A Step by Step Guide to Building your Home



Added by Housebuild

Over 2 years ago

Filed in New Build

Understanding the process of building a house step by step and knowing what to expect at the next stage is important throughout the build process. Whether you are planning on being hands on with the project or hiring others, it is always a good idea to keep up with the process of building your own house. It is especially important if you plan on a self build and are taking on the role of Project Manager, as you need to know what you and your team are doing.

We begin with the construction process, which is broken down into two parts - pre and post 'weathertight' or 'watertight' stage. A house is weathertight once the roof is on, walls are up, and the windows and doors are in and lockable. Size and complexity dependent, your project will look like a finished house in around 3-6 months.

Work then begins inside. This process can take longer as certain work cannot begin until other work is finished. For example, plasterers cannot begin work until the initial electrics are done. It is essential to have a schedule ready before work begins of who will be working when and have your tradespeople lined up for the correct times.

The typical timeframe from when you break ground to when you move in would be 6-12 months but could often take longer, especially with self builds. For a better vision of this process, we have a step-by-step guide to building your home:

1. Site Preparation

Once you've bought your site, the first stage is preparing it. You must clear any debris and vegetation and make sure you have facilities and services set up for the professionals.

Example of tasks to do at this stage include:

  • Create site access (hire groundworkers)
  • Clear site and strip vegetable soil; stacking material to be retained out of the way
  • Set up site hut and equip with drawings and safety equipment
  • Set up toilet
  • Secure a lock-up/lorry container (hired in or purchased)
  • Water board to bring supply to stopcock on boundary
  • Connect water standpipe (hire a plumber)
  • Mark out building on cleared site and transfer the lines to profiles well clear of any construction work (hire a surveyor)
  • Bring in bricks and blocks and stack clear of future construction
  • Set up mixer station close to cement store and sand heap

2. Laying the Foundation

The second step is to start laying your foundation. This can one of the most expensive parts of the project, therefore you must ensure you plan the foundation system you are using ahead of time, to keep within your budget and your schedule!

Once the most cost-effective scheme has been identified - usually via a geotechnical study, which involves digging holes around the plot - and your site is ready, you can go ahead and lay your foundations.

Tasks in this step:

  • Excavate foundations (groundworkers)
  • Wait for approval of building control and warranty inspectors
  • Position any reinforcement bars, mesh or cages in the trenches
  • Position any compressible material or slip membranes required within the trenches
  • Lay ducts for services to enter through the foundations
  • Arrange foot scaffold if necessary and shutter for any steps in the foundations
  • Pour concrete footings and tamp to level
  • Obtain approval from building/warranty inspectors to proceed
  • Build up foundation blockwork to damp-proof course (hire bricklayers)
  • Install cranked air vents
  • Install drainage exit lintels
  • Fill cavities with lean-mix concrete to level with external ground level
  • Bed and lay damp-proof courses, linking these with any radon membranes or barriers

3. Build the Superstructure

Beginning to build the superstructure is exciting as this is when your site starts to look like a building and it all starts to feel real.

Tasks for step three:

  • Dig service trenches and lay pipes and ducts to proposed stopcock/meter positions (groundworkers)
  • Load out concrete floor beams to each bay and position
  • Install drainage and vent pipes proud of the oversite
  • Infill floor beams with blocks
  • Lay coursing blocks and position ventilator grilles
  • Brush grout
  • Arrange for building control/warranty inspection
  • Commence building superstructure
  • Install templates for future windows and doors
  • First lift of scaffolding required
  • Continue superstructure brickwork and blockwork (bricklayers)
  • Install and bed lintels, including fireplace lintels
  • Install flue liners as work proceeds
  • Build in meter boxes for gas and electricity
  • Electrician to install temporary consumer unit within electricity meter box
  • Service suppliers to carry out their work to the boundary
  • Plumber to reroute water supply to stopcock position
  • Electricity providers to install meter and connect
  • Second scaffolding lift required
  • Arrange crane to lift first floor beams onto each bay and position (if required)
  • Position the plasterboard batten clips
  • Lay infill blocks

