Renaissance Custom Homes: Project Planning & Pre-Construction Expectations

Our customers often ask; “How long until we can start construction?” Depending on the particular situation, there are a lot of variables to this question. Our goal at Renaissance is to try and set some realistic expectations, by giving some average time frames, and explaining some of the reasons for these steps in the process. 

Typical Steps or phases of pre-construction and associated timelines, including typical scheduling lead-time requirements for specific disciplines:

  • Site evaluation. This can involve one meeting for straightforward sites, but potentially multiple meetings for complicated sites. A complicated site may include challenging topography, (slope), complicated utility availability, complex grading issues, etc. The builder may consult various disciplines to determine the limitations of the land. (1-3 weeks typical)
  • Surveying. Some land sellers may provide recent surveying information that is accurate enough for project planning. If this information is not available or incomplete a professional surveyor will be needed to perform these services. The complete project hinges on having an accurate and legal survey which includes property lines, property corners, easements, existing structures, trees, environmental zones, topography, and utility connection points if available. (3-5 weeks typical)
  • Septic feasibility. If your land will require a septic system, this step can be extremely important, because until this is determined, the home sizing and placement may not be able to be planned. This step will involve a septic installer and the approval of the municipality where the project is located. (4-6 weeks typical)
  • Well feasibility. If the site is requiring a well for water supply, it is important to consult the well drilling contractor for site access assessment and coordination of well placement. (2-3 weeks typical)
  • Storm water management plan feasibility and design. Many municipalities require site generated storm water to be handled in an engineered system on site. (4-8 weeks typical)
  • Arborist evaluations and planning. If the site has trees, there is a chance these services will be required. (3-5 weeks typical)
  • Electrical Utility provisions. This typically involves a site meeting with the power provider, (PGE in Portland Metro area), evaluation of the project power needs, and a system design approval. (4-8 weeks for design typical)
  • Grading & access permits. Some property may require a permit to build a driveway or access road onto the site or to perform mass grading. In some municipalities, a civil engineered design may be required. (1-3 months typical)
  • Home Architectural design.  Once the limits of the property have been fully investigated, a house plan can be designed. Some Builders, such as Renaissance, offer in house design services.   Renaissance typically completes home designs or modifications within 2-3 weeks. If professional architecture firms are employed the expectation should be for a much longer timeframe. (2-3 months typical)
  • House plan engineering. All home designs must be approved by a structural engineer and many components of the structure, such as the roof trusses, must be specifically designed by a structural engineer. The plans may not be submitted for building permits until engineering is completed.  (4-6 weeks typical)
  • Plan submittal to municipality. This typically involves planning, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, fire and safety planning, and structural reviews. (4-8 weeks typical)
  • Well Drilling. While this step is not absolutely required at this point, most individuals, and any lending institutions involved, will typically want the well installed prior to the rest of the project commencing. (3-8 weeks typical)
  • Tree falling / logging / pruning/ tree protection. Each site varies. (3-5 weeks typical)
  • Septic System installation. In some areas this work is only allowed seasonally, and it’s a good idea to get it done prior to bulk of construction activity. (3-8 weeks typical)
  • Site clearing, grading, and access work. Every site differs, but forward planning is obviously essential for project to begin. (4-8 weeks typical)

It is worth noting that the above timeframes do include scheduling leeway and  many steps can be performed concurrently with others. Experienced builders such as Renaissance Homes will strategize the most efficient methods to achieve the quickest pre-construction period. With the involvement of a reputable builder the average over-all preconstruction timeframes should range from 3 to 6 months. It’s important when considering your custom home construction process to factor these timelines into your overall plans. Many make the mistake of assuming that once they sign a contract, construction activity can start right away and as we have discussed here, there are numerous critical steps that must be completed prior to the start of home construction.

Utilities including power, gas, phone, and cable installed street side at an acreage lot. These must be in place on most lots for building to commence.


A well with temporary pressure tank, and spigot with hose set up so that water will be available during construction.


Survey staking on raw land prior to construction commencing. This shows builders and crews where exact building locations will be postioned.


A well drilling rig installing well shaft casing & piping. This is one of the first tasks that must be performed because if water supply can’t be obtained, the property is not considered buildable.