How to Develop a Home Remodel Timeline and Budget

By far one of the most important yet tedious parts of planning a major remodel is developing a timeline and a budget. Then comes the really difficult part; actually sticking to either one!

By far one of the most important yet tedious parts of creating a house remodeling plan is developing a timeline and a budget. Then comes the really difficult part; actually sticking to either one!

When we first started planning our project, I had no idea where to start. I didn’t have a clue how much anything cost or how long each process would take. I took careful notes throughout the entire home remodeling process so I could share what we learned with all of you!

First, I’ll share with you our general timeline so you can see how long each part of the process took, but be aware that much of this is dependent on the schedule of your sub-contractors and may change if when you encounter any problems.

After we talk about home renovation timelines, I’ll share with you our construction and remodel budget so you can see where all the money went. Yes, this is our REAL budget!

If you’re just joining us, be sure to check out this post on how I inherited this house, and this post on how to begin planning a remodel.

Timeline

  1. Planning
  2. Demolition
  3. Electrical & Plumbing
  4. Framing & Drywall
  5. Paint
  6. Cabinets & Fixtures
  7. Doors & Surrounds
  8. Cleaning
  9. Flooring
  10. Trim & Finish work

Developing a Remodel Timeline and Budget!

You may be wondering what order to do home renovations. Here’s why it is important to do it in this order:

1. Planning: hopefully you understand the importance of planning everything out before you get started! Determine your scope of work, and do what you can to get rough estimates from sub-contractors to help solidify your budget. Make a list of what can be put off and what needs to be done now. Acquire any plans and permits necessary to complete the work.

2. Demolition: Things have to get worse before they get better! Get all of that old crap OUT of the house. You may want to rent a dumpster. Once you get all of the old cabinets and vanities out of the way, have your cabinet makers drop by to measure. It will take a few weeks for them to build and stain the cabinets, so you better get going on them early.

3. Electrical and Plumbing Rough-In: First of all, rough-in refers to the work that is done behind the walls or beneath the floors. This should be done before you take care of drywall, paint, and flooring so you don’t have to damage anything by trying to re-wire electrical or bring plumbing up through the floor. You’ll need to have a schematic of your kitchen and bath plans (and any other room requiring plumbing or electrical work) available to your sub-contractors so they know what the end goal is. Your electrical won’t know where to put light switches or outlets if he doesn’t know where your cabinets or fridge will be! Your sub-contractors can also help give you direction towards purchasing the right products. You don’t want to buy a bath tub that won’t work in the space!

4. Framing & Drywall: You might use the same sub-contractors for framing and drywall, or you might have one outfit do the framing and another come in to take care of putting up the drywall and texturizing the walls. Once the drywall is done, you’re done with all of the nasty work and now you get to put all the pretty new stuff into the space!

5. Paint: If you had any drywall work done, they likely put down plastic and taped off the areas where they were working. Check to make sure the seals are still good, then you can tape off anything else that needs to be protected from paint. For large projects, professionals use paint sprayers and the residue gets just about anywhere that isn’t taped off!

6. Cabinets & Fixtures: Ready for the fun stuff? This is when it really starts coming together! Get those cabinets installed so you can sort out your countertops. Work with your electrician and plumber to install fixtures and finish work. For example, we installed a new free-standing bath tub, so the plumber did the rough-in work of making sure we had water/drain access in the right places before the drywallers came in. At this stage, we had the plumber come back to actually set the tub and hook up the faucet. This is also when we had our fireplace refinished with cultured stone.

7. Doors & Window Surrounds: If you are installing any carpet in any of your rooms, you’ll want to have the interior and closet doors hung in those rooms prior to installation. You can usually install laminate flooring before the doors are hung.

8. Clean House & Air Vents: Sweep or use a shop vacuum to remove any remaining debris from the house. Hire professionals to come clean out your air vents and furnace. There’s likely a lot of construction debris in the vents!

9. Flooring: Install carpet, tile, and any remaining laminate flooring. Cover the air vents if you are cutting any flooring in the house.

10. Trim & Finish Work: The last thing to do before you move on in is install the trim and finish work. Most of the dirty work was done in step 7, but the baseboards and door frames will probably be nailed up at this stage.

Developing a Remodel Timeline and Budget!

Here’s how this worked out with our timeline (remember, we also had to work around all the crazy holidays!):

  1. Planning: This took me about a month before we actually started the project
  2. Demolition: 3 weeks (Day 1 through 21)
  3. Electrical & Plumbing Rough-In: 4 days (Day 22 through 26)
  4. Framing, Drywall, and Texture: 10 days (Day 29 through 39)
  5. Paint: 5 days (Day 39 through 44)
  6. Cabinets and Fixture Installation: 10 days (Spread out between Day 45 and 70)
  7. Doors & Window Surrounds: 5 days (between Day 64 and 74)
  8. Clean House & Air Vent: 1 day (Day 65)
  9. Flooring: 9 days (between Day 66 and 90)
  10. Trim & Finish Work: 7 days (between day 73 and day 90)

Budget

Our budget for the entire project was $100,000. Holy CRAP, right?! That’s a LOT of money.

