Whole-House Remodel: Where to Start

Contractor working on house at construction site

Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

How do you start a project that's as huge, lengthy, costly, and all-consuming as a whole-house remodel?

With some projects, you can jump right into them without much forethought. If you want to paint the living room, you can pick up paint in the morning and be done by the evening. Even more involved jobs like laying floating laminate flooring can be started on impulse.

But a whole-house remodel should begin with real-world realizations about the scale of this project and dedicated planning.

Decide How to Fund Your Project

Your home remodeling project will cost you more than you care to know. So it's best to come up with a range of funding options.

Your choice of funding options may range from simple sweat equity on up to the traditional home equity loan. Borrowing from family or friends with a clear plan for paying back the money can be another option for some people.

Decide Whether to Do It Yourself or Hire Pros

You will either hire out the work to professionals, do it yourself or some combination of the two.

As this is a whole-house renovation, you likely will not be doing all of the work yourself. Even the most determined homeowner will have to call in a professional for projects like plumbing and electrical.

Professionals range from expensive contractors to sub-contractors and handymen you find through word-of-mouth or through classified ads. Since not all home renovation projects are created equally, you will want to consider on a case-by-case basis whether you are capable of taking on the home renovation project yourself or whether you wish to hire professionals.

It's good to know, though, that one way to reduce costs in contractor-driven remodels is to take on some of the projects yourself. Contractors prefer to use sub-contractors that they have worked with and feel comfortable with. But if you stay out of the way and your piece doesn't impact the remodel's progress, they should be amenable.

The best way to stay out of the way is to save your work for the very end: painting the kitchen, adding bathroom fixtures, or installing wallpaper. Don't work when the others are working.

When it comes to the final touches to your space, working with an interior design expert can also be cost-effective, particularly if you involve them early in the project and they're able to make recommendations for reliable contractors, order materials at a discount, and otherwise help save you money on the overall project—while helping you design the space of your dreams.

Consider the Resale Value

Today, the majority of American homeowners sell their house at least once. Gone are the days when homeowners rode out their 30-year mortgage to the end. Not only are you renovating your house for you, but also for future buyers.

Whatever you do with this whole-house remodel will cycle back to another set of buyers. Will your remodels stand the test of time or will they need replacing when it comes time to sell the house?

Become Comfortable With Contractors and Work Crews

People will be everywhere during your whole-house remodel. They will be there on days when you don't expect, too. Sometimes, they show up earlier than you like. And that's just the work crew.

With the contractor, you'll be texting, e-mailing, and speaking to this person frequently. Remember, they're working for you.

Develop a Plan for Saving on Remodeling Costs

From designers' fees, contractors' commissions, and credit cards, home remodeling seems designed to drain your piggy bank as fast as possible. But there are tried and true ways to save on home remodeling costs, on everything from kitchen to bathroom.

Think Ahead to Permit and Zoning Issues

Building permits take notoriously long to get approved. Electrical permits and permits for demolition or fences may not take more than a few days, but large-scale projects involving zoning, like building a home addition, may take many weeks or months.

One benefit of a contractor is that they will handle all of the permitting for you. Even so, know that permits slow down projects and add to their overall cost.

Take Safety and Cleanliness Seriously

It's good to consider things like lead-based paint before sanding down that 80-year-old hand-railing.

Avoiding mess when painting your house interior is just as important as developing a plan for keeping out dust from clean areas of your house. Good work crews should do this for you, but you usually need to step in and do your part, too.

Article Sources
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  1. About Lead-based Paint. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development