How to Plan for a Whole House Remodel (Step-by-Step Guide)

entryway of a grand ranch house with wood doors, runway carpet, and a horse

Whether you just purchased a home that needs a complete upgrade or you are ready to renovate to reflect your evolving lifestyle, a whole home remodel is a complicated process that requires planning and partnering with professionals who can take you through the steps. Your role as a homeowner is to have clarity about what you want and your priorities. After you are clear about your goals architects, designers, and remodeling professionals will guide you through the rest of your project. Our guide will provide you with detailed steps for a whole house remodel that will keep your project on track. 


No two whole house remodels are the same.  Many factors play a part in a home remodel – room size, type of work needed, and cost of materials. The best way to start your budget is to make a list of what takes priority and have a maximum amount you are willing to spend. Make sure you have a safety net for those unforeseen issues that might arise. Talking with an architect or builder will help you get a range of per square foot costs. 

Goals for Your Remodel

two small black dogs eating food from their bowl in a house

Walk around your home and assess what you love and hate about it. Ask yourself what is working and if there is anything structurally that needs to be assessed. Don’t forget that remodels mean moving electrical outlets and plumbing that could need upgrading or just are inconvenient for your lifestyle. Keep in mind that remodel costs are higher if there is a significant impact on plumbing, cabinetry, load-bearing walls, stairs, or changes to foundational work. 

As you are writing out your goals, it is also important to ask why you want to remodel your home. Think about how you use spaces and what parts of your home clash with your family routine. Discuss with your architect about rooms that feel too closed in or where you need more access to the outside. Or, you may need certain spaces to have more privacy and quiet, especially if you work from home. The goals for your project will help you zero in on what you want to achieve and keep distractions from bogging down decisions. Break down your goals into smaller steps that are doable. 

Determine Style and Design

With a whole house remodel, it is good to plan for cohesiveness throughout the home. Spend time thinking about what design elements you love and want to incorporate into your spaces. If there is a style or design type you gravitate towards, talk with your architect and interior designer about how to bring those into your remodel. Working with an architect will get you to your goals and help you get more out of your construction budget. We believe that working with a design professional is well worth the investment. 

Also, consider how light, color and flow will play a role in your whole house remodel planning. More people are recognizing how much they enjoy larger windows or walls of glass, as shown through the rising popularity of mid-century and modern homes. Doors can make a space more private while open floor plans create flow throughout the home. 

You should also consider what luxury upgrades are important to you and your lifestyle. Small luxury extras like heated floors, soaking tubs, or wine cellars do not add significant costs relative to the rest of the construction and can make a difference in the everyday usability of your home. No matter the style and design, it is also important to consider how you use your home on a daily basis. Including practical details like pantries, waste baskets, recycling, laundry areas, pet areas and more are all part of your design and can be important to plan for them as well. 

Timeline on a Whole House Remodel

modern kitchen with floral blue and white floral backsplash with a stainless steel kitchen island

A “typical” timeline for a whole house remodel varies based on a variety of factors, especially since no two remodels are alike. A good builder will be able to set solid timeline expectations on when the project will start and the estimated time of completion. Knowing what to expect and having a plan on executing your remodel will help keep frustration at bay and minimize any potential surprises. if your construction project has activity lulls or delays

As you look through your list of whole house remodel goals, you should think about timing. If you plan to stay in the house you will need a plan about which parts of the home you can live in while the rest is being remodeled. A reputable builder can help guide you and work with you on what you can do early on so you will know what is possible. Choosing to stay somewhere else means that multiple areas can be worked on at once. Each option may affect your overall timeline. Hamish Murray Construction is often able to work with homeowners to keep them in their home if that is what they want. 

Working with experienced designers and construction professionals ensures things go according to schedule and set expectations. With over 20 years of experience, Hamish Murray Construction has created a streamlined process for building beautiful spaces for clients. The key to staying on track is constant communication, strong project management, making decisions on products in a timely manner,  and attention to detail. 

Finding an Architect or Designer

wooden shelf with lots of shelves and antiques in a house

The person you will most rely on for the appearance and functionality of your remodel is your architect. It is important to find the right person who is willing to help you design a whole house remodel that reflects your personality, hobbies, tastes, habits and communications style. 

