Congratulations on deciding to build your own home! One of the first decisions to make is when to build.
Unless you live in a part of the country where homes can be built year-round, you are not alone on that question.
Before you can narrow down the “when” question, it can be helpful to figure out how you will build your home. There are several options, which can each impact your timing question:
- Stick Build: A team of construction workers descends on your building lot, supplies are delivered, and your custom home is assembled from the ground up. With a stick build, you have to be concerned about weather factors, labor availability factors, and possible cost overruns.
- Modular Build: In this method, entire pieces are constructed in a factory environment, and then shipped to the building lot for final assembly. This is more of an assembly line process that does not allow for as much customization as a stick built home or a panel built home.
- Panel Built: With this home construction method, wooden walls and roof trusses are assembled in a factory and then shipped to the job site in segments. Houses are totally customized, and engineered efficiently.
What Time of Year is Best to Build a Custom Home?
This question is one that has a few different answers.
It all depends on the construction method used for your home.
Some builders may insist on only working during the traditional construction season (which starts in mid-April).
The impact of weather.
For stick building, weather conditions are a more important consideration than with panelized or modular construction. The framing process for a stick built home is slow. Wooden boards and beams are left exposed to the elements, sometimes for months. In the cold or rainy seasons, prolonged exposure to harsh weather conditions is damaging.
With panelized and modular construction, framing isn’t an issue whatsoever. In both methods, all elements of a custom home are made in a factory and arrive on-site ready to be put together. A panelized home can be made weather-tight in as little as three days.
Starting a project later in the construction season or in the middle of winter is also a concern for builders with their ability to actually complete work.
When taking on a project in the autumn, they’re concerned about running into the first snowfall -- there’s no guarantee of how far they’ll get on a project. And once the snow does arrive, it might seem nearly impossible to complete critical prep work, such as:
- Clearing/grading the site
- Installing a foundation
- Putting in utilities
The truth of the matter is outside of an active blizzard, you can complete site prep work during the winter, and yes, that does mean pour a concrete foundation when there’s snow on the ground. And with the right equipment, clearing/grading a site or installing utilities isn’t that much more difficult than it would be during the warmer months.
When Should I Begin Thinking About Building?
For all methods of building, planning may take over a year from start to finish. But the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be moving into your new home.
A custom home building project starts with finding a lot, negotiating a purchase price, and working out the financing. You then have to meet with an architect to design your home and obtain the necessary building permits from the local municipality. And all of that before construction even begins!
Of course, if you partner with a panelized builder, you save time and money by streamlining the process and not having to worry about separate architect considerations. It still, on average, takes 3-5 months to build on site -- so it’s important to get the ball rolling as soon as possible if you have a timeline you’d like to move in by.
If you choose to stick build, if you hit a streak of bad weather, or experience a labor shortage during the busy season, everything could go over schedule and you might even be stuck renting a place or living in a hotel until your project is completed.
You can take a lot of the guesswork out of the building process by having more components engineered and assembled in a controlled environment with a trusted builder, where outside factors are not a consideration.
Partner with an Organization Who Can Help You Craft Your Dream Home -- Any Time of Year
Bottom Line: Planning ahead is the most important. By being prepared, you’re able to move quickly and avoid delays or price increases from spikes in material costs.
Panelized building is a great process for creating the home of your dreams. The quick frame-in time allows your project to slide in at the end of the season, with greater labor availability. An ideal timeline is to have the foundation poured in early September, framing and exterior work completed in September and October, and finishing work done in December and January. But if that timeline doesn’t work, you haven’t missed the boat on building your custom home -- panelized construction allows for building all year long.
So you know when you want to build. Here are other things to consider; Download our Custom Home Building Checklist: