So, you've decided it's time to move, and building your dream home is now a possibility. Where do you begin? We've had many clients here at The Tuscan Group who have been ready to make the dream happen, but find the process daunting and often don't know where to begin. 

TEN STEPS (more detail here):

  1. Choose home site, builder, and house plan.

  2. Line up financing and sign a contract.

  3. Permits, site prep and planning.

  4. Foundation, framing, windows, doors, roof, siding.

  5. Rough-ins, insulation.

  6. Sheetrock, trim carpentry and painting.

  7. Cabinets, flooring, other interior finishes.

  8. Well, septic, propane, final grading and landscaping.

  9. Final inspections and cleaning.

  10. Closing and move-in.

Our current development project, Cedar Mountain, is a large lot subdivision in North Chatham County, just 10 minutes from Chapel Hill. We are currently building in Phases I, II, and III. Contact us for more information on building in Cedar Mountain

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The Building Process: Part I

So...here's a Home Building Primer on the basics, in lots of detail:

PART I - First Major Decisions

1. Choose your home site. You can either purchase a lot on your own, or you can find a lot that a builder/developer is listing as part of his projects. Find out if that lot is zoned for residential and how many bedrooms the site is approved for. You also want to look to see what else is being planned in the area, especially if your lot is rural.

2. Choose your builder. As stated above, this might be a simultaneous decision. Look for a builder that comes with referrals and a good reputation, and one with whom you feel a good rapport. You will be working very closely with this person for months, so a good relationship is key.

3. Choose your house plan. If the builder is giving you latitude on this decision, this can be one of the most fun parts of the process! Websites like houseplans.com have thousands of plans to look at, but you can complete a plan search based on criteria like square footage, bedrooms, baths, style, etc.

4. Line up your financing. Most banks and lending institutions have a construction loan program. Talk to your lender about this. Once your financing is pre-approved, we can move forward with signing a contract. As your general contractor, we will give you progress reports so your bank can come out to the project and approve 'draws.'

5. Sign a contract for the lot, the house or both. In a neighborhood like Cedar Mountain, the builder and the developer (lot owner) are the same person. The Tuscan Group will arrange the sale of the lot and the price of the home as a package. If you are building on a lot that you have already purchased, we will price up the house for you. (The cost of the home that we present to you is an all-inclusive price: house plan, all permits/inspections, grading/clearing, well, septic, all construction costs, and general contracting fees for a completely finished, move-in ready home. We will manage the project and work closely with you to help you stay within your budget. If clients decide on changes along the way, we work with them to find solutions that are reasonable, and offer a change order so there are no surprises at the end.)

6. Breaking Ground. After the contract is signed, the builder will begin the permit process with the county where you are building. Fees will be paid by the builder, and once approved, we will begin to clear and grade the lot. We will discuss with you the positioning of the house, which trees you want to keep, placement of the well and septic, etc.

7. Decisions, decisions. From this point forward we will keep you informed of any upcoming decisions needed by you, if you choose to make them. Some clients prefer the builder to make some selections. The Tuscan Group offers lots of hands-on assistance and design consultation to help you pull the whole house together into a beautiful place.

Next up: Part II - Timing is everything...when different aspects of the construction process happen and what you need to know.



The Building Process: Part 2

Part II: Timing is Everything (Find Part I here)

Once the house plan is chosen, the lot, builder, contract and building permit are secured, the grading and clearing begin.

8. Site prep and planning. A temporary power pole, portable toilet, and permit box will be placed on the site and a temporary gravel driveway is prepared. The general contractor, designer and client will meet together to discuss scope and schedule. The builder will provide a list of selections to be made and allowances for these items. One of the main jobs of the builder is to help the client stay within their budget during the process. It can be tempting to upgrade often in this process and it's our job to help you stay focused when the options look so enticing! The construction should take approximately 6-8 months depending on weather, speed of client decisions, changes, etc.

9. Exterior design selections. As the building process gets started, a client may want to weigh in on choices for window and door style, roof shingle color/type, and stone/brick selections. These items will need to be ordered and ready when these initial installations will be done.

