How to Remodel Your House: A Step-by-Step Guide

In a recent report, Global Market Insights predicts that the U.S. home remodeling market will grow by more than 4.1GR between 2021 and 2027. The market research company attributes this growth to an increase in rental property owners spending more on home improvement activities as tech-savvy millennials become more inclined to invest in short-term home improvements.

The U.S. housing industry is experiencing a surge in spending due to increased time spent at home coupled with low-interest rates. The market is experiencing a shift in consumption patterns towards advanced home technologies, security features, and home convenience features such as smart appliances.

Renovate or Remodel?

To stay current with trends, you could remodel your home, which is essential to understand if you are looking to renovate. Usually, these two terms are used interchangeably but are different in terms of the cost involved and the type of construction required.

While renovations are primarily restoration projects that do not typically require permits and cost relatively less, remodeling projects are large projects that may impact the house’s structure or layout, thus requiring permits and can be costlier.

How to Plan Your House Remodel in 10 Steps?

1. Why Remodel a House?

Before you start tackling other aspects of your remodeling project, it is essential to state the primary objective that you wish to achieve. Having a clear vision will establish the foundation of the remodeling process.

Is the remodel necessary to meet the needs of your growing family or aging loved ones? Is your focus to put together a home that will have a high return on investment? Are you trying to make a statement about the way your house looks?

Remodeling is a significant investment. Understanding your goals will help you prioritize and make sound decisions which in the long term will pay off, both lifestyle-wise and financially.

2. Contractor, DIY, or a Combination of Both:

Now that you have a clear vision and have outlined focus areas for your project, the next step is to evaluate if you will require the assistance of a professional contractor. The DIY Home Remodel culture is growing and in some cases, it might make sense to opt for this route.

Its essential to understand how to choose if you need a professional or DIY. The most common advantages that homeowners might anticipate while choosing to complete DIY Home Remodel projects are:

  • Savings on labor costs and contractor fees
  • You don’t have to depend on anyone else and can work on the project on your own timeline
  • It can be fun and you feel a sense of accomplishment after the project completion

However, there are also some aspects that you may not have considered, such as:

  • Since you lack the expertise, you may end up paying more if the DIY home remodel job isn’t done correctly and you need to hire a contractor to complete the project
  • Home renovation must have a predetermined timeline completion. Since you will have to make time outside of your job and other obligations to work on your renovation project, you may not meet your goal.
  • If the remodel demands relocating or removing walls, it is NEVER advisable to do so without professional expertise as mistakes may compromise your home’s structural integrity.
  • Even if you choose to do the project yourself, you will still require the services of subcontractors such as plumbers, electricians, etc. Finding the best fit for the job, overseeing the work, and coordinating with multiple subcontractors may be cumbersome.
  • Remodeling projects require compliance with multiple codes and permits. If you are unaware of local building codes, the work may need a redo, costing more money.
  • The associated stress is overwhelming. Time to work on the house is in short supply while managing life with career, kids, friends, and relationships.
  • Certain tools require expertise without which you may physically hurt yourself.

There are aspects of the project which general contractors are more equipped to deal with, which is why we believe hiring them is an investment worth making:

  • Remodeling contractors have acquired craftsmanship and skills over the years and understand the practical details of such projects. By hiring a professional, you will be sure of the quality of work done.
  • A homeowner may not be aware of many aspects of the remodel, given their inexperience in handling such projects. A general contractor will focus on functionalities, avoid complications, and find creative ways to integrate elements.
  • General contractors know how to keep a project on schedule and prioritize the tasks accordingly. They are better equipped to stay within budget, avoid mishaps, and deliver the projects as you have envisioned them.
  • Based on their experience, general contractors may suggest design improvements that would better suit your home and fit your budget.
  • General contractors are familiar with all the local building codes and work with building inspectors every week. They will help you draw plans according to the local ordinances and help get permits wherever necessary.
  • The general contractor has done their due diligence and put together a team including subcontractors who work well together, charge a fair price, and do quality work.
  • Since general contractors are in touch with multiple suppliers and have access to all kinds of materials, they will get you a better deal and help save money on the materials.
  • In case you are looking to secure a home remodel loans to fund your remodeling project, most banks will require you to hire a licensed contractor to do the job.

You may also choose to partially involve a professional contractor. In such cases, clearly define the scope of each contractor in terms of responsibilities, schedule, and costs. It is best to explore all options available before making a final hiring decision.

