How to remodel a home

How to Remodel a Home: Steps to Plan It Out and Save Money

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Your love your home, your neighborhood, and all the wonderful things that go along with being a homeowner.  But you wouldn’t mind a little bit more square footage, especially in the kitchen where the island is too close to the cabinets.  Or in the living room, which could really use a larger bay window  Or in the master bathroom that would be so beautiful with the addition of a glass shower.  If this sounds at all familiar then you have probably considered a home remodeling project.  You’re not alone.  Homeowners take pride in where they live and want their home to fit their lifestyles as well as look attractive.  But where should you start your remodeling journey?  

Here are some clear cut methods to plan, execute, and finalize a home renovation all while saving money.  

1. Make a Plan

Home remodels, no matter how small, always need a plan.  Without a clearly laid out plan your home remodel could go awry and lead to a loss of money and incomplete work.  To begin, clearly define what you want remodeled.  Is it a bathroom vanity, a new window in the kitchen, or something much large such as an addition to your home?  No matter the size just write down the exact remodel you want.  While you are brainstorming your remodel, consider what the changes will do to your home’s resale value, especially if you are considering selling within the next few years.  When you have the remodel decided upon you can begin your search for the best people to complete your project.  

2. Assemble your Crew

Finding the right people to complete your home remodel may take time.  With ever changing schedules and competing remodels, contractors can be very busy.  So it’s best to start looking for a crew right away.  Begin your search by asking for referrals..  Many times friends, neighbors, or family may have had success with a local contractor on their own home renovation so this is the best place to start.  Once you have a couple of word of mouth referrals you can do some additional research online.  Perhaps your community has an online group that give recommendations.  You can also do a basic internet search for contractors in your area.  Look for people who have experience, positive reviews, plenty of testimonials, and photographs of completed remodels.  

After the basic search its time to interview. During your meeting discuss cost, previous experience, insurance, employees, and licensing.  When you are satisfied with the potential candidate you should further discuss payment arrangements.  Legitimate contractors will always require written agreements as well as provide payment arrangements.  Contractors that do not require a written agreement, ask for full payment upfront, or only take cash payments should raise a red flag.  

3. Get Ready for Construction

You’ve found your crew and you are moving forward with the home renovation.  Now its time to map out a timeline and complete essential tasks to make your home remodel a smooth and successful process.  Discuss the timeline with your contractor.  This means discussing conflicting projects that he/she may have and a projected completion date.  While this date may change slightly during the remodel it should stay relatively consistent.  With the timeline in mind and the scope of your home remodel you need to decide if you are going to stay or live elsewhere during the remodeling.  If you are going to stay you need to be prepared for disruption of your basic lifestyle, especially if the remodel will be in your most used rooms such as the living room, master bedroom, or kitchen.  

4. Figure out Finances

Home remodels can be expensive, but they do not need to drive you into debt.  It is important to consider how you are going to pay for your remodel before you begin.  Some homeowners may have saved enough to pay for their home renovation but others may need a bit of financial assistance.  Several options exist such as credit cards, a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit, or a home improvement loan.  

How much will your renovation cost?  A minor, mid-range kitchen renovation or mid-range bathroom renovation will cost around $26,000.  Major kitchen renovations will cost closer to $75,000 and a major upscale kitchen or mid-range bedroom suite addition will cost $150,000.  These costs are always in flux depending upon your location, supply and demand, and contractor fees.  With these numbers as a general guide you can begin to decide what your budget will allow.  

After your financial budget has been arranged and you feel comfortable with the path of your remodel you have nothing left to do but wait.  While you are in the midst of your home remodel you may feel the urge to add additional projects.  After all what’s the harm in splurging for a bathroom towel warmer or adding that extra 400 square feet to your addition?  The contractor is here and the work is in process so a few additions can’t hurt, right?  This impulse is common among homeowners and something that should be avoided as every addition will increase your final cost as well as lengthen your time frame.  Stay away from impulse additions but be prepared for possible changes to your remodel that can’t be avoided.  Electrical and plumbing issues are the most common necessary changes but other issues that arise could be structural in nature.  To ensure that you are prepared for these unavoidable situations you should have an extra 10%-20% extra in your budget.  If an issue does arise that will change your project get a fixed price from the contractor.  The additional work and cost should be put in writing.

If you decide that you want to save additional money you can look for alternatives to high-end items.  For instance marble countertops can be expensive but you can choose a close alternative like quartz, which tends to be more affordable.  Everything from vanities, cabinet hardware, and appliances can be found at a lower price on discount website.  If you do choose to search for alternative materials remember that your search may take additional time.  Also, some items such as smart and stainless steel appliances should not be passed over because they are very popular among homebuyers and will increase your home’s value.  

Home remodeling projects can take time and money but in the end they are usually worth it.  Remain patient, stick to your plan, keep your finances in check, and soon you will be enjoying your fully completed home remodel.  

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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