Building a House - Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know in 2022

Building a new house is a rewarding process but you should always go into it prepared. Key things to consider include budgeting, knowing where to save and where to spend, planning for the future, and deciding who you’ll work with to build your dream home. Fortress Home has managed hundreds of home building projects for the residents of Chicago over the 20+ years it's been in operation, building not only houses but also a network of contacts, years of experience, and a skilled and dedicated team of laborers and professionals.

Things to consider before building a house

If you've always lived in an existing house the home building process might seem very complex and overwhelming, but building your own house doesn't have to be complicated. We simplify the home building process for you here and explain what to consider before construction starts, and what to expect once the building site is in place.

Budget and financing

When asking yourself 'what to know before building a house?' one of the most vital steps is to work out a clear budget. Ask yourself what you can really afford? Many factors go into the total cost of building a house so it's important to be realistic about what you can spend before you speak to a contractor or builder.

Unless you are very cash rich you're almost certainly going to need a construction loan. In order to get your project financed you'll probably need to work with a respected, licensed general contractor.

Most banks will be very cautious about lending to an owner-builder unless they are very experienced in construction, so working with professionals will enable you to secure a loan more easily.

Carefully choose home builders and contractors

One of the things to consider when building a house is how much to do yourself and how much to leave to the professionals.

While working with a general contractor may seem like a big expense, as they can cost 10 - 20% of the project costs, the reasons for working with one rather than being your own contractor are compelling:

  • They are the experts and have years of experience in construction
  • They can get wholesale prices on materials so will save you money there
  • They know how to build to code and understand the process for obtaining permits so will save you time and stress
  • They have a network of experienced and reliable subcontractors and employees ready to go
  • They are responsible for overseeing the entire site and managing all the other workers
  • You will have a single point of contact for the entire project, removing confusion and worry

As you can see when considering things to know before building a house, hiring a reliable general contractor, like Fortress Home in Chicago, could be the best decision you make.

Choosing a general contractor

As they play such a vital role in the home building process, it's important to choose your contractor wisely. Here are some tips to make sure that happens:

  • Research and contact a few contractors in your area
  • Compare their quotes but remember, cheapest isn't always best
  • Get personal reviews and testimonials from previous clients
  • Check their budget and time management reliability
  • Meet the contractor in-person to ensure you will work well together
  • Check their licensing and bonded status
  • View examples of their work in situ

Think about the future

If you don't have children yet, but you plan to in the future, build a home for your future family. Make sure you have enough bedrooms and bathrooms. And always remember to consider storage. Life with kids requires a lot more closets than single or child-free living.

Are you currently working in an office, but have you always dreamt of starting your own business? Then consider adding a home office.

If you're on an upward career path and may need to relocate in a few years' time it's a good idea to speak to local real estate agents about resale value, what sells well in your neighborhood, and what amenities are most popular.

Know where to cut costs

If you're asking yourself what to consider when building a house, ways of saving money may well be at the forefront of your mind. But there are some areas where you shouldn't cut costs.

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Where to spend

With certain things quality is key and here are some areas where you shouldn't cut costs when building your own home.

  • Foundations and framing — The foundations and framing are vital for a solid and long-lasting house.
  • Insulation — Unless you live in an area with a very temperate climate you'll need good insulation to keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. This will save you money on utility bills in the long run.
  • Energy-efficiency — Adding energy-efficient features to your home may cost more initially but you'll make a saving in the longer term through reduced electricity, heating, and cooling costs.
  • Fixtures — Anything that is a major project to replace shouldn't be a place where you save money. Buying solid, quality fixtures will enable you to redecorate around them, refreshing and revitalizing your decor in a quicker and easier way.

Where to save

You can cut costs in some places when building your own home:

  • Plumbing — In your plans, if you can put any rooms with plumbing closer together, for example, the upstairs bathroom above the kitchen or laundry room, you will need less piping.
  • Appliances — If you already have standard-sized appliances like fridges and washing machines they can be moved into the new house and upgraded when needed.
  • Paint — If you like the minimalist aesthetic, white paint can often be the cheapest and can easily be painted over at a later date.
  • Flooring — Laminate flooring is cheap and can look attractive but can be easily replaced in the future.
  • Standard sizes — Make sure all your windows and doorways are standard sizes as this will enable you to save money by purchasing off-the-shelf units instead of custom units.


We don't recommend you try and do any DIY during the main construction process, as that can cause delays in the schedule and you might get in the way of the workers, but when the home builders have completed their main tasks you might be able to do some DIY finishes yourself.

These might include:

  • Interior painting
  • Exterior painting
  • Planting the garden
  • Laying garden footpaths

From the first step to building a house

Some useful things to know when building a house are the steps and stages involved in the home construction process. We give you a brief overview of the stages involved.

Purchase a plot

Without a plot of land, you can't build a house. Choosing the right plot is vital and things to consider are whether it already has utilities on the land, are there any existing structures on the land, and what the land is zoned for.

