80+ Planning Tips for Building a New Home or House Remodel, learned after flipping houses, new home building, and years of home remodeling.
Tips for Building a New Home or Remodel
After flipping a few homes, building one, and years of remodeling on our current home; I’ve learned a lot about what to expect when hiring contractors.
There’s always something I wish I had done differently. And an endless mental list of things to avoid the next time. So, I thought it was time to start getting some of these things down in writing.
And hey, maybe these tips for building a new home or planning a remodel will help you guys too!
At least I hope they help. 🙂
But, I have to say, no build or remodel will ever be perfect. But what is? Right.
Try to relax and be happy with getting what’s most important and in your budget. Let’s get to this huge list of Tips for Building a New Home or Planning a Remodel.
Table of contents
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Let’s Start with General Planning Tips
First, think about how long you think it might take to do the job. Now how much do you think someone might charge for the build or remodel? Get a pretty clear idea. Now, double both of those!
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s true. These things always take longer than you’d think. Labor cost money. AND HGTV understates the numbers on remodels all the time.
Sorry, guys. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. But it’s true.
Another thing to brace for during a remodel, living in a construction site is tough!
Eating out, feeling like you always have house guests to tiptoe around, keeping the kids happy in a smaller space. It’s all uncomfortable and there’s awkward stuff, galore.
Or you could move out temporarily. But that’s tough too and you’ll need to visit often to make sure everything is on track.
If you’re building a new house, it will look finished from the outside months before the interior is ready. Trim and finish work takes time. Lots and lots of time. 😉
Here’s one of the most important tips for building a new home or planning a remodel, you’ll always wish something was different.
No space or budget can accommodate every item on a wish list. Especially when Pinterest keeps showing you so many amazing ideas you can’t live without.
You can follow me on Pinterest to see some of my favorite home design ideas.
How much maintenance will the materials/appliances your picking require? Plan for the amount of maintenance and upkeep you can handle.
Example, brick requires very little upkeep, but painted siding needs to be washed and repainted from time to time. And a stained front door will require more frequent maintenance than a painted one.
Paint is more resistant to fading and cracking than paint. If you have a stained door, check out my tips for restoring the finish in less than a day.
Keep the grout lines between tiles as thin as allowed to reduce cleaning and restoring time later. Check out how to whiten grout, if you already have dingy grout lines.
Will you sell in the next 5 years? You may want to control the budget a bit more if you won’t see a return on that money in 5 years.
On that same topic, you don’t want to have the most expensive house on the block. Being somewhere in the middle will make it easier to sell for top dollar.
Your builder/contractor may need you to make decisions quickly. They’ll often tell you at the end of a work day they you need to pick something out, like lights, by the next morning.
Constantly picking out items for the remodel will take some to a lot of your free time, depending on the build stage.
So, make sure you’re lifestyle can handle it at that time. Kids, parents, or jobs may keep you too busy.
Make a list of what is a necessity and what is a wish list item. Remember, you aren’t likely to get everything on that list. But you can decide what’s most important and aim for that.
What can you do yourself, later? If you’re comfortable doing millwork, DIY, or landscaping; there may be some big ticket items you can knock off the budget for later.
For example, crown molding, wainscoting, closet storage systems, landscaping, or built-in cabinets. But don’t put an unrealistic amount on your plate. You still have to work and have a life. 😉
You can find the DIY’s for Board and Batten Wainscoting and the Tray Ceiling Paneling I installed on this blog. I also have when to Use Caulk or Wood Filler on trim.
And my absolute favorite DIY ceiling update, this Simple DIY Coffered Ceiling Design.
This might be a picky one that most people don’t care about. But someone out there might really appreciate this, so I’ll include it.
My Dad is a contractor in Ohio, he pointed this out to me. In Houston, homes have vent pipes sticking out of the roof in the front and back of the house.
No one here seems to mind adding another hole to the roof, or where it goes.
In Ohio, contractors have to try to keep all pipes on the back of the house and they try to tie the venting into an existing roof vent to minimize the holes in the roof.
This may vary from city to city. If it would bother you, talk to your contractor about options.
Planning Tips for your Home Exterior & Garage
- This is an area that’s easy to forget when it comes to tips for building a new home…your garage! Do you want finished drywall in the garage? Storage too? What do you expect it to look like when the home is finished?
