How to Plan a House Remodel

From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here’s what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel! 

How to Plan a Remodel - everything I wish I knew!

Let’s clarify things for a second here. I am not a contractor, and this is not an article about the technical aspects of actually completing specific projects.

I’m writing this because throughout 3 months of gutting and renovating a 2600 square foot home, I’ve learned a lot about the planning, process, and execution of a whole house remodel project.

Even with a top notch general contractor, you should know the overall timeline and order of operations (so to speak) to complete a large-scale project in the most efficient and organized way possible.

You may not be gutting and remodeling an entire house, but even if you have to tear just one room down to the studs, you should be familiar with the process of putting it back together.

Completing a home remodel of this caliber isn’t entirely dissimilar from building new construction. Instead of pouring a foundation and framing a house, you’ll be tearing up existing materials. Depending on how much needs to be removed, you’ll start your reconstruction at a different part in the timeline.

I’ll get more into the timeline and budget discussion in next week’s post, but for today I want to focus on planning, design, and scope of work.

Designer or DIY?

Many people choose to work with a designer for part or all of their home design. We met with a kitchen designer but ultimately decided to save several thousand dollars by figuring it out ourselves. Some may think that is a crazy idea, while others (like me!) love taking on the creative and strategic elements of a project.

If you don’t want to be involved with the day-to-day work, you will probably want to plan to hire a designer to work with your general contractor to make sure all of the work is carried out according to plan.

Scope of Work

The first thing we had to do on a whole home remodel was to determine where to start. We needed a plan.

Before you start on any of the actual house remodeling work, you’ll need to plan out what you want to do to the house and develop a scope of work.

Are you simply swapping out paint and flooring? Do you plan to gut the entire kitchen? Are you going to re-use any of your original materials? Will you be taking down or putting up any walls? Significantly changing the layout of a kitchen or bathroom? Are you going to need to re-route any plumbing or electrical?

When we took on our own remodel project, we considered the layout of the house and thought about how we wanted to use the space, what our future needs may be, and what we would enjoy aesthetically.

The scope of work for our four bedroom, two bath house renovation looked something like this:

Every Room:

  • Change wall covering
  • Change flooring
  • Update electrical fixtures
  • New trim
  • New window surrounds
  • New interior, exterior, and closet doors

From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel! A whole house remodel.

Kitchen:

  • Re-design current layout
  • Custom cabinets
  • Custom counter tops
  • New sink and plumbing fixtures
  • New appliances
  • Move stairway and pass through to studio

I wanted to remodel my house. From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

Dining Room:

  • Remove pony wall
  • Lower raised flooring
  • Rebuild step up to sunroom

How to make house renovation plans? From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

Laundry Room:

  • Custom cabinets
  • Custom countertop

Renovation order of operations. From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

Living Room:

  • Install exterior French doors
  • Update fireplace with cultured stone
  • New mantle and hearth
  • Remove built in storage
  • Install wall between living room and hallway

Remodel house plans. From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

Office/Studio:

  • Swap wood paneling for drywall
  • Install interior French doors
  • Remove built-in cabinets

Home remodeling ideas. From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

Garage:

  • Convert storage space into pantry

Remodel plans for a whole house renovation

Downstairs Bath:

  • Refinish existing bath tub
  • Install new shower surround
  • Custom vanity
  • New sink and plumbing fixtures
  • New toilet

Home remodeling plans. From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

 Master Bath:

  • Remove built in Jacuzzi
  • Install free-standing tub and plumbing
  • Custom vanity and storage built ins
  • New sink and plumbing fixtures
  • Refinish existing shower
  • New toilet

Remodeling a house. From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

Master Bedroom:

  • Remove built in bench
  • Frame a door between bedroom and master bathroom
  • Install electrical for ceiling fan

Home remodeling plans. From developing a scope of work to selecting your design and sub-contractors, here's what I wish we knew when we decided to plan a house remodel!

Phew! I’m exhausted just reading that list. Lucky for me, I have an awesome family and lots of friends who were willing to help!

Selecting your Sub-contractors

One of the most overwhelming parts of planning a remodel is choosing sub-contractors.

Lucky for us, my father-in-law, Jeff, has been a contractor since the 70’s and spent a TON of time helping us with our project. He helped with everything from demolition and framing to paint and finish work. He’s truly a jack of all trades and there’s no way we could have done this project without him.

