New Home AC - What You Can Expect

When building a new home, choosing the right HVAC system is crucial. Your new home AC system will directly affect the comfort of your home, your health, and your pocketbook. Here is a brief overview of the process you'll go through when it comes to purchasing and installing a new home AC system.

Home Construction: The Big Picture

Let's start with a bird’s eye view of the basic new home building process.

After your home blueprints are finalized, the construction site will be prepared and a foundation poured. The next step is framing, or when the home’s “skeleton” is constructed. This step includes erecting the exterior form of the house and core interior elements, like floor joists, subflooring, and roof trusses. We've obviously moved quite quickly in terms of description. These processes can take weeks or months to complete.

After framing, it’s time to install your MEP—mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Your new home AC system falls under the mechanical category. This is when your builder will work with your HVAC installer to place the necessary electric components and ductwork for your heating and air to function.

Once the MEP components are “roughed in,” or basically installed but not covered by walls, your builder will begin drywall and insulation work. Insulation helps control temperature inside your home, along with reducing energy loss and improving sound control. The latter are key components to ensuring your new home AC can operate as efficiently and quietly as possible. The better your home retains energy, the less work your system will have to do to keep you comfy.

After the insulation is in, drywall goes up to cover your home’s functional components, allowing interior finishing to be done. The final step is exterior finishing, which includes things like brick work, siding, gutters, decking, and landscaping.

Choosing Your New Home AC System

Before your home build begins you will need to decide what kind of new home AC system you want. You can work with a building contractor to design the perfect new home AC system that’s ideal for your climate, home size, and lifestyle. They can take into account what you want to spend upfront, and where you would like your monthly bills to be.

New home AC system design isn't necessarily simple, especially in custom homes. Your builder will consider things like how much airflow is needed in each room to avoid hot and cold spots, how to ensure balanced pressure in your home, and how many return vents are needed and where they should be placed. They'll also take into account the average seasonal temperatures, what utilities are close by, and, of course, your personal preferences.

Design What You Want

Speaking of which, the design process is where you need to make your new home AC desires known.

This design planning step is the best opportunity to work with your contractor to learn about what new home AC options and accessories are available to you. A mistake that many homeowners make is not familiarizing themselves with modern options like advanced filtration systems, smart phone based climate control options, smart thermostats, and zoning systems. Make sure your HVAC contractor understands your lifestyle and expectations for your home climate so that you can avoid having to make any costly adjustments down the road.

Once interior finishing is done, making changes to a new home AC system usually requires a lot of messy, expensive work. Don't let them get that far without letting them know what you expect.

New Home AC Installation

Your new home AC system will be installed after the framing is finished. Because your ductwork is so critical to your air conditioning system functioning well, lots of attention will be focused on getting this placement right. The builders will install the ductwork in the correct sizing and location according to your overall plan.

Placing the ductwork at this point in the build is ideal because construction workers still have plenty of space to maneuver in the home. Once drywall goes up, accessing ductwork becomes much more difficult. Nobody wants to put in ductwork in those conditions.

Split AC Systems

The most common new home AC setup is called a split system. A split system consists of one interior air handler or coil and one exterior condenser. Some have a gas furnace as part of a split system, some do not. If you have a basement, your interior components can be installed there. Alternatively, they can go into the attic, the crawlspace, or an interior utility closet.

Package AC Units

However, a package unit has no interior components at all. Aside from ductwork, all the parts and pieces of a package unit are housed in a single cabinet located somewhere outside the home. You can still get gas, air conditioning, or whatever you want with a package unit. Typically though, package units are used in retrofits, and are not too common in new construction.  But if you want a package unit, you can get it.

Get a Building Inspection

Because of local building codes, the majority of new home builds will need to be inspected by local officials at various points during construction. When it comes to a new home AC system, this inspection usually happens after your “rough in” installation. Although inspections can seem tedious, they are an integral part of ensuring a quality project. Catching mistakes, even those made honestly, prior to interior finishing can save thousands of dollars in the long run. Plus, a quality inspection means you can enjoy the peace of mind knowing your new home is sturdy and safe.

If any issues are found during your building inspection, the home’s exposed framing gives your contractors the best access to address problems. With open access, there’s no need to crawl around in tight spaces or to work at awkward angles while working. Not only does this make life easier for your builders, but it also makes the entire building process much safer.

Be Patient with the Timeline

The timing of choosing and installing a new home AC system can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Working with a builder who understands your needs at the right point in the building process will go far in alleviating your stress. Once you have the right plan and understand the overall building process, knowing when to install your new home AC system becomes a simple issue of following procedures, maintaining communication with your contractor, and being patient with the construction timeline.

Want to Talk to a Pro?

Do you have questions about a new home AC system? Give us a call and a team member can take you through your options, and show you ways to save.

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