Plans and permits

Once you have a plot of land you can work with an architect to draw up the building plans. Working with an experienced local architect will ensure your plans are to code, which will make obtaining your building permit much easier.

If you are working with a full-service general contractor, like Fortress Home, Chicago, they can help with the plans and will arrange all permits for you.

Prepare the ground

Before the actual construction can start you need to prepare the land. This may involve clearing any undergrowth, trees, or existing structures, leveling the ground, and digging any holes for basements. At this stage, your building site will have a temporary electrical hook-up put in place and portable toilets for the construction workers.

Foundations and utilities

After breaking ground on the site the foundations and foundation walls will be laid. At this point, the main plumbing and electrical connections for the whole house will be put in place. Depending on the type of foundations the main pipes and wires may be placed inside the foundations as they are laid.

Framing and roofing

When the framing and roofing start to go up you'll have a better idea of your home's construction and will be able to better visualize the finished house.

Carpenters will put up the wooden frame, ceilings, walls, exterior windows, and doors, and roofers will put up the roof.

A protective wrap will also be installed to weatherproof the structure.

Interior installation and insulation

Next comes the interior HVAC ductwork, wiring, and plumbing. Once this is in place the insulation can be installed and the drywall hung.

Your exterior cladding may also be put up around this time, making your house look almost complete from the outside.

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Interior decorating and flooring

After the drywall is up, the interior will usually be painted. Then flooring can be laid and fitted cabinets and wardrobes in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms can be installed.

Baseboards, window sills, stair rails, and moldings will also be installed at this stage.

Other interior fittings like light switches, light fixtures, power outlets, and sinks will also be installed and connected. Then the house can be connected to the main water and electricity utilities.

At this point, the interior should be just about complete and will be cleaned up and any final finishes applied or installed.

Exterior finishing

Usually, the driveway and other external features go in last, to save them getting walked and driven over by the construction crew, electricians, and plumbers.

Depending on what you decide to do yourself this might include:

  • Laying a driveway
  • Putting down garden paths
  • Laying a lawn and planting trees and shrubs
  • Building a deck
  • Completing a pond or pool

Final walkthrough and final inspections

Once everything is complete you may need a final inspection to sign off on the project so that you can move in. You should always do a walkthrough with your contractor to ensure everything is completed correctly, you know how everything works, and you can agree on any final finishes or fixes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it cheaper to build a house or buy a house?

If you're looking for your dream home are you considering home buying or home building? If cost is a major factor you may be asking yourself if it's cheaper to buy or build.

We wish there was a clear answer to this question but it depends on so many factors. These include:

  • Location of the property and land costs
  • Do you already own land?
  • The current housing market and existing home sales prices
  • Local material and labor costs
  • Size of house and design
  • Are you looking at semi-custom homes or a full custom home


Without all this information it's impossible to know the cost to build versus the cost to buy.

We recommend speaking to a real estate agent who will be able to give you a better idea of the current home buying market where you are.

Where do I start if I want to build a house?

Before you build a house it's vital to work out what your budget is and what you can really afford. You should also have an idea of what type of house you want, and what are essential features, and what is on your stretch wish list. Once you have a clear, solid budget in place you can look for plots of land and speak to a realtor, architect, or respected general contractor about what is possible within your budget.

Working with a well-established general contractor, like Fortress Home, from the start will help you understand what is involved in the construction process, and get an accurate picture of the costs for your ideal home.

How much does it cost to build a house?

One of the first things to know before building a home is what it is likely to cost, and what your budget is.

According to HomeAdvisor the average cost of new home construction, generally not including the purchase of land, ranges from $121,000 to $452,000, depending on the location, materials chosen, size of the house, and finishes chosen.

The costs that range most wildly are the cost of land and the interior finishes. Depending on where you live you will probably not have much say over the cost of land, but money can be saved on the interior, which can often be easily upgraded over the years as you become more financially stable.

Can you build a house for 150k?

Budget is one of the most important things to consider when building a new house and while we all wish we were millionaires sometimes budgets are tight and we have to know what's realistic.

While $150,000 is on the lower end of the cost of building a house, it's certainly possible, depending on the location, type of materials, and size of house you want to build.

The average cost to build a house is $100 - $200 per square foot, so using more standard building materials and methods you could afford an approximately 1,000 square foot house. There are plenty of designs for 2 bed, 1 bath houses that come in around 1,000 square feet.

Fortress Home

If you are planning to build a home in Chicago, contact Fortress Home today for a free consultation -+773-770-8607 or [email protected].

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What is the main asset of a construction company? Everything is simple. This is not an investment, not funds in the company's account. These are those unique houses, apartments, and buildings that have already been built and put into operation by the company. In different architectural styles, other concepts, and various tasks assigned to the general contractor. That is the asset in Fortress Home, with over 300 homes from more than 20 years of operation that delight their families.

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