How to Organize Your House Renovation

Profile Menu

Your Account More Give a Gift Subscription this link opens in a new tab Free Organizing App this link opens in a new tab


11. Making too many changes along the way

Changes that seem simple to you may require a lot of work on the back end, so be sure you check with your designer or builder on even slight adjustments. “Even moving a light switch a few feet can cost $1,500,” reminds Irving.


13. Not thinking outside the box, literally

Gutters, grading, and roofs may sound boring when there are chandeliers to obsess over, but you’ve got to build a solid envelope if you want your house to hold up. “If you’re faced with a choice of working on the outside or the inside, start on the outside,” says Irving. “No point in putting in a new floor if the roof is getting set to leak.”

Brief your neighbors

Living next door to a building site can be almost as stressful as living in one. Remember that you have a vested interest in the work being carried out that your neighbors do not, so being considerate takes the edge off any inconveniences.

Make sure your builders know about things like shared entryways and communal areas so that they don’t leave them messy or obstructed. You should also warn your neighbors about large delivery vehicles and excessive noise. Some people may be anxious about having lots of strangers working near their property, so introducing them to your team is a good way to put their minds at ease.

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

Pack Up

To make any house remodel as simple as possible, declutter, pack up or move any items in the renovation zone. For a whole-home remodel, consider renting an offsite locker or onsite storage pod to keep all your belongings secure and clean during the process. Plus: Tips for Moving Furniture

4. Expect the Unexpected

All homes hold secrets, in the walls, under the floors, and elsewhere. A renovation can bring those to light. Like when your contractor tells you your floors are uneven due to a shifted center joist while measuring for your highly anticipated new hardwood floors. Now you need to deal with the home inspector who missed it and get the floor joist repaired before the new material can go down. This is just one example of how you should expect the unexpected by planning extra time in your renovation timeline and extra money into your renovation budget to allow for unanticipated mishaps along the way.

blue-gray bathroom with red flowers Credit: Anthony Masterson

Tidy up

Unless you have hired a project manager who oversees all the subcontractors, it will fall on you to make sure the site is tidy at the end of the day. Each individual trade will do what they can to keep their work area tidy, but it is inevitable that there will be a certain amount of shared mess that nobody takes responsibility for. Sweep up and have a quick tidy at the end of each day to make sure that tradespeople who come in to start new jobs the following day aren’t held up.

Choose a Company Name

Think about what you want to achieve with naming your business and your website, Cahill advised.

“I could have named my business something personal like Cahill Creations, but would that have conveyed what I do as easily as Beacon Plumbing? No, it wouldn’t have,” he said. “Although we usually want a business name to reflect so much about us, it can sometimes be wiser to just pick the simplest of available options.”

Simple, straightforward company naming comes into play even more in the digital landscape.

“Online, everything is based on keywords and rankings, so I’d encourage new businesses to keep that in mind,” Cahill said. “Something like Seattle Home Builders would fare far better than Cahill Creations. Just be cognizant of the internet, because that’s the lion’s share of where you’ll receive your leads.”

Create Drawings

You don’t have to be an engineer to create job drawings, and chances are you’ll require some form of drawing to obtain a permit for your house remodel. Be sure to note square footage, heights and widths of doors and windows, and current locations for any services like electrical, gas or water. Plus: Add an Electrical Outlet

Keep Focus

When you’re at the beginning of your home renovating business adventure, try to narrow down the number of tasks your business performs. If you go too wide, you’ll lose focus, which might lead to issues such as missing deadlines or being late with payments. Wise entrepreneurs in the home renovation industry start from strictly limited work.

For instance, offer only bathroom renovation or only carpentry work at the beginning. Also, make your business visible for your potential clients. You can register on one of those contractor databases and become available through the mobile home remodel search. That way, it’s more likely that new customers will spot your venture and hire you for their remodeling work.

Step 2: Demolition

Once you have your plan in place and you’ve chosen

Once you have your plan in place and you’ve chosen your contractor, it’s time for demolition to start.

To make way for the new, the old has to be cleared out first. This involves not only demolition but also debris disposal, so you will likely need to rent a large roll-off dumpster to handle the waste.

