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Plans, Financing and Permits
This stage is also referred to as the pre-construction stage. The amount of time needed to develop a complete set of plans, estimate the cost of the dwelling, arrange for financing and obtain a building permit and all other required approvals, will vary considerably across the country. Providing access to the building site and arranging for temporary power may also take place during this stage.
Layout of Building
The first stage of construction involves layout of the building on the property. To properly observe the by-laws for setbacks to property lines, the services of a land surveyor may be required. Accurately laying out the excavation for the depth and placement of foundation is critical. Layout can usually be performed in a single day provided property boundaries do not need to be established. Site planning, on the other hand, to take advantage of the sun and wind, to manage drainage and snow accumulation, and to afford a pleasing view, may require considerably more effort.
Excavation and Footings
Once the building layout is complete, excavation for the foundations may proceed. A single day is often all that is needed, provided appropriate equipment is employed and there is access to the excavation area. Another few days are needed to trench for and rough-in services, form and pour footings, remove footing formwork, layout the foundation walls and columns, and prepare to construct the foundations.
Foundations, Drainage and Backfill
Foundations can be installed in several days by a skilled sub-trade, including curing concrete and removing formwork. Damp proofing, foundation drainage systems and backfill will usually require another day or two. In some cases, unusual site conditions in unserviced areas may require additional measures for foundation drainage, such as sumps, ditching or dry wells. Properly storing topsoil and excavated material suitable for backfilling can eliminate the need to import fill and topsoil. Placement of the granular layer and basement floor slab usually takes place later when the basement plumbing rough-in is completed.
Framing (includes roofing and flashing)
The structural shell of a one- or two-storey house must be erected before any other work can begin. The shell consists of the foundation, floors, walls and roof. In some cases, interior walls may be load bearing, so they must be erected at the same time as the exterior walls. The shell must be framed and sheathed during construction to obtain its rigidity. Generally, temporary bracings and cross bracings are introduced to allow construction to proceed without accidents or damage.
Before starting the framing of the house, it is important to consider the levels of insulation to be used in the different elements of the structural shell, because framing dimensions may have to be increased to accommodate higher levels of insulation. Refer to the chapter on Thermal Insulation for more information.
The platform and balloon methods of framing are two ways of constructing a wood-frame house. Balloon framing was the most common method of wood-frame construction in the latter part of the 19th century, and early part of the 20th century. Platform framing has dominated since the late 1940s, and today represents conventional practice in Canada.
Doors and Windows
Installing doors and windows, usually after framing is completed, requires a few days to a week to complete. Complete installation generally includes flashing and installing locks and related hardware. Jamb extensions and trim are typically part of the finishing carpentry work. The interior air sealing of gaps around window and door openings is commonly performed by the insulation and air/vapour barrier contractor.
Plumbing, Heating and Electrical Rough-in
This stage usually does not start until all framing is completed. Plumbing is brought from the service connections and roughed-in to the fixtures. Bathtubs and any large shower enclosures are generally installed at this time. The furnace and ductwork or piping is installed, along with ductwork for exhaust fans and mechanical ventilation equipment such as heat recovery ventilators (HRVs). Electrical wiring, smoke alarms, telephone and computer lines, and cable TV is roughed-in throughout the dwelling. The work requires about two weeks to complete, but does not include items such as woodstoves and fireplaces.
Depending on the type of exterior finish being applied to the dwelling, between one and two weeks is needed to complete this stage. If an exterior air barrier, such as a house wrap, is being used, it is usually applied at this time, but it may also have been installed during the framing stage. Brick, siding and stucco along with soffit, fascia, eavestroughing, downspouts, and window and door caulking are all part of the exterior finishes stage. Exterior trim and millwork, staining and painting may also be carried out at this stage.
Insulation, Air and Vapour Barriers
This stage may be performed at the same time as exterior finishes, provided the insulation is protected against moisture damage caused by wind-driven rain. Installing insulation, air and vapour barriers requires a few days to complete when all of the detailing around penetrations, fixtures and outlets is included.
This stage typically begins with installing ceiling, wall and floor finishes. Finishing carpentry for interior doors, frames and trim along with stair balusters and handrails is generally carried out immediately after the floor, wall and ceiling finishes are prepared for painting and varnishing. The interior finishes stage normally requires about two weeks to complete, but significantly more time may be required depending on the type of finishes selected.
Paint, Cabinet and Fixtures
Painting and varnishing are usually performed at the beginning of this stage. Cabinets and items such as ceramic tile backsplashes are then installed. While this is proceeding, plumbers complete the installation of the plumbing fixtures, and electricians finish connecting circuits, receptacles, switches, light fixtures and smoke alarms. Connections to equipment such as furnaces, water heaters, mechanical ventilation systems, stoves and clothes dryers are also performed at this time. The heating contractor will install all grilles and registers for forced-air systems, and radiators for hydronic or electric baseboard systems. In some cases, appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves and dryers will also be installed at this time. All of the trades should ensure that their installations have been inspected and function properly, and then hand over any operating instructions and warranties to the builder or owner. A final clean-up of the dwelling concludes all work. About two weeks is normally required to complete this stage of construction.
This final stage includes finish grading, driveways, steps, walkways, groundcover, shrubs and trees. Carpentry work associated with decks and fences, and plumbing work for items such as underground sprinkler systems are also carried out at this time. Approximately one week is needed to carry out this final stage; however, the time will vary depending on the nature of the landscaping, and any special features such as decks and pools.
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