As far as builders and contractors are concerned, custom home projects are year-round work. Most people can probably assume that spring is the best time for a home construction project, and while it may be the most ideal for homeowners and contractors alike, rain and mud can be as much of a challenge as cold and snow. But in order to start building in the spring, site work and prep has to be done before the snow falls. Land is difficult/impossible to excavate in soggy spring conditions. Some things that rely heavily on good timing are:
Site prep, excavation, and foundation – None of these steps can be done if the site is under feet of snow, saturated with spring thaw, or frozen solid. The best projects have this done well ahead of time, but require substantial funding to do so, because homeowners do not want to sit and wait on a prepped lot with a construction loan. Concrete foundations need special additives — and in some cases, even electric heaters — in cold weather, which increases costs. Labor availability and weather conditions are best in September for this.
Framing – Stick build framing, otherwise known as assembling your home from the ground up as compared to having elements assembled in a factory, leaves construction pieces exposed to the elements. The best time to accomplish your stick build frame is in June or August. Homes that have panelized framing, where wooden walls and roof trusses are assembled in the factory and shipped to the job site, can be weather-tight in as little as three days. Modular builds, where entire pieces are constructed in a factory environment, depend on road conditions for arriving at the job site.
The pros of starting construction in the spring or summer are that the weather is better and the days are longer, meaning that construction is usually faster. If getting your house built as quickly as possible is your goal, then starting in the spring or summer is your best bet! However, if saving money on materials and labor is more of a priority for you, then it may be worth starting construction in the fall, as prices for construction materials drop sharply.
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. During this time, the days are cooler and there may still be 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. Plus, fall is usually dry, which helps a ton with construction.
Other great advantages for starting construction in the fall means more attention for your project. This is considered off season for typical construction companies, which means subcontractors will probably be less busy throughout your project, making them more likely to show up as scheduled. You may even get more attention to your project, which could mean higher quality finishes.
The downsides of building in fall include potentially making special preparations if your excavation, foundation, and exterior work aren’t completed. Autumn days have fewer daylight hours, meaning that subcontractors won’t have as much time to work as they would compared to summer or spring. Not to mention, you will likely have to factor in weather delays during autumn.