, say, perhaps, Coral Gables, Florida, where the concerns are greater for hurricane protection.

Other concerns that frequently need to be addressed are the setback lines on front, rear and sideyards and in some areas the structure you build may have an upward limit on square footage of the dwelling as a pecentage of the open lot.

To make construction move smoothly ahead, you need to identify and order those products that have a long lead time, such as the exterior doors and windows and skylights and later, special plumbing fixtures, which usually have to be at least identified before the rough plumbing starts, as many fixtures have specifications for drain location and water supply that vary from "standard". Speaking of plumbers, if you are building on a "slab on grade" as opposed to over a full foundation, you need to remember to have the plumber lined up as soon as the foundation walls are stripped and before the slab is poured, because all of your drains and water lines need to be run to interior locations before the slab is poured.  Some kitchen cabintes have much longer lead times than others, and you want to be sure and know what they might be. Bathroom vanities are frequently ordered from the same supplier.

Part of the expense incurrd by having a general contractor build the house is for the knowledge and experience he or she has in nudging owners toward making timely selection/purchase of these items which may stall a construction schedule, and, of course, knowing in advance, what those items might be.

There are some programs that help organize timelines such as "Fastrack Schedule 9 or Microsoft Project, some of these even have templates for residential homebuilding.  If you elect to try and organize your timeline on one of these yu need to keep in mind that unlike the neat lines you get on your computer screens, real life schedules are in continual flux due to the vagaries of weather, traffic and of course the people actually doing the work. Its a very rare, if not entirely non-existant project which actually finishes on the first "proposed" finish date :)


Underslab plumbing and site drainage are two of many things needing co-ordination

Underslab plumbing has to be installed early, before the slab is poured
Underslab plumbing has to be installed early, before the slab is poured
Your local environmental commision may require you to control "runoff" of silt, etc. These sausage like borders are much easier to handle than the traditional haybales.
Your local environmental commision may require you to control "runoff" of silt, etc. These sausage like borders are much easier to handle than the traditional haybales.

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