- Plan that Outdoor Dining, Grilling, and Entertaining Spaces the same as the interior. Plan out how you will use the space, what furniture you need, and draw it up to make sure it all fits.
- Make sure to get hose faucets and electrical outlets where you need them outside the house.
- Might as well get that sprinkler system installed before you have a lawn, if needed.
- Are outdoor speakers, security lights, or landscape lighting on the wish list? Get the wiring done while the electrician is there.
- Do you need a pet washing station in the garage or yard?
- This is one of my personal pet peeves, but please check tree and bush heights before planting them next to your house. You don’t want to constantly have trimming issues with a tree touching your roof. Or it’s roots damaging your foundation.
Kitchen & Bath Planning Tips for your Home or Remodel
- Floor tile… under cabinets or against. This can be a hotly debated issue, folks. I’m personally on the side of installing the cabinets, then the tile around it, for many reasons. But to each their own. 😉 I didn’t insist on it for our kitchen remodel and I still regret it. In fact, I just shared my easy DIY for caulking the gap between the cabinets and the floor.
- Porcelain, Ceramic, Concrete, Wood…so many flooring options. I personally always go for Porcelain over ceramic. Ceramic can crack easier. I also hate to say this, but I’d definitely skip hardwood over concrete slabs in a damp city like ours (Houston). We just have too many potential issues with moisture. But, luckily, wood look tile is such a beautiful option now. Here’s my tips for installing floor tile.
- Go for the thinnest grout line possible. Grout cleaning is a pain. When it gets really bad you can fix it with my favorite grout renewer, but the less grout the prettier the room looks anyway.
- Where will the counter top material go? Window sill? What type of material? I like the maintenance free quartz these days. And quartz is generally popular with most people. That’s one of my tips for building a new home that just might help you sell it later too.
- Water closets in a Master Bath are great for privacy and a little mystery in a marriage. 😉
- Which materials will you use? I went with marble tile in our shower. It’s beautiful, but does require a little extra maintenance.
- Where are you hanging towels near showers? Plan ahead for bars on shower doors or bathroom walls.
- Think about where all your bottles will go in your shower too. Do you need a shower niche? If so, how big should it be and where should it go? You can see my DIY Shower Niche steps, video, and tips here.
- Make sure all drawers and cabinet doors can fully open with your kitchen layout and appliances. The dishwasher I picked for this house had a big handle that blocked one of the drawers in the old kitchen. Oops.
- Speaking of Dishwashers, which side of the sink works best. Before our remodel, our dishwasher was on the wrong side. When it was open, I couldn’t reach any of the dish storage cabinets. So, I had to unload the dishes onto the counter, then close the dishwasher and put them away.
- Where will that garbage/recycling storage go? You might not want a can taking up floor space.
- Where will you hang hand towels in the kitchen and bathrooms?
- Vanities or pedestal sinks in bathrooms? Make sure you know what the contract calls for in a Powder Room. If you don’t want a pedestal sink, specify that.
- What will be the quality of the plumbing fixtures, tile, and countertops be? Get specific on the budget or contract.
- Do you want over, in, or under cabinet lighting?
- Gas Stove or Electric?
- Do you want a Pot Filler?
- Where will everything go in your kitchen? Food storage? Small appliances? Seasonal dishes and linens? Drink Station? Kids Crafts? Plastic Containers? I have a full post about how I divided my kitchen up into ‘work stations’ to fit our families needs.
Tips for Plumbing, Electrical, & Other Home Mechanics
- Pick where you want every fan, light fixture and recessed light. You don’t want dark rooms. You might want to pick them before hand too. But don’t buy. Your contractor may be able to get you the same thing cheaper or a similar and higher quality option. My favorite tips for building a new home or planning a remodel always involve saving money.
- Thermostat location, location, location. Sometimes these things end up in the middle of a wall you want to hang art on. Or it’s in the hallway between the 2 bedrooms it’s supposed to be cooling, like at my house. Then when you close the doors at night, the thermostat has no way of knowing how hot your bedroom gets at night. Yikes. 😉
- If you can, avoid our Water Heater woos…All 3 showers on 1 water heater. Normally not a big deal, but when we have a house full of guests, you’re guaranteed to get a cold shower.
