If you watch the construction of a house, you will learn there are several stages in the building process. In layman’s terms: first you might see the ground being moved around, then there might be concrete blocks all around the perimeter of what looks like the location of the home. Soon you will notice pipes sticking out of the ground. A little farther along in the process some really big wooden triangles will be delivered to the property.
Before any of these physical changes occur, there is an unseen first step: the purchase of the land. The State of Florida has a contract to use for this type of purchase, the Vacant Land Contract. During the due diligence time period, if the property purchased is not part of a new home builder approved sub-divided parcel of land project, then several specialists should be consulted. Some of these specialists include local zoning officials, environmental engineers, architects, and local permitting officials. In this course we will not go any further into this area of raw land development. For the sake of simplicity, the home construction we are discussing has already been approved and is being completed by a reputable home builder in your local area.
The vast majority of American homes are built using completely standardized building practices. One reason for this consistency is a set of uniform building codes that apply across the country. Another reason is cost—the techniques used to build homes produce reliable housing, quickly, and at a low cost (relatively speaking). Many of these steps are performed by independent crews known as subcontractors. For example, framing is generally done by one subcontractor while the roofing is done by a completely different subcontractor. Each subcontractor has specialized knowledge and skills and is an independent business. All of the subcontractors are coordinated by a contractor who oversees the job and is responsible for completing the house on time and on budget. Electricians are another example of a type of subcontractor.
The two main processes that take place before any building can begin are:
1. Grading and site preparation.
This may involve “two crews in one” unless there are a lot of trees or vegetation on the site, necessitating a separate crew to clear the land. Bulldozers and backhoes are brought onto the site and clearing begins. The property has already been surveyed and trees that are to remain are marked. The main objective for this crew is to level the ground. On occasion fill dirt may be used to raise the building level before the foundation is poured.
2. Foundation construction.
Once the site has been cleared and leveled, wooden forms are built to serve as the template for the foundation. Every home has a foundation—either slab, crawl space, basement, or in coastal areas, posts. Footings (structures where the house interfaces with the earth that supports it) are installed. If the home is going to have a well, it will be dug at this point. If the home has a full basement, the hole is dug, and the footings are formed and poured, plus the foundation walls are formed and poured. If it’s slab-on-grade, the footings are dug, formed, and poured; the area between them is leveled and fitted with utility runs (plumbing drains and electrical chases); and then the slab is poured. Once concrete is poured into the holes and trenches, it will need time to cure. During this period, there will be no activity on the construction site.
Inspection before Moving Forward
When the curing process is complete, a county or city inspector visits the site to make sure foundation components are up to code and installed properly. If you have seen homes with a lot of cracks on the outside walls, one of the reason may be that the concrete poured met the curing code time frame, but could have cured longer to help ensure against multiple cracks in the future.
The skeleton of the house is now constructed. Lumber—particularly 2x4s, plywood, and OSB (oriented strand board) are the main materials used throughout the framing process of home construction. There is also a protective barrier material known as a house wrap that is used to decrease mold-causing moisture. If the home is a concrete block home, the outside walls will be formed using concrete blocks and a masonry crew will be on site. Inside the walls of the home, 2x4s are placed on 16” centers. The middle of one 2x4 is exactly 16” away from the center of the next 2x4.
The term elevation in the housing industry has a dual meaning. Typically, when one hears the word elevation they automatically think about sea level and flood zones. When discussing the architectural design of homes, elevation has a different meaning—the outward appearance of the home. Several homes within a planned community may have the same under-air interior layout; however there may be a difference in their outward appearance, or elevation. To create the difference between the homes, roof designs, window placement, and outside wall materials used may vary.
Installation of Windows and Doors
Special reinforcement and construction regulations are followed when framing doors and windows. This process gives the walls above the doors and windows enough strength to withstand the weight of the roof. A 2x10 “header” or beam is constructed to provide the necessary support.
Trusses are used for roof framing. They are a framework of pre-fabricated, triangular wooden structures used to support the roof. Strong and designed to span large distances, trusses distribute the weight of the roof to the outside walls. To install trusses the contractor will require a crane. The trusses will be attached to the walls with metal plates. Aluminum flashing is used to keep water away from the walls at the point where shingles touch the walls. Leaks are commonly caused by improper flashing. Once the trusses are up, the roof is covered in plywood or Oriented Strand Board (OSB). The selected covering of the roof is then applied. The most common selection is asphalt shingles. There are different grades and styles of asphalt shingles. Tile is also another selective covering along with metal, all of which have a variety of styles to choose from. With all roofs, a form of venting must occur; ridge vents are common.