Architects are highly trained, professionally licensed, and have a high degree of expertise in design, materials, structural integrity, and often have a wider breadth of building construction knowledge. Designers, too, have exquisite taste in building design and aesthetics and have passed a series of certification exams to design remodels and single to multi-family homes. 

An architect or designer can help you solve problem areas in your home, reconfigure underutilized areas and give you confidence in making decisions about your whole home remodel. Hamish Murray Construction has long-standing relationships with design partners or you can choose one you are comfortable with. 

Finding a Builder for Your Remodel

large master bathroom with bathtub, shower, two sinks, marble flooring, and blue backsplash

Finding a builder for your whole home remodel is key to making sure that your project will perform at a high level from start to the finished quality result. With your remodel design in hand, interview contractors to make sure they have your best interests in mind by asking good questions, having good references, and are willing to slow down and guide you through the process. Make sure that your builder has experience doing a whole home remodel and has clear communication with you about their process. 

Hamish Murray Construction is proud that the City of Portland has thought so highly of our work they invited us to be a part of their Field Issuance Remodel program, giving us a dedicated inspector for all compliance-related services. This benefits our clients by speeding up the overall home remodeling process and giving quality inspections for every stage of the project. In addition to the greater Portland area, Hamish Murray Construction also does works beyond metro Portland. outside the City of Portland, taking their expertise to the coast, Bend and beyond. 

The Next Steps to Whole House Remodel

interior of a modern kitchen and dining area with oak flooring and luxurious kitchen lighting

Once you have a design and choose your builder the architect will work with the builder to get permits. A whole house remodel is a major overhaul to the structure and feel of your home. Anything that changes the functional structure of your home like new rooms, footprint changes, plumbing or electrical modifications will require the proper permitting from your local city or county. 


After your permits are completed demolition can begin. There can be a lot of work that is involved in a demolition – disconnecting water lines, removing toilets and sinks, taking out baseboards and nails, removing drywall and studs – the list goes on. With a whole house remodel there is a long list of things that are removed before the home is recreated to your specifications. 


Depending on how extensive the structural change of your remodel is, new walls will need to be framed. While not very exciting, framing is important for your home’s stability. A poor framing job can create a whole mess of problems so it is crucial to find the right builder that is known for quality work. 

HVAC, Electrical, and Plumbing 

Once the demolition is done the reconstruction begins. Any HVAC ducts, electrical and plumbing that have been removed will need to be installed by professionals in their new layout. Your design should give your builder a clear plan of how to integrate HVAC, electrical and plumbing into your whole house remodel. 

Larger, open kitchen designs will have plumbing run to more convenient locations while outlets are relocated for ease of use. HVAC systems may need new ducts run to rooms that have been expanded to maintain comfort, and it’s important that your HVAC contractor understands how any additional ducts will impact the balance of heat and air conditioning throughout the home. With a whole house remodel you can update aging home systems and enjoy the improved livability of your home. 

 Drywall and Painting

Once the framing is done and the HVAC, electrical and plumbing are installed next comes insulation and drywall. The drywall will be taped and mudded and dried. Once the walls are smooth they are ready for paint primer and paint, or other finishes. 

Select Your Finishing Materials

As everything starts to take shape in its final look and design, flooring is laid along with the installation of baseboards, cabinets, stoves, refrigerators, backsplashes, sinks and faucets, and all the final touches. It only needs your furniture and personal touches to finish it up. 

Let Hamish Murray Build Your Home Remodel

At Hamish Murray Construction, we believe that every aspect of your home, from attics to basements, should be all about you. We are builders who ensure quality craftsmanship, following the architectural vision and integrity to create a finished project that is beautifully liveable, just the way you want. 

As collaborative planners and detailed executors, we work with architects, trade partners, and other construction professionals to keep your project going smoothly, on schedule and on budget. Our talented team takes your vision to build or remodel a home from start to finish, creating a result you will love.

We would love to hear about your project. Contact us or reach us at (503) 460-7203 with any questions you may have and let us help you make your home or remodel dreams come true.