Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House

Written by robert c. young
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Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
A lot happens before the key is turned over. (house image by hans slegers from

Building a house requires carefully planning, scheduling and coordinating material deliveries and subcontractors. House construction is a step-by-step process, in which each step is dependent upon the prior steps having been correctly completed. A defect at any stage can cause problems with every step that follows. Poorly poured footings can cause excessive settling that cracks the foundation, which in turn disrupts the framing and prevents doors from closing properly. Follow the steps and local building codes to ensure a safe, stable, long-lasting house.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Concrete
  • Lumber
  • Decking
  • Doors and doorknobs
  • Windows
  • Roofing felt
  • Roofing shingles
  • PVC piping
  • Electrical wire
  • Telecommunications cabling
  • Insulation
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Light fixtures
  • Cabinetry
  • Finish flooring materials

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  1. 1

    Clear the building area of all brush, trees and debris. Have a surveyor locate the house's corners. Lay out a chalk outline of the house's perimeter.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    Clear, flat lots are best for new construction. (Front End Loader Bucket image by Chuck Alexander from
  2. 2

    Dig footing according to the house plans and foundation type. Lay plumbing drain lines for a slab foundation. Set rebar and concrete forms for a poured concrete wall foundation. Dig perimeter and pier footings for a crawl space. Set temporary power pole.

  3. 3

    Pour concrete for your foundation and insert anchor straps or bolts in the wet concrete. Allow concrete to cure overnight. Build concrete block wall if you are building on a crawl space. Waterproof any wall section that will be below grade (covered by dirt) Your are ready to frame if you are using a slab or poured wall foundation.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    Slab foundations get you framing quickest. (Freshly Poured Cement on a Construction Site image by Empath from
  4. 4

    Lay out interior and exterior walls with chalk (slab). Frame basement exterior walls, first level flooring system and lay out interior and exterior walls (poured wall). Frame the floor system and lay out the walls with chalk (crawl space).

  5. 5

    Frame first-floor exterior walls and interior walls and brace them with bracing lumber. Frame second floor joists and second floor subfloor above the first floor if building a multistory house. Frame ceiling joists for a single-story house.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    Brace framing with diagonal boards. (New residential construction home framing. image by Andy Dean from
  6. 6

    Repeat wall framing for additional levels and nail wall sheathing to the exterior side of exterior wall studs. Frame roof rafters or set roof trusses after framing all levels. Nail decking to roof, lay roofing felt and lay roofing shingles.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    Roofing is a final framing step. (Construction Worker on the Roof image by steverts from
  7. 7

    Set windows and exterior doors. Install exterior door locks. Install exterior cladding--siding, brick or stone--and paint exterior, if necessary.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    Windows and doors secure the new house. (new house image by Jim Dubois from
  8. 8

    Install electrical, plumbing and heating/cooling system roughs. Get roughs and framing inspected by municipal building department. Insulate walls and hang and finish drywall.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    You are almost done. (drywall worker image by Sherri Camp from
  9. 9

    Hang interior doors. Lay baseboard, cabinets and other trim. Set plumbing, lighting and heating/cooling fixtures and get final systems inspections. Turn on permanent utilities. Insulate attic.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    Fixtures add personality. (bathroom image by Mikhail Olykainen from
  10. 10

    Grade and install landscaping. Pour concrete driveway. Call for final inspection and Certificate of Occupancy.

    Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Build a House
    Good landscaping adds curb appeal (new construction landscaping image by Photoeyes from

Tips and warnings

  • Pull all required permits before starting construction.
  • Footings, framing and systems all require inspections.
  • Order materials two days before they are needed.
  • Schedule workers and order supplies for the next phase two days before the prior phase is complete to minimise downtime.
  • Have electrical, plumbing and HVAC contractors work at the same time, in different parts of the house to save time.
  • Hold a small portion of all subs' final payment until you are completely satisfied with their work.
  • Hire overnight security. Construction sites are thief magnets.
  • Maintain OSHA safety standards at all times.

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