top of page

How to remodel or build your new house.

How to Go About Remodeling Your Home: Where to Start

Remodeling your home can be equal parts an exciting and overwhelming task. Whether you're planning to renovate your kitchen, bathroom, or the entire home, the process can feel daunting. However, with the right plan, tools, and mindset, you can successfully remodel your home and create a space you love.

One of the first questions you may ask is, “Is it cheaper to remodel or build new?” If it’s a major remodel, for example, and the existing foundation isn’t up to code and there are other problems with electrical, and sewer or plumbing, you may need to really consider a new build. If that is the case you’re facing, check out this link to our article specifically geared toward building a new home. If that isn’t your situation, you’ll probably want to keep things simple and remodel.

Before you make any plans, it’s important to not forget to actually live in the space you’re renovating first. If you don’t hold off before making decisions like paint colors, carpet, and choosing lighting fixtures

Your decisions about colors could change as you spend time in your home. Installing a new carpet and or freshly painting the walls may make you realize that light fixtures don’t illuminate the space in quite the same way. If you take the time in advance to make sure everything will work together in the room you're remodeling, you’ll save potential crises of having to rethink the whole selection.

In general, spending an adequate amount of time planning, the more the project will likely run smoothly, and the less likely you’ll have regrets down the line.

So with that in mind, take the time required to get inspired. First off, get educated. If you’re doing the remodeling yourself, you’ll need to know about things like the right kind of materials for the climate, which can for example affect your choice of hardwood floors or tile floors. Also, depending on your local market, your choices can affect the value of your home – for example, certain styles may be more popular in the city than in the country. Although something may be to your specific taste, it could definitely affect the saleability of your home later on in the event you decide to move. For example, a rustic style interior may look good to you, but may not be appreciated by buyers in a metropolitan setting. Additionally, if the exterior of your home is of a certain period style, home buyers may generally want and expect the interior to generally adhere to this style, even if this only means preserving some of the original features, such as original moldings and trim.

So take the time to learn about your tastes, whether by researching online or reading magazines. It’s a great idea to save all of your favorite images in one place and create an imageboard. Expose yourself to images of different styles, for example, traditional, modern, rustic, “glam,” and so on.

By living in your space for a time, you may learn a bit more about how you’d like to live in it. This can help you make decisions about, for example, if you’d prefer a standard door or a sliding one.

Set a Budget

Once you’re on firm ground about what you’d like accomplished, the first concrete step in any home remodeling project is to set a budget. Here’s where to get real. Consider how much you can afford to spend on the renovation, and factor in unexpected expenses that may arise. It's important to set a realistic budget so that you can complete the project without going over your financial limits. You’ll want to bake in at least ten percent for a contingency buffer in order to cover for any unexpected issues or shifts during construction. If you ultimately don’t need it, you can always use the money to buy new furniture, but as walls and floors are opened up, there could be corroded pipes or electrical issues. Additionally, as the work goes on, you may find that there are changes you want to make. Generally we’d recommend keeping a minimum buffer of ten percent of the value of the total project.

Obviously, the bigger your project, the more time you can expect it to take. A major renovation can take weeks or even months, and you’ll need to factor in the inconvenience if you’ll still be living at home versus the cost of living elsewhere temporarily.

If you have a limited budget, you may be hoping to take on a DIY home renovation. Home improvement tasks can be fun, rewarding and far less expensive than hiring a professional, but keep your level of expertise in mind as well as the amount of skilled work the project requires. Municipalities usually require permits for electrical and plumbing work, and those permits often require a licensed professional to at least sign off on the work if not complete it entirely. Even if it seems simple, we’d recommend leaving any project that could potentially harm you or the house to a professional.

When working with a contractor, you may be able to save a bit of money by offering to demolish the existing room on your own. It's important to keep in mind however that demolition is typically a very small portion of the total cost of a project, amounting to just five to ten percent. It may also be a bit more involved than expected, and it's critical to know the location of plumbing, electrical wiring, and studs before you start hitting things and knocking drywall down.

In terms of where to spend the budget, it’s a great idea to list your priorities and figure out what are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves. If you can remodel the entire house, then using about fifty percent on kitchen and bathroom renovations is recommended, as these tend to add the most value to a home. If you can’t do the entire house, you’ll probably still want to prioritize these areas.

