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How to Remodel a House in 5 Easy Steps

How to Remodel a House
A whole house remodel is an extensive project. Tackling this size of a project without a lot of thought leads to months of extra work, and tens of thousands of extra dollars. As you contemplate your remodel it can seem a huge project that you could never accomplish. With a lot of planning, and keeping organized you can tackle your home remodel. Learning how to remodel a house in 5 easy steps helps break this overwhelming task into manageable pieces.

Whether you are going to try to tackle the remodel on your own or hire a contractor, there are some simple steps to help keep you organized. Your home remodel doesn’t have to be a disaster or a failure that costs more money. Follow these simple steps and you can save yourself time, headaches, and a drained bank account.

Step 1: Questions to Ask

The first step in any remodeling project is to ask yourself some questions. These questions will begin your planning process and help you determine what your remodel will consist of. The goal is to answer these questions honestly and completely. If you are a couple it is important that you don’t answer questions how you think your partner wants you to. When thinking about remodeling your home begin by asking yourself the following questions

  • Why: What is the reason you want to remodel? The answer to this question directs you towards where you want your money to go. If your answer is that you are remodeling to fix issues in your home then your focus is going to be on repairs. However, if your home is in good repair your home remodel can focus on upgrades and improvements.
  • What: So, what do you actually want to do to your home? This is where you begin some basic research.
    • Make wish lists: You (and your partner if you are a couple) begin by making a wish list of all the things you really want in your remodeled home.
      • If you are part of a couple there will be compromises. Don’t let this stage become a fight, find common ground.
    • Research: Look through remodeling magazines, watch some home improvement shows. Look at sites like Pinterest for inspiration. Model homes and furniture stores can also get your creative side moving.
  • How Much: Now you have to decide how much money you have to work with. The amount of money you can put into your project will determine how much of your wish list gets done. This is the point at which you also talk to your bank and look at any accounts to see how much money you will be able to put together for your remodeling.

Step 2: Make The Plan

  • Sketch it out: Most people are not professional architects. This means you shouldn’t just try to explain what you want verbally since you don’t have the right vocabulary. Take the time to make rough drawings of the changes you want to your home. This will help you plan and will help when you try to convey your wishes to other people.
    • If you are technically savvy there are several programs that will help you with home layouts. These let you print out your new layouts in an almost professional manner.
  • Determine what to contract: You won’t be able to do all the work yourself. Unless you are a general contractor you will have to hire people to do some parts of your work. Make a list of your projects, and separate them into ones you can do, and the ones you have to contract. Be honest with yourself about your time and your skill level though, it can cost more to fix than to just hire in the first place.
  • Finalize Budget: Once you have the total amount of money that you can use for your remodeling project and your preliminary plan you can create a budget. This budget will detail in broad scope how much you are able to spend on each project.

Step 3: Final Decisions

  • Pick Contractor(s): Look for reputable contractors and select at least three to approach. Meet with each and get bids for the work that needs to be done. Make sure you get contracts that cover both what will be done, and what happens if it is not.
    • If you are using more than one contractor you should get a general contractor to coordinate everything. They will make sure everything is done according to the plan you decide on.
    • The cheapest contractor is not always the best choice. Balance the contractor’s bid against their reputations. Make sure to point out all of the work that you intend to do on your own so that it is not included in the bid itself.
  • Get Professional Plans: Hire an architect to do real drawings. Not only is this going to speed up the permitting process, but they may point out issues you didn’t think of. Professional architects will be able to tell you when your plan doesn’t fit your home.
  • Get Permits: Ensure that you apply for, and get approved, permits for all of the work that you intend to do. This can be done by yourself, or your contractors, but it must be done. Don’t begin any work unless you have an approved permit. Avoid the impulse to start on the work before it is approved.
  • Timeline: Make a timeline for your remodeling.  You’ll need to talk to your contractor(s) or general contractor who can tell you when they will do things.  This timeline will also tell you what parts have to come before others.
  • Seasonal Issues: Depending on where you live, there will be parts of the year that you should not plan to work. The rainy season, the dead of winter, these are bad times to do your remodeling project. Look at your timeline and make sure your work will fit into the best time of the year to work.

