Build Your Own House: You Dream Home From The Ground Up
The estimated reading time for this post is 47 minutes.
Building a new home is likely to be the largest single project you ever undertake and in that sense, it can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. All you need to bring the process back down to earth so you can sleep at night is to partner with the right building company.
In the GVA that company is Vancouver Home Builders. We understand a home is more than just the sum of its parts: it’s a part of you. As such you’ll want to make sure your dream home expresses your tastes and values and the only way to ensure that it to work with a company that listens.
Table of Contents
- 1 More than Just a General Contractor
- 2 Getting Started
- 3 Stage 1
- 4 Stage 2
- 5 Stage 3
- 6 Stage 4
- 7 Stage 5
- 8 Stage 6
- 9 Conclusion
More than Just a General Contractor
There are plenty of General Contractors out there who can help you build your own house. There aren’t many however who can help you realize your vision.
At VHB we measure our success by your satisfaction. We understand every nuance of the home building process including the price per square foot to build a house and have the knowledge and practical expertise at every level to make your dream a stunning reality.
Before you can build your own house you need land to build on. There are typically 2 options: either purchase a lot or build on an existing lot.
Whether you wind up purchasing a new lot or already have a lot that you either inherited or purchased at an earlier date we’ll go over the property with you to assess its relative strengths and weaknesses and determine how those characteristics may influence the design of your new home.
The Architect and Floor Plans
Once you have the land to build your own house you’ll need to have floorplans and elevations created that will put turn your vision into actionable data for the builder and all associated tradespeople.
At VHB we have decades of combined experience working with clients and understand how to squeeze every penny out of the price per square foot to build a house. Some architects won’t talk with you unless you relinquish total control to them.
That’s not us. We believe our job is to listen, respond, suggest, refine and listen some more until what emerges is a plan for the home you’ve always wanted.
You can’t build your own house until the proper building permits have been secured. Permits are granted by the relevant local authorities and are considered the only form of official permission that is acceptable before any type of construction begins.
Without proper permits construction can be suddenly and complete shut down by the city. Regardless of project size or how much it costs to build your house we’ll secure all the permits for you.
Once the lot is chosen, the plans are finalized and all necessary permits are secured the process of building can begin. The first step in the construction process is site preparation.
Unless there are extraordinary circumstances in play (like a house that will cling to a steep hillside for instance) site preparation typically entails using heavy equipment to clear rocks, trees, and debris from the future site of the house.
The ground is then leveled, small wooden stakes are driven that denote the outline of the foundation and excavation commences. A rough excavation of the basement is made and trenches are dug that will accommodate the foundation walls as well as holes to accommodate any pilings.
If there is to be a septic system this is when excavation is done for that as well.
When you build your own house you’ll need to decide between 3 main types of foundation: the full basement, the crawlspace, and the slab.
- Typical of homes in most northern climes the full basement has 4 inch thick walls and 8-foot ceilings. It has become increasingly popular for homeowners to ‘finish’ their full basements. Although we should note this will increase the price per square foot to build a house.
- Crawlspaces are something of a disappearing breed although you will still find them in new homes in parts of the American South. Crawl spaces are shallow with (as the name implies) just enough space between the foundation and ground floor for a person to crawl through.
- Foundation slabs are poured at grade and serve as the subfloor for the ground floor of the house. There is typically a shallow footing around the edge of the slab which absorbs the weight of the house. Slabs are fairly rare in Northern parts of North America as special frost-proofing is needed for them in such areas.
A waterproof coating is often applied to the outside of foundation walls in order to keep excess moisture at bay. In areas where the water table is high, a sump pump may need to be installed in the basement.
The frame is the home’s skeleton and is typically composed of wooden 2x4s and 2x6s. The exposed frame is something that will seem familiar as you build your own house.
That’s because framed houses are a common sight during the home building process. Once the frame (roof included) is complete it is then covered in plywood or OSB sheathing after which windows and exterior doors are hung.
Some contractors prefer to wait until the project is nearing completion before installing the finished driveway so that there is no chance it will be damaged by heavy equipment.
Others, however will pour a concrete driveway shortly after the foundation has set if most of the heavy equipment used to build your own house has exited the job site.
A masonry fireplace should be built out at this time before either exterior finishes are applied or interior roughs - including HVAC, plumbing and electrical - are installed.
Once the shell of the house - including the roof - is complete work begins to install the home’s mechanical systems.