As you will be working with these people for the duration of your remodel project, ensure that it is a good fit. After you have hired a contractor, you can collaborate with them and finalize the details of your project, such as construction plans, selection of fixtures to be used, the final finishes, etc.

3. Area Mapping to Remodel a House:

Remodeling the whole house at once can be overwhelming. It is a massive effort involving costly investments and may require you to relocate until the project is completed, affecting your day-to-day life.

What is of utmost essence at this stage is a solid plan mapping out your home remodel. For example, you may choose to remodel the bathroom, master bedroom, and kitchen first while leaving the other parts of the house untouched. This will give a safe haven in the house to relax and where you will not be affected by the remodeling activities.

It is also good to prepare a checklist stating which areas you will remodel, what these changes will be, and which areas you would leave as is to ensure a smooth process from start to finish.

4. Defining the Project Scope:

Once you have decided on the rooms you want to remodel and decided on a professional contractor who specializes in house remodeling services, it is time to define a detailed project scope with all critical information discussed, decided on, and finalized.

  • The first step is to develop a detailed plan clearly stating the remodel’s goal, sample images, conceptual sketches or examples of your home remodel ideas, and outlining the work to be done.
  • While planning for the home remodel, study the local zoning regulations and permits. If your remodel plan will change the structure of your home, you may require a permit. Your general contractor should know what these requirements are and will be your best guide so that you avoid any code violations.
  • The next step is to determine your house remodel budget and your sources of finance. The budget should include the costs for permits, contractor fees, building materials, labor costs, and the cost of fixtures and finishes.
  • Once you have finalized your budget, sit down with your contractor to put together a timeline.

5. Set a Realistic Budget:

When doing a home remodeling project, knowing precisely how much money you want to spend and staying within that range is crucial. Your long-term plans should also be taken into consideration while closing on the budget.

If the goal is to stay in the house for a while, spending on items that will bring your comfort and pleasure may make sense. However, if you plan to sell the house in a couple of years, the focus of the home remodel should be on your potential ROI. In this scenario, work on home remodeling ideas that will increase the value of your home.

  • Once you have finalized the details of your home, (e.g., Do you want carpet or hardwood flooring? Would you rather have stainless-steel appliances?), get a hard quote from your contractor. A hard quote will give you a detailed outline of the costs associated and the timeline for a job. Your budget will also include the type of agreement you enter into with your contractor. For instance, you may sign a time-and-material contract, where the payment will depend on the time spent to complete the work. You may also opt for a fixed-price contract where you pay the contractor an agreed-upon lump-sum amount upfront.
  • Set aside money for unexpected expenses such as pest extermination, increased utility bills, last-minute changes to finishes, etc.

6. Have a Funding Plan:

As previously mentioned, home remodels projects are expensive. Unless you plan to self-fund the project using your savings, you will need to borrow money. You must plan your it well to get the most out of it. Below are some other ways to finance your significant home remodel:

  1. Using Credit: 0% APR credit cards are available for a stipulated time and can be a great way to fund your major purchases. Since there is a time limit to these offers, it is essential that you also have a repayment plan in place. As a plus, you can also earn points and cashback on your purchases.
  2. Home-equity line of credit: Another option is to apply for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) which will allow you to borrow funds up to a specific limit. These home remodel loans use the equity in your home as collateral.
  3. Home equity loan: You may also apply for a home equity loan where the bank offers you a lump sum up front at a fixed interest rate, and you can repay the home remodel loans in monthly installments.

Meet a mortgage lender to understand your options better.

7. Design Process:

The design process is of utmost importance as it helps simplify and improve the entire construction process. A well-planned design also reduces the chances of miscommunication, reducing the chances of mistakes and redos.

  • Meet with your architect/designer to brainstorm on the design.
  • Put together a design contract defining the type of remodel as well as who is going to do what.
  • Explore home remodeling ideas, assess the current state of your home, discuss feasibility, and agree on the scope of work.
  • Communicate the material finishes that you are considering for the remodel. The designs may vary depending on the material chosen.
  • The team will come back with a detailed drawing and creative renditions of what you have in mind for your remodeled house.
  • Once the designs are finalized, you may go ahead and submit the necessary documents for permitting.

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8. Securing Necessary Permits:

If you are planning a home improvement project, you will most likely require permits. Every city and county around the state has different zoning and building code requirements.

For example, The California Building Standards Code states that no building or structure may be erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted, or demolished unless a separate permit for each building or structure has been obtained.

