How to Renovate a House

How to Renovate a House

Organize The Process and Save Your Sanity

The process of renovation can be mind-bending. Here is one suggested whole house renovation timeline.

1. Design and Planning.

Whether it’s a sketch or full-blown architectural plans, some type of planning and design always comes first.

2. Roof, Foundation, Siding, Windows.

Protect your future renovation work by making certain the house won’t collapse on you and that it will remain dry.

  • Secure the foundation.
  • Make major structural repairs to areas such as weakened walls, joists, and carrying beams.
  • Repair or replace roof.
  • Replace seriously damaged windows that may threaten future remodeling work. If not seriously damaged, leave it for later in the process.
  • If the siding is so damaged that it will allow water infiltration, repair or replace the siding. If not seriously damaged, leave it for later in the process.

3. Demolition.

Depending on the scale of your renovations and the condition of the house, demolition might be the first step.

4. Structural Carpentry.

At this time, call in the carpenters for major carpentry projects. Things like:

  • Moving walls.
  • Constructing new walls.
  • Significantly enlarging window openings.
  • Adding beams to support a greater weight upstairs.
  • Punching in new doors (or removing existing doors).
  • Adding new construction windows.

5. HVAC Ductwork, Electrical, and Plumbing.

With the walls and ceiling open, it’s time for the HVAC company to install ductwork for central heating and air conditioning. With the walls accessible, run new electrical and plumbing systems. Electrical and plumbing inspectors will visit at this time.

6. Insulation.

Last thing to do with the walls open: install fiberglass batt insulation in the walls and attic. Insulation goes fast, so give your drywaller a call.

7. Drywall.

  • A second inspection from the electrical inspector (and perhaps the plumbing inspector) will give you the go-ahead to close up the walls.
  • Drywallers hang sheets of drywall, apply drywall compound, and let the compound dry. After drying, they sand it smooth. Sometimes, they will repeat the process until they achieve a seamless surface.

8. Flooring.

Installing the flooring later in the renovation process saves your flooring surface from significant damage.

9. Windows.

Install new-construction or replacement windows.

10. Fine Carpentry.

Here’s where you introduce carpentry that doesn’t involve structural issues. Install baseboards, molding, trim around windows and doors, built-in elements (bookcases, breakfast nooks, etc.).

11. Interior Painting, Wallpaper, and Other Surface Finishes.

Painting interior walls, molding and trim, staining and sealing trim: all of these surface finishes should be the last items you do indoors.

12. Siding, Gutters.

With the house mostly finished, it’s safe to put on siding. You don’t want to do this earlier (unless necessary) because doors and windows may get punched out, ruining the siding.

13. Major Auxiliary Building.

Last, do major auxiliary building projects like:

Large building projects like additions should come last. My view is that you do this last. Don’t deplete all of your money on projects not related to renovating the house. An alternate view is that you may want to build an addition very early in the process. This will help you avoid ruining work you do in the main part of the house.

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