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how long does it take to build a home


At some point in your journey to get a new home, you’ll think about the question ‘how long does it take to build a home’. But when you start searching for answers to this question, it can be like asking how long a piece of string is. And the real answer is that it all depends. Depends on what? you say. Ok, let’s run through it in this blog to give you a better understanding of how long it really does take to build a home.


To make it easier to understand, we’ve split the question into two categories – there’s pre-construction (the time before the build actually starts) and then construction (the actual build time, where the rubber hits the road).


In each of these two phases, there are three influencers that affect how long things take. These are the home itself – the size, inclusions, and all the various intricacies of a home that’s been tailored to suit you – and the site. The next influencer is the external factors – things that you can’t do anything about. And then lastly, the internal factors – things that you or the builder are in control of.


Let’s focus the magnifying glass down onto each of these areas, because when you understand the detail then you’ll really understand the impact on the overall build time.


Pre-Construction Phase

Think about the pre-construction period first. Imagine that you’ve given the order to the builder, and then the whole process starts off by getting the site inspected; plans drawn; permits obtained; colours chosen; costings completed; engineering certified; insurance issued, finance approved and contracts prepared, just to name a few.


When you look at the process in a simple way like this, it seems fairly straightforward, but what about if you start considering how some of the influencers might impact on the timing of the process?


Start with the external factors – what would happen if the site wasn’t able to be inspected due to bad weather? What if the council had staffing problems and delayed the issue of the permit? Or the council changed their policies and the whole application had to be revised? Or the architect was on personal leave for 2 months and wasn’t able to complete the plans? Or the banks were being affected by a royal commission and delayed the approval process – or even refused your application outright?


If you were able to list everything imaginable influencer out, it would be very extensive, and it really is a matter of the whole process taking a few weeks to actually taking a couple of years. That might sound extreme, but we’ve seen it with our own eyes – it actually happens!


Then consider the internal factors. What if the builders schedule didn’t allow them to inspect your site for a few weeks? What if you couldn’t get leave at the right time to attend the colour selection to choose the colours and the colour selection process was delayed by a few weeks? What if your extended family got involved in the decision making process of finalising the house design and you just couldn’t arrive at a firm decision for ages? What about if you didn’t have the time straight away to find all of the information the bank needed for your loan application?


We’ve witnessed many people say at the start that they’d push things along quickly so they didn’t hold anything up, but when the time actually came they stalled for a whole host of reasons and added many weeks onto the process.


Then there’s the home and the site. A smaller very simple home with basic inclusions could fly through the plan drawing process, and be costed very quickly, and might not even need any engineering. But on the flip side, a larger home with complex designs and extensive inclusions could really add substantial time onto the process. The old adage Size Matters certainly comes into play here.


Now fast-forward to the construction period. The same three categories of influencers apply, but in different ways.


Construction Phase

Weather is an obvious external factor that can dramatically affect the duration. Wet weather is a commonly known factor, but not as well-known is the serious hot weather to the extent of no work happening at all because of fire-ban days.


And then there’s things like the Covid19 pandemic that put the brakes on everything – no one could do anything about it – it was entirely an external factor. Or it could be political upheaval. And the state of the marketplace can have a significant impact on things – in a busy market, trades may be more difficult to find, or the availability of materials may be limited.


Internal factors in the construction period more relate to the builder, not necessarily you. The length of time taken to build the home will significantly vary from builder to builder as a result of many internal factors. It could be whether they run a tight schedule or a relaxed schedule, depending on their policies. It could depend on whether they like to have large contractor teams or one-man-bands. It could be their supply agreements that are affected by different logistics. Their internal processes may be based on a stop-start schedule rather than overlapping tasks.


So much of it will all come down to the individual members of a building company and how they like to run things to get the best outcome that works for them and their customer.


And of course, the home itself, once again. Not much needs to be said about this as it’s a very obvious factor – in principle, the bigger the home, the longer it will take to build. And the more complex it is, the more time will be needed to bring it all together. Of course, the systems and methods employed by one builder may be so different that they can build a much bigger and more complicated home in half the time another builder takes to build a basic one.


It all depends!


At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong length of time to build a home. There are examples in the USA of incredible teams building a home in a day or two (although the planning took years!) and then we see homes that take a number of years to complete.


The length of time to build a home may be important in certain situations, but in the long-run, it’s quality that counts, and the key thing is to work with your builder to gain an understanding of their particular processes, and then consider some of the obvious external factors that may swing a lefty at you, and then make an informed decision on whether the estimated length of time works for you.


But it would be cruel of us not to give you some sort of an answer that you can work on, so here’s some guidelines to work on based on our experience.

  • Pre-Construction Phase
    • Without a planning permit needed – 2 to 4 month
    •  Planning permit needed – 4 to 7 months
    • Extensive size and or complexity – add 1 month to the above
  • Then add the following time for the Construction Phase
    • Smaller, basic homes – 3 – 5 month
    • Medium size homes – 4 – 7 months
    • Larger homes – 5 – 10 months
    • Add an extra month for land on rural properties that require extensive site services and earthworks


These are obviously only a guide and many things will need to be taken into consideration to get a more accurate duration, but using the above guide, a small basic home on a residential block that doesn’t need a planning permit could take as little as 5 months from start to finish – impressive! But on the other side of the coin, if your land is rural and needs a planning permit, and you’re planning on a large home with extensive inclusions, then it could be up to 19 months before you’re moving in. But in the overall scheme that’s still ok – it’s just a matter of being prepared for it at the start.


As always, planning ahead will make things go so much smoother for you.


Disclaimer. This blog is our opinion only. The information provided in our blogs is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. The information presented in our blogs is for informational purposes only and we are not professionals, so the content we provide shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. We strongly recommend consulting with a professional before taking any sort of action. We reserve the right to change how we manage our blog and we may change the focus or content at any time.

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