Reach out to your local building and codes department to check the applicable code requirements. If you have hired a general contractor, they would know the local building codes and can help you attain the necessary permits.

When are Permits Required?

You will require a permit for any modification to the footprint or the roofline of your house. These will include:

  • Major plumbing or electrical changes such as installation of a new water heater
  • Creating new openings or expanding existing holes to accommodate new windows, doors, and skylights
  • Modifying detached structures such as sheds, garages, or installation of fences that exceed a certain allowable height
  • Major installations such as a fireplace, adding a deck, or adding a swimming pool
  • Making improvements to your landscape, including gardens and retaining walls

9. Securing Building Permits:

The process of securing a permit may differ slightly based on your location. However, the typical steps are as below:

  • Complete a permit application and pay the permit fees to your local authority. The fees may differ depending on the kind of construction work being undertaken.
  • Most cities will require a detailed site plan to ensure that they meet the building and zoning codes. An architect or your general contractor can help you prepare this.
  • In some cases, an appointment with the city building official will be set up to discuss changes or adjustments needed to your plan.
  • Post-approval, a building permit will be issued. This permit will have an expiration date and the construction needs to be planned accordingly.
  • Once the permit is received, an inspection of the site must be scheduled where the inspector will check and ensure the construction work is progressing in accordance with relevant standards and codes.

10. Create a Timeline:

How much time do you think you need, or what does the contractor suggest?

If you have a preferred completion date, work backward to decide the various milestones for the project. With the help of your contractor, determine how much time each portion of the project will take.

Identify which portions will be completed first and which will be completed concurrently. While deciding on the timeline, leave room for unexpected changes and ensure that overruns are realistic and within your budget. Also, take into consideration the time required to order and receive supplies.

Get Started:

Congratulations! You are officially now ready to start the process of construction.

However, before construction, ensure you have all the necessary materials in place, have completed all purchases, and placed orders well in advance. Another factor you need to take into consideration is your living conditions.

Will you continue to live in the house while the remodel is in process, or would you relocate until the project is complete? As a safety practice, it is not advisable to live in an area that is undergoing construction, especially if you have children and/or pets.

Once you have all these elements in place, you are ready to begin the remodeling process.

What are Some Remodeling Mistakes you Should Avoid?

Are you worried that things may go wrong? That kitchen remodeling mistakes will lead to an inspection violation? Most people start without proper guidance and end up with major costly and irreversible issues.

But this won’t happen to you because you will pay attention to this the list of common mistakes.

  • Take your time and research and plan your remodel. Many homeowners do not plan every aspect and end up with excessive materials or furniture and fixtures that clash with the overall design scheme.
  • Do your homework when choosing a contractor. Read about the company, get references, check the work they have done in the past, and ensure that you are comfortable with them
  • Proper budget planning is of utmost importance. Do plan for surprises to avoid last-minute stress. A timeline will guarantee that your project stays on track and circumvents last-minute impulse decisions and fixes.
  • Focus on small yet essential details such as lighting, fixing up the windows, opting for the latest technology, etc.
  • Functionality must be the primary goal of a home. Avoid choosing trendy designs over functional ones.
  • Opt for good quality products/materials that are within your budget, are durable, and will add value. Cost-cutting on essentials may end up costing more in the long run.
  • Look at the project as a step-by-step remodel rather than trying to tackle all improvements at once. Start with one area and then progress to the rest. By doing too much at a time, you may end up being overwhelmed and making the wrong decision.
  • Avoid making continuous changes to your already finalized plan. While planning, consider all aspects and avoid going back and forth.
  • Intermittent monitoring of the project progress is recommended.
  • Share your home remodeling ideas with your contractor and avoid involving the viewpoints of several parties. This may delay the project.

How to Smartly Cut Costs?

You want to save money, but you need to do it strategically without compromising on the quality of the workmanship:

  • Opt for lower-cost furnishings such as laminate countertops over granite slabs.
  • Look for places where you can refurbish older big-ticket items. For example, refinishing existing cabinets can lower your cost by 20%-30%.
  • Save on labor costs for small tasks such as bathroom tile removal or painting a room after the construction.
  • Try and schedule your home remodeling during the off-season for contractors. This way, you may be able to get some deals as well as save on the commissions.
  • Avoid making changes and additions as the remodeling progresses. Asking for additions during construction adds to the time taken to complete the job, increasing labor costs.

How Can Design Everest Help?

At Design Everest, a team of experienced California licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services. Contact us today for a free quote followed by a consultation.

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