What Are the Steps to Renovating a Home?

What Are the Steps to Renovating a Home?

What Are the Steps to Renovating a Home?

Answer These are important steps to remodeling a home.

Step 1: Make a plan. Six months to one year before you hope to start the actual renovation (think: demolition, framing), decide the scope of your project. Is it a gut renovation of a bathroom, or just new tile, cabinets and flooring? Sort out must-haves from nice-to-haves. Collect ideas with an eye toward cost. If you’re hiring a designer or architect, start your search.

Step 2: Set a budget. This can be the hardest part unless you’re well-versed in the cost of labor and materials. Think about what you’re willing to pay, and ballpark material and labor costs. A designer or architect can also help with this estimate. Materials generally account for 40 percent of the total cost of a renovation. Add 20 percent over your target budget to cover unexpected costs. 

Step 3: Hire a contractor. Start with recommendations from people you trust, vet candidates online, then conduct phone interviews. Check references and find out if candidates are licensed and insured. Invite your top prospects for a site walkthrough and in-person meeting. Request bids from two or more of the contractors you’ve narrowed the list to. (Read more about how to vet a contractor.) 

Step 4: Revise your budget. Contractor bids can be a good reality check. Make sure they’ve captured what you want. Scale back or tweak your plan if you need to, by choosing alternate materials or deleting add-ons. 

Step 5: Set a timeline. With your contractor, map out the order of steps. Tile first or cabinets? Paint or floors? Then estimate how long each will take and build in a schedule for walkthroughs with your contractor so you can assess the work and follow your timeline, which may include payment intervals for work completed.

Step 6: Update your insurance. Your homeowners insurance may need to be revised to cover the increased value of your home thanks to the renovation, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Also, ask your insurance agent whether your insurance provides coverage and how much liability coverage you have, in case a worker is injured during construction and your contractor’s insurance isn’t sufficient.

Step 7: Get permits. Plumbing, electrical and building permits typically are required for renovations. Most often, your architect or contractor will pull the permits. But for smaller projects or work you’re doing yourself, it will be up to you. This can take days or even weeks, depending on the project and your local building permit office.  

Step 8: Secure materials. Often — and particularly in the pandemic supply-chain landscape — your materials will need to be ordered well in advance. Delivery should be timed for when they’ll be used. Contractors usually take care of this step. You may have to consider alternative materials if your first choice is unavailable.

Step 9: Begin demolition and start construction. In a typical renovation, anything that happens behind the walls or under the floors gets completed first — insulation, HVAC installation, wiring and plumbing. Then comes framing, drywall and painting, followed by installation of appliances, cabinets, sinks, tubs, showers. Doors and windows generally follow. Flooring is generally the last step, to avoid damage during construction.

Step 10: Final walkthrough. When the last touches — trim work, light fixtures and anything that’s delicate — are almost complete, and before you pay your final bill, conduct a thorough walkthrough with your contractor. Make sure every detail is completed as agreed and make a list of items that may need adjustments. 

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