Home Construction 101

Home Construction 101Main level interior of single family new home in Medina MN

Suppose you consider the possibility of new home construction in the Minneapolis Metro area of Minnesota. In that case, an excellent place to start is to understand the process of building a new home. Here is a synopsis of what you need to know to become fluent in new home construction. This information is specifically written for the Twin Cities Metro area of MN. Still, it can also serve as a great source of information for building a new home in all of Minnesota.

Home Construction Basics for the Twin Cities Metro

Knowing how a house is built is essential to consider custom buildings in the Minneapolis and St. Paul Metro. But even if you are planning to buy a spec or tract home, it never hurts to educate yourself on the fundamentals of the process. Knowing how things work is always wise. In addition to online education, it is good to speak with a Realtor who is also a new home construction specialist in the Western Suburbs of the Twin Cities.

Home Building Team

Two cartoon figures putting a block house together

It may not take a village to build a house, but it does take a team. Other than the Real Estate Agent, the major players in new home construction are the developer (home in a subdivision), the architect, the builder, the design consultant, contractors, and building inspectors. When the new construction team works well together, things can go smoothly. However, mistakes can easily disrupt the home-building process if this team has a weak link. Before your MN home builder begins construction, they must obtain permits from the City you are building in. These home building permits will cover everything from the type of home you will create, the site's contour, septic system if required, digging a well if you do not have city or town water, construction of the home, plumbing, etc. electrical systems. You must also make sure you are not violating any zoning laws.

Preparing the House Lot

Once the permits are approved, and the lot has been engineered correctly, the real fun can begin. In the Twin Cities Metro, an excavation crew will usually come in with equipment like bulldozers and backhoes to clear the site's trees, rocks, and debris. The team then levels the site and establishes the template for the foundation. If the house is to have a basement, like most Twin Cities homes do, they dig the hole at this time. Now is also the time to drill a well if no public water supply is available.

The Foundation

The foundation team builds the footings and forms for the basement. They usually pour the concrete to make the foundation walls. If the home is going is to have a concrete slab, the crew pours the footings, puts in utility runs, and then pours the slab. Then we wait while the concrete cures, after which the team waterproofs the foundation walls and installs any necessary plumbing, think sewer, drains, and water taps. In Minnesota, an inspection is generally required before proceeding to the next step.

Framing the House

The skeleton and bones of a home are the frames. The framing crew begins their part of the work. Using pressure-treated lumber, they build a sill plate onto the foundation or crawl space to hold the framework for the floor. Upon that base, the crew constructs the walls and roof framework. Then, plywood or OSB sheathing is applied to the roof and exterior wall, followed by house wrap, which decreases the chance of mold or rot. This step is complete with the hanging of the exterior doors and the installation of the windows. When the framing is finished, it's time for another inspection.

Plumbing, Roofing, Siding

Now that the home's shell is enclosed, it is time for putting in the network of pipes for the plumbing system. Pipes are run through the walls, ceilings, and floors. The plumbing crew connects water supply lines, vents, sewer lines and installs bathtubs and showers. It is also time to place the HVAC ductwork and roof vents. At the same time, the outside crew can apply the exterior siding. Once the roof vents are in, another team can install the roof. The house is "dry-in," meaning it is secure from rain, snow, and wind. Once the home is protected from Minnesota weather, water-sensitive materials can begin.

Electrical

It's time to call in the electricians to wire the house and install receptacles for the lights and switches. Wiring will run from each to the breaker panel. Any installations for TV, alarms, phones, music systems, or innovative home applications will also occur at the time. Before you move to the next step, both the plumbing and electrical systems will need to get the approval of the municipal inspector to make sure it is compliant with building codes.

Insulation

We are at the point where the building crew will insulate the outside walls, attic, and floors. One of the vital components to making a home comfortable and energy-efficient is insulation. To save money on utilities, we must pay attention to the r-value of the insulation we install, which directly relates to how well the material resists heat transfer. R-value recommendations for new construction range from R-13 to R-31 for outside walls, R-11 or R-25 for floors, and R-30, R-38, and R49 for attics and ceilings, depending on the climate. Blanket-style insulation that comes in rolls is the most common type used in new homes today. Usually, it is made from fiberglass but also available made from mineral wool, plastic fibers, or even natural materials like sheep's wool and cotton. Another insulation often used is blown-in, made from fiberglass, cellulose, and mineral wool. Another option for insulating is liquid foam, which you can spray on. The advantage of this type of insulation is that it has two times the R-value per square inch of fiberglass batting, fills up small holes, and is an effective air barrier. The reason it is not more commonly used is the cost. Fiberglass costs about $0.45 per square foot compared with $3.50 for liquid foam. Although the latter is significantly more expensive at the onset, it can pay for itself in future energy savings.

Drywalling Inside and Exterior Finishes Outside

Now it's time to start on the inside finishes. The plasterboard is the material we install to create the walls and ceilings of the home. Once hung, the drywall crew will fill fastener holes, apply a tape joint, and follow up with a taping compound. Next, they sand and finish off with a skimcoat and a coat of paint primer. At this time, decorative finishes like brick or stone are installed on the house's exterior. It would be completed if the siding weren't done when the roof was applied.

Interior Trim, Millwork, and Cabinetry

Now the fun begins! Carpenters install the trim, window sills, baseboard, door casings, hang the interior doors and kitchen cabinets. Decorative woodwork is added as well as fireplace mantels and stair balusters. It's also time to install the bathroom vanities and finish the walls with paint and wallpaper.

Driveway, Walks, Porches, and Decks

Driveways and walkways are completed. At the same time, the interior finish work is ongoing; outside crews install driveways and walks. They finish exterior work like porches or decks and hang exterior light fixtures.

The Final Finishing Touches

Inside: Our house is nearly complete now. Inside we lay the floors, install the countertops and ceramic tile, hang light fixtures, mirrors, and shower doors, install the toilets and faucets.

Outside: The grading is finished, and the area around the home is prepared for the lawn. Grass, shrubs, trees are planted.

Before you can move into your new home, an inspector from the building department does a final inspection. Suppose all trade permits have been finalized and issued a certificate of occupancy. 

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