How to Create a Home Remodeling Checklist
Home remodels take months to plan and implement, and there are many steps along the way.
If you don't know all of those steps, you could easily miss something that drastically impact your home remodeling down the road. Skipping steps could result in a failed home remodel project, or expensive repairs after the remodel is over.
Most of your home remodeling checklist will involve planning, preparing and researching. Although every home improvement project is different, the checklist stays the same.
In this article, we outline each of the steps to include in your home remodeling checklist so you can prepare for your project!
1. Choose the Scope
The scope of your project is the list of work to be done. Some projects are wide and sweeping, others are narrow and focused on a few specific goals.
Perform Deferred Maintenance First
Deferred maintenance can negatively impact the value of your home and can lead to structural problems. Leaks, under-performing or broken appliances, a rickety deck and a broken garage door are all the kinds of problems that devalue your home. Take care of these issues before moving on to home upgrades like a remodel.
Consider Long-Term Goals
Do you want to age-in-place? A universal bathroom remodel could help make that possible. Will you be having another baby and working from home? Building an addition with a nursery and home office can help make that possible. Work with a contractor to discuss affordable, practical solutions that can make your home the right fit for your family.
Make a List of Must-Haves Vs. Nice-to-Haves
Later on, when you're making a remodeling budget, you may realize that your home remodel is too expensive for your budget. This is when it is nice to have a list of must haves versus nice to haves. Having prioritized the changes you hope to make, you can narrow the scope of your project based on what you can afford.
2. Do Your Homework
Research is an important part of preparing for a home remodel. Without research, your remodel could fall short in many ways. Some homeowners research their remodel for years before getting started. During the research phase, many people peruse home decor magazines, visit show rooms, use apps, and refine their ideas one piece at a time.
Decide Which Materials to Use
Building materials function and perform in different ways. Some require more maintenance than others, some are more expensive than others. Knowing the pros and cons, what the materials look like, how they feel when touched and other details can help you decide which materials you prefer. Visit home improvement centers and show rooms to generate ideas.
Consult With Family Members
Include all decision-making family members in your discussions about the home remodel. Know their goals for the remodel.
If you're planning an in-law apartment and will be inviting a senior family member into your household, have long discussions about your household arrangement after the remodel is complete. Will you be splitting the bills? Eating meals together? Sharing chores? Ask these questions before moving forward to ensure everyone is on the same page.
3. Create a Budget
Your budget is a guide that helps you avoid overspending. Making the budget early on in the planning process is important. Your budget may be flexible at first, but should be relatively firm before the project officially begins.
Get Quotes from Contractors
Meet with multiple contractors to get a sense for how much you'll have to spend to meet your remodeling goals. The bids you get will cover a range. The lowest bids may not be the best bids. Be realistic when gauging how much you'll have to spend. Remember that quality and cost are often related.
Talk to Lenders, if Financing
Some homeowners seek financing to pay for their home remodel. Home equity lines are very common loans for home improvement projects, but there are many loan options available. Explore all the options thoroughly. To the extent possible, know the answers to these questions before choosing a loan product for you:
- How much will I pay per month during the repayment period?
- How long is the repayment period?
- How much will I have to pay over time?
- Is the loan secured or not?
4. Choose a Contractor
It's imperative to choose the right contractor for your home improvement project. Don't choose the contractor with the lowest cost just because they're more affordable. You'll be living with your home remodel for a long time, and you'll want the work to be done right. Some tips:
- Vet several contractors. The more contractors you meet, the more likely it is that you'll find the right contractor for your job.
- Get references. Contact at least three references to ask questions like, were you happy with the work performed? Would you hire this contractor again?
- Read the contract. Don't sign any contract that you don't understand or agree with.
- Check qualifications. Is the contractor licensed? Are they a member of associations and organizations? Have they won awards?
5. Know the Timeline, Make Plans Accordingly
While some remodels are over quickly, some take many weeks. It's very important to know the timeline, as everyone in your household will be impacted until the work is finished.
Be Prepared for Your Remodel
Your contractor may need you to remove objects that will be in the way during your remodel. This information may be included in the contract, or may be given to you in a checklist. Being prepared will help ensure the work starts on time.
Make Plans with Remodel in Mind
Your contractor should give you a timeline of work, including start date and approximate finish date. Your contractor should also set expectations regarding the level of disruption you may experience in your house during the remodel.
Will your kitchen be unusable throughout the project? How much noise will there be? Should you set up a temporary kitchen elsewhere in your home? This is the kind of information your contractor will provide to you. Once you have this information, it will be up to you to make plans and adjustments accordingly. Will you be eating a lot of takeout before the remodel is complete? Gather takeout menus from local restaurants to make meal planning easier.
A typical home remodel starts with demolition and framing. Homeowners see dramatic changes to their home in the first week of a home remodel, and sometimes this can create the false impression that the remodel is going faster than expected. Your contractor will communicate with you if the timeline changes. Expect to stick to the original timeline unless your contractor tells you otherwise. The work is not finished until the final walkthrough and touch ups are finished.
Be Ready for Your Remodel With a Home Remodeling Checklist
Most important of all is to be ready for your home remodel. Lay the groundwork in advance, by budgeting and doing research, to help ensure that your project is a success. Working with a capable contractor is also very important because an experienced contractor will help guide you through the process.
Litchfield Builders provides resources to homeowners seek the best home remodeling contractor for their home improvement projects. Download or free guide, How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor.
About Kevin Ahern
Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.