Home Building 101: The Complete Guide To Building Your Own Home In Florida

Home Building 101: The Complete Guide To Building Your Own Home In Florida

Buying an existing home has its charms, but there is nothing more exciting and rewarding than building your own home. You get to work with a builder to create a space uniquely designed for you and watch as your dream house comes together. While building a home is thrilling, it certainly isn’t cheap, and there are many steps in the process where things could go wrong.

The experienced realtors at Eaton Realty have put together a complete guide to walk you through building a home in Florida. After reading this post, you’ll understand the process of building a home and the time and budget needed.

Questions About Building A Home? Speak With A Realtor › 813-672-8022

Types Of Home Builders

The first thing to understand about building your own home is that there are different types of home builders. With so many different home builders, it can be a little confusing to pick the right kind. Here is a quick-and-easy explanation of the three most common types.

Custom Builders

Custom builders are generally smaller companies that specialize in creating one-of-a-kind homes. They often build a small volume of houses, typically less than twenty annually, and tend to concentrate on higher-end homes. They offer a high degree of attention and flexibility to their clients. For each project, a custom builder will start with a blank sheet of paper and work closely with you to create the exact home that you desire. The builder will often have experience working with different home styles, building materials, finishes, and decorative treatments.

Building a custom home is time-consuming, demands a great deal of involvement on the buyer's part, and can be rather expensive. But if you are willing and able to endure the process, owning a custom home can be tremendously rewarding.

Semi-Custom Builders

For folks who want flexibility but cannot afford a fully custom home, semi-custom builders can be a good alternative. This builder will start with a pre-made plan and then work with the client to customize it. Moving a wall, raising a ceiling, adding a room, or other structural changes are possible.

However, every modification of the existing plan does increase the cost since it requires additional work on the builder's part. In addition to costing less than custom homes, semi-custom homes offer other advantages. They generally take less time to build. And some folks find it easier to start with an existing plan rather than to start from scratch.

Production Builders

Production builders are typically corporations that build a large volume of homes each year. Whereas a custom builder will build one home on land you already own, a production builder will often build an entire subdivision on the land the company or developer owns. The houses are built using stock plans that a buyer cannot modify.

Still, production builders offer a variety of plans, and buyers can choose specific options, such as flooring, kitchen cabinets and countertops, appliances, and plumbing and light fixtures. To help buyers make a decision, model houses are often built first and made available for viewing. Using stock plans, standardized materials, and building in large volumes enables production builders to produce efficient and cost-effective homes. Sure, you won't have control over much of the home's design, but a production home will cost you less than a custom one.

The Average Cost To Build A House In Florida

The costs to build a home in Florida vary greatly depending on the size of the home, the type of builder you’re working with, the cost of materials, and more. The average cost to build a house in Florida falls between $240,000 - $350,000 ($60 - $150 per square foot). You can expect the cost to be above average in larger cities like Tampa, where the average price is closer to $550,000. You’ll also pay more if you work with a custom builder or a semi-custom builder.

Materials account for roughly half of the cost of building a new home. Material costs vary based on the home’s size and the quality of the materials. The average price for common house construction materials is as follows:

  • Lumber: $25,000 - $65,000
  • Concrete: $1,000 - $10,000
  • Flooring: $1 - $5 per square foot
  • Roofing materials: $1 - $10 per square foot
  • Siding: $2 - $15 per square foot
  • Insulation: $0.1 - $1 per square foot

Working with a realtor to build a house is highly advised. A realtor can help you negotiate prices and features to build your dream home at the best possible price. A realtor can also help you create a more accurate budget for your home construction project. If you want to work with a realtor for your home build, you need to partner with the realtor before you start talking to home builders. The representatives for home builders will ask you to register with them and if a realtor isn’t present they will get cut out from being able to help.

The Complete Home Building Process

Building a house is a complex process with many moving parts. The process can differ between builders and house projects, but there are generally 14 steps that are always included. We cover each step in detail below.

