My wife and I love the holiday of Sukkot, as do many of our friends. We build the sukkah every year and have friends over for an evening meal, preferably on shabbes - if someone else in our group of friends isn't doing those. It's a wonderful, community-building holiday.
I've heard that one can only commence sukkah construction after Yom Kippur. I've been doing it this way for years. I often inventory the wood and and schach ahead of time, but I always hold off on construction.
Nevertheless, when riding around town during the days of awe, I've seen people start building before the end of Yom Kippur. Sometimes even synagogues will jump the gun a bit.
From a legal standpoint, is there any truth to the assertion that one should build the sukkah only during these four days? If there are dissenting opinions in law, what are they?
(I'm a conservative jew with reconstructionist leanings, and I would personally prefer answers that are friendly towards non-orthodox movements. By this I mean stuff in English, or at least sources I can track down and find translations of.)