remodeling project sunnyvale ca

How to Plan a Whole House Remodeling Project

Planning an entire house remodeling project may seem like an almost impossible, daunting task. However, with the right steps, you can make the entire process go by seamlessly.  Here in The Bay Area, remodeling projects are hot with home owners.  Many homeowners are finding it more affordable to completely remodel their current home compared to selling and buying a new property.  The cost of real estate and real estate fees has made it a much more attractive option.

This article will cover how to plan an entire home remodeling project, from the initial steps to choosing a proper contractor for the job. That way, you can avoid simple, costly mistakes and end up with a beautifully remodeled home.


Decide Exactly What You Need Remodeled

Think of what you need, from room layouts to styles, and keep these considerations in mind:

  • Look at your home’s current layout and decide if that’s what’s best for your lifestyle. Maybe you dislike dining rooms and find them wasteful of the space; in that case, you may want to consider turning that unused space into an office or children’s play area. Perhaps an open layout is better than closed-off rooms.
  • Make sure what you want is doable. Some walls can’t be removed because they are load-bearing; a construction engineer will be able to let you know what can and can’t be moved while maintaining the home’s integrity.
  • If you plan on reselling, plan around future style trends. This article by Insider covers some of the trends that will most likely become popular and what will be outdated.
  • If the house is meant to be a permanent home, will it accommodate future children or animals? A house remodel may be expensive, and you don’t want to have to tack on additions or remodel again in the future.

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Set a Budget

Once you’ve determined the specifics of what you want out of your home’s remodel, come up with a budget. The contractor you hire will be able to compare your list of remodeling wants with your set price and tell you what is or isn’t doable with your budget.

Remember that sometimes unforeseen issues may arise, so add a little cushion to your budget just in case. Also, note that you’ll need a certain amount of funds to accommodate any temporary living situation you’ll have during the remodel (more on this below).


Think About Your Timeline

While all of the considerations mentioned are important, one of the most important will be your timeline. This will be dependent on the amount of work that needs to be done to your home, how quickly your chosen contractor can work, the weather, and other unforeseen issues that may cause delays.

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Decide On Your Living Situation During the Remodel

If you’re doing a full house remodel, chances are you’ll need to temporarily live somewhere else at some point during construction, so having an estimate of how long the entire process will take will help you determine how much money and time you will need to set aside to ensure you can pack, move, and still live comfortably wherever you end up staying.

The building process itself can range from 3-9 months after you and your contractor have acquired the right permits and permission from your HOA (if applicable) and have agreed on a design. With that said, it’s often best to plan to rent or stay somewhere else temporarily for up to a year, so you have room for delays.

If your planned remodel is not too invasive, you may decide it’s more cost-efficient to stay on the premises. However, it’s worth noting that you should be prepared and ready to adjust your living situation at each stage of the process. For example, if you’re getting plumbing or electrical work done, plan for your water or power to be out for some time while they’re being worked on.

You’ll also want to pack some of your belongings and move them out of each room that’s getting remodeled, so they’re not in the way of workers.


Decide if an Interior Designer is Necessary

If you know exactly what you want and what you like, you probably won’t need a designer. However, if you struggle with choosing finishings or fixtures, they might be one of your biggest assets.

Designers are familiar with current trends and understand what clashes or matches. Enlisting a designer’s help is a good idea for those who are completely lost when it comes to the inside of the house. Even if you have a basic idea of what you’d like, they can pull it all together for you, so it looks tasteful and matches. Designers can also help you avoid expensive mistakes.

So, although hiring a designer is not necessary for the remodeling process, it could benefit you to add to your budget for one just in case.

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Choose a Contractor

We’ve all seen people getting scammed in the news from shady companies that promise to do the work, take the payment, and run. With that said, the first thing you should do when choosing a contractor is to make sure they are reputable and have good reviews; check the BBB for any complaints.

Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for:

  • They request the entire project amount upfront. Do not choose a company that requires this. This is where most people get scammed out of their money.
  • They do not respond in a timely fashion. These people will be working with you long-term and if they can’t respond within a few days, move on. Communication is incredibly important, especially with projects as big as remodeling your entire home!
  • They ask for more leeway or potentially an unlimited amount on budget or materials. A good contractor will tell you what is possible within your budget, as long as it’s reasonable. This needs to be discussed in depth before hiring.
  • They don’t require permits. These are necessary, and while they can be costly, depending on your location, you absolutely need them.

