How Long Does It Take to Build a New Home?


November 25, 2021

How Long Does It Take to Build a New Home - Featured Image

Our customers often ask us, “How long does it take to build a new home?”

Naturally, this is an important question to have because you want to be able to plan accordingly and find a home that fits within your timeframe. It does take longer to build a new home than it does to move into a resale home. Sometimes, there can be a bit of uncertainty around the move-in date. This can make it hard to know when to time the sale of your current home or plan a move.

Understanding the home-building process can help you to get a better sense of when your new home could be ready. While there are definitely a lot of factors involved, we think that the following information can help relieve some of those concerns.

How Long Does It Take to Build a New Home - Framing Image

The Short Answer

Looking for a quick estimate to help you figure out when you should buy your home in order to move in by a certain date? The general rule of thumb is it takes somewhere between nine to twelve months from the time you sign your purchase contract to the time you get the keys to your new home.

Recently, the global pandemic has caused shortages and shipping delays, so stick with the longer time frame if you want to be safe. However, you’ll get the most accurate prediction by speaking directly with the home builder you want to work with.

How Long Will it Take if We Build?

Build times can vary greatly, due to circumstances that we can’t always control. Usually, this just means unexpected weather, although sometimes much more serious and unexpected events affect our build times. Of course, the current COVID-19 crisis would fall under that.

When you build a home with us, you’ll receive a 45 Day target letter with a more accurate timeline for your build as part of the process.  As a general rule of thumb (AKA under normal circumstances), the whole process would take around 210-250 days from pre-construction right up to the moment you take possession of your new home.

The below timelines are just estimated and consist of averages. Please be aware things can change a fair bit during the construction phase (rain, snow, cold, pandemics, etc). As mentioned, Sterling provides our clients with a target letter that is sent out once our construction team starts rough-ins – the stage of building where we’re adding things like electrical wiring and plumbing. This letter will provide a more accurate timeline for when the home will arrive at completion.

Please note: the days listed below refer to approximate days before possession.

Normal Build Timelines:

Pre-construction phase: 210 Days

Foundation phase: 160 Days

Framing phase: 130 Days

Insulation Phase: 100 Days

Texture / Painting: 70 Days

Cleaning Home: 21 Days

COVID Timelines:

Pre-construction phase: 250 Days

Foundation phase: 200 Days

Framing phase: 165 Days

Insulation Phase: 130 Days

Texture / Painting: 85 Days

Cleaning Home: 30 Days

What’s Involved in the Building Process

There are several phases to the building process:

  • Pre-construction phase: When you sign the contracts and make your design selections.
  • Foundation phase: When the builder digs and pours the foundation for the home.
  • Framing phase: When the builder puts up the “bones” of the home.
  • Interior and exterior phase: When the interior and exterior work is completed. This includes things like plumbing and electrical wiring, as well as all of the design work.
  • Hand-over phase: When you close on the home and get your keys!

At the end of each of these phases, the home builder usually needs to go through an inspection before they’re able to proceed to the next one. Builders are good about planning for this but, if there’s a hold-up with the inspection, it could delay the building process.

A good builder will keep you informed throughout the process. If you ever want to know where your home is along the timeline, just ask!

How Long Does It Take to Build a New Home - Painting Image

Factors That Can Affect Building Time

Things aren’t always under our control, and certain things can slow down the building process. Inclement weather – especially in an area with harsh winters like Edmonton – can be a big problem. Disruptions in the supply chain can also cause delays, especially when the team has to wait for a product to come in.

You can mitigate some of these factors by working with an experienced builder like Sterling. We can still work on building in snowy and rainy weather. If the home is done mid-winter, you might need to wait for some of the finishing exterior touches like landscaping, but there shouldn’t be any major delays. We’ve also taken care to develop strong ties with our suppliers, and we order things well in advance so they’re there when we need them to work on your home.

Also, if you remain somewhat flexible with your design choices, you may be able to move into your home sooner. Ask the builder if particular materials are more likely to be in stock as you’re making your design selections.

Getting a New Home on a Short Timeline

What if you like the idea of a new home but you don’t have the time to wait? There are options available if you’re willing to forego a few selections on the design of the home.

At Sterling, we continually build homes on spec for families in your situation. Sometimes, these homes are completely finished and move-in ready. Other times, there will be quick possession homes in the middle of the building process.

With a quick possession home like this, you won’t be able to make adjustments to the floor plan, but you may still have some time to customize some of the decorative options inside the home. It’s a great way to get most of the benefits of a new home without all the waiting. Some of our customers even prefer this style because they don’t want the hassle of all those design choices.

How Long Does It Take to Build a New Home - Floorplan Image

Custom-Built Houses Take the Longest to Build

Another factor that impacts how long it takes to build a home is whether the house is custom. Assuming there are no delays due to weather or other variables, production built homes can typically be completed much sooner than a custom built home. This is because the designed floor plans have been built many times before, allowing the project to pass approval and parts to be ordered in a timely fashion. While the homeowner may personalize the specific home components like a colourboard selection, many of the large-scale decisions, like cabinetry placement and wall locations are already built into the plan.

Conversely, houses that are fully custom-built take the longest time to build. The actual construction process can take up to a year or longer, depending on the size and scope of the project. This also does not account for any pre-construction steps, which can tack on additional months or even a whole year to the process. Additionally, when every component is hand-selected by the homeowner, further research, planning, and time will be necessary.

Getting a brand-new home takes more time than moving into a resale, but it’s well worth the wait. You have the opportunity to customize every little detail so that your home can truly be your own. If you’d like more specifics about how long it will take to build the type of home you want, come tour our show homes and speak with one of our New Home Advisors.

Originally posted May 18, 2020; updated November 25, 2021

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About the Author:


At Sterling Homes, our mission is to provide the opportunity for affordable homeownership without compromise. Over the last 70 years, Sterling Edmonton has quickly become one of Edmonton’s most popular builders. We bring more than seven decades worth of exceptional customer service, superior design and unparalleled craftsmanship to the greater Edmonton area. As a member of the Qualico Group, Sterling Homes focuses on greater Edmonton’s finest family communities, while being able to offer some of the region’s most family friendly prices thanks to volume purchasing power for materials, trades and land. This has not only made Sterling one of Edmonton’s bestselling, move-up builders, but also one of the industry’s most respected home providers.



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