Get Started Planning Your Home Remodeling - Home Improvement Projects

Getting started with your construction project but not sure where to start? Below you will find an outline and list of questions to prepare yourself and make home remodeling plans. When you take on a home remodeling design project it is important to plan and anticipate various costs. Keep in mind you may need to be able to troubleshoot construction problems when they arise. Hiring a specialized home improvement project contractor and deciding remodeling plans before beginning your home improvement project is a step in the right direction. Stay organized, have solid communication with your remodeling design subcontractors, pre-order materials, be informed and knowledgeable with the construction and on top of the project.


Our outlines and tools will help you better understand how to organize your construction project every step of the way. If you hit a roadblock and feel stuck at a given point in the construction process, sometimes it’s best to ask for help. We offer construction consulting, construction management and full General Contracting services in San Diego. We can help you tackle your home remodeling plans and know we are here to help. Contact DIY Construction to get in touch with one of our specialty home improvement project contractors to answer your questions or set up a time for a home improvement estimate.

A. PHASE 1: Define your home remodeling and Budget

When you plan a home construction project you should be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish? Why are you remodeling?
  • Are you planning a kitchen remodel, a bathroom remodel, add an extra bedroom, expand your living room or build a house?
  • Do you have a budget for your project?
  • Ask yourself what are you prepared to spend?
  • When executing your project what other areas will it affect? How do you need to incorporate those other areas into your planning for your remodel?
  • Important dates: When do you want to start your remodel and when do you want to be done?

With these basic questions answered you can proceed to the next.

Sign up for our free DIY Construction tools and worksheets. Starting with the following: Sketch Grid, Subcontractor Bid outline, Materials list.

What is your budget?

Having a budget really answers how serious can you be about your project. If your budget is too small for the project you want. You may need to change your project or get creative with how you execute your project and take a more hands on approach. And or increase your budget.

B. PHASE 2: What is your budget?

In order to have a realistic course of action you need to know what your budget is going to be. We recommend having two numbers in mind. As with many construction projects, unexpected conditions come up and you need to be prepared financially to take care of these contingencies financially if needed. A good number to prepare for these potential costs is 20% of your bid project cost.

Materials cost: The biggest variable on your project is usually your selected materials. This can be flooring selections, tile and wood floor, appliances, cabinet choices, plumbing fixtures, door types and even lighting and electrical fixtures. When getting bids we advise go look at your product choices ask the contractor what budget is he putting in for product cost per square foot if flooring, counter tops or tile. Some materials require allowances for appliances, lighting or whichever trade materials a contractor will be using. Make sure you plan your budget with all these numbers in mind. Expect the higher number and if you can save money by going with a less expensive choice your budget will decrease rather than increase. And when getting your bids make sure the budget dollars are refundable rather than just absorbed by the contractor. Sometimes materials cost can be thousands in savings to you or thousands in added cost if you don’t plan for it.

C. PHASE 3: Will your project require a permit?

In addition to normal construction cost some times you may need to pay for storage, dump fees, porta potty on site, periodic clean up and petty cash for random project needs. If your project is extensive and requires you to live elsewhere those costs need to be accounted for also.

The city of San Diego and County of San Diego have different building and planning departments. An approximate number you should expect for a remodel project is about 4% of your project cost for a permit and new construction can be closer to 8% depending on what you are building.Contact your city or county building departments to inquire about a permit. It should be expected that anytime you add value to your house. Local government will want some part of it and will expect you to obtain a permit. Note there is a cost added to the permit cost you need to consider. There are construction delays anticipated when a phase is completed and you need to get a building inspection prior to starting the next phase. Often there are down time delays and the cost of missing work or scheduling a competent person to do your inspection walk with the inspector. Schedule inspections ahead of time and only when you know your project will be ready for inspection.


In order to be able to come up with a job description so you can get bids done or plans started. You will need to come up with a preliminary idea of what your project will look like. This first design is a rough sketch of what you would like to do during your remodel. It does not have to be true to scale complete or well drawn. However it is helpful that you put your ideas on paper. Start with a piece of graph paper. To your best ability sketch out the area to be remodeled or constructed. It can be a room addition a new kitchen design a wall cabinet, moving of a wall or the build of a new barbq area. Use this design to help your contractors bid on your project. If the project is bigger I advise to consult a a design consultant. His or her years of experience will be a great resource and add a bit of experience that can not be replaced.