Site Preparation

There’s always work to do before construction can begin. First and foremost, the local government must approve the house design and provide permits. The city will typically provide permits for septic systems, zoning, electrical work, plumbing, grading, and more. Physical site preparation can begin once permits and approvals are obtained.

The ground first needs to be leveled before a foundation can be poured. Builders use backhoes and bulldozers to clear the land of rocks, trees, and other debris. Once the ground is leveled, wooden forms are erected to provide the template for the foundation. Tradespeople will rough-in water and sewer lines and electrical conduits in the ground before the slab is poured.

Pouring The Foundation

Most homes in Florida are built on slab foundations, while some in waterfront, flood-prone areas are built on stilts. The pouring of a slab foundation will start with the footing. The footing is the perimeter of the slab and possibly other structurally significant locations within the perimeter that supports the house's structure. It is created with a mixture of poured concrete and rebar. Stilt houses will need columns drilled into the ground, rebar formed, and concrete poured inside forms to complete the columns that will support the above structure. In both cases, the concrete will need sufficient time to cure before the next construction phase begins. A complete cure can take over a year, well after you’ve moved in!

At this point, the city inspector will schedule an inspection to ensure that the foundation is up to code.

Building The Rough Frame

Once the foundation is built and approved, attention shifts to the frame of the house. The skeleton of the house comprised of the floor system, walls, and roof system will be framed and built. Most first floor walls are built with concrete block with key areas around openings and corners reinforced with rebar. Second floor construction often uses wood framing with plywood or strand board applied to the exterior walls to improve insulation and provide added stability. A synthetic waterproof sheet referred to as house wrap is applied over the exterior plywood or strand board walls to reduce air infiltration and wood rot. Some homes have exteriors built entirely from concrete block, or other high-tech solutions like concrete-filled foam blocks.

Plumbing, Electrical, & HVAC Work

After the carpentry crew finishes framing, work on utilities begins. Water supply lines, electrical wires, HVAC ducts, sewer lines, gas lines, and data wiring will all be installed. Installation of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC usually coincides with the roof installation.

Once the roof and windows are installed, the house is considered dried in. At this point, electrical components will be safe from water hazards, and the electrician can install lights, switches, and receptacles. Doors with temporary locks will also prevent theft of building materials that the contractor or sub-contractors may store inside.

The local building department will conduct two to three more inspections for compliance. They will inspect the rough framing, plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems. Sometimes these inspections are broken up into two different inspections: a framing inspection and an electrical/mechanical inspection.

Adding Insulation

Insulation will be installed after the framing and electrical/mechanical components pass inspection. The three most common types of insulation used in homes are cellulose, fiberglass, and foam.

Finishing Drywall & Exterior Finishes

After installing the insulation, the interior walls can be covered with drywall. The seams of the drywall boards are taped together, mudded, and sanded to provide a smooth surface. Once the walls are sanded a primer coat of paint is applied to the walls. At this point in the project, contractors usually also work on installing exterior finishes like siding, brick, stucco, and stone.

Interior Trim & Decorative Elements

Decorative trim is applied to walls along with door and window casings, stair balusters, and moldings. Other interior items like cabinets and vanities will also be installed at this point in the project. A final coat of paint will also be applied to the interior walls.

Pouring Walkways & Driveways

Some builders install the driveway and walkways as soon as the foundation is complete. Most builders, though, will wait to install driveways and walkways until the house is close to completion to avoid damaging the concrete with heavy equipment.

Installing Flooring & Countertops

Flooring and countertops are installed after the walls and cabinets are finished. While hardwood is still one of the most preferred flooring choices, many new homes are built with laminate or wood-look luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring to reduce building costs.

Performing Exterior Grading

Stucco and exterior paint are completed next, followed by exterior grading to ensure water flows away from the home's foundation. You can run into foundation issues down the road if the property isn’t graded properly. The grading also preps the yard for landscaping.