How to Remodel a House.
Don’t you love this subtle carpet transition?

Another way we conserved costs was by asking our friends and family to give us a hand. Throughout the 12-week remodel my parents spent at least 30 hours a week helping me out. I can’t even begin to tell them how thankful I am for all of their hard work.

They put on their gloves and helped me rip 30-year old carpet out of the entire house, peel wallpaper from every room, remove the trim and doors from the whole property, and demolish all of the built-ins and cabinets in the house. And that was just the first 10 days.

Whole home remodeling
Why WOULDN’T you want carpet in your bathroom?

My sisters Bailey and Emily also spent a lot of time out here working, and our friends Jason, Michele, Ryan, and Kristen also put in some long hours helping us out.

Since my father-in-law knows just about everyone in town, we were able to use some really great sub-contractors that operate locally. Some were old family friends, others went to high school with my husband, and a couple we just found through an internet search.

If you are having trouble finding contractors to work with, start by asking any of your friends who have updated or renovated a home. I highly recommend finding sub-contractors through word of mouth whenever possible. Another great way to find good help is to ask the contracts you’ve already booked. Don’t be afraid to ask your plumber if he knows any good tub refinishers!

Choosing a Design Style

Sometimes the layout of a home calls for a specific design style. Ours was built in 1982 and everything about it screamed “I was built in 1982!”

Remodel my home

Luckily, the house overlooks a beautiful pond, a creek, a garden, and an orchard. Out front we have two gigantic pole barns and quite a bit more landscaping. To me, the property feels like a collision of nature and industry. We decided to carry this look into the interior or the house and go with what we have dubbed a “Pacific Northwest Industrial” look. What on earth does this mean?

Well, we’re using a lot of wood. And not just wood, but knotty wood, which looks very rustic. We wanted to avoid making the place look like the interior of a log cabin, so we decided to stain the knotty alder cabinets, doors, and trim a medium-brown color.

Remodel House

To offset the warmth from the wood cabinets, we decided to go with concrete counters throughout the house. We used an off-white color with a greyish tint to paint the whole house, then added accent walls with blue and grey tones.

We are wrapping the whole look together with light wood (ahem, laminate) flooring and modern electrical and plumbing fixtures. Of course, because we love to travel so much we’re adding our own touches to the design that remind us of places we’ve been. I even had a chandelier imported from Istanbul to be the crowning jewel of our entry way!

If this whole look sounds a little weird to you, then you can just shut up right now. It’s going to be awesome.

Ooh, and one last thing! I’ve been curating a Pinterest board for the remodel, but I’ve kept it private up until now! Now that it’s made public, you can check it out!

Follow The Wanderlust Kitchen’s board House Remodel Inspiration & Ideas on Pinterest.

Stay tuned for next week’s update, where I’ll share our remodel timeline and budget. Yes, our ACTUAL budget. With numbers and everything.

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About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

Comments:

  1. Thanks for the tip on figuring out the scope of work that you want to complete. My husband and I are planning on gutting our kitchen this summer. We’ll probably going to have to hire professional interior demolition services in order to make sure it’s done properly!

  2. I didn’t think about how much of the remodel process depends on the demolition. It’s amazing that the demolition work for your house took 10 days, even with the help of friend and family. For our remodel, I think I might hire a demolition service so that it’s done quickly and professionally, especially since we’re new to the neighborhood and won’t have friends or family to help us out.

  3. Thanks for posting about house remodeling. I liked your ideas for what to do with the kitchen. I’ve been thinking of ideas for how to improve my kitchen, so I should take a leaf from your book and try to have custom cabinets and custom countertops installed. That will help give my home the fresh look that it needs.

  4. Home remodeling can be a lot of fun. It can also be really stressful if you aren’t certain of what you want. You have some great ideas here though, I think if people would look at all of the places you talk about remodeling, it would go really smoothly.

  5. I’ve been thinking about remodeling our home, however I haven’t had any idea on how to go about it! I think that I’ll try to do most of the little things by myself, but perhaps have some professional help! I love the idea of having a new mantle in my living room, so perhaps I’ll start planning that room first. Thanks for this advice!

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