When’s the best time of year to hire a home building contractor?

If the daffodil shoots are peeking up in the garden, and the first songbirds are returning from the south, you may already be late in hiring a home builder…if you want to be sure you’ll move into your new place the same year.

By February, home construction contractors are already entering their busy season.  This is especially true during housing booms. And Central Oregon is again one of the nation’s hottest housing markets.  According to the National Association of Home Builders, single-family home building permits in the Bend metro area were up 28 percent from February 2014 to February 2015.

Here’s How

If 2016 is the year for your dream home, get together with a contractor when the days start getting shorter. Here are three reasons you’ll be ahead of the game by starting the planning on your new home or remodel in the fall.

  1. Get more attention from your home builder. With less daylight in autumn, contractors typically have more time to devote to planning and design work.  They’re spending fewer hours on construction sites than they do during longer spring and summer days.
    This means your contractor is more likely to give more personalized service on all the choices involved in a new home or update, like suggestions on paint colors, design elements and fixtures.
  2. Avoid higher costs and potential delays. Historically, the construction time frame in Central Oregon begins in March and ends in October.   There will be added costs for heating and power for homes built outside these months, even for the work that’s done after the roof goes on.  Possible delays from factors outside your contractor’s control need to be considered.
    For example, it’s difficult to impossible to put in a foundation when the ground is frozen or it’s too wet outside. Here, it’s generally March when periods of extended freezing are safely behind us for the winter.  Lumber has to be at certain moisture level; if it’s not dry enough…is when you get issues like mold.
    Dry wall can be installed, but it takes longer to dry than when the ambient temperature is helping the drying process along.  Dry walling in summer typically takes eight days, while in winter it can be up to 20.  Then there are utilities to consider. Electricity and gas have to be up and running to heat the house; if installers are backed up by high demand, you may have to wait.
  3. Assure a fall move-in date. An entry-level home build should take three to six months, start to finish.  So a spring start is generally adequate for getting the work done before winter.
    But when there is high-volume building activity in the region, it’s wise to get on a contractor’s list well in advance. This is especially true for those who have to be into a new home in time for back-to-school.
    Here’s an example of a typical time frame for new home construction for Clarity Builders.  If you don’t own a lot yet, or don’t have a firm idea of what you want in your new home, factor in additional time for your home build.

    • Planning – two to eight weeks. The client buys a plan they like from the web.  We often engage a designer to customize it with the client’s ideas, elements from other designs, or recommendations that we’ve seen work well.  Typical tweaks are modifying room dimensions, adding more closets, making stairs straight versus turn, or changing a bedroom to a home office.  For retirees, common changes are omitting a soaking tub, eliminating steps or widening doors for greater accessibility and aging in place.
    • Engineering – X to X weeks. Once the home design is set in stone, we have it reviewed by an engineer.  Internet home plans may say they include engineering, but often they are not engineered for a specific area.  It’s critically important for the truss design and site plan to be properly engineered.
    • Permitting – six to ten weeks. The time required to obtain the proper permits from the city or county varies widely, depending on how busy the building permit staff is.  When are they most backlogged?  You guessed it: during the warm months.
    • Construction – X to X weeks. We can generally get the job done—from digging the foundation to completing the final punch list—in this timeframe.

The bottom line: plan well ahead for new home builds and remodels. In the current go-go home building climate, it will likely take your contractor a bit more time to find the lot you want and negotiate all the groundwork.

Image by Jim Patrick

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