Published: Jul 24, 2019 | Updated: Feb 26, 2020

How Long Does Building a House Typically Take?

When you are planning to build a home, a bit of patience is necessary, but the reward of having exactly what you want makes it all worthwhile.

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We would all love for the process of building a new house to be practically instantaneous, but the reality is that home construction takes time. When you are planning to build a home, a bit of patience is necessary, but the reward of having exactly what you want at the end of the process makes it all worthwhile.

In general, according to the US Census Bureau in 2018, most production houses in the US took about 4-6 months to build once building got started. Custom homes, on average, took about 10-16 months.

This doesn't include the time required to have an architect design your home. And it doesn't include time spent finding a lot or working out the details of the contract with the builder before work got started.

Of course, there are many factors that can impact this number. It's not a guarantee.

To get the most accurate estimate possible, please speak with your particular builder. Or if you plan to build in the greater Columbia, SC area, you are welcome to get in touch with us about your project. If we are your builder, we will be glad to give an estimate for your home's build time as we walk through the building process with you.


Let’s look at some of the issues that affect the time to build a new house:


Whether you have your lot already or not.

If you want to have a custom home built but you do not have a lot, this may cause a delay in your build time. Some builders will expect you to have a lot before you can get started on your project. Other builders may have lots you can purchase from them.

The size of the house.

It stands to reason that larger houses usually have a longer building timeline, as well as higher construction costs. Your home builder should be able to give you realistic estimations about how long your particular project should take and how the size of your project may impact the estimated time to completion. 

Permit turn-over time and inspection request wait time.

Building a dream home often involves numerous building permits. Some towns and counties are quite efficient with processing requests. Others may have a longer turn-over time. The more complex a project is, the longer it may take for the permitting to be approved, as well. 

Inspections must be done after each phase of building. Home builders request inspections in advance. Each permitting office has its own process and expected turn-around time. Expect that the wait time may be longer in busy seasons or if a project is particularly complicated.

The weather and geographical location of the home build.

There are some things that home builders can work on even in extreme heat, rain, ice, or cold. But many aspects of construction need specific weather conditions or the integrity and quality of the finished home could be compromised. 

There are variations in build times in different areas of the US, often due to climate patterns. If you are building in the South, you can expect your home to be finished several months sooner than if you are building in the Northeast where ice and snow tend to pose a much greater hindrance to construction. 

Other geographical differences in building times are related to rural vs. urban areas. If you are building way out in the country, expect about two additional months for your house to be finished than if you are building in an urban area. This can simply due to the supply of available construction workers and equipment in the area or the level of demand for services.

If you want to build your house in an extremely remote location that is difficult to access, like a private island or on top of a mountain without major roadways, this could also increase the time it takes to build your home.

During busy times like summer or after a major hurricane, flood, or other disaster in an area, it may be more difficult to find available workers. If there is a shortage of construction workers in an area during your house build, this can affect some home builders staffing abilities and may lengthen the time frame for your home builder to complete the job.

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The complexity of the home build. 

Simple house plans tend to move more quickly through the construction time line. With a production home, for example, builders use the same floor plans, products, and processes over and over again. This cookie cutter approach cuts down on costs and on time for building a house. It also cuts down on a buyer’s options and customization. 

A custom home builder may take a bit longer to finish your project because the home design is highly specialized and personalized. Complicated home plans often take longer to build. The payoff is that you will get to enjoy your exact dream home in the end.

The amount of work involved in preparing the lot.

It is possible that unforeseen problems could arise when crews are clearing the lot. Soil tests must meet certain requirements. Some areas have laws about tree removal for trees above a specific diameter that could be an issue. Excavation could expose unexpected springs or other land-form features that may cause plans to have to change. 

If you are having a basement excavated, this may add to the time involved in site preparation. The depth of bedrock, drainage issues after the rough grading, and whether you live in a geographical area that experiences significant winter freezing in the soil may impact the amount of time required to prepare your lot, as well.

How the home builder sets deadlines.

It is wise to choose a contractor who seeks to set firm deadlines and who strives to keep each milestone of the project on schedule with the building process. Issues will arise, of course, but if you have a home builder that tries to stick with the set schedule, you will be able to avoid any unnecessary delays. Verify a custom builder’s policy on handling deadlines and delays before hiring them to be sure you and the builder are on the same page.

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The number of decisions the customer makes before building a custom home. 

If you are able to make most of your decisions about home design, finishes, hardware, colors, and appliances before the building process begins, this will help keep the timeline moving along with minimal delays. It is probably impossible to make every decision in advance. But it’s important to realize that the more changes that have to be made after building begins, the more delays you can expect. Especially if the new choices require something to be torn down and redone, an extra inspection, a change in materials, or extra time for delivery of a special order.

Some factors in the time involved in building a home or custom home are out of a builder’s or buyer’s control but others can be managed wisely. This will help keep your wait to a minimum as you prepare to move into your amazing new dream home.

Looking for a Great Home Builder Near You in the Lexington, SC Area?

We take great pride in building custom homes and have over 100 custom homes under our belts. If you are looking for a luxury home builder (Columbia, SC area), Lee Blythe is a Certified Master Builder with 15 years of experience in the Midlands of South Carolina.

We build in areas including Blythewood, Forest Acres, downtown Columbia, West Columbia, Pinewood, Lexington, Irmo, Ballentine, Chapin, and more. We welcome your questions and would love to see if we might be a great fit for you to help turn your dream home into reality.

Contact us today and let’s get started!





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