The Remodeling Process

Remodeling is a big event, whether it's a room or your whole house, and most projects require similar steps. This outline will help you be prepared.


Step 1: Design

+ enlarge image Map out your plans for your home.
  • Decide if you want to use an architect, a designer-builder, or other professional to translate your remodeling vision. Come up with a design that you love and that is within your budget.
  • If you designed the space yourself, select a contractor with whom you have a solid working rapport.
  • Finalize a budget and stick with it.

Step 2: Implement

  • Meet with your contractor to review the design plan for feasibility and/or suggestions that may improve flow or conserve costs.
  • Select materials and products for the project, especially those that are needed right away and those that require several weeks' lead time (such as cabinets).
  • Give the contractor time to draw up a detailed construction schedule, apply for building permits, and round up construction crews.
  • Meet your contractor's job-site supervisor or production manager and develop good communication. This person will likely be your key contact throughout the project.

Step 3: Confer

  • Arrange a preconstruction conference at your house for you, the contractor and his or her job-site supervisor, the architect or designer, and any key subcontractors who will be working on your project -- in short, anyone who needs to be in the loop.
  • Tour your house with the key players and go over exactly what needs to be done. Take notes and send follow-up memos if anything changes from the plans.
  • Set the ground rules for your project between you, the contractor, and the job-site supervisor.
  • Figure out a communications plan:
  • 1. Decide who your primary contact person is (usually the job-site supervisor)
  • 2. Place a contact notebook in a prominent location; review it each day for comments from the crew, and include your comments and questions as well.
  • 3. Set up a weekly contact schedule between you, the contractor, and the job-site supervisor.

Step 4: Set Up

  • Remove personal belongings from the work area.
  • If appropriate, set up a mini kitchen in another part of the house.
  • Set in place a trash bin, portable toilet, and construction fence.
  • Make room for large supplies, such as rafters or drywall, which are delivered at this point.

Step 5: Demolish

+ enlarge image Knowing what to expect during each remodeling stage helps produce happy results.
  • Your room or house gets the treatment from the wrecking crew.
  • Plastic sheeting seals the demolition area from the rest of the house; check it frequently to make it as airtight as possible, or you will have dust and debris everywhere.

Step 6: Rebuild

  • The crew prepares the foundation; frames the walls, floors, and roof; and installs windows.
  • The plumbing is rouged in; electric, phone, and cable lines are run; and conduits for HVAC systems are installed.
  • Insulation between studs and rafters is applied; drywall on walls and ceilings is installed then taped, mudded, sanded, and primed; and underlayment on floors is installed.
  • The house is roofed and sided.
  • The crew finishes wall and ceiling surfaces; installs cabinets, counters, and window trim; and hooks up appliances and light fixtures.
  • The top layer of flooring is installed, and plumbing and electrical systems are finalized.

Step 7: Follow Through

  • Tour the remodeled space with your contractor, itemizing any details that need to be finished and any mistakes that need to be corrected; keep a detailed list.
  • Complete a final inspection with the contractor, checking off the items from your preliminary walk-through.
  • Go over instructions for equipment and discuss warranties.
  • Let the new space settle in for a few months. Make sure all systems work properly, and watch for drywall cracks or nail pops. Call back the contractor for any follow-up repairs; good contractors will check back periodically to make sure everything is right.
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