Consider how much space you have to work with. An older home will often have a smaller kitchen, and you may want to consider opening up and expanding it to meet modern needs. Doing this may allow you to insert an island, which can be great for hosting guests and attracting buyers down the road. How much cabinet space do you need, and do you want a pantry? Space for double ovens, double sinks, and double dishwashers are all things to think about for large families. When dealing with smaller bathrooms, lighter color tiles and lighter paint can make it feel larger, and darker color hardware can make it pop without seeming boring. Potential buyers usually love a larger master bathroom, so expanding this can be a great idea. Some options are adding a double vanity, separate tub and shower, or even a soaker tub. If you’re working with a design builder like 88 Builders Group, we can help you consider and make these kinds of decisions.

Using relatively cheaper materials that still look expensive and that perform well is the wise choice if you don’t have a huge budget. Utilizing prefabricated kitchen countertops and cabinets rather than custom ones can also mean a similar quality and look for less. You might select ceramic tiles with marble-looking patterns. Again your design build contractor should be educated and able to help you with making selections that can save you bank but still look great.

Not everyone can afford to remodel their whole house at once, but if you live in the house as long as you can until you can afford to do all the work at one time, you’ll likely save on materials by ordering them in bulk and, and contractor bids will usually be less for one job as opposed to doing many smaller piecemeal ones.

Plan Your Layout

Once you’ve determined your budget, before starting any work, you’ll need to plan your layout. This includes determining where you want to place appliances, lighting, and other fixtures. This step is crucial because it sets the tone for the rest of the renovation. Consider consulting with a professional to help you design a layout that maximizes space and functionality.

You’ll want to refer to the inspiration you originally got from magazines and websites like Houzz. Again, take the time to really think about this step and organize your inspirations. Examine what styles are popping up for you most often. That’s probably the direction you’ll want to take things.

If you’re remodeling an entire home, you can mock up a floor plan on the computer using some of the great software on the market. Hiring an architect can be a great option but this will cost at least several thousand dollars in most cases.

If you’re creating your own drawings, which you will probably need in some form to obtain permits, be certain to note square footage, heights and widths of doors and windows, and current locations for any services like electrical, gas or water.

Choose Your Materials

As mentioned, the materials you choose can make a significant impact on budget, and from flooring to countertops, there are a multitude of choices available and many decisions to be made. If you’re doing the work yourself, big box hardware stores will have much of what you need, and local specialty stores may have great options for things like tiles, countertops, door handles, and more. In addition to price, consider the style and durability of each material before making a final decision.

There are lower-cost and luxury options for every kind of material you may need, but you'll also want to weigh how each will affect the space in determining where to splurge and where to save. Higher-end materials may be a smart choice for a room or item that will get a lot of daily usage. In contrast, you can likely save and choose lower-cost materials with details less functional for everyday life.

If you’re meeting with an interior designer you’ll probably want to narrow down your preferences first. Based on all that inspiration you got from interior decorating websites and magazines, get a handle in advance on the direction you want to go with the design, otherwise you risk getting talked into ideas that down the line could conflict with your personal vision. Don’t forget to keep the designer away from selecting overly expensive materials and keep them on the budget you already worked out for the project.

Hire a Contractor:

If you're not experienced in home renovations, it's best to hire a contractor to oversee the project. A reputable contractor can provide guidance, manage the work, and ensure the project stays on track. Be sure to check references and verify licenses before hiring a contractor. Get multiple bids. Of course, 88 Builders Group recommends selecting us, but check out our full guide on “Choosing the Right Contractor for Your Remodel” here.

By the point that either you or contractors are working on the space,y ou want to feel confident about the style and material choices you've made. Avoid last-minute change requests and be clear on your expectations from the start.

For straightforward jobs, you probably won’t need a designer. For major remodeling work, including kitchen redos, hiring someone to draw up finished plans can save you a lot of headaches. Keep in mind that certain firms accept only specific types of work. For example, architects will often only take on new builds or complicated additions. Some may not take on residential work at all or won’t handle smaller jobs. They will create rough drawings, then preliminary drawings, then—finally—plans that cover every aspect of the project, including all the materials and products and at least some construction methods. You’ll send that final plan to contractors to obtain competitive bids.

Because architects typically work apart from contractors, by hiring one you’ll get both an independent designer and, later, someone who works on your behalf to monitor the work.

