Armchair Builder

Build My New Home in 90 Days?

Photo by Akshay Dewan

Photo by Akshay Dewan

One of the most common questions I get as a builder is…when can I move inCan you build my new home in 90 days?  The truth is that it really depends on you and mother nature.  I recently finished a 4500 square foot custom home in three months.  Of course I stopped by the project at least once a day and all of the trades were waiting at home for me to call when I needed them.  If you are an owner-builder with a day job, a more realistic time frame for building the average American home might be six months.  However, there are a whole bunch of ways for you to build your home more quickly.  Let’s explore some of these ideas.

Owner-Builder Learning Curve – Most tasks take longer when you are learning as you go.  I’ll never forget when I first learned to sail.  It took me an hour to get the boat ready.  An experienced sailor could be ready in five minutes.  So as an owner-builder, figure in additional time into your schedule.  You may want to hire a builder consultant or friend in the residential building business to help expedite your schedule.  Check out this video to find out what a builder consultant can do for you.

Subcontractor Availability – When the building boom was in full force, it was a struggle to find enough good quality trades to get the homes built.  Now, you can take your pick and they typically show up per your schedule (not always, but most of the time).  As an owner-builder, you will have less influence on the trades than a builder would have that gives them regular work…this may add a few days to your schedule.  By choosing the right subcontractors, you will save yourself both time and frustration.

Changes/Selections – If you know exactly what you want in your new project up front (most people don’t by the way) you will save a great deal of time.  I helped a guy put an addition on his home and he wanted to make every product selection when the product was needed.  This is VERY time consuming because most products have to be ordered well in advance.  The addition took 12 months to build;  it could have been finished in under three months if he had just planned ahead.  Changes will also slow the process down due to plan redraws, building department reviews, bidding out to trades…etc.

Mother Nature -The best builders are in complete control of the schedule…except for the weather.  As I tell my clients, if I could control the weather, I probably wouldn’t be available to build your home (I’d be spending my time in Vegas.)   The good news is…the unknown weather factor goes away once the house is under roof.

Product Choices – One of my friends just built a home with all the latest in green building technology.  It took a year to complete.  Keep in mind, trade contractors typically have a certain way of doing things in your part of the country.  Trying to get them to take on alternative methods or products can be a challenge to say the least.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “But we’ve always done it this way.”  Even if the product is faster and easier to install, if it’s new to the people installing it, it will probably take extra time.  However, you don’t have to sacrifice just because of your schedule.  That’s one of the great things about building it yourself.  You get to decide what you build and when you build it!  Work hard to find the subcontractors that have experience with the types of products and materials you want to use.

Scheduling – Every project, no matter how small, should have a written schedule.  This helps communicate to everyone involved your expectations.  The builder that is organized usually gets taken care of first.  So, make sure you create a schedule and send it out to your subcontractors every week.  Your schedule also puts pressure on the subcontractors to keep from being the weakest link.  The good companies take pride in completing work on time and their reputation depends on it.  For more details on how to shorten your project’s timeline, go to this video we created on scheduling.

Do you have any methods for speeding up the building process?  Please share with us.

Foundation Schedule

Foundation Schedule for New Home

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3 Comments for Build My New Home in 90 Days?

Ryan Carpico | October 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Great post Mike. Construction schedules for a new home, or major renovation or addition, can obviously vary greatly, but the four to six month timeline is going to be the average for most projects. I would emphasize the importance of comprehensive planning for an efficient construction schedule. Complete construction drawings aid in getting solid subcontractor commitments, as well as allow for materials and products to be ordered well in advance of their need on the job site. While storage of materials can be a hassle, it’s better to have them on hand well in advance than to have to delay the project for days, or even weeks, because they aren’t available for installation. One delay can often cause a domino effect on subcontractor schedules. The wild card though is always mother nature.

Author comment by armchairbuilder | October 18, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Thanks for the comments Ryan. Good stuff. It’s so true that you need to put the time into deciding what you want and order it based on each supplier’s lead times.

Amelia | October 21, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Heckuva good job. I sure apperciate it.