4 Steps to a Proper Remodel

Remodeling >

In an algebra problem, you calculate the products before the sums, or you end up with the wrong solution. In a remodeling project, you install the electrical before the cabinets, or you end up starting over from square one.

Whether you're acting as your own general contractor or hiring an outside company for this role, you need to follow the correct order of operations if you want your home-improvement project to proceed smoothly.

1. Know the details of your project

Jason Abrams, star of HGTV's Scoring the Deal and founder of high-end realty company Abrams International, says that homeowners should start the construction process by determining exactly what the project will entail.

"You are not going to agree on everything. And you're not going to be able to do everything that you want," Abrams says. "We are all constrained by time, budget and patience. That’s why meeting and discussing the process is so important.”

Contracts are another important part of the process, and should be finalized before any construction begins. Abrams says that contracts should state an estimated time of completion and explain the responsibilities of general contractors or sub-contractors. Contractors should state how much they will be paid, on what dates and what the penalty fee will be if they fall behind schedule and miss deadlines.

If you are acting as your own general contractor, you'll need to draft such contracts with each sub-contractor you hire. If you are not, you'll need to agree on a contract with your general contractor.

2. Contractors need to pull permits and complete any needed demolition.

3. Any plumbing and electrical work must be completed before workers begin finishing work such as cabinets, tiles, dry wall and paint.

John Tabor, president of Rockville, Md.-based Tabor Design Build, says that once the inside-the-wall components of a job are done, his workers hang drywall. They then move on to flooring, installing hardwood or tile floors.

4. Once the floors are done, workers will hang wall cabinets and then base cabinets before moving on to the smaller finishing touches such as painting.

"Homeowners only think they are getting close to the end when the new cabinets go in or the hardwood floor is installed," Abrams says. "But those are the last things that should happen. You build from the inside out. It might look like there is no headway being made even though plenty is happening."

Knowing this order of operations is important for homeowners. But for Tabor, the most important might be the first: determining exactly what you want out of your project.

"Look at magazines and Web sites for ideas," Tabor says. "You need to know what you want so you can communicate that to others."

Tags: remodel, order, planning