A dumpster is ideal for keeping a project moving efficiently because you can remove debris from your home as it’s demolished.

This will minimize risks and mess during your demolition project and enable you to finish it as quickly, safely, and smoothly as possible.

If you decide to do any of the demolition work yourself, exercise caution and follow all safety precautions.

Demolition can be very dangerous, especially when performed haphazardly.

Phase 2: Ready, Set, Remodel

ReadyRenovate0619HOM Photo courtesy of | Credit: Courtesy of

Your plan is in place and your team is prepped—but you can’t just sit back and watch the action. Staying involved (judiciously) can help keep the reno on track.

Be aware of the pitfalls.Altering the plan after the work begins (“changing orders,” in construction speak) almost always adds time and expense to the job. “Take the extra time to nail down all the details before the project starts rather than making changes midcourse, when it will throw o your schedule and budget,” says contractor Howard Molen. Most designers and architects will use drawings and renderings to show you what they’re planning so you can see what the space will look like—and make adjustments.

Another tip for a smooth project: “Make sure all the materials arrive at the site before the work begins,” says Henderson. “You don’t want contractors to have to wait midjob. They might hop on someone else’s project during the downtime, and then it can be hard to get them back to yours.”

Keep in mind that wood flooring requires extra prep. “It should be delivered to the site a minimum of two weeks before installation and stored in the room where it will be used so it can adjust to the temperature and humidity inside the home,” says Molen. Otherwise the wood could expand or contract after installation, causing buckling or gapping.

Communicate effectively.When it comes to getting your ideas across to your team, “pictures are worth a thousand words,” says interior designer Amber Lewis. “It’s the best way to explain what you want, because designers and architects are so visually driven.” Plus, you can just point at something you like if you don’t know the technical term for it. “On our projects, we’ll laminate a drawing and stick it up on the wall,” says Henderson. “That way anyone working in the room can see the plan and all the measurements, and we can mark changes with a Sharpie.”

Handle challenges with grace.Structural, plumbing, and electrical issues. Bad weather. Construction mistakes. Some moments will test you. But know that there is a solution to every problem. “Trust your team—you hired them for a reason,” says Lewis. “That said, also trust your gut. If there is something that you know you 100 percent do not want, you have to speak up.”

Step 8: Clean House Air Vents

If you rented a dumpster, the main pieces of debri

If you rented a dumpster, the main pieces of debris should already be out of the way.

Now, sweep or vacuum up any remaining debris and grime

All that renovation dust gets everywhere, so have a professional come to clean out your air vents and furnace.

Is it cheaper to renovate or build a new home?

This depends on the scale of your renovation and what and where your new house would be. If you just want to upgrade a room or two, replace some flooring, or maybe paint a few walls, definitely consider renovating your current home.

But, if your house has some problems with its foundation, sewer, electrical, or plumbing, those costs can add up quickly. Add them to a full kitchen and bathroom renovation, paint, siding, roof, windows, and flooring, and a new house doesn’t sound like a bad option now, does it?

But this will heavily depend on where you live. Housing prices vary across cities; buying a house in rural Utah will be much less expensive than purchasing a house in Miami, Florida.

If you’re in a state with an expensive housing market, you may want to consider hanging onto your home and doing a renovation. Also check out this list for 50 housing markets that have declined throughout 2019. If you live in one of these cities, consider remodeling your home rather than selling it.

Plan Out Insulation and Drywall

Before the drywall goes up, the insulation must go in. Look at the options for insulation, and plan to use different types for different areas of the house. You'll need it in the walls and attic, and you might be able to do all of it yourself.


Before you close up the walls, you'll need a second inspection from the electrical inspector (and perhaps the plumbing inspector). They will give you the go-ahead to close up the walls.

You'll close up the walls with drywall: hanging it, mudding it, and sanding it. Drywallers hang sheets of drywall, apply drywall compound, and let the compound dry. After drying, they sand it smooth. Sometimes, they will repeat the process until they achieve a seamless surface. With some practice and patience, you might be able to do this on your own.

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Pro Tips

Consider these pro tips as you launch into your home renovation.

Give Yourself Extra Time

When planning your home remodel, give yourself additional time to reduce your stress.

