How Does One Start Remodeling Their Home?

There are many reasons that you might want to remodel your home. Whether you just want to make some minor changes or completely overhaul your home, home remodels can be overwhelming. Where do you even start?  


Anytime you start remodeling your home you should come up with a plan, schedule, and budget for how you’re going to finish the project.  Home remodels easily get out of hand by taking longer than expected and costing more than you thought.


We will walk you through how to develop your plan and budget for your home remodel to help you get started and stay on track. 

Start With a Plan

Every home remodel should start with a plan. Your plan should include the basics of who, how, when, and why you’re remodeling your home. Every goal should be quantifiable and actionable, complete with end dates. 


No matter what kind of remodel you are considering, many homeowners have completed similar projects. Conduct thorough research before starting your remodel through reading magazines, blogs, or watching Youtube videos. 


Don’t jump into your home remodel headfirst. Put down the sledgehammer in favor of a pencil and calculator. Consult with your family, partners, friends, or strangers online for ideas and advice. If you have a significant other or children, make sure you consider and appreciate their thoughts. What works for you may not work for others in your home. 

Reasons for Remodeling

Identifying a primary reason for your remodel. There are several reasons why you want to remodel your home, such as:   


  1. Preparing to sell your home. Remodeling would help increase your value on the market.
  2. Your home doesn’t suit your needs anymore. A remodel might be able to make your home more usable. 
  3. General dissatisfaction with your home. You want to feel happy and healthy where you live. 
  4. Repairing safety issues. Structural damage, moisture damage, or weather damage may require a significant remodel to address. 
  5. Make it more energy efficient. Improving the energy efficiency of your home can help lower monthly utility costs, paying back the costs of remodeling over time. 


Once you know the reason why you want to remodel you can develop your plan to achieve your goals. Each goal should support the reason why you’re remodeling, directly or indirectly. Prioritize your wish list of projects by ranking them compared to how they help you accomplish your goals. 

Come Up With a Schedule

When developing a schedule, ironically, the best place to start is at the end.  Ask yourself questions like:

  • What date do I need to move out of my house?
  • Does the new bedroom need to be ready for the new addition to our family?
  • Do you have a critical repair that needs to happen before it gets worse?


These questions can help you identify a target end date. Working backward you can determine how much you can accomplish before that date. Starting with the tasks leads to cramming too much into your schedule. 


Make sure to factor in your prior commitments. If you work full time, you only have nights and weekends for projects. You may not find it practical to take long vacations or postpone family plans to remodel your home. Finding these time constraints may help you decide if you need to hire a contractor to help with the workload. 

Develop a Budget

Every home remodel should start with a budget. Having reasonable expectations for what you can afford may feel like limiting your creative flow. However, when you exceed your budget you may have to postpone half-finished projects. Not completing your remodel can be disappointing and draining.  


Remodeling your home should not leave you in debt. Make sure you evaluate how much savings or cash in hand you have to pay for materials and contractors. If you’re selling your home, make sure that what you invest gives you a return on your investment. 


Once you have your final number, divide it into buckets. Allocate funds to your priorities. For example: you have to replace your roof, do you have enough left over for interior design? Or, if you need to wall off a new bedroom, do you have enough budget for new appliances? 


If you don’t have the cash on hand you may consider financing your home. You may use a line of credit against the equity in your home.  This can give you a checkbook to be able to pay for all of your remodeling expenses.  Alternatively,  you may consider refinancing your home, to increase the value of an existing mortgage. 


Financing might give you a large budget for your home remodel. Make sure your improvements will increase the value of your home or save you money. Increasing the value of your home may equate to a market rate or appraised value, but could also mean the value it brings to your life. 


Don’t forget about rebates either. Many utility companies offer incentives for homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. These rebates could include cashback on certain high-efficiency appliances. Incentives may include lower energy rates or credits on your utility statements.  

Visualize Your Space

The National Association of Home Builders recommends homeowners collect pictures to help them imagine their new home. Using collage boards online can make it find and save pictures, products, blogs, and reviews in a single place. 


First, start browsing with your family, gathering ideas and liking, favoriting, and pinning ideas. The initial steps should be broad, collecting as many ideas as possible. As a theme or trend starts emerging, you can start developing and modeling it into a cohesive plan. 


Modern technology allows homeowners to try out different finishes, such as paint and following, through augmented reality. Other smartphone apps can help develop a floor plan for you, eliminating the need to learn how to draw to scale. Apps like Handy, RoomScan, and Tap Painter can help you get started. 

Repairs and Maintenance

If you’re considering a major remodel, first evaluate the age of your home. Homes that are older than 10 years may start needing major repairs or maintenance.  For example, heating and cooling systems typically last only 8 to 15 years. Your roof may only last 15 to 20 years, depending on your climate. 


to help you determine if anything should be repaired or replaced consider hiring an appraiser or an inspector. The appraiser should be able to tell you what the value of your current home is and help you identify upgrades to increase your value. an inspector may be able to help you find issues that lay hidden behind walls or floors. 


Many maintenance and repair items are necessary for a safe and habitable environment in your home.  as you develop your plan make sure these things are highest on the priority list. 


Leaks and Moisture Damage

When tearing down walls or ceilings, you may find evidence of moisture or water damage. Leaks should be sought out and fixed as soon as you suspect them. Prolonged exposure to moisture can damage structures or promote the growth of mold and bacteria. 


Common sources of leaks come from roof flashing, vents, or damaged shingles, among others. Other leaks may come from cracks in windows, foundations, doors, or faulty plumbing fixtures and HVAC units. 


You can detect leaks at home by purchasing moisture sensors from your local hardware store. Periodically check leak-prone areas,  such as your kitchen sink, bathroom, or doors and windows, even if you aren’t planning a remodel.

