How Long Should Building a House Take?

By: Becky Striepe  | 

What Is a Typical Construction Timeline?

framing a house
Framing a new home can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the size and location of the build site. ArtistGNDphotography/Getty Images

Every construction job is different, but some steps in the process are standard. Your contractor should give you a timeline that's tailored to the house you're building before they break ground. If they don't, ask for one.

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


  1. Pre-construction period. Before you start, you (or your contractor) will likely have to pull permits, finalize architectural plans and get your financing sorted out. This can take one to two months — or longer.
  2. Preparing the lot and laying the foundation. This includes clearing out debris and trees, leveling out the lot and pouring the foundation. A month is about average for this step.
  3. Framing the house and building the roof. Framing usually takes about a month, but bad weather can delay things. Once the roof is up — usually a couple of weeks — 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 one or two months.
  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. In the final two months, contractors install the floors, paint and finish the plumbing and electrical work.
  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.
  8. Inspections. During many of these steps, and depending on your county's requirements, you may be required to have inspections by your county inspector. So before your drywall can be hung, for instance, your electrical and plumbing might be required to be inspected. You might also be required to have a final certificate of occupancy inspection to prove your home is built according to the law and codes, and that it is suitable to occupy.

Some of these steps can overlap, of course, and the almost inevitable delays can make the job take painfully longer than anticipated. The problem could be anything from late delivery of materials to the nearly inevitable red tape of inspections and permits. Even knowing that, it might still seem as if things are taking too long. So what can you do?