Building up to the Wallplate

  • Continue building superstructure to wallplate
  • Third and fourth lift of scaffolding 
  • Wallplate to be scarfed, bedded and tied down with proprietary wallplate straps
  • Warranty inspection is sometimes required
  • Build end trusses as templates (hire a carpenter)
  • Continue building up gable ends and chimney
  • Additional lifts of scaffolding required at the gable ends
  • Fit lead flashings, trays and skirts to chimney (plumber)
  • Install vent pipes and flashing skirts as they come through the roof (plumber)
  • Top out and fit chimney pot and point chimney flashing (bricklayers)

4. Building the Roof

Adding a roof to the structure really starts to bring the house together.

This is what must be done at this point:

  • Sling roof trusses, and fix trusses down to wallplate (carpenters)
  • Fix all binders and bracing at node points
  • Fix layboards to valleys
  • Construct dormers
  • Fix Fascia and soffit together with any necessary ventilation grilles or strips
  • Warranty inspection sometimes required
  • Any roof tanks must be installed

Adding the Roof Covering

  • Cut and lay undercloaking to the verges (hire roofers)
  • Felt and batten to do(roofers)
  • Lay tiles/slates
  • Lay and bed ridge/hip tiles
  • Lay valley tiles, fibreglass or lead valleys
  • Dress down flashings and skirtings (plumber)
  • Paint/stain fascias, soffits and barges (decorator)

5. Exterior and Interior Fittings Tasks

Once the superstructure is finished, the next step involves certain internal and external jobs, like window joinery and any stud wall partitions.

  • Fix guttering (plumbers)
  • Fit external joinery (Hire window suppliers)
  • Carry out any external rendering (plasterer)
  • Scaffolding must come down
  • Fit downpipes and connect to drainage (plumber)
  • Upstands/gullies
  • External decoration
  • Begin first fix by fitting door linings, building any studwork partitioning and fixing window boards (carpenter)
  • Fix plasterboard noggins and box in vent pipes and fix loft trap (carpenter)

6. First Fix

This step is the process of the electrical and plumbing runs being installed.

Tasks for the first fix are to:

  • Lay flooring membrane and insulation, tape all joints and seal the damp-proof course (plumber)
  • Lay and fix underfloor heating (UFH)
  • Lay all first fix plumbing for hot and cold and waste within floor zones
  • Install internal gas pipework
  • Bring UFH pipework to manifolds and outlet positions
  • Supply and fix company to pump in and lay level floor screed. Must leave for three days
  • Lay protective hardboard/ cardboard on screed
  • Fix carcass wiring for lighting and power circuits together with all backplates (hire an electrician)
  • Position consumer unit/units
  • Take wiring to external lighting points
  • Install TV aerial/satellite cables to required positions
  • Install internal telephone wiring to required positions
  • Install home entertainment/smart systems/alarms

7. Drainage & External Works

This step involves drainage runs, driveways and pathways.

Jobs to be done here are to: 

  • Begin digging the trenches for drainage runs (groundworkers)
  • Backfill trenches to 150mm with pea shingle
  • Lay drains to required falls
  • Construct brick/concrete section manholes or purpose-made manholes
  • Set rodding eyes and gullies in runs
  • Get laid drains approved by building inspector
  • Haunch drains over with pea shingle
  • Backfill drainage trenches
  • Connect to main sewer in road (done by approved contractors)
  • Finish boxings and noggings to get ready for plasterer (carpenter)
  • Commence driveways and pathways (groundworkers)
  • Build any fireplaces and hearths (bricklayer)
  • Install and connect the gas meter
  • Hire plumbers and electricians to liaise on all cross bonding and earthing

8. Prepare ceilings/dry lining

Step eight focuses mainly on the interior of your house. 

