How Long Does A Custom Home Take?


The question comes up often when talking to our home owners. How long will my new custom home take to build? We can give a pretty simple answer - usually 6-12 months - but that's pretty vague and the answer can be different for just about every house, so here's our more detailed, informative answer. 

We break the custom home building process into stages. It keeps things in logical order and helps us keep track of the building process. The basic process is:

  • Design and Permit Process
  • Concrete to Framing
  • Framing to Drywall
  • Drywall to Trim
  • Final stage
  • Walk through

Some of these stages can overlap, and some things are started in one stage but finished in another. It can be a lot to keep track of, and we may move things around from time to time, but here's how it usually works.


Design and permit process - 1-3 months (or more)

The first step is settling on a design, which can happen one of two ways: with a pre-approved home design that dramatically speeds up the process; or by working with an Architect to create a completely custom design. If you know what you want, that can take 3-6 months. If you aren't sure, it can easily take six months to a year to get through the design stage and start construction. The time difference before construction starts is significant:


Pre-Approved plans: 30-45 days before construction

Advantages: Faster, easier to get permitting approval

Custom Designed Plans: Up to 6 months before construction

Advantages: Truly customized to your tastes and needs, one-of-a-kind home, much more flexible


When you come to us for a custom home, we can offer you several pre-designed plans that can be used off the shelf or with minor changes. You will work with a Draftsman or Architect to make changes, then we'll submit the plans to the appropriate authorities (city, county, etc.) for the permitting process. This can take a month or more. Pre-designed homes are often pre-approved with the municipalities, but the zoning, setbacks, and placement of the house still needs to be approved.  That's much simpler than a fully custom home, so the permit process pre-designed home can be much quicker. 

For example, Oro Valley's Permitting Division says residential plans are typically completed in 2 months, but that can take much longer depending on the complexity of the home, their current work load, and the availability of their inspectors.  Pima County typically takes 1 - 2 weeks and Marana typically 1 -2 months.


Concrete to Framing - 3-4 weeks

The biggest (and arguably the most exciting) sign your new home is moving forward is when they pour the slab. Some slabs are more complex than others, too. 95% of all our homes are post-tension slabs, meaning they are reinforced with steel cables. Tom O'Connor, our custom homes construction supervisor, points out that "Everybody says the slab looks too small, but once the framing goes up, it makes more sense and starts to look like their house". 


Framing to Drywall - 2 months

After what seems like a lifetime of waiting, the slab is cured and crews start framing the house. There is lots of activity as your new home starts to look like the plans. As soon as the walls go up we take exact measurements for the roof trusses which are then custom made to fit your home. Once we set the trusses, we start to install everything that goes in the walls and ceiling - electrical, plumbing, prewires, windows, HVAC, water  lines, drains, vacuum system and more.  A walk-thru inspection is done with the homeowner prior to insulation and drywall to make certain nothing is missed.


Drywall to Trim stage - 2-3 months

Once we are sure everything is installed in the walls and ceiling and inspected by the right people, we start covering it up with drywall, sealing the seams and prepping the walls for paint. Interior paint is applied just ahead of kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Interior and exterior doors are also installed at this stage. The stucco process is started, beginning with the noticeable white foam sheets and followed by the stucco itself. It takes 30 days for the stucco to cure, and the stucco has to be watered during curing to wash out unwanted minerals.

Flooring will start getting installed at this time as well.  This includes, but is not limited to, tile, wood and travertine. It's a busy time in your new home!


Final Stage

Once all the major systems and features get installed, it's time for the fixtures and touch up work. In the final stage we install plumbing fixtures such as toilets, shower valves, and the water heater. Electrical fixtures are installed, as well as switch plate covers, mechanical registers, and the furnace. Landscaping will start to take shape, so you'll see quite a bit of activity in the yard as they install the patio walls, built-in barbeque's, and the pool if you chose to have one. We save the carpeting for last keep it looking new.

Once all these items are done, you'll do your walk-thru and come up with a punch list of things that need to be completed or touched up. We take about 2 weeks to complete these items. Then we're ready to hand over your keys!



One thing to mention is there are inspections at every stage by one authority or another. There are also special inspectors for certain items like the PAD certification, the post tension slab, fire sprinkler systems, and energy conservation to make sure the mechanical system is energy efficient. The homeowners association (HOA) does inspections at the beginning and the end, and possibly during other stages of construction.

In the end the whole process takes 6-12 months or more to build your custom home, depending on how "custom" your new home is.


We hope this helps explain the process. Have more questions? Contact us and we'll help you plan your new custom home.