The type of roof construction chosen can significantly affect the cost of homeowners’ insurance. A hip roof and a gable roof are two of the most popular chosen roof construction styles. Typically, a hip roof withstands higher winds better than a gable roof; therefore insurance premiums on homes with similar square footage built in the same year may be higher for the gable roof than the hip roof construction. This concept is especially important to remember when showing older resale homes.
Stucco Exterrior
Traditional stucco is simply a variety of concrete, applied in several layers to create a strong bond to the wall. Stucco is popular for many reasons, including its low cost, earthquake resistance, and breathability in humid climates. This article covers exterior stucco applications over a wooden or steel framework, or over a solid cement block wall.

Stucco is a Portland cement-based plaster material that is most often used as an exterior wall finish. It is often applied to Spanish- or Mediterranean-style homes. Color pigments can be added to the plaster mix before it is applied, or it can be painted after application. Part of stucco's charm is that it can be textured in a variety of ways to create unique and beautiful patterns on a home's exterior.
Rough Electrical
The purpose of this crew is to establish safe electrical service to every room in the home. All boxes for electrical switches, outlets, and lights are placed throughout the home according to a predetermined set of plans. The electrical panel is installed and then all wires are distributed throughout the home. Normally the wires travel throughout the attic and between the walls. All wires are clipped and capped.
Rough Plumbing
Rough plumbing involves installation of all water lines, sewer lines, (you will have sewer lines even if you have a septic system), bathtubs, and ventilation systems. All the separate sewer lines will join one main line and be connected to either a septic or sewer system for the home. All separate water lines will join one main water line and be connected to either a well or public water service.
Rough HVAC
Before the drywall process begins, it is good practice to install all the ducting and ventilation systems for the heating and cooling system of the home. There are two parts to the system. The air handler normally is located inside the home in a closet, attic, or garage (as our friend we mentioned earlier in the course discovered!), and the compressor is found outside the home mounted to a concrete pad. The purpose of an air handler is to move the air. All air handlers require a return duct where the HVAC filter is located. This filter should be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis otherwise the system becomes less efficient. Inside the air handler there are evaporator coils, which remove the heat and humidity from the air passing through the system. The compressor/condenser is the motor part or heart of the system. It changes chemicals (refrigerant) from a gas to a liquid and then into a lowpressure mist.
Inspections before Moving Forward
Rough framing, plumbing, and electrical and mechanical systems are inspected for compliance with building codes. More than likely, these will be three different inspections.
The purpose of insulation is to lower the heating and cooling costs for the house by limiting heat transfer through the walls and the ceiling. The insulation process starts by installing foam channels in the eaves. These channels guarantee that air will be able to flow from the soffit vents to the ridge vents. Without these channels, insulation tends to expand into the eaves and block the soffit vents. The house we are building in this course uses standard fiberglass insulation throughout. All insulation has a thin plastic barrier called a vapor barrier. This vapor barrier is designed to protect the insulation from natural moisture due to weather.
This is the process where a home starts looking like a home. The interior walls are formed and rooms actually become rooms. Drywall is plasterboard, commonly called sheetrock. It is a half-inch layer of plaster or gypsum sandwiched between two thick sheets of paper. It is remarkably solid, and also remarkably heavy. Each sheet measures four feet wide by twelve feet high and weighs around fifty pounds. In one day the dry wall crew will install all the drywall and then return the next day to tape. Taping (or mudding) the drywall means to cover all of the cracks and nails with drywall mud (spackling compound) so that the walls are completely smooth. A primer coat of paint will then be applied.
From this point forward detailed finishes are applied to all the stages done previously. Soffit and Fascia 6 Module 4
1. Trim. Detailed trim work is crafted at this stage: baseboards, moldings.
2. Painting. During this detailed stage all walls and moldings are painted. If wallpaper is to be installed it is completed also.
3. Finish electrical. The electrician will return and install all light fixtures, switches, wall outlets, and cover plates.
4. Bathroom and kitchen counters and cabinets. All the cabinetry and countertops are installed.
5. Finish plumbing. Once the cabinets are in, the plumber will return and install sinks, toilets, and faucets. If the water heater was not installed during the rough plumbing stage, then it will be installed now.
6. Carpet and flooring. All chosen flooring is installed.
7. Finish HVAC.
8. Hookup to water main or well.
9. Hookup to sewer or septic system.
10. Punch list. At this point, the general contractor inspects the house, noting any problems. All problems are noted on what is called a punch list. The different sub-contractors return to fix any issue discovered during the inspection.
A building-code official completes a final inspection and issues a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). If any defects are found during this inspection, a follow-up inspection may be scheduled to ensure that they have been corrected. Throughout the process of building a home, various county inspections are conducted to maintain building codes and quality. These codes and regulations are for safety.