If you want only advice and drawings for a straightforward job, you’ll pay by the hour or a fixed fee. For big jobs and help with project management, architects usually charge a percentage of the project price—typically around 10 percent for a simple addition to 15 or 20 percent for a whole-house redo or build.

House Designers

Although they lack architects’ formal education and apprenticeships, the difference between a qualified designer and an architect often comes down to the latter’s knowledge of engineering, which, for most home improvement projects, is not essential.

Some house designers belong to the American Institute of Building Design, an organization that’s easy to join if the designer has a modest amount of experience. On the other hand, Certified Professional Building Designers (look for “CPBD” after their names) have passed a series of rigorous examinations on building codes, building materials and systems, residential architecture, and more.

Some house designers work for design-build companies, which can be one-stop shops for entire projects, but some work independently.

Like architects, independent house designers charge by the hour or quote a fixed price (preferable), depending on the level of service, or bill a percentage of the final construction price if they’re supervising and directing the entire affair. If design work is done by the contractor, the cost is usually rolled into the construction tab.

Prepare for the Renovation:

Once you have a plan in place and a contractor hired, it's time to prepare for the renovation. This includes packing up items that may be in the way, protecting furniture and flooring, and setting up a temporary kitchen or bathroom if necessary.

Consider Your Routine

If you're an experienced DIYer, you are likely good at working around the disruptions of a house remodel. However, if you've hired a contractor for any part of the job, be sure to be clear about your daily routine, and work with the contractor to come up with start and end times that cause the least disruption in your family's day. After all, no one wants to encounter tradespeople while you're still in your bathrobe.

Plan For Outages

If your home is lacking plumbing shut-off valves in the area you are working on, you may have to shut the water off at the main valve, leaving your home without access to running water. Plan ahead and place containers of water in the fridge for drinking, on the counter for cooking and have buckets of water available to flush the toilet. An easy way to do this is to fill the bathtub with water and place a bucket nearby to pour into the toilet bowl. Plus: 10 Tips to Survive a Blackout


Make a Master List

To have the best chance of success, and to help in the budgeting process, make a master checklist of items you need, from administrative tasks like permits, right down to rollers for the paint. It's helpful to separate the list by items you have, and items you need to purchase. In the case of tools, making a list can help you decide which tools you can rent to save on costs versus purchasing new. Plus: 10 Vital Home Maintenance Tasks You'll Regret if You Forget

Obtain Permits

Many homeowners consider obtaining a building permit as an unnecessary headache which can slow down the renovation process, but permits are a necessary part of the process in most cases, which can come back to haunt you if not obtained in the first place. Building permits are necessary to ensure your house remodel meets structural and fire safety requirements and code inspectors in most jurisdictions can make you rip out non-conforming work if not up to snuff. This can create a very expensive headache when looking to sell your home down the road. It's always advisable to think ahead and ensure the permit process is followed.

6. Create a timeline and stick to it.

The best way to reduce your stress during the remodeling project is to create a timeline. Without one, home remodeling could take years.

You may run out of time yourself and just never get the chance to finish up the project. Or you might be waiting on a contractor to follow up with you for several weeks, which keeps the remodel from moving forward.

Creating a timeline can help you move this process forward. Any plan you’ve set forth can be proposed to your contractor too – if it’s not realistic, you can work out a new one with them. If it is, they will do their best to stick to your time frame.

Following your timeline doesn’t mean that the first timeline you make will be the only one you follow. If you encounter setbacks, modify it as necessary.

But no matter what, keep a timeline updated. This way, even with several setbacks, you’ll still have a plan to finish your house remodel.

Remodeling your entire house is a huge project. It can take anywhere from four months to a year. To keep the process moving, always update your timeline and stay in touch with contractors, designers, and other professionals to ensure everything is moving forward.

Or, if you’re conducting more of the renovation yourself, make a plan and stick to it! Maybe devote a few hours a day on the weekends, an hour a day on the weekdays, or whatever your schedule allows.

Complete the Renovation:

With the prep work out of the way, it's time to start the renovation. Be sure to communicate with your contractor regularly to stay updated on the progress of the project. Remember that unexpected issues may arise, so be prepared to adjust your plans if necessary.

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 mid-course, when it will throw off 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 mid-job. 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% do not want, you have to speak up."

