How long should building a house take?

By: Becky Striepe

What is a typical construction timeline?

Of course, every construction job is different, but there are some steps in the process that are standard when it comes to building a home. Your contractor should give you a construction timeline that's tailored to the house you're building before he breaks ground. If he doesn't, there's nothing wrong with asking for one!

Here's what a generic construction timeline might look like [source: Home Building Smart]:


  1. Pre-construction period. Before you break ground, you have to pull permits, finalize plans and get your financing sorted out. This can take one to two months or longer. When my family got a construction loan recently, it took over a year to find one that worked for us!
  2. Preparing the lot and laying the foundation. This includes clearing out debris and trees, leveling out the lot where the house will go, and pouring the foundation. A month is about average for this step.
  3. Framing the house and building the roof – Framing usually takes about two months, but bad weather can delay things here. Once the roof is up, weather is generally less of a concern [source: Bunzel].
  4. Siding, wiring, and plumbing – Workers will finish the outside of the house and get the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC started, which takes about a month.
  5. Interior finishing – This is when the inside of your house starts to look like a house, with the drywall and most of the carpentry completed. Expect about two months.
  6. Finish work – Everything is coming together now! In the final two months, contractors install the floors, do the painting and caulking, finish the plumbing and electrical work and hang ceiling fans.
  7. Punch list – This is a critical step where you do a final walk through and you and your contractor create what's essentially a to-do list of little things that still need finishing up – think a paint touch-up here and a bit of caulking there. Make sure you go into this with a critical eye and question anything that seems wrong. This is your chance to get your contractor to fix mistakes before you move in.

Some of these steps can overlap, of course, and delays along the way can make the job take longer than anticipated. The problem could be a delay with anything from materials to inspections and permits. Even knowing that, it might still seem as if construction is taking too long. So what can you do?