- HVAC - Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts are installed in the walls. These will circulate warm or cool air throughout the house year round. The furnace is typically installed at this time as well.
- Plumbing - At the same time plumbers move in and install the pipes that will carry water to and from the kitchen and bathroom or bathrooms. Connections between the new house and sewer lines are also completed during this phase of construction and bathtub and/or shower stalls are put in place.
- Electrical - Once the HVAC technicians and plumbers have completed most of their work the electricians take over. They run wiring through the walls and install outlets, switches, breaker panels, lights and more. At the same time any telephone wires, TV cables and built in music systems (if applicable) are installed as well.
- Stairs - In multi-storey homes stairs are roughed in early in the process to allow contractors to move easily between floors. After all the HVAC, plumbing and electrical work is completed the stairs will be built out to their finished state.
Exterior Finish (house wrap)
On the outside of the house, work continues apace. In most instances today a “house wrap” is applied which, literally, wraps the entire exterior of the house in a protective coating that prevents air leaking through to the interior and wicks away moisture that might otherwise have penetrated the walls.
The wrap is applied from the bottom of the house upward in a shingle fashion to keep any moisture flowing downward. The final exterior wall surface is applied over the house wrap.
The garage is typically finished (as much as it will be “finished”) at this point and the overhead door installed. This helps seal the new home against the elements as the interior continues to take shape.
Insulation and Drywall
Once all mechanical and electrical infrastructure is complete insulation is installed in the walls to keep the home energy efficient.
The most common type of insulation used in homes is “blanket” insulation that comes in large rolls, although cellulose and sprayed foam are also popular. Alternative types of insulation include:
- slag wool
- foam board
- structured insulated panels
Once the insulation is in place the interior walls are covered in sheets of drywall onto which the final interior finishes will be applied.
If you have a masonry fireplace or fireplaces installed this would be the time to complete the interior stonework whether it be brick or some other type of stone.
Exterior Scratch Coat
If your home will have a masonry finish on the outside an underlayer of plaster called a “scratch coat” is applied at this time. This undercoating will help seal the wall against the elements and also help the final exterior coat - be it stucco or brick or whatever - to adhere to the exterior wall properly.
At this point, the house is really beginning to take shape and all that’s left are the finishing touches. These include:
- Lighting - Any lights that were not installed earlier by the electrician - most typically chandeliers, pendants and the like - are installed at this time.
- Cabinetry - Kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities are installed and finished at this time along with kitchen islands and countertops.
- Flooring - Depending on how much to build the house, hardwood floors, vinyl flooring or ceramic tile are installed at this point.
- Appliances - The stove, range hood and other appliances are installed now. In the bathroom mirrors and shower doors are also installed at this point.
- Wall finishes - One of the final finishing touches is the application of paint and/or wallpaper.
- Stucco - If your home will have a stucco finish on the exterior it is completed at this stage as well.
Decks and Patios
As craftsmen and women work inside to put the finishing touches on your new home others are working outside to lay the stonework for the patio and to build the backyard deck that will become such a central element of your home’s social life.
Further afield the landscapers have now moved in and are smoothing out all the rough patches left from the grading and construction work.
The lawn, flowerbeds, and shrubs are all planted. Landscape elements like masonry walls are finished in concert with the patio and the finishing touches put on walkways.
The final walkthrough is an exciting experience where you get to finally say “hello” to your new home. VHB will walk you through the house one room at a time and acquaint you with its various features.
They’ll point out how those things that were of particular interest to you during the planning phase have been integrated into the final design and explain what you’ll need to do to keep everything looking and working right.
But don’t forget to keep your eyes open, because if there is anything which raises a red flag this will be the time to bring it up.
You know how much it cost to build the house so flip all the light switches, examine the countertops, open and close cabinet doors, take notes and ask questions. Make sure that by the time the walkthrough is complete you are completely satisfied.
Move in and Decorate
All that’s left to do now is to move into your beautiful new home and begin decorating.
Being able to build your own house is perhaps the most rewarding experience you will have apart from raising your kids. When you partner with Vancouver Home Builders the process will be short of the stress and uncertainty that comes with trying to handle everything yourself.
If you have questions about how much to build a house, the price per square foot to build a house or anything else related to home building give us a call and talk to one of our experts.
We’re Vancouver's most experienced and trusted home builders and can provide you with a home that will be a continual source of comfort, safety, and pride for many years to come.