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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

How It's Made: How Your New Home Came To Be

Written by Posted On Monday, 27 February 2017 20:49
Whether it’s newly built or over a century old, a house is a source of pride for many. But how does a house come to be in the first place? This article explains the several stages it takes to build a house that’s both beautiful and built to last.


A person who is building a new house needs to choose the lot the house will be built on. Then, they need to contact an architect and a building contractor. The architect designs the house according to the homeowner’s ideas. Both the architect and the builder need to be cognizant of the zoning laws that cover the electric, plumbing and construction codes of the area where the house is to be built. The architect draws up blueprints for the house, and the buyer works with the building contractor to actually build the house. They draw up a written contract that specifies the material the house is to be made of, the payment schedule and the start and projected stop dates of the construction. The buyer should make sure that the architect and the builder are licensed, bonded and insured.

The Foundation

The foundation supports the house. Construction begins when the foundation is poured. The foundation is set above the frost line, which is the depth at which the ground freezes. This prevents the footings from being damaged by the freeze-thaw cycle. It's why homes in warm climates have crawl spaces while those in colder climates have basements. In damp areas, the house might be raised on piers or supports, or a concrete slab might be laid directly on the ground if the ground is hard.

The Frame

The frame is the house’s skeleton. After the footings and foundation have been created, the workers add sills, floor joists and floor boards to support the wall frames. Carpenters put wall frames together separately before attaching them to the sill and bracing them temporarily. When all the wall frames are in place, they're braced permanently to the sills. Builders add sheathing to the inner layer of the exterior walls, then add building paper before adding the siding. Siding can be made of many materials, including wood, brick, masonry or aluminum.

The Roof

The roof is then placed on the top of the house. Most roofs are slanted to help them shed water. These roofs are made of pieces called rafters. They support weight of the roof the way the joists support the weight of the house’s floor. Sheathing and roofing felt are added, then covered by a layer of shingles. Sometimes roofing companies like Burke's Roofing are called in to assist with the installation. Strips of sheet metal called flashing are put around the chimney and other roof openings for insulation. After this, the interior of the house, including walls, floors, wiring and plumbing are added. House building is a major industry in the United States, and the health of the economy is measured in part on the number of houses built. But for a homeowner, the house is simply their castle.
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