How long does it take to Design a House?

How long does it take to Design a House?

If you are planning to build your dream home, your next question might be, how long will it take? From the architect drawing the house, the design process and all the construction documents that need to be prepared, there are several steps that go into building a home. We have provided a guide for clients interested on how long it takes to build and design a house from the initial start to the final result. Enjoy! 

architects information gathering for client

The Design Process

The design process is so exciting. This is where you will get to be creative, share your ideas of inspiration and begin to bring the home of your dreams to life. You will work with the design team to design floor plans, material transitions, building sections and all the architectural details that will bring your custom home to life.

The Lifestyle Analysis© is an integral part of our Feasibility Study. It consists of an interview with the client where we ask a series of detailed questions. The interview examines all aspects of the lot itself, how the clients plan on living in their home, and, of course, establishes a budget. Information and ideas gathered during the Lifestyle Analysis© will drive much of the design and style of the home and keep the plans on budget. This part of the process usually happens in three stages: schematic design, design development, and construction documentation.

Schematic Design

This begins your design process where you and the design build team answer the questions of budget, thoughts, ideas, preferences, goals and the lot where the house will be located. During this stage of the design process, the architect will look into the building code provisions, energy code requirements, community covenants, and other regulations that will apply to your site and home.

From there, the design build team can begin designing! They will come up with different design concepts, the layout, and the look and feel of the home. Then you can decide what you like or do not like and the design team will take your suggestions and thoughts into creating a preliminary floor plan and exterior elevation of the house.

This entire process can take about a week to complete, but may take longer depending on the scale of your project, revisions that need to be made or availability of city records.

Design DevelopmentCustom home construction process

The second phase of the design process is design development. During this phase, the architect will develop the schematic phase into a more comprehensive plan for your new home. This will include the architect meeting with engineers, landscape architects, interior designers and more.

This part of the process also includes the exciting undertaking of choosing materials, finishes, fixtures, appliances and anything that is establishing the design of the home. You will then get to meet with the architect after his work and review what you like or do not like.

After this, you will get more detailed drawings showcasing the dimensions, locations, connections and construction components of your new home.

This phase can take about four weeks, but can vary depending on how big your project is, availability of materials and again, the number of revisions needed.

Construction Documentation

Welcome to the final phase of the design process! Construction documentation is when the architect puts together the drawings and documents needed for building permits and to begin construction on your home.

The construction documents include plans, elevations, sections, details, schedules, notes, calculations and anything that helps with how your home should be built.

All drawings and specs will be in cahoots with the relevant codes and standards to build at this time. Then it’s time to approve the documents, they will be sent for approval to the building department and your building team can begin to design a house!

This part of the process usually takes about six weeks to finish but can always change due to the scope of the project, requirements of the jurisdiction and again, revisions that need to be made!

The Construction Process

building process

Now the dream begins to come to life. It is time to build your custom home. This process is divided into four stages: pre-construction, foundation, framing, and finishing.

Pre-ConstructionStructural design work

During pre-construction, you began preparing for construction. This includes getting utility approval, securing financing, hiring a contractor, signing a contract, scheduling inspections, ordering materials, and setting up job site protection.

You will then have a meeting with your architect, contractor and team to review the construction documents, communication expectations, roles and responsibilities, change order processes and the overall schedule of the build.

This process takes about two weeks to complete, but can be longer depending on financing, workload and the availability of materials.

building industry


The ground work begins. It is time to lay your foundation. This includes excavating the site, installing the footings and foundation walls, backfilling and compacting the soil, and waterproofing and insulating the foundation. Then there will be an inspection of the foundation by the building department to make sure everything is in code.

This can take about two weeks to finish, but can take more time depending on the size of your home, the state of the ground you are starting construction on, the inspection schedule and the weather.


The Framing part is exciting because your home begins to take shape. You get to see the framework of your new home and wall studs, roof trusses, sheathing and floor joists will be installed. There will be a framing inspection to ensure everything is in line with the code requirements.

This process can take around four weeks or more to complete depending on the size of your home, the complexity of the project, accessibility of materials, inspection schedule and the weather.


This step is pretty self explanatory. Finishing means the finishes! You finally get to complete your interior and exterior with plumbing, electrical, insulation, staining, mechanical systems, landscaping and installation of the doors, windows, cabinets, countertops, and flooring.

This part of the process will include a variety of inspections. It can take around 12 weeks to finish depending on the details that go into this part, availability of materials, inspection schedules and of course, the weather.

The Average Time to Build and Design a House

Custom home house plans

Based on everything we have covered, the general time to design and build a home can be around six months to a year or more. This is just a rough estimate as each project has a different timeline depending on several things such as:

  • How big your home is, the style and the complexity. If you are building a completely customized, large home it is just going to take longer with all the details to consider.
  • Where your home is located and the current state of the lot. If you are on a rocky cliff, it may take longer than if you were on a dry, ready to go piece of land.
  • How available are the resources and information? Project that requires more time, coordination, consultation, permitting, financing, labor, materials, etc., will take longer to complete than a project that has everything ready.
  • Your involvement as a client. A client who is clear, responsive and supportive will help speed up the process and avoid delays.

The Crucial Balance client home projects

We now know there is no easy, definitive answer for how long it might take to build your custom home. Building a home is unique and makes each timeline different.

It is important to be realistic when it comes to building your new house. See what fits into your budget and what is attainable for you. Always keep open communication with your architect about your expectations so they can best serve you. With proper planning, preparation, communication and patience from you and your team, you can build your dream home!

dream home idea

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