BLB Design / Build team members at one of our Newburyport whole home remodel projects

The Order of Importance for a Home Renovation

Embarking on a home remodeling project is an exciting venture, but it can also be daunting if you need help understanding the process and order in which the work should occur. Tackling a remodeling project in the wrong order can lead to redundant work, increased costs, and even damage to finished areas of the house. For example, imagine the inconvenience of having freshly painted walls only to realize later they need to be disturbed for electrical work. A well-planned remodeling sequence can save you time, money, and headaches. Keep reading to learn the order in which you should remodel your home and why.

Rolling up construction plans at a home addition project in Topsfield, MA

Photographed by Freebird Photography

1. Design Scope Phase

A solid plan sets the foundation for a successful remodel. During this phase, you’ll create a detailed design with our sales team and architect, set a budget, and obtain necessary permits once a contract is signed. At the top, defining your goals and priorities sets your project up for success. Setting a realistic budget, including a contingency fund, is also essential to help guide you during construction. Skipping this step can lead to costly mistakes and delays later.

2. Demolition

This step can be messy and disruptive, including clearing out old flooring, walls, fixtures, and appliances and safely disposing of debris and hazardous materials. However, removing outdated or damaged elements is essential and prepares your space for new installations. Once the walls are open, we inspect for structural issues like rot, roof damage, and water leaks. These repairs often involve major work that can affect other parts of the house, so they must be addressed before any pre-planned work continues.

3. Framing

After demolition is complete, the next step is framing. Framing will provide the groundwork for your new space and can include, but is not limited to, new exterior and interior walls, new door and window openings, rooflines, non-structural knee walls, and any built-in details. While the bare bones of your house are exposed, this is a great time to revise the layout of the approved plans or discuss any proposed in-wall additions, such as extra plumbing, electrical, or recessed fixtures and finishes.

4. M.E.P.s

Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing will occur while the framing is exposed. These systems are the backbone of your home’s functionality. Upgrading or relocating electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems ensures they are efficient and up to code, preventing future issues:

1. The plumber will reroute or replace existing pipes to improve water flow and quality, maintain the National Standard Plumbing Code, and install the required rough fixtures, such as shower, tub, faucet, and toilet rough-ins.

2. The electrician will install all in-wall wiring up to code and update the existing wiring and paneling to adhere to the National Electric Code or to accommodate new appliances and lighting.

3. Your HVAC system will be upgraded for better climate control and energy efficiency, and the technicians will run new ductwork in the open bays of the framing.

Lead carpenter at BLB Design / Build working on a mudroom addition project in Newburyport, MA

5. Walls

Once the rough plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems are in place and the local inspectors approve the required inspections, it’s time for insulation and drywall. If any MEP changes are needed, adjusting those elements before insulation is installed is vital for a well-organized remodel. New insulation will provide peace of mind during New England’s dueling swelteringly hot and chillingly cold months while also providing adequate energy efficiency per code. We always schedule an insulation inspection before blueboard or drywall installations.

6. Flooring

Next up is flooring. Whether it’s hardwood, tile, carpet, or LVT, new flooring transforms the look of your home and can be one of the most significant visual changes. Installing it at this stage prevents damage from earlier construction activities. After installation, we cover the flooring to protect it until the project is complete. While interior trim, such as window casing and baseboard, can wait until after the floors, we recommend installing all interior doors and casing before flooring to provide the installers with a surface to butt their materials to.

7. Cabinetry and Fixtures

Your new floors will provide a smooth and level surface, allowing the project to move into the finish stage. These finishes include kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, built-ins, and specialty wall finishes, such as wainscoting or board-and-batten trim. Installing them after flooring ensures a seamless fit and finish. Countertop templating should always follow the installation of the cabinets or vanities, with sinks either onsite or in place. This will guarantee the stone (a large and pricey element of the remodel) is templated and cut to the proper size. Templating should never be done if the cabinets are not in their final location. 

8. Remaining Trim Work and Paint

Next, we install any remaining trim that abuts millwork, including baseboards or molding. Adding the final trim after millwork prevents wall damage and ensures a tight fit. Painting can occur once the trim is in place and all trades and craftspeople vacate the job site. Painting should always commence closer to the end of the project when no one else is onsite. It is imperative to eliminate residual dust as minuscule particles can adhere to the primer and paint, causing rough and bumpy finishes. While painting should be “last,” the prep, priming, and initial coats should be completed before finish plumbing and electrical to avoid drips or overspray on furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

9. Final Touches

We are now at the home stretch of your project! At this stage, we install lighting and plumbing fixtures, hardware, wallpaper, and other accessories like mirrors that could be damaged if installed too early. Following the final building inspection and sign-offs, our project manager and lead carpenter will collaborate with you to create the final punch list and schedule the punch list completion timeline.

While no two construction projects are the same, following this order of operations in your home remodeling project will ensure a smooth and efficient process, regardless of scope or size. Each step builds on the previous one, minimizing disruptions and providing a high-quality result. By partnering with a knowledgeable contractor, planning carefully, and proceeding methodically, you can transform your home into a beautiful, functional space that you’ll enjoy for years.

Are you seeking a partner to guide you through your home renovation? Connect with us to see how we can help!