You've managed all the details required for designing your home, contracting with a builder, obtaining the construction loan, and getting the necessary permits. Now it's time to build! So, what happens now?
The first phase of construction is pouring the slab, but that's not really as simple as it sounds. There are several steps involved, and all of them are weather-dependent.
You need a flat, well-draining place for the house that is clear of trees, grass, and debris. This work is done by a tractor or dozer, and it can take days to weeks to complete. It all depends on how much dirt and other stuff needs to be moved, how many trees are in the way, how much dirt needs to be hauled in or out, and how much it rains.
There could also be unforeseen things that come up, like the old septic tank that was buried and no one knew about or the two feet of organic soil that has to be removed.
Once the site is prepared, we bring in another contractor to dig foundation trenches and install perimeter forms for the foundation and slab. It only takes two or three days, but it's clearly weather dependent.
Next, the plumber comes in and installs what's called the plumbing ground. He lays out all the water supply and sewer drain pipe that will end up under the slab once it is poured.
Again, this is weather-dependent work, and it's precision work done in imprecise conditions, including dirt, heat, wind, and more.
At this point, the city wants to inspect the work the plumber has done. Depending on the inspector's schedule, this can take a day or it can take a week. Many times, the inspector will find some minor detail he doesn't like and will fail the inspection, which requires the plumber to make a modification and call for another inspection.
Once the plumbing inspection is done, we call the foundation contractor back to finish his work. He places and compact fills sand in the slab perimeter, then places the steel reinforcement and post-tension cable system.
Once the foundation and slab are ready for the concrete, the contractor will call for an inspection by a licensed engineer to make sure the installation matches the engineered design. Once that's done, the contractor pours the foundation and slab.
The Process Continues
The above process seems simple, but with all the moving parts and variables, it can take longer than you think it should. This phase is the most critical, as the prepared ground supports the foundation that supports your whole house.
Any rain that falls will cause a delay while the contractors wait for the ground to dry. If the ground is dry on another job, the contractor will go where there's work to be done and then come back to your job later. Any delay in inspections mean that a contractor will have to move to another job and complete it before coming back.
Plus, there are three different contractors to coordinate with, and their schedules don't always line up. You can see that the slab phase of construction has lots of opportunities to get delayed.
Once you see that slab get poured, or maybe even when the forms are set up, it will look too small. You'll get a pit in your stomach and think something is wrong. If it will make you feel better, go out and measure it.
I don't know what it is about the human eye, but the slab always looks too small until we start building on it.
But once you get past feeling like the slab is too small, it's time to get excited! The next step is framing, and that's when things will really start to move.