So when exactly is the best time to build a house? I always assumed it was the spring or summer because that’s when everyone seems to start construction. And depending on what your goals are, spring and summer are the best times. However, fall, and rarely winter, could be a better time to start. Again, depending on your goals.
If you live in an area that has a very mild winter season, you might consider starting your house in the winter. Otherwise, winter is not the optimal time. Although special preparations can be made to build in the very cold temperatures and, even in the snow, those special preparations will usually increase your construction costs and your construction time. Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, starting construction in the winter is not what you want to do.
Let’s focus our brief discussion on whether to start construction in the spring or summer or in the fall.
The pros of starting construction in the spring or summer are that the weather is better and days are longer, therefore construction will typically go faster. If getting your house built as quickly as possible is your goal, starting in the spring or summer is your best bet.
If, however, saving money on materials and labor is more of a priority to you, strongly consider starting construction in the fall. It may take longer to complete your house, but you could save lots of money. Here’s why:
During the fall, which is the off season for residential construction, there is less demand for materials and labor, so you can usually get bargain pricing.
On one of the online homebuilding forums, a small builder in Toronto commented that building in the fall gives you the advantages of a buyer's market with regard to both trades and supplies. He said lumber prices soar in the spring, and usually drop in the fall.
That is exactly what a local contractor recently told me, which is the main reason I decided to explore this subject.
Originally, I was thinking I wanted to start construction this summer, but after having a conversation with that contractor, I’m thinking of waiting until fall. He told me, I could start soon, but that I would save significantly if I waited. He said lumber, and other materials, would be much cheaper in the fall. For example, a single sheet of plywood sheathing would cost $28 per sheet in the spring and summer, he said, but the price would drop to $14 per sheet in the fall! That’s half price!!
I called one of the local lumber yards today and they confirmed that prices usually drop drastically in the fall, simply because the demand for materials is lower in the fall.
The contractor suggested that I start building in September or early October. That way, the days will be cooler and we’ll have plenty of time to get the house started and closed- in/dried-in by winter. As a general rule, as long as you'll be at the dry-in phase before January, fall is a great time to start construction. Many contractors commenting online agreed with this line of thinking.
On one forum, I saw a comment that said the best time to start building is when it isn’t raining excessively, and when it’s not freezing cold and boiling hot. When temperatures are nice and cool and bugs are not prevalent (that sounds like fall, doesn’t it?)
He went on to talk about his neighbor who works for a construction company that builds year round. Rain or shine. He wrote that the neighbor admitted that when the construction crews work on bad weather days, there a lot fewer nails and screws being used during construction. Especially when working outside when it’s windy, really hot, or raining. "But on nice, cool days, their build quality is much, much higher”.
Ultimately, the best time to build a home, as far as weather is concerned, is when it is cool and dry. The exact time of year of cool dry weather depends on where you live. In many places in the US, it’s cool and dry in the autumn. But in some areas, if it is cool, it’s raining. Therefore, the best time to build a home, when considering weather, depends on where exactly you live and the weather patterns associated with that area. A quick internet search will give you some idea of the weather patterns in your region.
In addition to weather and pricing considerations, starting construction in the fall, gives you an advantage in scheduling subs. In the fall, you will be off season of a typical construction schedule and subcontractors will probably be less busy throughout your project, making them more likely to show up as scheduled. Plus, the best quality, most in-demand subs are less busy in the fall, and you may be able to get better quality subs to work on your house. Lining up a foundation company or a framing crew, for example, is usually easier during the fall. Many of those crews are completely booked during the spring and summer.
Finally, banks, mortgage companies, title companies, and regional government agencies will typically be less busy in fall so you can usually get your permits and inspections quicker.
The downsides of starting construction in the fall are:
-If you don’t get your excavation, foundation work and exterior work finished by the time really cold weather arrives, you will have to make those special preparations for winter construction.
-Autumn days have fewer daylight hours as compared to summer days, therefore subs will typically not get in as many work hours. This might prolong construction, and in turn, prolong your construction loan, which could cost you more in interest.
-There will probably be more weather delays in autumn.
Another thing to consider is how starting in the summer or fall will impact your move-in date. If you are having a large or complex house built, or if you are acting as an owner builder, it will probably take you at least a year to complete your house. But an average single-family home built by a general contractor will take about 8 months to go from permit to completion.
If you’re using a builder and want an average sized house, if you start construction in the fall, you can potentially move into your house in the spring or summer. But if you reverse it and start your home in the spring, like most people do, you might have to move into your home around the holidays. Not only will it be cold in some regions, but it will be stressful and most people have enough going on during the holidays. Adding a major move into the mix might not be the best idea.
So, in summary, if getting your house built quickly is your main concern, start construction in the spring or summer.
But if saving money is more of a priority for you, consider starting your house in the fall.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete and it’s subject to change, so it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
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