Whether you have always dreamed of building a custom home in the Phoenix area, or it has become a better option than finding the right existing home, the custom home buiding process is exciting, but can also be stressful. Understanding the timeline of custom home building and selecting the right custom home builder can make building your dream custom home an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
How Long Does It Take to Build a Custom Home in Scottsdale AZ?
In our last series, we discussed some of the “hidden” costs of building a home in Scottsdale AZ. In this post, we will help provide guidance on what to expect in terms of the timeframe for building a custom home. Having a realistic understanding of how long it will take to build your custom home will help manage your expectations and hopefully make the process more enjoyable. Here at AFT Construction, we believe communication is one of the, if not the most, important aspect of the relationship between the client and home builder. The home builder you select should be upfront in setting a realistic build schedule instead of making promises regarding time for completion that cannot be met causing undue stress and conflict.
Just like the “hidden” costs we discussed in our previous posts, there is much more to consider regarding the timeframe of building a new custom home than simply the actual time for construction. There are several steps that need to be taken before you even get to the construction phase.
So how long does it take to build a new custom home? Well, the short answer is that it depends. There are many variables that go into building a custom home that can affect how long it takes to complete the build. We will discuss some of those variables as well as provide some estimates on how long certain phases of a new home build generally take. However, you should plan on the entire process from start to finish to take upwards of two years.
The timeline for a lot purchase in Scottsdale AZ, or anywhere in Phoenix, is one that is difficult to give a timeframe as it can take anywhere from a month to a number of years to find just the right lot. Factors such as availability of unbuilt lots in the area you want to build and how picky you want to be will play major roles in how long it takes to purchase your lot. Of course, the availability of lots in your price range will be a factor as well. Another factor is finding a lot that will fit the type and size of house you want to build. As you can see, there are several variables just in finding the right lot. You can read our previous blog on tips for finding the right lot to help you even more in this area.
While some people will hire an architect to design their home and then try to find a lot to fit their design, most people will acquire the lot and then hire an architect to design a home tailored to the lot. You should plan on the design phase taking at least 3 to 6 months and sometimes longer. Some of the Scottsdale communities have a stringent HOA design process that can extend the design timeline. It is always recommended that you meet with and interview a handful of architects and interior designers to find the right design team to execute your vision. How quickly you can coordinate these interviews and make this decision will influence how long the design phase will take. You can read our previous post for some tips on selecting an architect and interior designer to help you with this process.
Once you select the architect, the timeframe will often depend on how many revisions are required. Same goes for an interior designer. One way to reduce some time is to begin working with the interior designer as the architect is completing the drawings instead of waiting until the architectural drawings are complete. While the interior designer may not be able to compete final interior design plans until the architectural drawings are complete, you can begin to go over your likes and dislikes, what style you want to achieve, and begin looking at finishes. You may even be able to make some decisions such as the type of flooring even before architectural is complete.
Plan Review and Permitting
Perhaps as much as any other phase in a custom home build, plan review and permitting can be the most unpredictable in terms of how long it will take to compete. You are often at the mercy of how efficient the municipality is in performing the plan review and issuing permits. If your lot is located within a homeowners’ association, then most likely you will be subject to HOA plan review and approval in addition to the municipality, which can add additional time as well. Besides how fast the plan review can be completed, the other variable is how many revisions are required by the municipality and HOA. When selecting your architect and Scottsdale custom home builder, you should ask how much experience each of them have working with the municipality (and HOA) that your lot is located. An experienced architect and custom home builder will understand what the municipality will require during plan review and plan accordingly to expedite the process.
Bidding and Selecting a Custom Home Builder in Scottsdale
Selecting the right custom home builder in Scottsdale AZ, will be one of the most important, if not the most important, decisions you will make when building a home. As when selecting the architect and interior designer, you want to allow yourself ample time to meet with and interview custom home builders. As mentioned above, be sure to ask what each new home builder’s experience is with the municipality you are building in. For example, if you are looking for a Scottsdale home builder, ask what work the builder has previously done in Scottsdale. Make sure to look at their portfolio of previous projects and do not be afraid to ask for references of previous clients, ideally those clients who are located in the same municipality.
Ideally, the builder is hired from the beginning to work hand-in-hand with the architect and designer. This not only expedites the process but can also save you money by value engineering from the builder. Most clients feel that hiring one builder too early may limit them from the best price. Keep in mind that if you hire the right builder up front, they will save you money in the long run through design and preconstruction schedules. They can also work in your behalf to negotiate great pricing up front. If you decide to bid the project to multiple general contractors, remember, simply selecting the lowest bid may not be the best decision. While you can set expectations and deadlines for when you want to receive bids, a fair timeline for the bidding process is 3-6 weeks, depending on size and scope. Most builders will price the project while it is submitted to the city for permit. That way no time is lost.
