Friday, January 6, 2017

How Long Does It Take to Build a House?

Our own Wolverine Drive follows the shoreline of Wolverine Lake, lake-side properties on one, inland-properties on its other side. Wolverine Lake came about when a doctor, Howard Stuart, succeeded in damming up the flow of water from six little lakes (Spring, Mayie, Pork Barrel, Bickling, Taylor, and Bradley) to form a single body of water. This took place 1919-1920. Our village, therefore, is old—and mostly looks its age. In recent decades, however, the lakeshore has been gentrifying. The humble little “summer houses” along the lake have been gradually replaced by ever more impressive mansions.

In direct view of our “backlot” house (backlot meaning that we’re on the wrong side of the “drive”) two of the lakeside houses were razed to the ground late in September, one directly opposite us, the second some houses to the right. The second (right, below) was rebuilt at competent speed—up with finished roofs and some stone facing on some of its outer walls. But then construction stopped abruptly. It stands there now, attractive enough but obviously unfinished. The house across the street (left, below) began going up a month after its demolition. By November 10 it was also more or less up, complete with walls, a tower, covered roofs, and windows installed—but visibly unfinished still today, Three Kings Day, 2017.

So I got to wondering. How long does it take to build a house? We’ve seen activity ranging from furious to rather token at both of these mansion some days—then absolutely nothing for days and days on end.

Well, the Bureau of the Census conducts an annual Survey of Construction. It reports on the average completion time of buildings. The answer to the question I pose is that, on average, a house takes 7 months to finish. But, as with all things collective, “average” is just another word for “approximately” or “you hope.” If you live in our region (East North Central), the average is 8 months. If you live in Middle Atlantic (Virginia up to Delaware), the period is 9.5 months. The shortest period, 6.5 months, is experienced in the Mountain States.

Based on such data—and assuming that construction began at both our houses on October 21—we can expect that the buildings shown will be done by June of this year. For a while, around here, we were joking that they will be done in May. Well, June may be the earliest. When we first moved here in July 2014, three other houses were in the same “half-finished” state further south on the lakeside of Wolverine Drive. One of them is still not finished; two others are—but no one has as yet moved in. Construction equipment takes up their drive-ways still

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