How long does it take to build a house?

Building a new house? From finding your dream land lot to preparing to move in, here’s our helpful guide to figuring out timelines and understanding house-building schedules.

Buying and Building

Alongside queries about ‘energy-efficient house design’ and ‘how do house and land packages work?’, one of the most common questions people who are thinking about building their first or next home ask is, ‘how long does it take to build a house?’.  

It makes perfect sense. How long does it take to demolish a plate of fish tacos? Easy (and tasty) to answer. How long does a house build take? That’s a little bit more complex to nut out – especially if it’s (likely!) something you’ve never done before. 

So, how long does it take? The short answer is, it varies – you knew we’d say that, right?! Okay, let’s try that again. As a general rule, after your lot of land gets registered, the land title has been transferred into your name and you’ve received development consent from your local council or a private certifier (more on all that later on), it takes roughly six to eight months for a house to be built once things get started. However, in reality, it can be as little as four or five months or more like 12-16 months.  

Why is the timeline so variable?   

The main reason timelines vary is the type of house you’re building and what the lot of land you’re constructing it on is like. 

In a nutshell, some houses simply take longer to build, either because they have a larger footprint or a more intricate design – or because the site is sloping, which means more time and work is involved in preparing the lot of land to build on.  

One example of how size can affect timelines is that, while single-storey homes usually take between four and seven months to build, a multi-storey home may take eight to 12 months. Likewise, a pre-designed house selected from a builder’s collection will typically be built faster than a custom-designed home. When the builder is familiar with the construction of a pre-designed home and all the processes involved, building takes roughly four to six months, compared to the 10-16 months it can take to build something bespoke.   

Location can also play a role, so that building in a rural area typically takes one or two months longer, on average, than building the exact same house in a city. Why the wait? It can be due to a few different factors including the extra time it might take for building supplies and materials to reach more remote locations and even additional travel time for your builder and trades. 

What else can affect timelines?  

A few other things can tack time onto a house-build schedule. These include factors beyond anyone’s control – like when the weather throws a spanner in the works – and things that are more controllable but sometimes unavoidable – like if you change your mind about a feature or a finish once the building process is already underway. Unexpected delays in the delivery of building materials can also slow things down, and speaking of which…   

Are builds taking longer than they used to?  

There’s no denying that in the last few years, the pandemic, natural disasters and world events have caused home-building delays due to a combination of labour and building material shortages.  

As a result, according to the Housing Industry Association, the average house build in Australia grew from 8.3 months to 12.2 months between 2019 and 2022.  

To manage expectations, regardless of whether home-building delays are an issue or not when you decide the timing is right to build your new home, it’s important to work with a builder who provides realistic timeframes and is as transparent as possible about anything that might delay your build. 

Will buying a house and land package speed things up? 

It certainly might. On top of the fact that pre-designed homes selected from a builder’s collection can be built faster than a custom-designed house, another advantage of house and land packages is that the house design has been carefully and purposefully chosen by the builder to suit a specific lot of land. Think of it like the ‘perfect match’.  

This means you can not only feel assured that everything is a good fit, it may also help to sidestep any of those unforeseen house-meets-site-related niggles that can sometimes crop up once a build gets going. Plus, some house and land packages will already meet the design guidelines that masterplan communities often develop to protect your investment.  

How long after buying a lot of land will the building begin?  

This is also an ‘it varies’ answer. Pinning down development consent for your house design from Council or a Private Certifier can vary quite significantly between states and territories, but the main factor that determines this timeline is whether the land you’re buying is registered or unregistered.  

If it’s registered that means all the prep work required to take a land lot from blank canvas to build-ready has been done – i.e., roads have been constructed and services like water and power have been established. Once settlement occurs on a registered lot of land and the land title is transferred to you, the building process (subject to that development consent) can begin.  

If the land lot is unregistered, it means all of that prep work to hit the build-ready stage is still in the process of being completed. There are a lot of steps involved (like a lot – around 25 of them!) and how far along your lot of land is in the process will affect timelines. So, it may take as little as three months or as many as 12 before an unregistered-when-purchased land lot is ready to build on.  

Don’t panic though – if you do buy a lot of unregistered land in a Lendlease community, we take care of orchestrating and ensuring all of that intricate prep work gets done for you.  

Which stages of building a house take the most time?  

Every house build goes through a few different stages during construction, including ‘slab down’, ‘frame up’, ‘roof on’, ‘lock-up’ and ‘practical completion’.  

It’s often the practical completion stage, which includes both the internal fit-out when walls and ceilings are plastered, the tiling is done and kitchens and bathrooms are installed, as well as finishing works, like painting and laying floor coverings, that’s one of the longest stages. For example, while pouring the slab typically takes one or two weeks, the completion stage can take at least two months all on its own.   

What can help keep a building schedule on track?  

Regardless of whether you choose a pre-designed home from a builder’s collection or opt for a custom build, making minimal or ideally zero adjustments once the build is underway can help to ensure your home is completed on time. The more certain you can be about everything you want for your new home, right down to the details and finishes, before a square metre of the concrete slab gets poured or a single nail gets hammered, the more time and money you’ll save yourself.  

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