  • Staircases are to be fitted and protectively covered (carpenter)
  • Ceilings to be tacked (dryliners/plasterers)
  • All external and blockwork walls to be lined with plasterboard
  • All studwork walls and pipe boxings to be tacked with plasterboard
  • All joints and angles to be filled and scrim to be taped
  • All abutments of differential materials to be jointed with mesh
  • All joinery to be sealed internally and externally with mastic
  • Skim coat all walls and ceilings (dryliners/plasterers)
  • Backs of skirting and architraves to be painted (decorator)
  • Roofing insulation to be installed

9. Second Fix Carpentry

It's time in the schedule for the details to be added, such as architraves, skirting and flooring.

  • Carpenters hang internal doors
  • Skirting and architrave to be fitted by carpenters
  • Bottom tread of staircase to be fitted, balustrading and handrails to be fitted, as well as linen cupboard shelving
  • Fit of loft door and ladder
  • Timber floors to be laid by carpenters or specialists and protected
  • Ceramic floor tiles to be laid by specialist tilers and protected
  • Carpenters/specialist suppliers to fit/build built-in bedroom and bathroom furniture
  • Kitchen units to be fitted

10. Second Fix Electrics and Plumbing

This is when everything gets wired up and becomes connected:

  • All wiring connected to consumer unit is done
  • Boiler is positioned, plumbed and wired in
  • Sink units are plumbed in, earthed and cross bonded
  • All sanitaryware gets fitted and plumbed in
  • Radiators and towel rails get fitted and plumbed in
  • Underfloor heating loops get connected to manifolds
  • Check cross bonding and earthing to all sanitaryware, sinks, radiators, etc (electrician)
  • Boiler, control systems and room thermostats to be wired in
  • Fire up and commission boiler (plumber & electrician)
  • All pipework and connections flushed through and pressure tested
  • Central heating left on ‘test’

11. Decorating

Many people decide to take the work upon themselves at this stage as they have a vision for the interior of their home. Doing this is also a good idea if you have gone over budget. Others choose to continue working with professional designers and decorators to create their perfect home. If you are thinking of doing everything yourself, make sure you know what you're doing as you may end up having to hire a professional anyways to fix any mistakes, which will end up costing you extra.

Here's what needs to be done at this stage:

  • Worktops, made from the previously taken templates, need to be fitted
  • House must be thoroughly cleaned
  • Snag ant holes, blemishes or rough patches on wall
  • Sand internal timber smooth or rubbed down with wire wool
  • Internal timber also needs to be knotted, painted, primed, undercoated and top coat glazed, or internal timber to be two-coat stained
  • Paint all walls and ceilings, mist plus two coats of emulsion
  • Fix ceramic wall tiles to kitchen and utility (could hire specialist tilers)
  • Baths need to be filled, in order to settle, before tilers fix any wall/splashback tiles
  • Water meter to be installed

12. Landscaping

Budget tends to be tight by now and a break is often taken before this step while the homeowners source more funding for the outside. However, it is often beneficial in terms of finance to focus on the interior and exterior at the same time. You can learn more about budgeting here.

What gets done at this stage:

  • Must level the ground and prepare (groundworkers or landscape gardeners)
  • Topsoil from storage to be placed where required, with extra shipped if necessary
  • Site hut to be removed or re-site it to use as a garden shed
  • Secure site storage to be sold off or returned to hirers
  • Complete driveway surface (groundworkers)
  • Patio slabs to be laid
  • Bbuild any required dwarf/decorative walling (bricklayers)
  • Level any lawned areas to get ready for seeding or turfed
  • Approved contractors will complete any bellmouth and kerbing to road

13. Final Stage

This stage consists of the last set of tasks before you can move into your new build.

At this stage, the whole house needs to be cleaned, polish all windows and remove any labels and packing. Remove stabilising bolts from washing machines/driers. Take readings on the meters and switch the central heating to 'run'. Install TV aerials and satellite dishes and connect your telephone. Lay your carpets and arrange protective covering for floor surfaces before moving in furniture. The local authority must be told about the property being completed to arrange for a council tax valuation. Energy Performance Certificate must be prepared and sent to building control. Building control will do their final inspection and issue a Completion Certificate. You must make sure that you have homeowner's policy.

Good luck and don't get overwhelmed - enjoy the process! It will be worth it in the end.