oakland home renovations

Where to Start When the Entire House Needs Remodeling

Whether you are deciding to remodel a home you have been living in or you are starting on your fixer upper, looking at a whole-home reno project is a daunting task. Looking at a list of things that need to be done is intimidating, and it can be hard to figure out where to start.

When the entire house needs remodeling, it is best to batch all the work and then work down the line. Start with demolition, then move to HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and anything else that works behind the scenes.

Working down a specialized timeline can help save you time, money, and future headaches.  The key with a successful  project is working with the right remodeling contractor, a good contractor can save you thousands of dollars in wasted spend as well as saving time and frustration throughout the project. Read on to learn how you can start and plan your remodel and the recommended steps you should take to complete your house remodeling.


Where to Start When Your House Needs Remodeling

Before you remodel, you should first plan out everything you know you will need or want done to the home. Putting this information into a spreadsheet helps keep it organized and gives you the chance to add more information like price and contractor details.

Examples of “needs” in remodeling:

  • Updating or maintaining electrical components
  • Foundation repair
  • Roofing
  • Securing doors or windows

Examples of “wants” in remodeling:

  • Updating paint or flooring
  • Updating fixtures
  • Removing or adding walls (unless the walls are compromised)

What it comes down to is whether the work done to the home is essential to keep it safe, secure, and functioning. Anything aesthetic can be considered a “want”.

Get a Professional Pair of Eyes to Help You Out

If you purchased the home as a fixer upper you probably already had a home inspector go through and note any issues with the home. If not, you should have at least one professional come out and inspect the house. They can point out every issue to you and give you pointers on which ones are most pressing.

It is also a good idea to have more than one inspector look over the home. Having multiple sets of eyes and points of view can help you make sure that nothing is overlooked. Different people value different things, so having a wider view of the home gives you a better idea of the situation at hand.

When searching for a good home inspector, try:

Check out any reviews or complaints for possible candidates. When you narrow down your list, ask each inspector for a sample copy of an inspection. This gives you an idea of how they present information and how thorough they are.

You should also ask about any additional testing that they do. Things like termite or mold should be dealt with while you are remodeling, but not all inspectors test for them automatically.

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The Steps to Remodeling an Entire House

When you are remodeling, it is important to work through a specific sequence of projects. While some of the later projects can be moved around depending on the specifics of your remodel, it is generally a good idea to follow this specific schedule for remodeling so you do not cause problems for yourself later.

For example, if you do not get your rough-in work done first, then you will find yourself removing walls and potentially messing up anything you have installed at that point, including paint, flooring, doors, and windows.

Generally speaking, the order you should remodel your house is:

  • Planning
  • Demolition
  • Rough-in work
  • Framing and drywall
  • Painting
  • Cabinets and fixtures
  • Doors and windows
  • Interim cleaning
  • Flooring
  • Trim and finish work
  • Adding furniture and decor

If you do not need to work through some of these steps – great! Just make sure that you still work in order. If all your undercover systems are functioning fine and you just need cosmetic work, then go ahead and skip to that.


The one step that you cannot skip is planning. Taking the time to inventory all your problem areas, consult a professional, and map out the entire remodel is essential to its success.

Your planning process should include:

  • Budgeting
  • Contingency plans
  • Deciding which parts you can do yourself
  • Securing contractors

Take your lists of needs and wants and add an estimated cost to each project. This will require some research that involves finding out the current cost of materials and labor. Figure out what you can afford, ensuring that your needs are covered.

You should also add an extra 10-20% to use in case of an emergency, and you can also have smaller scale projects to default to if the original plan does not work. With luck, you should not need to tap into your contingency fund.

You can save money by doing any projects that you feel capable of doing, but avoid things like plumbing, wiring, or dealing with load-bearing walls. Less specialized tasks like installing cabinets or painting are easier to do, but you need to make sure you have the appropriate time to deal with them.

Before you start any work at the home, you need to secure and schedule the appropriate contractors. When looking for a contractor, make sure they are licensed and insured. A contractor should also acquire any necessary permits for the work.