Installing Bathroom Fixtures

Sinks, toilets, and faucets are all installed in the bathrooms. The installation of bathroom fixtures usually coincides with the installation of mechanical trim. Switches, outlets, and light fixtures are all installed and the electrical panel is completed.

Installing Mirrors & Shower Doors

We’re in the final stretch. Mirrors, shower doors, and carpeting are all installed. Workers then conduct a final cleanup to prepare the house for the last city inspection.

Performing Exterior Landscaping

Whether or not your home includes landscaping depends on your agreement with the builder. There are builders that don’t include landscaping as part of the home-building process. Production builders constructing homes in communities often have a landscaping package that includes installing an irrigation system and planting trees, shrubs, and sod. Other builds will come with basic landscaping, which may just be seeding for grass. And custom home builders will often refer you to a landscape architect to design and install irrigation, landscaping, and lighting.

A building code official will also stop by around this time to perform a final inspection and issue a certificate of occupancy, which is required before you can finalize the purchase and move in. If the inspector finds any code violations, a follow-up inspection will be required to make sure the issues are corrected.

Conducting A Final Walk-Through

Once the house build is complete, your builder will schedule a time with you to walk you through your home. The builder will use this time to make sure you’re satisfied with the build, walk you through the home’s features, and provide maintenance and upkeep tips. Using this walkthrough to carefully examine the entire house for issues or damage is important. You’ll want to pay careful attention to the surfaces of the walls, countertops, floors, and fixtures. Once you move in, cosmetic flaws are excluded from your warranty and will be your responsibility to repair.

The Average Time It Takes To Build A Home In Florida

Historically, Florida builders have been able to complete houses in six to seven months; however, many are still dealing with supply chain and staffing issues, which can prolong builds. It’s not uncommon for homes to take anywhere from eight to twelve months to complete.

Factors That Affect Building Timelines

As previously mentioned, material availability affects the time it takes to build a home, but other factors also play a role in determining construction timelines. Ultimately, four main factors affect the length of home builds:

  • Weather: It’s a common misconception to think that you need perfect weather conditions for building. While it’s generally recommended to avoid pouring concrete on rainy days, builders can still complete most construction work in the rain. It’s severe storms or dangerous weather conditions that will delay construction.
  • Material availability: A shortage of building materials like lumber delays construction and raises costs.
  • Contractor availability: The current workload of the contractors you’re working with will also affect your timeline. Your builder may be backed up on other projects, which will delay your project start date.
  • Inspections: Inspections occur at several steps in the building process, and builders often can’t continue working until an inspection is completed. Inspection schedules and the results of inspections can delay the completion of a house build.

Avoid Common Home Building Pitfalls With Our Free E-Book

Eaton Realty has represented hundreds of homeowners during the home-building process since 2002. Through many years of experience, we’ve found that homebuyers typically make five major mistakes that cost them thousands of dollars when building a home. We’ve put together a free e-book on the Top 5 Home Building Mistakes, which you can download below.

Work With Eaton Realty To Navigate Building Your Tampa Bay Home

If you’re considering building a home in the Tampa Bay area, speaking to an Eaton Realty realtor would be advantageous. It’s important to talk with a realtor BEFORE you contact home builders so that your realtor can be with you throughout the entire process. An experienced realtor will guide you through the builder selection process and help you find a home suitable for your needs. A realtor can also save you money by knowing which incentives to ask for, which builders will not usually offer if they don't need to. The representatives for builders may be friendly, but they don’t have your best interests at heart.

We serve clients throughout all of Hillsborough County, and our experienced realtors can save you thousands of dollars on your home build. Hiring a realtor gives you someone in your corner to navigate pitfalls, negotiate prices, and keep build timelines on track. You can speak with an Eaton real estate agent by calling 813-672-8022, or filling out our online contact form.