When to Start Looking for a Custom Home Contractor: a Detailed Timeline

Building a custom home is a big task. It is a big time commitment, many decisions are to be made throughout the process, and everything is building up (literally and figuratively) to a brand new, custom-built future for you and your family. That being said, finding the right contractor to build your custom home is an extremely important factor in the success of your project. 


Since custom homes have longer project timelines than most remodels, the contractor you select is someone you will be working with for an extended period of time, in some cases over 1 year.


On production or model homes, potential home sites have been pre-selected and likely improved, the house has been designed and modeled, and all the products and features (except for limited options) are already built in. Not so with a custom home. None of that is done in advance for a true custom home. With a custom home, you’re starting from scratch and completion will require a number of additional, time-consuming steps by you, the buyer.


So, what does the custom home building process look like, and at what point should you think about hiring a contractor?


Project Timeline

Find a Custom Home Contractor

You’ve been dreaming about building a custom home for a while. It’s time to stop dreaming and start making this long-term goal a reality! Take those dreams and start creating a vision board or sketching out your ideas to help you decide what type of contractor will be the best fit for your project.


Finding the right custom home contractor for your project is the most important factor determining the success of your dream home. The right contractor will bring your vision to life, on time and on budget. 


Find a Suitable Lot to Build On

This particular “to do” may come in earlier in the timeline, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle no matter when it happens. The land you purchase will have an effect on the plans you design, what permits you to need, and other homestead requirements such as power, water, and septic. Your contractor will be a great resource at this point in the process. We recommend finding your contractor before deciding on a lot because your contractor will be able to help you find the right lot. 


Related Post: Selecting a Suitable Lot for Your Custom Home


Start Designing

It’s time to turn those dreams into plans! Since you already have your contractor, we recommend using them as a resource to either complete your plans with you if that is a service they offer in-house or to connect you to the partners and vendors they work with on a regular basis. During this phase, you may sign a Pre-Construction Agreement (PCA) with ArDan Construction. A PCA allows us to clearly define the scale of work as well as engineer and fully specify all the details of your project from start to finish. With or without a Pre-Construction Agreement, the design and planning phase of a project takes about 60 to 90 days, but having a PCA will allow for a smoother and more expedited process down the line.

60-90 days


Obtain Permits

There are many permits to obtain when building a custom home. Your custom home contractor should know the process of testing, applying, and obtaining permits and can significantly cut down on the lead time for permits with this knowledge. 

45-60 days


Order Materials

This step of the process can be the most variable. During COVID, the supply chain was so backed up that materials that were once readily available were back-ordered for months, or if materials were available they were on average 500% more expensive than their pre-COVID prices. This, of course, shifted timelines for all construction projects across the country. With the supply chain returning to normal, ordering materials is now having less of an effect on project timelines. 


That being said, if you’re ordering highly specialized materials, such as Italian marble or a very particular Moroccan tile, then those materials may arrive later than the rest. If your contractor knows what they’re doing, they will take this into account and plan the project accordingly. 

60-90 days


Prep Work

You’ve got the lot, the permits, and materials are arriving, or they’re on their way. It’s time to get your lot ready for your foundation. This involves varying degrees of grading and leveling to prepare for concrete. Before concrete, you must also complete all underground plumbing and piping as well. Depending on the state of your land, we may also need to prepare your driveway for all of the various machines and trucks that will be involved in your build or clearing and grading a driveway where there was none. 

15-60 days



This is, of course, simplifying a long process as much as it can possibly be simplified. Once the foundation prep work is done it is time to pour the foundation and frame the house! The construction process includes breaking ground, leveling, laying all underground plumbing and piping, pouring concrete, framing, placing trusses, and only then can you move forward from turning the frame into your beautiful home. 

14-42 days



Once again simplifying a long process – finishing is the act of taking the house frame and transforming it into a home. This includes Visqueen, insulation, running electrical and plumbing, drywall and joint compound, and flooring. Then of course you’re mounting and installing appliances, cupboards, sinks, and other modern amenities. Finishing is perhaps the most satisfying step for most of our clients because they can begin to really see their vision come to life.

60-90 days


There is no “typical” time limit for the above elements and none of these are required when purchasing a pre-built production home. The time it takes to build a custom home depends on you. Dream building, team and site selection, and home design could take months or even years if you let it. Working with a knowledgeable contractor can definitely help shorten your timeline but you’re still looking at around 2 years from start to finish. 


Finding a custom home contractor should be your first step after deciding to make your custom home dreams a reality. The right contractor will be your guide throughout the entire process and ensure that all of the moving parts, of which there are many, come together smoothly.


Are you and your family thinking about building a custom home and want to get on our schedule? Contact the custom home building experts at ArDan Construction today!