Construction duration estimation

How long does it take to build a house?

This rough guide gives typical timeframes to build a house, listed by construction method

By Hugh Metcalf |

Considering building your own home, but not sure how long it could take? Here’s an approximate framework to use as a rough guide.

Building your own home can seem like a daunting prospect – the time and energy that will go into such an endeavour is not for the faint of heart, but with the potential of yielding life-changing results.

If you’re considering taking on your own project, we’ve outlined the time considerations for key forms of house-building below .

Of course, every project is different, so always consult an expert, but these timeframes are based on a typical home build of 200 square metres.

Brick and block

Allow two weeks for foundations (assuming standard trench fill). It will typically take between 12-16 weeks to construct the shell to wind- and water-tight stage. Allow 24 weeks for fitting out and finishing.

House of the Year longlisted property Kenwood Lee House is vast at over 2,000 sqm, and took 2 years to complete.

Brick modern contemporary self build home - grand designs Construction duration estimation

Photo: Kenwood Lee, Brick Awards

Timber frame

In estimating the timeframe for timber frame construction, we’re including both oak frame and post and beam. Give yourself two weeks for foundation work, as it must be accurate. Frame erection can be as little as 3-4 weeks, depending on the system. Allow for 18-24 weeks for fitting out and finishing.

Not all timber frame buildings are created equal. Grand Designer Paul Rimmer chose to have the frame of his two-storey self build built on site, which slowed down the process, but saved on costs.

Construction duration estimation

Photo: Andrew Wall

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

Allow a fortnight for foundation work again. SIPs panel shells can be erected in 3-5 days. Timetable 18-24 weeks for fitting out and finishing.

This garden home build by Footprint Architects constructed using pre-fabricated timber SIP panels from SIPs Panels Ltd, allowing for speedy on-site building within 3 weeks.

charred timber self build made with sips - grand designs  Construction duration estimation

Photo: Alex Campbell

Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF)

Allow two weeks for the foundations. Superstructure can built in 1-2 weeks, and fitting out and finishing should be allowed 16-20 weeks.

Jon and Gill Flewers constructed this timber-clad hillside home using Insulating Concrete Formwork, however; finding structural engineers and builders familiar with this type of construction held up the build.

timber clad self build house on a hill - grand designs Construction duration estimation

Photo: Chris Tubbs

Natural building methods

Builds using natural building methods such as straw bale, cob and rammed earth tend to be more labour intensive with materials created or sourced on-site, so timescales vary. Expect for this to take at least as long as a typical timber-frame build.

Simon and Jasmine Dale’s low-impact build, featuring on Grand Designs in 2017, used a timber pole and straw bale building method, but this wasn’t the only reason the home took an extended time to complete. Building themselves, with the help of volunteers, as well as creating a small business on the side of this experimental development plot, meant that construction fell by the wayside for months at a time.

self build home using natural materials with grass roof - grand designs  Construction duration estimation

Photo: Malgosia Czarniecka Lonsdale