Before you get started doing any work, it is important to remove anything that you plan on getting rid of or anything that could inhibit the process. Your contractors should chime in to let you know what needs to be done.

You can do the demo work yourself, but you need to make sure you have the right tools and safety material to do so. You should also plan to rent out a dumpster so you have a large area to dispose of all the demolished material.

Clean up anything that will get in the way of work being done on the home, but you do not need to worry about deep cleaning at this point. It is just going to get dirty again.

Rough-In Work

Anything that works underneath other structures like HVAC, electrical, or plumbing systems needs to be dealt with first so you do not need to dismantle walls or flooring in the future.

Have diagrams of your remodel on hand so that plumbers and electricians can reference them and modify any of these systems before the work is done.

Rough in work should be done by a professional, so you can take a break from the DIY projects while this is underway.

Framing and Drywall

Once you have all your systems updated and in place, you can deal with any remodel projects that deal with removing, relocating, or constructing walls.

Clear up any areas where walls were removed to open up space and open up any areas where you will install new doors and windows.

This is also when support beams and drywall will be installed to create new walls. You can have your contractor tape and float the new structures or you can do it yourself, but make sure that is done before you begin painting.


This is probably the step that most people feel they can do on their own, but there are a few things you should consider before committing to it as a DIY project.

Painting is tedious work, and it can put a lot of strain on your back and arms. While it is generally easy to do, spending hours repeating the same process may actually be a bit outside of your comfort zone.

  • If you can afford to hire a professional, it can save you a lot of time and stress
  • Professional painters tend to have material that cuts the time required in half and gives for a smoother application

This is one step that can probably be moved around depending on your preference. Painting before doing floors means that the floor installation can damage your walls, especially if you are going to be sanding hardwood. Contrariwise, painting after installing new floors risks paint damaging them.

Doors and Windows

It is especially important to install new doors before installing new flooring so you can test and make sure the flooring does not impede the function of the door. While this is not usually a problem with hard flooring like tile or hardwood, carpet can have a major impact on how easily a door opens.

Door and window installation go hand in hand, so if you will also be replacing or adding windows to the house you should try to have them done at the same time.

Interim Cleaning

Deep cleaning before installing new flooring ensures that the dust and trash is not trapped underneath the material

You can also have a professional come out at this time to clean out the furnace and air vents. All the mess from remodelling can impact the system, so it is essential to have it cleared out before use.


Installing new flooring towards the end of your project will limit the damage done to it, but it should be done before you install anything that would do better on top of it.

You usually do not want to install flooring around things like appliances and cabinets. This can limit the work that can be done to the house in the future, and it impacts things like the height of anything else going into the house.

Cabinets and Fixtures

After your flooring is secure, you can go ahead and add secondary features like cabinets, shelving, and fixtures.

This is also where you might want to reinstall things like appliances or anything else that was removed from the home to protect it while renovations were under way.

Trim and Finish Work

Adding trim, baseboards, and molding is one of the last steps in remodeling. This is because you also patch up any aesthetic problems at the same time, improving the look and feel of the home.

During this stage you should patch up anything you do not want, like covering any nail marks or addressing chips or nicks on the paint or floor.

If you are lucky, you will not have much to do, but there is always something to be done before you can consider the remodel done.

oakland home reno project

Why Remodeling Room by Room Is Not Recommended

Remodeling by room is great if you still need to have living space in the home, but it does not have the benefit of batching your work.

When you are remodeling room by room, it means that you will have to hire contractors to come out and work multiple times, thus costing you more money. You essentially need to run through the entire remodeling process over and over again for each room.

You may also run into a problem in one room that interferes with work you have completed in another room. This should not be as much of a problem if you can get rough work out of the way first.


Remodeling your home is a challenging task, so it may be difficult to figure out where to start. Planning ahead and laying out a specific set of tasks to complete is important for making sure your house remodeling is done properly. Element Home Remodeling East Bay is an Oakland based home remodeling contractor. We specialize in major renovation and home addition projects with a focus on great communications and customer service. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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