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
PREPARING FOR CONSTRUCTION OF
The two main processes that take place before any
building can begin are:
1. Grading and site preparation.
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.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE HOME
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
are followed when
framing doors and
windows. This process
gives the walls
above the doors and
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
is asphalt shingles.
There are different
grades and styles
of asphalt shingles.
Tile is also another
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
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.
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 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.
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
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
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:
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
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
6. Carpet and flooring. All chosen flooring is
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.