Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States — for good reason!
Whether it’s the draw of the city’s many music festivals, the laid-back vibe or the easy access to dozens of hiking trails and swimming holes, the Austin area gains around 159 new people each day.
If you’re wondering if you’ll be able to build a new home by the next music festival, read on. After all, you can’t survive in Austin on breakfast tacos alone. You’ll want a roof over your head and probably a few other features, at that!
We’ve spoken to several builders in the Austin area to get their insight on how long it takes to build a new home in the Austin area and weigh in on the factors that can affect build time.
The national average completion time to build a single-family home is around seven months, according to the 2015 Survey of Construction from the Census Bureau, and Austin isn’t so different.
“The average build time for a David Weekley home is six months,” says Chad Durham, division president for David Weekley Homes in Austin. Factors such as receiving permits, preparing your lot, customization and your design style can lengthen your build time, so be sure to plan ahead.
Starting Off on the Right Foot
With such high demand for new homes, the Austin market has some quirks. Durham expands on some of the factors unique to the Austin market: “The amount of skilled labor hasn’t increased as fast as the demand for new housing, so while the demand for homes remains strong, there are fewer subcontractors available to build them.”
To avoid delays, you’ll want to work with a qualified builder who is familiar with the Austin area.
In Austin, getting the proper approvals and permits can also cause delays. “Particularly in Austin and its surrounding area, there are more municipality-driven engineering requirements today than in the past that require additional inspections as well,” says Durham.
Before you break ground, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct permits, which can take some time. The city is listening to complaints from builders, however: in late 2017, the city plans to launch an expedited permit option for an additional fee.
A Solid Foundation
Once you’ve chosen your lot, your builder will need to prep the area before any construction begins. The terrain in the Austin area is variable and it’s important to work with a builder who knows the area well.
For example, the western part of the city is much hillier than other parts. Depending on the characteristics of your lot, clearing trees and rocks and grading and leveling can add additional time to your build. Luckily, you won’t need to worry about blizzards or freezing temperatures delaying your new home’s construction.
Changing the Plan
We get it — it’s your dream home and you want everything to be perfect. It can be difficult to choose between all of the different possible design features in your new home. However, keep in mind that changing your mind or delaying your decision can delay your home’s construction.
“There many factors that are considered when estimating a time to build a home with CalAtlantic Homes in Austin … these factors include size of the home and the level of personalization and specific structural options chosen by the buyer,” says Charlie Coleman, Austin division president for CalAtlantic Homes.
Change orders will usually extend the build time, especially if they occur in the latter part of the process. For instance, cabinets generally take six to eight weeks to order, and another one to two weeks to install. If you wait to choose your cabinets until it is time to install them, you’re delaying for about two months.
Fortunately, many homebuilders offer some guidance: “One of our great differentiators is our great design center experience. The amount of personalization each homebuyer selects for their home plays a role in the timeline,” says Coleman.
We recommend maintaining open communication with your builder so that everyone is on the same page. After all, throughout the construction process, there will be many decisions that you must make along the way.
Keep Austin Weird
The style of your home will also influence construction time. If you want to “Keep Austin Weird” with a custom-built home, you’re looking at a build time average of 10 to 16 months. Because the floor plans used by production builders have been built many times before, there are generally fewer delays due to variations. Personalized production plans average four to six months.
Delays in construction may be a fact of life, but knowing what to expect and how to manage your expectations can help make the building process less stressful.
Regardless, Austin is a wonderful place to build a new home. “Demand for new homes continues to increase and home values are rising as well, so now is an excellent time for homebuyers to make their move,” Durham says. If you’re looking to build a new home by the time South by Southwest rolls around in the spring, you should get started soon.
Seve Kale is an award-winning freelancer writer and former content intern for NewHomeSource. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in December 2013 with a degree in Government, Humanities and Spanish.
Prior to working with NewHomeSource, she interned in the Press Section at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires and traveled extensively throughout South America