Go to our tools page and it will help you get started with your design.


Depending on your project you may be required to obtain a San Diego building permit through the city or through the San Diego county planning and building departments. Consult your contractor and make sure you protect your self from possible fines and added cost. In order to obtain a permit you will need construction ready plans that are used to obtain a permit. When you plan a home remodel consult and hire construction professionals if needed to create the construction ready plans for you.


Once you have your project design you are able to request bids. Each of the bids submitted should be for comparable work. Create a bid scope for each contractor so that you know your bids are apples for apples. Also ask the contractors bidding to include or inform you of any costs they believe will be necessary to execute the project according to plans and to pass inspections.


Once you have a set of construction ready designs you will be ready to get started with the bid process. Based on the construction plans you have. You will be able to determine what trade contractors you need. If your project only requires one trade contractor he or she can give you a simple bid based on what they are going to do. If your project requires more than one trade you will need to specify the work each trade contractor is going to bid. After you get all your bids in you will want to make sure you understand each bid that the contractors give you. Talk to each contractor when you plan a home remodel. Make sure you ask follow up questions to understand what is included in each contract. Make sure you understand the materials that are going to be used and that you are clear on the work that is going to be done. We recommend you look up each contractor you choose on the CSLB website and make sure they are licensed and bonded in the trade they are bidding to do.


All DIYConstruction contractors are part of the DIYConstruction team this gives you insider status and will help with the efficiency of scheduling and the communication between contractors. Please inform each DIYContractor whom the other contractors are and give them their contact information. This will help facilitate the communication among the DIYConstruction team.


When you plan a home remodel. Prior to the start of construction you will need to submit for permits and get them approved we recommend doing this as early as possible. Some times plans require revisions and this may delay construction if the plans are not approved and permitted ahead of time.


Once you have your permits your plans and your bids complelted and organized. Its time to set a schedule for the work to be done. When you plan a home remodel. Make sure you talk to each trade contractor and understand their access requirements and the expected time it will take to complete their phase of work. Use this information to set the schedule for your project. You will need to understand the inspection schedule with the correct government office so you know when construction will need to stop. You will need to get the appropriate inspection done before the next phase of work is started.


Too often construction delays are because materials were not ordered on time. Anticipate your material orders when you plan a home remodel. Keep in communication with your contractors and make sure you know when you need to order materials. Some times it takes weeks for ordered materials to arrive. Stay on top of your ordering dates.


Once you plan a home remodel and your schedule is set you will need to prepare. Different trades will be working and areas will need to be prepared. Cabinets and closets may need to be emptied. Bedrooms or living rooms will need to be clear of furniture. If you have somewhere on your property you can store the furniture and personal belongings great. Make sure that rain or weather will not affect them. If you need to put items in storage make sure you plan that ahead of time.


Dust barriers. Construction is dusty there is no getting around that. Ask your demo contractor to include installing a dust barrier prior to his starting work. Some times this may be an extra charge depending on the amount of work he puts into building a fake wall or if he just puts up some plastic.

Protect flooring. Adjacent flooring should be protected by the general contractor on a project. If you are working as the owner builder these responsibilities will be yours. When you plan a home remodel prevention is a key part of job satisfaction.

Clean out areas for concrete, tile, drywall and paint. There should be a designated area that you should direct the trades to clean their equipment or put excess debris. If it is possible ask the trade contractors to do most of their cleaning off site. This is not always possible but it does set an expectation for cleanliness.


Communication! Make sure you communicate with your contractors frequently to make sure everyone is aware and is prepared to stick to the schedule. Sometimes a contractor even when they try their best cant make an exact schedule. As they finish one job they prepare for the next. This is why you should include about a week a month for schedule delays and inspection dates. If you can stay on schedule and beat it great but make sure you set your self up with a cushion of time. And make sure you communicate with your subcontractors. When you plan a home remodel a communication schedule would be wise to plan ahead.


Walk the project with each subcontractor make sure the description of work is clear.


Click over to our tools page. Where you will find useful worksheets, schedules and information to help you plan a home remodel and execute your project. We encourage you to hire one or more of our team of specialty contractors direct knowing that they have all agreed to a standard of ethical business practices working together to execute your project efficiently and in accordance to our team agreement. (See our team agreement)hyperlink.