If your renovation involves any major electrical, plumbing or structural work, there's a good chance your local municipality will require an inspection to approve the permitted work. This inspection ensures the work was done properly and won't be a danger to the home or anyone in it.

A beginning-to-end general contractor will often handle the permit application and inspection scheduling process as part of the total cost of the project, though that is something you should clarify in advance. Otherwise, you are responsible for providing the paperwork in advance and scheduling the inspection. For some work, like plumbing, the inspection must be conducted before walls are installed to cover up the pipes, so be sure you don't skip this key step in the renovation process.

Enjoy Your New Space:

After the renovation is complete, take the time to enjoy your new space. Whether it's a new kitchen or bathroom, be sure to take in all the hard work that went into the project.

Complete the Punch List

At the end of the project, you may still be left with nicked paint in the hallway, crooked outlets in the kitchen, and sconces that were installed upside down—in other words, with a lot of little mistakes that need fixing. Construction pros call these final items the "punch list." Your contract should include a plan for attending to them and (typically) a provision that you will not make the final payment until they've been completed to your satisfaction.

"When a job is finished, I walk through every space with a pad of Post-it notes and stick them to anything that needs fixing," says Hanisch. But there's no need to wait until the end of the job to alert your contractor to any issues.

Think Ahead

Stay in touch with your renovation team if you think you might want to work with them again. Bolster your good relationship by providing referrals or writing a positive online review. Then relax and enjoy your finished renovation. Until you're ready to start thinking about the next one.

In conclusion, remodeling your home can be a rewarding experience that can add value and functionality to your space. With a solid plan, budget, and team in place, you can successfully complete your renovation and enjoy your new space for years to come.


Remodeling your home can be an exciting and daunting task. Whether you're planning to renovate your kitchen, bathroom, or entire home, the process can seem overwhelming. However, with the right plan, tools, and mindset, you can successfully remodel your home and create a space you love.

After months (or years!) of saving and dreaming, you're ready to embark on a renovation that will put Chip and Jo to shame. You've taken your "before" pictures, and you're eager for the improvements to begin. And yet you know you're committing to a long, expensive project that will disrupt your normal routine.

There's so much to manage, and the process can be full of unknowns. While there's no way to avoid every bump in the remodeling road, having the right guidance can improve the trip. We asked top design and construction pros to share their best insights into every stage of the process.

Sooner or later you may join the millions of people who remodel their homes each year. Perhaps it’s at that moment when you realize that avocado green and harvest gold are no longer the “in” colors for today’s trendy kitchens. Or maybe you have an epiphany one day as you stand in line to use your own bathroom. Whatever the impetus, the thought crosses your mind: Maybe it’s time to start a home remodel. The reasons for home remodeling are as varied as the projects we undertake.

Some of these include:

Adding more space

Upgrading cabinets, counters, appliances and fixtures

Creating a floor plan that’s customized for your lifestyle

Improving energy efficiency with new windows, doors, insulation, and climate control systems

Increasing the resale value of your home

Where to Begin

The first step is to develop an idea of what you want to do with your home remodel. Write a prioritized list of your needs and wants. There are many sources to find design ideas for your home remodeling project. Look at magazines and websites and collect pictures of homes or remodeling projects you like. The more clearly you can envision the project and describe it on paper, the better prepared you’ll be in making your decision.

Think about traffic patterns, furniture size and placement, colors, lighting and how you expect to use the remodeled space. If your decision to remodel involves creating better access for someone with limited mobility, you may want to consider contacting a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist.

You may want to improve home efficiency and hire a professional remodeler for green home remodeling. These projects include replacing windows and doors, upgrading heating and cooling systems, adding insulation, and other remodeling to make the home more energy-efficient, easier to maintain, and comfortable.

Figure out how much money you have to spend on the home remodeling job, furnishings, landscaping or any other cost you might incur.

Can you do it yourself?

Once you have created your list of priorities, you’ll need to decide how to accomplish that vision. For the handyman or woman, a do-it-yourself project can be both rewarding and cost-effective. However, more than 30% of all jobs home remodelers perform come from failed DIY projects.

Hiring a professional remodeler is the best way to ensure your project’s success. These remodelers are dedicated to maintaining the highest integrity and standards in the industry.

If you decide to hire a professional, your next steps should include learning how to:

Choose which remodeler is right for you

Avoid contractor fraud

bottom of page