Energy Efficiency

While remodeling your home, consider options for improving the energy efficiency of your home. Upgrading insulation, replacing lighting or windows, and upgrading appliances can all lower the energy costs on your monthly utility bills. Over time, the savings can help pay back the cost of making the updates. 


Insulation is rated in R-values, where R refers to the resistance value of the insulation. The higher the R-value, the slower heat or coolness can move through the insulation.


Similarly, windows have ratings that indicate how much solar heat can transfer through the glass. Look for windows that have lower U-values. A U-value is the inverse, or opposite, of an R-value. Also, look for a shading coefficient or solar heat gain coefficient. Lower numbers for these two factors are better. 


Upgrading your lighting to energy-efficient LED fixtures and installing controls like dimmers and motion sensors can help save a lot of energy as well. No more having to remind the kids to turn out the lights when they leave a room!


Make a list of all of the appliances in your home and determine if they are reaching the end of their life. The that the upfront cost to replace your appliances with more energy-efficient ones may end up saving you money in the long run. The bonus is that you can upgrade to something that looks more modern or fits in with a new theme. 

Understanding Your Needs

After you’ve determined any necessary repairs and maintenance that needs to be done,  evaluate how your home could better suit your needs. Consider things like how often you’re home, how many people are in your family, and how the needs of your family might change over time.  


Some ideas to consider include evaluating how many bedrooms you currently have and how many you would like to have. Though about how you may have always piled your laundry in the hall or closet, where you could have a laundry room to hide it all away.


Think critically about how you currently use the spaces in your home. You may be inspired to design a brand-new entertaining room. However, if you currently don’t hang out as a family watching TV very much it may not be very useful. A state of the art kitchen may look fantastic, but if you are always eating out or ordering in, it may be a waste of money. 

Developing a Floor Plan Like an Architect

For many people, it’s difficult to visualize how new rooms made look or feel in your existing home. You can use painters tape to lay down lines where you think walls might go and even push furniture around to align with the imaginary walls. 


To develop a floor plan for your remodel, grab some grid paper, pencils, a ruler, trace paper, and a measuring tape. Then follow these steps: 


  1. Measure the existing walls of your home. Use the measuring tape to measure the distance between the finished face of each wall to the next. 
  2. Draw the walls on a piece of grid paper using a scale. To draw to scale, draw your lines where every foot you measure in real life you draw as ⅛” or ¼”.  For example, a wall that is 10 ft long at ¼” scale would be 2-½” in long on paper. 
  3. Include the depth of the walls between rooms. The walls themselves have a thickness, usually between 4 and 6 in wide.  You can approximate the width of your walls by measuring the thickness at a door opening. Make sure to subtract the thickness of any trim!
  4. Once you have your existing floor plan drawn, overlay tracing paper, and sketch ideas for new space in your home. 


Architects sometimes use bubble diagrams to show adjacency and connectivity. You may roughly draw a circle around a space you want to be a seating area next to a circle that represents a dining room or office space. 


Use the tracing paper liberally to test out different bubble diagrams. Once you get something that feels right, start refining measurements. Once you have a sketch of how you want your space reconfigured, you can use it to get recommendations from potential contractors or designers to help you develop a final blueprint for your home. 

How to Determine if a Wall is Load Bearing

There are some aspects of your home that you won’t be able to change. Load-bearing walls support the structure of your home and can’t be moved easily. Any structural modifications will need the input of an architect or contractor, or even a structural engineer. 


Most exterior walls are load-bearing. However, some interior walls can be as well. Large, voluminous spaces may need interior load-bearing walls or columns. 


You can identify if you have load-bearing walls by taking a trip to your basement or crawl space, or into your attic. Loads travel from the roof to the ground, which requires a path to get there.


The best way to tell is if the wall bears on another supporting member, like another wall or column. If you’re able to, go down to the basement or crawl space to see if anything is supporting your wall from underneath. If not, the wall is probably not load-bearing. 


Similarly, you may be able to see rafters or joists bearing on your wall from your attic. Look for hangers or brackets that attach to the top plate of your wall below. If your rafters or joists bear on the wall perpendicularly, there is a high chance that the wall is load-bearing. 

Finishes and Interior Design

The easiest way to breathe new life into your home is to spruce up the finishes and decor. New paint and decor can make your home feel like a brand new space. 


Replacing carpet or painting walls should be done fairly regularly. Replacing your carpet every 5-15 years depending on wear and tear. If you have animals or young children, it usually needs to be done on the sooner side. You may also consider refinishing hardwood floors at the same time you’re remodeling your home. Hardwood flooring may be subjected to heavy wear, scratches, and dents during construction. 


Make sure that the finishes and appliances you choose fit with the value of your home and the market in your area. High-quality finishes tend to be more durable and long-lasting. If you’re reselling your home, nice looking appliances can draw potential buyers to your home over others. 


To make your space feel cohesive, stick to a consistent theme throughout your home. Each room can have modifications, but unity will help improve the perception of your home. Having continuity with your style helps provide more theme options in your home. 

Seeing your Remodel Through 

It’s easy to get sidetracked with life, preventing you from finishing your remodel. As you review your plan, you may decide that you need to hire a contractor to keep you on track. 


Understand that your plan may need to adapt over time to accommodate unexpected changes. Bad weather, illnesses or injuries, job insecurities, or family issues may take priority. Reevaluate your plan periodically to make sure you’re on track. Implement course corrections as needed to help make up for lost time or reduce costs if something went over budget. 


Your reason for remodeling and prioritizing your goals will help you to finish your home remodel successfully. Even if you didn’t get everything you wanted, you should still be happy and satisfied with the final results. 


When starting your home remodel, always start at the end. 

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