The Architect’s Guide To Building A House From Scratch In New Jersey

photography by Lisa Russman

Nothing is quite as satisfying as building a house from scratch. We hope that this guide helps you to navigate through this wonderful and exciting house building process from start to finish.

Putting Dreams Onto Paper

The first step before any construction actually starts is a free, on-site consult with us. We listen to your ideas, needs, wishes, and dreams so we can make suggestions around your life patterns and flow. We believe your home should bring the people you love most together allowing for space to gather and enjoy the way they spend their time! Are you a gaming family? Flex space to bring in fun new toys is a must-have, right? What if you’re expecting the in-laws to move in within the next 5 years, let’s plan for that now. As we listen, we’ll literally sculpt your home just for you and your family. 

Then, we’ll provide you with a free proposal detailing architectural services including all of your wish list items and the potential construction budget.  Once we’re hired we’ll come get the specs of your property whether just land or with structure and draw them up for formal use during the project. 

Now, the detailed design phase begins where we establish and evolve your floor plan until it reflects all of your wants and needs.  Once the inside drawings are complete, if we’re also designing the facade of your home, that’s up next. And we know that you’re busy with the kiddos, work and more so we’ll stick to email to save you time. 

Next, we help you select a contractor who will provide you with a pricing audit designed to keep your project on track and on budget as well as make adjustments to the design if needed. Construction drawings are generated with instructions and notes for the contractor regarding the scope of the project. There may be several construction companies interested in executing your build, so we’ll help you navigate through the competitive “bidding” process to make the best hire for your home.

After a contractor has been chosen, the next steps would be for the contractor to file for permits with your respective town. Work won’t commence until all permits have been filed, are approved by the city, and are physically in your hands.

Building the Structure

With all the ‘paperwork’ procured, you can finally begin building your house from scratch! Step one is installing the foundation. The type of foundation used depends on if your design calls for a basement, crawlspace or slab-on-grade. Most foundations are built in concrete block, installed by a mason. The beginning of the construction process is the time to implement those meditation classes as you’ll need some patience throughout the duration. You’ll need extra patience for every milestone of construction as the city inspector comes to ensure it meets the state’s codes and matches the approved drawings.

Once “footing” and “rebar” inspections have been passed by the construction inspector, approved, construction crews can begin the installation of framing for your new home. Framing includes the wall, floor, and roof structures for both interior and exterior applications. This phase of construction establishes the “skeleton” or shell of your house.

For the next phase of construction, rough plumbing, electrical, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) are installed. The roofing and siding are also installed during this time. Once the installation of the above components is completed, the city inspector will visit the site once again (deep breath) to verify all components have been installed to code and are in accordance with the drawings.

After these inspections have passed, insulation can be installed inside the walls and any spaces within the basement or roof followed by drywall.

Now the fun part! Everything that follows afterward starts to really color and flesh-out what your project will look like in the end.  This layer of work includes, but is not limited to, painting, doors, cabinets, countertops, and flooring. And, you get to achieve that curb appeal as grading, landscaping, planting, and grass conclude the details of your exterior zhooshing. 

The city inspector performs a final inspection, and, if passed, they will issue a certificate of occupancy.

The Final Walkthrough

The final walkthrough for your home is one of the most critical aspects of the project. This will allow you to examine every inch of your new home with the contractor to make sure everything is finished to your standards. Final tip, make sure to take your time and hone the honesty filter of a toddler; say exactly what you want fixed or changed. This is your last chance to point out any deficiencies you may observe to the contractor and have them corrected, whatever it may be. Once the contractor has completed their contract, it is difficult to prove that they were at fault for any damages found.

We saved the best news for last! Our fee covers involvement during bidding, permitting, and construction phases; questions answered, certified clarification letters and/or sketches as necessary, and as-needed construction site visits are performed. We’ve got your back the entire way, never leaving you to wonder or figure it out on your own. You can design and own the home of your dreams with the right team by your side!