Taking on a home improvement project, whether it’s DIY concrete flooring or the addition of a master suite, is almost always going to take more time and energy than originally expected. Home renovations and remodels also tend to follow the same overall process no matter what the project is.
Below is an overview of the general steps you’ll have to take once you’ve decided to move forward on a home improvement project. Each step helps ensure the next will go as smoothly as possible.
Step #1 – Project Planning
Before the home improvement job begins it helps to have a plan from start to finish already laid out. It can’t be stressed enough that planning is the most important step. The work you do in step one can either make everything else easier or more difficult.
During the project planning phase:
- Research material and labor costs for your area.
- Decide what will need to be handled by a professional.
- Create a budget based on your research.
- Add a 20% contingency to the budget to cover unexpected costs.
- Decide how you will cover the costs.
- Make a supply list.
- Note any inconveniences you’ll have to work around.
- Start interviewing contractors.
- Create a project schedule.
During the planning phase you’ll also need to figure out if special permits are needed. If so, get the process started now because it could take a while to secure a permit.
Step #2 – Demolition and Clean Up
Most renovations and remodels are going to involve some degree of demolition. It’s an out with the old, in with the new situation. In all honesty, most homeowners consider the demolition part to be fun. However, the clean up – that’s a different story entirely.
If the project is sizable you’ll most likely need to look into local area dumpster rentals. A roll-off dumpster can be placed on-site so that construction debris can be thrown inside. This makes the demolition and clean up go much faster, and it also keeps the construction site safer. Depending on where you live, there may be city regulations that require you to have a dumpster for clean up.
Step #3 – Ready Your Supplies
You may have already done this before demo, but if not, now is the time to gather all of the supplies that you’ll need to complete the job. Any special order materials, like kitchen cabinets, need to be scheduled to arrive ASAP. Beyond that you’ll need to clear out a secure space for all of your supplies. They need to be stored in an area that can be locked or you run the risk of your supplies getting stolen.
If you know you’ll need to rent equipment for the job hold off until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready. Most rentals are charged by the day, which can needlessly eat into your budget if you’re off by a few days.
Step #4 – Get to Work on the Major Stuff
It’s time to roll up your sleeves. The step-by-step plan is going to vary depending on the project and whether you’re using a contractor. However, here’s a basic recommended workflow:
- Foundation work
- Window installation
- Rough plumbing
- Rough electrical
- HVAC conduits
- Ceiling and wall drywall
- Texture ceiling and walls
- Floor underlayment
- Cabinet and counter installation
- Trim installation
- Lighting fixtures
- Plumbing and electrical finishes
If you had to get permits, your property will also need to be inspected by a city official. Once the work is nearing completion, schedule a time for the inspector to come out to your home. Depending on how many people are ahead of you it could take a while to get an inspector out to sign off on the project.
Step #5 – Add the Finishing Touches
Doing the finishing touches, sometimes referred to as the “punchlist”, is where the work can get tedious and time-consuming for minute details that are hard to see. But all of those small details add up. Resist the urge to cut corners or rush through the finishes. If the finishing work is sub-par it can undo all the hard work you’ve done to get to that point.
After looking at the space for so long it can help to get a fresh set of eyes during the finishing touches. Enlist the help of a friend or family member who has a knack for detail.
Step #6 – Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
Once the “punchlist” is done you can officially call the project complete. Now the moment you’ve been waiting for – it’s finally time to sit back, relax and enjoy your new and improved living space.