Building 101: The Work Begins

Building a home is an endeavor that involves many people, phases and decisions. No matter what size your project is, once your team is in place and the planning phase has been completed, the work begins.

The work phase begins with an on-site pre-construction meeting to take one last look at the site and to coordinate the project. Here all team members and subcontractors meet to review the timeline and answer any outstanding questions or concerns.

This on-site pre-construction meeting is also a great time to take photographs of the area that is being worked on and to organize your document files. Whether you are a paper person or a techie, a good catalog of images and a well organized filing system will serve you well throughout the project.

At GDC Construction, we track the work phase with project management software and communicate with our clients with weekly agendas, schedule of values, and a calendar, which tracks all activity and financial distributions. This method is used to sync all team members and provide a real-time analysis throughout the project.

Typically, the next step of the work phase is Demolition. This dismantling is also the discovery phase, as it exposes unforeseen primary conditions. Opening walls, floors or tearing down large portions of the structure tends to expose conditions not otherwise visible, which can impact your budget and add unexpected costs.

Before the project continues as planned, issues such as structural damage from water exposure, dry rot, or mold are addressed during this stage. At GDC Construction, our experienced estimators account for these unforeseen conditions in our initial cost assessments to minimize changes in the scope of work and to maintain the integrity of the budget. This is key but not foolproof.

No matter what the scope of the project, once all has been exposed and cleaned up, the next step is to lay or reinforce the foundation. Whether you are building a new home or remodeling an existing structure, a concrete foundation and support footings are often part of the process to establish a solid ground for your home. In La Jolla and other areas of San Diego, there are many properties that need deep footings called caissons. Often drilled 20-30 ft deep to anchor to solid ground, these concrete pylons are designed to support homes built on unsure ground and steep slopes.

Once the foundation is complete, the framing stage begins. This is an exciting phase because this is when you can see your house begin to take shape. Here a wood or steel skeletal framework is built to define the structure and support the electrical components, plumbing, HVAC, AV, insulation and utilities. Clearly it is imperative that the inner workings, or guts, of the structure be installed correctly.

In San Diego, building plans are permitted by the city and an inspector is required to come out and approve each phase of the work, as defined on the plans and pre-approved by the city. Once each category of building has been cleared by the city, the next phase of the build can commence.

Once the framing and guts are in place, closing or buttoning up the interior framework follows. The roof, siding, windows and doors are part of the structural development on a project. This phase is when the framing is covered, weatherproofed, and all walls and ceilings take shape. Sheetrock is used as the primary interior surfacing material, while stucco, wood and stone siding are some exterior options.

Once the structure is sound, the interior evolves with the installation of kitchens and bathrooms. Appliances, fixtures, and cabinets are positioned and finishing materials elaborate on your designs character. As you make material selections for your floors, counters and woodwork, whether it be tile, stone, wood, granite, or any of the other multitude of materials, be aware that these selections now lead your budget. Finish materials are varied in quality and cost, and it is imperative that you employ quality craftsmen for the installation there of.

Next month, I will begin coverage of the different options for materials and how to make decisions that appeal to your style while optimizing your budget.

Detailed woodwork, bookcases, door frames, beams and hardwood doors are a specialty at GDC Construction. Because we understand that your home is defined by the craftsmanship that goes into your build, we at GDC Construction employ the best artisans and master carpenters to perform all finish work. As a general contractor and president of GDC Construction, my objective is to build homes and relationships that stand the test of time. I take pride in my team, our accomplishments, and the positive mark we have made in the San Diego community.

If you have any questions or comments regarding your new build or any construction project, please contact us at, or come see us at GDC Construction, 1031 Silverado Street, La Jolla, CA 92037 858-551-5222.