Another important thing to remember is allowing for some time for contract review and negotiation with the home builder you select. A solid contract is a benefit to both the owner and home builder as it helps set expectations and an understanding what the owner will receive for the contract price. This process should take a couple weeks at the most and hopefully just a few days to a week.
Once you have contracted with your home builder of choice and the building permit has been issued, it is time to begin the actual construction. This starts with site/lot preparation. The amount of time for site preparation in Scottsdale will vary depending on the condition of the lot. A lot that has already been cleared and graded will require less time to begin construction versus a lot that has a lot of trees, vegetation, rocks, etc. that need to be cleared and graded. The topography of the lot is also a factor as a lot that begins fairly level will take less time to prep than a lot that has a lot of topographic variation. Additionally, the condition of the soil will impact the time as well. A lot that has poor soils or soils that require additional prep and compaction before the build can begin will add time to the project. Depending on the existing condition of the lot, site preparation will typically take anywhere from 1-4 weeks as long as no surprises arise such as a hard dig.
Once the site has been prepped, the actual construction of the custom home can begin. This process starts with the underground of any plumbing, electrical, and other utilities that are required prior to pouring the foundation. When the undergrounds are complete, then it is time to pour the foundation. The time for completing the foundation can vary depending on the type of foundation. For instance, if a post-tension foundation is used, extra time may be required to run the cabling. Generally, completing the plumbing, electrical, utilities, and pouring foundation will take roughly 1-3 weeks.
Once the foundation is complete and fully cured, the next phase of construction will be framing, which is where you start to see the walls of the home go up. Framing will also include the rough installation of windows and sheathing. Depending on the size of the home, framing takes roughly 12 weeks. Again, there are many variations that affect this time frame. A split-level or multi-story home can greatly increase the time frame. Access to the property can also hinder timeframes.
The next step is the installation of mechanical such as HVAC systems along with electrical, low-voltage wiring (cable, Internet, security system, speaker wiring, home automation, etc.), and plumbing. Once complete, the next phase is putting in the insulation and hanging drywall. Drywall is always an exciting stage as it is when you really start seeing the home take shape. Installation of the exterior finish (stucco, siding, etc.) will also occur during this time. The time to get from framing to drywall completion generally takes 10-16 weeks.
Once drywall is complete, the next phase consists of the installation of trim carpentry, lighting, interior finishes (flooring, tile, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, etc.), and finally paint. This phase generally 15-25 weeks.
The final phase will be finishing the exterior of the home including driveways, sidewalks, and landscaping. This final phase generally takes 4-6 weeks.
The timeframes provided above are general estimates. There are a number of variables that affect how long it takes to build your custom home. Examples include:
- Size and complexity of the home design – Common sense will tell you that the larger the home, the longer it will take to build. However, how complex the home design is can have just as much, if not more, impact on the timeframe than simply size of the home. A 2,500 square foot home that has a complex floor plan or a lot of custom details and finishes can take longer to build than a 6,000 square foot home with a simpler floor plan and standard finishes.
- Change orders – Changes to the plans during construction generally will add time to the build, especially those changes that require work to be redone.
- Delays – There are a number of ways a custom home build in scottsdale can be delayed. The most common are due to weather and waiting on the owner to make decisions. Delays may also be incurred for things such as delivery of materials.
- Inspections – One aspect of building a home in Arizona is the requirement of inspections. The municipality will require inspections at various stages of the project. Your home builder should be scheduling inspections in a timely manner but will be at the mercy of the inspector’s availability.
- Financing – Most people require a construction loan when building a new custom home. Construction cannot begin until the financing is in place, so it is important to be prepared and make sure you obtain your construction loan in a timely manner to ensure construction can being immediately upon obtaining the building permit.
As you can see, there are many factors and variables to consider when planning your new custom home in Scottsdale. Depending on the size and complexity of your home, you should plan on the entire process from beginning to end to take about 2 years. This includes roughly 6-9 months to complete the design and obtaining the building permit and another 8 months to over a year to complete the actual construction. Organization and preparedness will help ensure your custom home building project moves along in a timely manner. Selecting the right Scottsdale custom home builder can be a tremendous resource as you can lean on their experience. In addition, communication will between the owner, architect, interior designer, and home builder will be the key.