- Where is the electrical box going? It can be annoying to have contractors in and out of your house to try to figure out which switch they need to shut off. So, plan the best place for yours; garage, outdoor utility closet, laundry room, etc.
- Does your closet need a vent or outlet? We have vents in our Master Closets, but not the upstairs closets. They get really hot in the summer, with the door closed.
- Where do you need tech chargers? In the kitchen Island for kids that do homework there, near desks, or where you’ll keep your keys?
- Do you want a wired in security system? Where will the controls and components go? Do you need to have any wiring done before drywall is installed?
- Same with in wall speaker systems, audio components, and all of those high tech smart home items.
- Request to have washer and dryer outlets and water taps below the level of the washer and dryer. I ended up hiding mine with my DIY Laundry Table.
- And, did you know you can set those huge dryer vent pipes inside the wall? You just need a Recessed Dryer Vent Box. That way your dryer won’t have to be so far away from the wall. But, you’re contractor will need to make sure the vent to the outside is right behind the dryer location. My vent is to the right of the dryer, so it crosses a stud in the wall. That means, I can’t use that recessed vent pipe without changing the location of the vent in our exterior brick wall.
- Do you need standard outlets or 220v wiring in the garage for tools? Plan storage and charging in the garage beforehand.
- Do you want motion-activated lights in the pantry, closets, garage or outdoors?
- What about generator wiring, storage for the generator, and a planned place to use it when the power is out?
- Do you need outlets for Holiday Lights or Patio Lights outside?
- Do you need wiring or a gas line for a future outdoor kitchen?
- What about gas lights? If you have a high end home and want this look, you can get gas lines installed. OR try these cool flame effect bulbs, that I use and love.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope these Tips for Building a New Home and Planning a Remodel helped.
If you can think of some more tips I should add to the list, I’d love to hear them.
Comment below with any great tips I’ll keep adding to this list as I think of new tips!
Looking for another Easy Home Maintenance Project? You can Restore your Grout to Like New and this product seals grout too. Yay! Watch the quick video to see how easy it is, then click here to see the Grout Whitening Tutorial.
If you love DIY Home Improvement as much as I do, I have this post full of 20+ Home DIY Tips and Tricks I recommend for EVERYONE. And, this video has a quick tour of 10 more DIY Tips and Tricks from my home.
Here’s How to Restain a Front Door without removing it or stripping.
Learn how to fill that Gap Between the Cabinets and Floor here.
Here’s How to Clean Car Seats At Home, the easy way. This is a-mazing!
See how easy it is to Clean Marble Tile in a Shower here.
If you’re into woodworking, check out my Easy DIY Drawer Boxes too.
Thanks for reading my Tips for Building a New Home or Home Remodel. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.
Saturday 29th of September 2018
These are all great tips and I love that you also included tips for plumbing and electrical works and also for the interior design. It's important to not leave anything out of the remodeling plan for a new home.
Sunday 30th of September 2018
Thanks, Sky! There are so many things to think about during a remodel. This list could have probably been 180 tips, if I really tried. :)
Sunday 12th of August 2018
Thank you sharing your link on the Classy Flamingos Blog Party we've enjoyed it. Come back soon. poinsettiadr.com
Wednesday 8th of August 2018
It is such a long road as we all change our homes to what we love. Your tips are fantastic and appreciated. Thanks for sharing on To Grandma's House We Go!
Thursday 9th of August 2018
Thanks so much, Chas!
Wednesday 8th of August 2018
We built our home 15 or so years ago and I just had to laugh at "the outside will be finished long before the inside" --- That is so true and something I wish I had known back then. It seems like it's moving fast when it's framing, siding, etc and big projects but wiring up a light socket or plumbing one sink isn't nearly as noticeable. I also found that as much as we loved our home the longer we lived in it the more we wished we had changed. It's impossible to judge for changes in lifestyle and how your wants and needs will change over time.
Wednesday 8th of August 2018
It's so true about not being able to predict the future. Your style, trends, and needs are always changing. A room you love today might feel outdated, overfilled, or unused in 3 years. Thanks for stopping by, loved hearing from you!