How to Start a Home Renovation

Congratulations! You’re probably reading this because you’re about to take on a new project, how exciting! This process is going to take a few months to interview and organize, so make sure you’re not doing this in a rush. You want to take your time and select the right people to do the job, or you might not end up happy with the results.

Keep in mind, this is your home, your money, and everyone works for you! Just because you meet with a contractor doesn’t mean he’s getting the job. Just like you walked through countless homes before your found yours, you’re going to meet with a lot of people before you choose the right one(s) for your project.

Here’s step by step how to plan a home renovation and a few large milestones that will happen during your renovation.

1. Have a Plan

Have a general idea of what you would like to change in your home, a budget, and a timeline. HGTV will totally screw with your head. Chip and Jo and the Property Brothers take an 8 week project and condense it down into one hour. That’s just not real life.

kitchen renovation

2. Have Budget

There’s not much to say here except spend what you can afford, or what you’re willing to invest. It might be beneficial for you to organize the work you want to do by: Must Have, Like to Have, and Dream Items. Doing this will help you allocate your budget and prioritize your project.

3. Interview/Select an Architect

Depending on the type of project you’re doing, you’re likely going to need an architect. The architect will provide you with a set of plans for your project that you will use to interview contractors. Giving the contractors the plans will ensure that they are all bidding on the exact same project. For advice on how to select an architect, read How to Select an Architect.

4. Interview/Select a Contractor

Contractors are as unique as fingerprints. Ask to see pictures of their previous jobs! For advice on how to select a contractor, read How to Select a Contractor.

5. Meet with the Contractor and the Architect

The architect and the contractor are going to work together a lot while you’re renovating. If they don’t already know each other, you should introduce them! A hot discussion topic at our meeting was the two load bearing walls that were being removed. We needed an engineered beam to support the load of the roof. The contractor and the architect worked together to figure out the best way to make opening up walls possible and safe!

6. Apply for Permits and Order Cabinets

Once your plans are finalized you’ll want to get them to the township ASAP. Reviewing permits takes time and if they’re delayed this can really mess up your timeline. If you’re doing a kitchen remodel, you’ll also want to order cabinets at this time. Cabinets usually take 6-8 weeks to come in. Make sure your contractor signs off on the cabinets before you purchase them! He’ll compare them against the structural, plumbing, and electrical designs to make sure that everything fits correctly.

7. DEMO!

Make sure you put the inaugural hole a wall! It is your project after all! You should have some fun too! Here’s a picture of me taking the first swing at demo before our 3 month renovation. PS. I’m 5 months pregnant here!

fist swing at demo

Here are some milestones you might have depending on the scope of your project.

  1. Demolition Complete
  2. Plans Approved by the Township
  3. Frame out new construction
  4. Rough-In Inspection
  5. Electrical Inspection
  6. Final Inspection
  7. Live Your Life!

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