Developing a Remodel Timeline and Budget!

I won’t lie; it was a little freaky blowing through that much money in just 3 months. I tried to remind myself that we weren’t really “blowing” money, but we were just sort of transferring it from our bank account into our home equity. Just remember, all that hard work and investment creates additional equity in the house! (If you do it right, that is.)

Here’s a breakdown of where that money went:

  • Demolition: $0 (we did it ourselves!)
  • New appliances: $8,833
    • Fridge: $1,849
    • Oven: $1,388
    • Gas Range: $0 (repurposed)
    • Dishwasher: $999
    • Microwave: $809
    • Washing Machine: $989
    • Dryer: $799
    • TV: $2,000
  • Electrical: $4,599
    • Labor: $1,700
    • Supplies: $419
    • Fixtures: $1,806
      • Bath fan: $110
      • Pantry Lighting: $80
      • Studio Lighting: $24
      • 7 Flush mount Ceiling Light for Bedrooms, Closets, Hall: $154
      • Stairway Sconce: $55
      • Living Room Sconce: $55
      • New Globes for Downstairs Fan: $23
      • Master Bedroom Ceiling Fan: $75
      • Tub Area Lighting: $60
      • Vanity Lighting in Bathrooms (2): $229
      • Kitchen Floodlighting: $88
      • Master Bath Can Light: $24
      • Track Lighting for Kitchen: $200
      • Track Lighting for Living Room: $200
      • Under Cabinet LED Lighting: $151
      • Dining Room Lighting: $80
      • Entry Way Chandelier: $198
    • Smoke Detector Alarms: $50
    • Carbon Monoxide Alarm: $40
    • New Switches, Receptacles, Dimmers, and Covers: $584
  • Plumbing: $6,443
    • Labor: $1,680
    • Fixtures: $1,445
      • Tub Filler: $638
      • Instant Hot Tap: $213
      • 2 Toilets: $420
      • 2 rain shower heads: $52
      • 1 tub/shower fixture replacement kit: $122
    • New Bathtub: $1,343
    • Bath and shower refinishing: $1,525
    • Kitchen Sink, faucet, and bathroom faucets: $0 (provided by Kraus!)
    • Bathroom sinks (2): $263
    • Downstairs Tub Surround: $187
  • Bathroom Accessories: $145
    • Shower Rod: $50
    • 2 toilet paper holders: $37
    • 2 hand towel holders: $26
    • 1 towel bar): $32
  • Framing: $2,275
    • Materials: $225
    • Labor: $2,000
  • Drywall Labor & Materials: $4,600
  • Doors, Window Surrounds and Trim: $18,706
    • Installation for Doors, Trim, and Window surrounds: $3,200
    • Door Stops: $23
    • Keyless Entry System: $233
    • Door Locks and Hardware: $550
    • Manufacturing & Staining: $14,700
  • Paint: $926
    • Behr Marquee Paint: $0 (Provided by Behr!)
    • Paint Labor: $800
    • Supplies: $126
  • Tile & Labor (kitchen and bathrooms): $900
  • Carpet, pad, and installation: $1,713
  • Laminate and pad: $6,506
  • Cabinets (Kitchen, both bathrooms, laundry): $15,400
  • Cabinet Hardware: $750
    • Kitchen: $500
    • Bathrooms: $200
    • Laundry: $50
  • Concrete Countertops (kitchen, both bathrooms, laundry room): $6,240
  • Masonry + Glass Fireplace Doors: $3,100
  • Supplies: $303
    • Chip Board: $254
    • Underlayment Paper: $36
    • Protective Plastic: $13
  • Pantry Storage: $180
  • Kitchen Eating Bar Slab: $800
  • New Fireplace Mantle: $800
  • Air duct cleaning: $450
  • Expenses related to maintain dual residences: $3,000

GRAND TOTAL: $86,669

Well, there you have it! A complete rundown of our remodel construction timeline and budget.

Developing a Remodel Timeline and Budget!

You’re probably wondering how I knew how much to spend on each of these items without having a budget to work from to begin with, right? I mean, I didn’t just contract for all this stuff and *happen* to come out at a grand total under my maximum budget. I’m awesome, but I’m not that awesome.

Where Do I Start?

Basically, I put together a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel and just started coming up with categories. I didn’t really know where to start, so I just started adding line items for the things I knew I wanted and took a guess at how much they would cost.

For example, I knew I wanted one of those cool, ultra-modern free standing bath tubs and I though they probably cost about $600. WRONG! Try $1,300 on sale!