With this in mind, it will be beneficial to get multiple bids for the job. Be wary of offers that are far too low for what you need and bids that are too expensive. Unexpected costs can happen, and it’s imperative you speak to them about this and make sure you work out a plan for how you’ll be handling these issues, should they arise.


Acquire the Proper Permits and Permissions

This is often overlooked by many people who are doing their first home remodeling. Permits can be obtained by you or your chosen contractor; however, all reputable contractors should have permit costs included, and having them take care of this step for you will ensure it’s done correctly. Also, whether you can get a permit is also State/County dependent; for example, permit laws in Texas will be drastically different than in California.

If you do it yourself, you may run into hiccups, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process, which can end up creating more expenses in the future. This is why it is recommended to let a contractor handle all permits. Otherwise, you risk costing yourself more in the long run.

Another thing to consider is your HOA. If you live in a neighborhood or community governed by an HOA, you’ll need to view the covenants, conditions, and restrictions to determine whether you’re allowed to remodel or make any significant changes to your houses. Usually these rules only apply to the exterior of homes, but regardless it’s safer to get pre-approval, even if you only plan on renovating the interior.

If your HOA does grant approval with certain conditions, make sure your contractor is aware of them.

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Choose Appliances, Fixtures, and Finishes

This is another element that will be incredibly important. Appliances come in so many different styles and colors. These will be with you for a long time, so it’s best to make sure you choose ones that will be ideal for you in the present, but again, think of the future. If you plan on having many dinner parties or have a large family, an eight-burner stove may be perfect for you. Choose what suits your lifestyle.

Make sure you cover everything, including kitchen sinks, bathroom fixtures, and even lighting. You’ll want all of these picked out before starting to make sure your contractor can order everything on time. Small delays can become large delays if the items you’ve chosen are not in stock.

If you aren’t sure you’ll like a particular flooring, paint, or backsplash, go to a home improvement store. There’s a Lowe’s and Home Depot in almost every city and can be good resources to decide if you really like what you’ve chosen.

They also have paint samples you can pair with other finishings and allow you to purchase small samples to bring into your home, which will help you physically be able to see if they go together or not. If you are not sure what you think you’d like, ask the employees for assistance, and they will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.


Plan to Supervise the Construction Once it Starts

You do not need to be over your contractor’s shoulder 24/7 if you trust who you hired. However, it is good to set aside time so you can pop in occasionally and ensure the remodel is being done to your specifications. Sometimes things can get mixed up; maybe they bought the wrong flooring. If you are checking in often enough, you’ll be able to catch problems early on. 

It may even be helpful to discuss with your contractor to have you approve any finishings before they lay them down. This is also why it’s important to get a contractor you trust and who has excellent communication.

Note: Do not let a contractor bully you or make you uncomfortable if you ask to check their progress. This is your money and your home; you have every right to view the progress or ask about it.


Have an Inspector Ready to Ensure the Remodel is Up to Code

Everything will need to be up to code with your home’s remodel once it’s completed, or you’ll run into issues. In some states, not having things like your plumbing, electrical, or HVAC system up to code can make you liable for the costs of potential damage if you sell the home without informing the buyer.

So, once you’ve remodeled your home, plan to have a professional come by to perform an inspection, especially for any new plumbing or electrical work. Do not have drywall put back up until you have the okay from an inspector; otherwise, you might be stuck having to tear it down and redo it.

Some contractors or builders may already have people on their team dedicated to inspecting your home to ensure everything is up to code. If not, it’s best to ask your contractor for recommendations. You can also ask your homeowner’s insurance provider for recommendations as well.


Final Thoughts

The process seems complicated, but contractors, home improvement stores, and designers can all be assets and make things easier for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions from anyone because this is your home. Lean on the professionals you have properly vetted and trust. Any of them will be able to answer questions or will know someone who can.

Element Home Remodeling is a design build home remodeling contractor in Mountain View, CA. We specialize in whole house remodeling projects that are clean, modern and designed with that particular homeowner in mind.  Contact us today for a free consultation.

Element Home Remodeling
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