Step by Step Guide To Remodeling

Step by Step Guide to Remodeling


So you’ve decided to invest in your home and do that remodeling project you’ve been dreaming about. You’ve done your research and are ready to pull the trigger to get things started.  With so many moving pieces associated with successfully completing a remodeling project, one of the questions I’m always asked at this stage of the game is “What happens next?”

There are design decisions to be made, materials to select, contractors to schedule, permits to pull . . . the list goes on. In this blog post I share the Step by Step Guide to Remodeling. This list was compiled from real life remodeling project experiences and a lifetime of working in the design and construction industry.

These steps will help you understand how your project is going to progress from start to finish and will help to demystify the entire process . . .

Step 1: Decide on a Design & Outline Your Scope of Needs

Working with a skilled designer who will help you define your needs as well as create the perfect design layout is the first and biggest hurdle to clear in the remodeling process.

Step 2: Create Design Plans and Job Specifications

Once you’ve decided on a design and defined your needs, your designer will create a full set of working plans and job specifications. Using these documents as a guideline, you can obtain quotes from contractors and vendors for the materials to be used in your project.

Step 3: Are you going to act as the project manager, have your designer be the project manager, or will you hire a general contractor?

The answer to this question really comes about by asking more questions:

  • Do you have the time to act as the project manager? This means communicating with and scheduling all contractors, pulling permits, ordering and coordinating delivery of materials, arranging for removal and disposal of debris. If you answered no, then either having your designer act as the project manager or hiring a general contractor is the way to go.
  • Can your designer act as a project manager? Do they have the connections with contractors, suppliers, as well as the experience in managing a project of this nature? In this case the designer could act as the project manager, but most likely you would be billed directly from the contractors for their time and materials. Also in this case you, as the home owner, would be required to pull the necessary permits with your town. If the answer to these questions is no then you should consider hiring a general contractor
  • Do you want someone to manage the entire project, pull the permits, schedule the sub-contractors and order the materials? Do you want to write checks to just one company? If you answered yes to this question then hiring a general contractor is your best choice.

Step 4: Interview & Hire the Contractor

Finding a general contractor that you feel comfortable working with is another big hurdle to clear in the remodeling process.  Just like the great relationship you have with your designer, you want to develop the same relationship with your contractor. They will be in your home and be in contact with you almost daily throughout the duration of your project. I always recommend interviewing at least two contractors.

How do you find a good general contractor? I recommend asking your designer first. They usually have developed relationships with contractors who can deliver the finished product as it is designed. You can also ask friends, family, and colleagues for a reference – anyone you know who may have had a similar remodeling project done in their home.

When you meet with the contractor, have your finished plans handy and also come prepared with a list of questions. In my blog post 10 Things You Must Do When Choosing a Contractor you’ll find a list of some must ask questions. While this is a good starting point, feel free to add any additional questions of your own.

Step 5: Select and Order Your Project’s Materials

Depending on the agreement with your designer and general contractor, you’ll either be selecting these materials on your own or with their help. If you’re at a loss of where to shop, ask your designer or general contractor. They’ve developed relationships with vendors and have many more resources than your usual go-to places.

Bring your design plans with you as you shop, and use them as a guide for selecting the proper materials and obtaining quotes from the vendors. If you are working with a general contractor they may give you an allowance for materials in your project (this means they’ve allowed a certain dollar amount for each item). If you go over this allowance any difference will be an additional charge.

One thing I recommend is to find out lead times when selecting materials. Is the item in stock or does it have a long lead time? I NEVER recommend starting a remodeling project unless all the materials are on site or in stock at a local distributor.

Step 6: Schedule the Contractors & Pick a Start Date

The materials are ordered and contractors have been selected. Now it’s time to pick a start date. This will usually depend on when your contractor can fit your project into their schedule, but they also may ask if there is a particular time-frame that works best for you.

Depending on the type of project, there could be factors that dictate the best time to choose a start date:

  • If you are going to open up any exterior walls, then warmer weather is usually a better time to do this.
  • If your project is a kitchen remodel, would it be easier plan it for the summer when life is a little more casual and grilling outdoors is a viable option?
  • If remodeling a bathroom, what other arrangements do you need to make for showering while your bathroom is out of commission?
  • Do you have a vacation planned in the near future? This is an ideal time to have a remodeling project done – just as long as you aren’t the project manager!

These are just some scenarios to think about. It’s best to have this discussion with your contractor early in the selection process to get their feedback on how they will schedule the project in a way that meets your needs.

Step 7: Pull Permits & Arrange Delivery of a Dumpster

This step will apply if you are managing the project, or your designer is the project manager. If you have hired a general contractor then they will take care of this step.

Permits with your town will need to be pulled before the construction projects starts. Contact your local town official for the details on what’s required for this.

Schedule the dumpster to be delivered the day before construction begins. Ask your contractor where would be the best location for it. This will minimize debris being hauled through your home.

Step 8: Clean Out the Space

Remove any and all personal items from the remodeling area. This is a great time to review if you really need to keep some of this stuff!

Step 9: The Project Begins

Depending on the complexity of your project, there is a natural order as to how the construction progresses. The list below is for a remodeling project where the space is being torn back to the studs:

  • Tear out & disconnect plumbing, electrical and HVAC
  • Rough framing
  • Exterior window & door installation
  • Rough electrical, plumbing and HVAC
  • Insulation installation
  • Drywall/wallboard installation
  • Painting of walls – This step will depend on your painter. Some like to come in before any cabinetry or trim is installed. Others prefer to be the last ones on the project.
  • Flooring installation
  • Finish carpentry, interior doors & cabinet installation
  • Counter tops
  • Tiling of wall surfaces
  • Finish plumbing, electrical, HVAC
  • Window treatments and furniture

Step 10: The Punch List

During this final phase of construction, you (and your contractor or designer) are making a list of all the loose ends to be tied up and completed before the project is considered finished. This is the time to make sure everything is working properly and all the details are finished!

Cleanup and Enjoy!

Your project is finished; can you believe it! Now it’s time to do a good final cleaning, and move all your personal items back in. Enjoy the finished result – you deserve it!

Having been a designer since I was in my early 20’s, I have seen it all when it comes to remodeling projects. The people who get thru these projects with their sanity and relationships intact all had these things in common:

  • They were patient
  • They had a sense of humor
  • They realized that things happen
  • They kept telling themselves that the final result will be well worth the wait!

Materials get delayed, sub-contractors reschedule, unforeseen construction changes can happen…

If you can accept this then you’ll be a much happier camper before, during and after your project is completed.  Good luck!


If you are looking for a design team that can take your project from conception thru completion then you need look no further than Denyne Designs LLC. With our 30+ years of design and construction experience, as well as wide range of skilled contractors and vendors who provide quality products we can do it all.

Contact us today to discuss your project and let’s explore how we can help you create a space that you will love for many years to come!


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