I also knew we wanted to replace all of the electrical switches, receptacles, and covers in the house. With the cost of product and labor, I thought we’d be looking at close to $1,500. Wrong again! All in, we spent about $585 and I installed all of that stuff myself (with the help of my parents, of course!).

You have to start somewhere, so just start making a list and then do some online research or call around to ask about costs.

Because I’m a freakishly-over-prepared type person, I also included the cost associated with maintaining two residences (property taxes, insurance, etc.) into our budget so I could keep track of what the “real” cost of the project would be.

What about Labor Costs?

The most difficult thing to budget for is the cost of labor. Sometimes I hear people say that labor will account for 30% of your total budget. For us, the total cost of our labor was close to $15,000. Granted, it is sometimes hard to determine if a line item counts as labor or materials.

Take our concrete countertops for example. Our contractor isn’t charging us “x” amount for materials and “x” amount for labor; the cost is simply determined by square footage. Our contractor is “laboring” to make our counters, but in the end he is simply delivering us with a “product.” I didn’t count our countertops as “labor” for this reason. Generally speaking, if you can breakdown a cost “by the hour”, it’s probably a labor expense.

Budgeting for actual labor costs (like when you are paying an electrician or plumber for their time on the job) is made even more difficult by the fact that you don’t know how long a given project will take. You have no idea what kind of electrical nightmares may be lurking behind your walls, or how difficult it might be to move plumbing around to get your ideal kitchen layout.

If you are working with a general contractor, your contractor should be able to give you an idea of how much labor costs should be for a given project. Of course, in order to do so you will have to know exactly what needs to be done so your general can estimate the time that it would take a subcontractor.

Developing a Remodel Timeline and Budget!

The Dreaded Contingency Budget

The best thing I did in our budgeting and planning process was build a contingency budget into our plan. Most people will tell you to budget for 10-20% contingency depending on the complexity of your project.

If you are just installing new flooring, updating fixtures, painting, etc., a 10% contingency budget will do just fine. If you are moving walls, changing any plumbing or electrical, or pretty much doing anything in the kitchen, I’d plan for a 20% contingency budget.

I know that this sounds CRAZY because you need every penny you have to do the remodel, right?

Well, here’s the fun part: Plan everything like you only have 80% of your total budget to get it done. Once the walls are closed up, you get to consider spending that money again. Generally speaking, the vast majority of things that could go wrong will happen or be discovered between demolition and drywall. This is the time when you find faulty wiring, leaky pipes, black mold, termites, cracked foundations, etc.

Once you get through that stage, you can use what you have left of your contingency budget to do the fun stuff and splurge for that awesome chandelier you love instead of going with the boring pendant light. It’s like finding surprise money!

You may have noticed that while our renovation budget was $100,000, our total came out to $86,669. What are we going to do with the leftover $13,331, you ask?

Well, we have a few ideas!

I’d love to get your opinion on what we should spend it on:

  1. New stamped concrete patio between the house and the pond (with build in fire pit, duh!)
  2. Update the exterior with a new paint job and a custom timber frame entry (maybe we could even paint the pole barns!)
  3. Convert the original “residence” on the property (a small shop fitted with a 70’s style kitchen, bathroom, and wood stove) into extra housing for our family and a fun recreational area for the husband and his friends.

Who knows… if I budget it correctly, maybe we could do all three!

I’d love for you to keep in touch! You can enter your email address below to get new recipes (and remodel updates!) sent to you. Join me on Facebook and Pinterest!!

Special thanks to Behr and Kraus for sponsoring this series!

January 7, 2015 | Last Updated on May 5, 2020 by Linda

36 thoughts on “How to Develop a Home Remodel Timeline and Budget”

  1. I may have missed it, but can you give more information on the scope of your project? How big was the home? How much sq/ftg did you add? Single or two story? Crawl space or slab foundation? Area of the country you live in?

    I am in Northern CA and on the brink of adding a master bath and some additional sq/ft to the master bedroom. We intend to incorporate some space from covered porches into the interior footprint and completely open up one side of the home for an open concept kitchen/dining/living… I love what you have put together and will use it as a template for my planning and budgeting. As of now we are just finishing up our own drawings for the designer to use for his professional drawings we will use for permitting and architectures.

    Wish us luck,
    Brian

  2. Agree! Planning is the most important for whatever you do. Identify your budget and renovate within your means. Will definitely bookmark this awesome guide for future reference. Thanks a lot!

  3. You make a good point stating that shopping around can help save money on quality faucets, doorknobs, etcetera. I’m currently remodeling my bathroom and we’re on a budget so my husband wants me to buy the least expensive items. I know in the long run this can be a bad idea because we’re going to have problems when they start wearing out faster.

  4. It really seems like a hard time, but it can be joyful if done properly. It is the first thing we have to do this summer vacation with my husband. Glad to read your process step by step, you really expose the budget and explain the pros and cons of it.

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