Step 4: The Remodeling Process

  • Purchasing:
    • Before doing any work purchase all of the necessary supplies. Doing your buying up front makes sure you are not delayed waiting on.
    • If you can, wait for all of your supplies to be delivered. This ensures you won’t have to sit waiting on deliveries.
  • Demolition:
    • The first step in your remodeling process is demolition. This is often something homeowners can accomplish on their own. However, if you have large scale demolition involving exterior walls and large portions of your home it may be better left to a contractor.
      • If you are doing demolition on your own don’t forget the waste container rental. Your debris has to go somewhere.
      • Know if you have lead, mold, or asbestos material and take the appropriate precautions for any toxic material.
  • Work outside in:
    • Make sure you tackle the exterior structure of your home first. This is especially important in areas where weather is a concern.
      • Foundations go first to give you a base to work from.
      • Walls go up next to outline your structure, remember to put on the exterior cladding only.
      • Roofing goes up to keep the weather out.
    • Interior framing is done before anything else to be sure that the electrical and plumbing can be done correctly.
  • Walls:
    • Plumbing should be done first as it is the most unchangeable installation.
    • HVAC is best done second, vent routing can be changed but once it is done it is expensive to redo.
    • Electrical is usually done last. Wiring can be moved easily and ran to avoid the other items inside of a wall.
    • Place insulation in any exterior walls, and in the walls of any rooms inside that you want to insulate.
    • Drywall gets put on last. Always ensure all your required inspections for plumbing and electrical are completed before doing this.
  • Windows:
    • Any replacement windows should wait until your walls are drywalled and your structural components are completed.
  • Painting, Molding & Flooring:
    • Consider painting first to avoid dripping paint and scuffing up any brand new flooring.
    • If there is still work to be done on the home make sure to cover your flooring to avoid it getting scuffed.
  • Install Cabinets and Appliances:
    • Run your flooring under cabinets and appliances. It may seem like a waste at first, but it will allow you to move things later.
    • Cabinets are put into place before you put in your appliances. Be sure to double and triple check measurements.
  • Exterior work:
    • When the interior of the home completed it is time to do all the exterior work.
      • Place gutters, put on your siding choice. In general work from top down in most exterior projects. Treat your grass as a type of flooring. Do all of the heavy work before you replace the turf.
    • Waiting until you are done with all of your interior work saves you the expense of changing siding for a new window.
  • Finishing Touches:
    • Final details are put into place to give your home the finished look you were hoping for.
      • Backsplashes, lights, outlet covers, fixtures and other small touches are all completed.

Step 5: Inspect the Final Product

Once the final tile is set into place, and the last fixture is done your work is not done. Your final step is to inspect the finished work. Walk through the property and look over everything that was worked on. Compare the work that was completed to what you contracted to be done to be sure you got what you paid for. Don’t forget to look at what you did yourself.

  • Make sure to detail any work that is not done in compliance with the contract. Take pictures to have proof of how the work was completed.
  • If there are mistakes that need to be corrected submit them to your contractor in writing.

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Do your part: If you have signed on to do work, then you have to do that work on time the same as a contractor would. When you take a weekend off to do something else, the entire project gets delayed. This increases costs and can throw an entire remodel off track.
  • Keep an eye on the project: As the project progresses, check what has been accomplished at the end of every day. This doesn’t mean be a nuisance, you can wait until the workers are gone for the day to do your walkthrough.
    • Look for anything that doesn’t work in a real world setting. Sometimes what looks good on paper doesn’t work in real life. Address these as soon as possible to coordinate a change as cheaply as possible.
    • If you see anything wrong make a note of it, take pictures of it, and contact the contractor before any additional work is done. It can cost a lot more to tear open a wall to fix a problem you forgot to tell your contractor about.
  • Stay out of the way: One of the main ways you can help the progress of your remodel is to stay out of the way of your contractors. If possible give the whole home over to the project and stay someplace else. This can often be outside what your budget allows. If you have to remain in the home do your best to stay out of your contractor’s way.
    • It is great to be personable, but remember every minute your contractor spends talking to you is a minute you are paying them not to work.
    • Keep your areas clutter-free to make sure the work can progress on schedule. If your contractor has to spend time each day cleaning up your mess then he isn’t spending that time moving the project forward.