Remodeling projects often provide juicy drama—think houses that gobble funds (“The Money Pit”), couples that fight (“The War of the Roses”), and projects that take forever (“Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”).
Of course, life doesn’t have to mimic art. A home renovation can run like a well-oiled machine. While not every renovation expert performs his work in the same order, most follow a similar course. They don’t close walls and paint, and then remember–oops–that they forgot to add a new plumbing stack, which would require reopening walls.
So if you’re wondering what the steps are in a renovation, read this 12-step recipe for remodeling success!
Think through how you want to use and visualize a space. Detroit-based real-estate salesman Jason Abrams of Keller Williams tells clients to write down 10 priorities. Study shelter magazines for inspiration, go online to sites like Pinterest and Houzz, or walk through local design showrooms to help refine yours.
Come up with a number you won’t lose sleep over; check Remodeling magazine’s “Cost vs. Value” report to see how much average projects cost, and then add in 10 percent for any overruns or unexpected findings, like rotted subflooring.
An owner’s representative is someone who oversees the design and build process, and makes sure you understand all the issues when making decisions. Someone with a construction background can be your advocate, says Abrams “You’ll pay from 10 percent to 15 percent of the total cost,” he says, “but it’s worthwhile.” Be sure to sign contracts that define the scope of work and the process to resolve any problems.
Hire a licensed professional to draw your project to scale. The more detailed it is, the less likely you’ll run into problems.
These are critical to avoid redoing work. Check your municipality’s latest regulations, since inspection rules change, and they vary in different locations, says Chicago interior designer Leslie Markman-Stern.
An insurance review can help ensure that you have adequate coverage in case of any renovation problems, says Greenwich, Conn., real estate expert Sabine Schoenberg, author of “Kitchen Magic.” It can also help make sure your coverage will be enough to protect your property once the upgrade is complete.
Once all your materials arrive at the job site and have been inspected, it’s demolition time, says Alabama-based kitchen and bath designer Debe Robinson. If space is being added, then framing takes place; if walls within are being moved, it’s time to install any new windows and doors.
It’s time for critical work behind walls, below floors, and above ceilings—plumbing, electrical (including housings), heating and air conditioning rough-ins, sound-baffling, insulation, and any subfloors. Greenwich’s Schoenberg likes a plumber to go first, followed by HVAC and electric pros. Next, patch, tape, and drywall for smooth exterior surfaces. “You don’t want to sand walls over a new granite countertop,” says Chicago’s Markman-Stern.
Some contractors like to install flooring, while others start this step with priming and then painting a first coat before the room is put back further (to avoid paint getting on new purchases).
Now that walls and floors are in, the room begins to resemble its finished state. Typically, cabinets are installed next, with uppers going in before lower ones, says Tom Segal, a principal of Kaufman Segal Design in Chicago. Templates are made for countertops with cutouts positioned for appliances, such as sinks. Faucets and recessed can trims are installed, and then other appliances.
Decorative detailing follows–final painting and papering, backsplashes, floor sealing, light fixtures, hardware, and any other touch-ups by pros or you.
Your house probably will be more valuable if it’s a significant renovation, so you might want an appraiser to determine the new value of your home, which can help you decide if your homeowners insurance limits are adequate.
Once a renovation is complete, be sure to take a moment to enjoy your new surroundings, and, maybe even, start dreaming of your next project.
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