There’s nothing worse than rushing to finish a project while up against a deadline just a few days away. If you want to be really safe, double the time you think that each step in the process will take; this way, you won’t feel like you’re falling behind when things take longer than expected.

Especially if you haven’t remodeled an entire home before, it’s vital to give yourself extra time. You are bound to take much longer as you learn the home remodeling process.

Research Several Contractors Before Beginning the Remodel

Chances are you won’t be conducting the whole house remodel by yourself.

In fact, you shouldn’t.

Some tasks like architecture, interior design, flooring, and large demolition projects are best left to professionals.

But, even professionals can provide low-quality services or charge you way too much!

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is hiring the first contractor you come across. The issue here is, you won’t know how they compare to others.

Depending on what service you need, you may find a good selection of contractors that provide high-quality services, or unreliable contractors that offer poor services. This is why it’s important to give yourself a few options. Then you can compare the rates and learn what a good price for your service is.

Sure, you could get lucky and stumble upon an expert who advertises great deals. But that doesn’t outweigh the risk of being charged an outrageous amount by a low-quality contractor.

Overestimate Your Budget

Ideally, you won’t have to overestimate the budget for your house renovation. You’ll get it exactly right or within a few hundred dollars. But this isn’t always possible and is not very realistic. No matter how much you plan, you’re bound to encounter some bumps in the road that cost a few hundred dollars here and there.

You don’t want a couple of financial setbacks to derail your project, so what you need to do is overestimate your budget. What would you rather do: run out of money in the middle of your home remodel or finish the renovation and have money left over?

This doesn’t have to be a huge overestimation. Depending on the size of your remodel, you could just factor a few thousand extra into your total budget, dedicated to any additional expenses you come across throughout the process.

Invest in a range hood for your kitchen

To complete your kitchen remodel, invest in a beau

To complete your kitchen remodel, invest in a beautiful stainless steel range hood. You have several options for your kitchen.

An under cabinet range hood fits under your cabinets, while a wall range hood mounts on your wall.

If your range is on an island, consider an island range hood.

Also, you can buy a range hood insert for your custom hood.

Finally, if you’re building an outdoor kitchen, consider an outdoor range hood. Find the best range hood for your kitchen below.

Think About Structural Carpentry

Carpentry that is in support of other work is known as structural carpentry. This can include moving walls, constructing new walls, adding beams to support a greater weight upstairs, punching in new doors (or removing existing doors), adding framing for new construction windows, or significantly enlarging the window openings.

Many of these projects can be undertaken by an enterprising DIYer, but some projects, such as enlarging window openings, might call for a contractor's expertise.

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

2. Spend Time in the Space

As obvious as it might seem, it is important to hold off on some decisions like paint colors, carpet, and light fixtures until you spend time in the space you're renovating. For example, if you want to replace dated carpet, the choices can be overwhelming. Dense or loose fibers? Striated or no pattern? What exact shade of gray? The answers depend on the other aspects of the renovation, like choosing paint colors. Paint palettes selected before the renovation started need to be seen on walls and could change as you spend time in the house. Freshly painted walls and new carpet can reveal that some light fixtures just don't illuminate the space as you thought it would. If you spend a little more time upfront considering how everything works together in the room you're remodeling, you can save yourself several back-to-the-drawing-board moments.

gray and white master bathroom with double vanity Credit: Annie Schlechter

Calculate Your Budget in Advance

As opposed to construction businesses, which are usually huge enterprises, home renovating ventures are managed more easily in financial terms. Nevertheless, don’t think it will be smooth sailing. With many entrepreneurs doing the same thing as you, the most important step is to ensure that you have enough budget to cover your initial expenses.

This budget should include your workers’ wages (direct labor), overhead expenses (the total cost of all the means you use to carry out the work) and direct materials (pretty self-explanatory). When you’ve calculated all those initial expenses, it’s time to see what financing models you can apply for. Make appointments in several banks and check if they can offer you some affordable business loans. Also, do some research on government grants for small businesses. Even if you don’t qualify for one at the moment, it’s good to know what options you can count on in the future.

Finish Your Home Improvement Project Plan and Get Ready to Renovate

Now that you know how to plan a home renovation, use our project guides to learn more about the step-by-step process of completing a project:


Leave a Comment