10. Foundation. A survey team comes to the site and marks the corners of the house. Earth moving equipment prepares the footing, or a basement is excavated. Masons arrive and pour footings, set block and the survey team comes back for more markings. Termite pre-treatment occurs. Inspections take place.

11. Framing. A framing crew arrives and lays the first floor. Inspections. Then the walls and roof are constructed. This is a good time for the client to arrive on site to walk through the house making sure it all feels right. Often we can move a wall or a doorway or make some other change in the field. We have even extended garages on site. Change orders will be signed. More inspections. 

12. Roof, siding, decking, windows and doors. At this point, the building site is a beehive of activity. Carpenters, roofers and other sub-contractors are hard at work getting the house 'weathered in.'

13. Rough-ins. Electricians, plumbers and HVAC contractors will arrive to get their trades going on all the stuff behind the walls. Spools of wire, lengths of PVC piping and ductwork create a messy work space and prepare for the basic functionality of the home. The county inspector pays more visits.

14. Insulation. The Tuscan Group has been installing energy efficient spray foam insulation in our homes for years. This contractor will be in the home for a few days spraying the insides of exterior walls, creating a quiet and ambient space inside the home.

15. Sheetrock! In my opinion, this is one of the most exciting phases of construction. When the drywall goes up, you can really begin to imagine living in this home. Each room has a distinctive feel and sense of space. Installation and finishing of sheetrock is a dusty process and takes about 2 weeks.

16. Decisions again. At this point, we are about 8 weeks from completion if all interior design selections are made and all materials are available on time. The Tuscan Group offers design assistance to help you through the maze of options. We use specific vendors that are reliable sources of quality materials and supplies, and provide great service and delivery. Items that will need to be selected and ordered (according to the allowance sheet) include flooring (tile, hardwood, carpet, etc.), lighting, plumbing fixtures, countertops, and paint colors. By now cabinet selections should be made and ordered, along with their hardware.    

17. Trim carpentry. At this point, the trim carpentry crew will be busy installing crown and base mouldings, stair details, and window/door casings. Any custom shelving in closets, mudroom and laundry areas will be up for discussion at this point, and the client is encouraged to make their requests known. Shoe shelves, anyone?

18. Paint. Once all color selections have been made, the painting crew will be busy with their sprayers, brushes and rollers on the inside and outside of the home.

19. Flooring, cabinets, countertops, interior stone, lighting, etc. All of the beautiful finishes that the client and builder have been working on together are now being delivered to and installed in the home. Shiny new appliances, plumbing fixtures, doorknobs, bathroom hardware, shower glass, and thermostats are installed.

20. Well, septic, propane, final grading, hardscaping, landscaping. In the final weeks of construction, the work returns to the outdoors. If your home will have a well and private septic system, these will be dug and installed at this time. In addition, a propane tank will be buried on site. Our concrete contractor will come and install the garage floor, parking pad/driveway, and sidewalk. The grading contractor will return to smooth out the lot, plant grass, and make it beautiful with bushes, trees, shrubs and flowers. Garage doors are installed.

21. Final inspections and CO. The county inspections department completes a final inspection. If we have any items that need a re-inspect, they are taken care of at this time. Once the inspections office issues a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) it is available for, well...occupancy!

22. Final cleaning. At this point the home is technically complete, but you may walk in and wonder because there is such a mess! We bring in a professional cleaning crew and in about 3 hours, the house is move-in ready. Sparkling windows and countertops, gleaming carpentry and floors, bright lights and the smell of a new home. We have a 'walk-through' with the new homeowner and address any last minute concerns.

23. Closing. At this point, the job is complete and all the closing documents are signed at the attorney's office. The general contractor is paid and the new homeowners move in. Congratulations!

I hope this Home Building Primer has been helpful to you in helping you decide if this is something you'd like to pursue. Please consider The Tuscan Group as you research building contractors. We love helping families realize their dream, and it is so satisfying to build a home for excited clients!