New Construction Real Estate: Terms & Timetables

Instructor: Janice Chretien
In this lesson, we define construction terms and timetables for new construction real estate. We also identify the stages of home or building construction and explain how to use blueprints, systems, architecture, features, and benefits as sales tools.

New Construction Terms

The real estate industry has its own language. Knowledge of the following terms will ensure that you will present yourself as a trusted real estate professional.

  • Blueprints are drawings of the floor plan that are used for designing, building, price estimates, and requesting permits.
  • Change order is a document that modifies the original plans.
  • Implied warranty is a warranty that implies that the builder is responsible for repairing any deficiencies of their work for a stated time period.
  • Modular and prefabricated homes are prefabricated homes that are manufactured offsite and assembled on location.
  • Permit is an authorization from a government authority to build or remodel.
  • Plot plan is a survey that shows the location of the improvement on the lot with easements, property lines, required setbacks, and legal descriptions.
  • Production builder refers to a builder who designs and builds multiple homes from a set of floor plans.
  • Punch list is an itemized list of things that need to be fixed by the contractor.
  • Redline or redlined prints are a set of plans showing changes to be made on the original blueprint that is usually drawn in red.
  • Spec home is a home that a builder builds without a purchase contract and hopes to sell at a profit.
  • Walk-through is the final inspection of the property by the buyers to check for any last-minute items that need to be addressed. The walk-through is done after the items on punch list have been corrected

Energy Terms

  • Energy Star appliances with Energy Star certifications run more efficiently and waste less energy.
  • Geothermal refers to renewable energy that is drawn from the Earth's natural heat.
  • Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is home energy rating value. A structure that meets the HERS standards will have a HERS of 100; however, the lower the value the better the rating.
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification that signifies that a building is energy efficient.
  • National Green Building Certification is a certification based on energy savings.
  • R value is a number identifying the level of insulation. The higher the number, the better the insulation.
  • U-factor measures the heat transferred in and out a closed window. The lower the U-factor, the better the insulation.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Terms

  • Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) is the value that measures a furnace's heating efficiency. The higher the value, the more efficient the furnace.
  • British Thermal Unit Per Hour (BTUH) is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. One ton is equal to 12,000 BTUH.
  • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is the value that measures the efficiency of a heat pump. The higher the HSPF value, the more efficient the unit.
  • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the value that measures the energy efficiency of an air conditioner. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the unit.
  • Zoning system sections a building or space into zones that are controlled independently of each other.

Electrical Terms

  • Conduit is used in unfinished areas and for short exposed runs inside a home.
  • Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) provides protection against electric shock from an electrical system.
  • Low-voltage wiring is used for circuits that require 50 volts or less.
  • Romex cables is common in house wiring.
  • THHN and THWN are the most common types of insulated wire.
  • Underground feeder is used for wet locations and underground.

Foundation Terms

  • Poured concrete foundation is a slab foundation formed by pouring a few inches of concrete with thicker edges to provide support. The poured concrete foundation is the most common type of foundation.
  • Frost-protected foundation is a frost-protected foundation that protects concrete from damage due to extreme temperatures.
  • Permanent wood foundations are made of preservative-treated wood that is lightweight and decay-resistant.
  • Raised foundations are standard in coastal areas that are susceptible to flooding.


  • Plastic pipe is widely used in plumbing, but some jurisdictions do not allow plastic pipe for water supply.
  • Rigid copper pipe is commonly preferred for water supply plumbing.
  • Soft copper pipe is a more flexible pipe that is used for above-ground plumbing.


Based on 2018 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the average building time from start to completion is as follows:

Area Single Family
Units in the Building
Units in the Building
Units in the Building
Units in the Building
Northeast 4-9 months 4-6 months 7-9 months 13+ months 13+ months
Midwest 4-6 months 10-12 months 10-12 months 13+ months 13+ months
South 4-6 months 4-6 months 10-12 months 13+ months 13+ months
West 4-6 months 13+ months 13+ months 13+ months 13+ months

Phases of New Home Construction

  1. Prepare home-site
  2. Foundation
  3. Framing
  4. Roofing
  5. Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC
  6. Insulation
  7. Drywall and interior textures
  8. Exterior finish
  9. Interior trim, windows, and doors
  10. Driveways and walkways
  11. Flooring and counter tops
  12. Landscaping
  13. Fixtures
  14. Mirrors, shower doors, and fixtures
  15. Install appliances
  16. Final walk-through with the builder

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