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The Ultimate Seattle Home Renovation Checklist

March 15, 2019

Planning a home renovation can be stressful and time-consuming. Costs, contractors, and securing construction permits all need to be taken into consideration and can add multiple layers of complexity that can quickly spiral out of control. 

As a Seattle real estate agent, I’ve worked with countless homeowners who have undergone home renovations before selling their home. I have found that the key to a successful and stress-free home renovation is careful planning.  

Whether you’re renovating with the intention of selling your house or to improve the quality of your home life, I’d like to share with you a few tips that can help your upcoming Seattle home renovation go as smoothly as possible.


The best way to get started on a Seattle home remodel is to prioritize your wants and needs into two basic categories:

1.    Things I must have.

2.    Things that would be nice to have.

For example, if you fancy yourself a wine lover, is an under-the-cabinet wine cooler something that’s essential or just “cool but not too essential”?  Little decisions like this can help keep overall costs down – and you might even be able to skimp on a few non-essentials so that you can afford that nifty under-the-cabinet wine cooler. 

Once you’ve completed this step, you’ll have a ballpark idea of the cost of the items such as doors, carpet, appliances, and other accouterments. You can then take this list, along with your ideal budget, to a designer or architect and they’ll get to work drawing up plans.

Planning and Permits

Depending on the type of renovation you’d like to do, you may be required to secure a permit from the city.  Small interior improvements that don’t change the overall structure of the house usually don’t need a permit. However, significant structural changes and additions will require the city inspector to approve your project before it begins.

It’s also a good idea to keep your Homeowner’s Association (HOA) in the loop regarding your new renovation plans. They could have hundreds of little-known regulations and bylaws that deal with the height of your addition, the siding on exterior walls, and even landscaping. It’s much easier and cheaper to change plans before construction begins.

Locating a Reliable Contractor

If this is your first home remodel, how do you go about finding an honest and reliable contractor who does good work? 

Many homeowners turn to friends, co-workers, and neighbors for recommendations. There are also several review websites in which the community rates local Seattle contractors.

Try to get at least three bids for each job that requires a contractor. Ask them for at least three references and permission to call each reference. Ask the previous clients if they were satisfied with the job, the cost, and the quality of the work. You can learn a lot by having a conversation with a prior client, and any reputable contractor should immediately agree to providing references.

There are several other questions you can ask the contractor, such as:

•    What kind of warranty do you offer and what does it cover? 

•    Who will secure the building permits?

•    How long will the job take?

The local city building inspector will be able to tell you if there are any complaints on file with the contractor. You should also get a copy of their liability insurance and call the insurer to make sure they’re adequately insured.

Once you’ve completed your due diligence on the contractor, it’s now time to secure the funding for the remodel.


Most Seattle homeowners are going to need to get a loan to finance their home renovation. To ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible, make sure that you have all the required paperwork, permits, and final cost estimates.

The bank may or may not require further documentation before they approve your construction loan. Each bank is different, and it’s a good idea to shop around and look at their requirements, loan terms, and rates. 

Some construction loans only accrue interest when you make a draw to pay for materials or labor. Before you’re able to take the final draw, your bank might have a regulation that requires you to secure a signed document from each contractor stating that they’ve been paid in full.

Buckle Down

Once you’ve finalized the design, found a reputable contractor, and secured the loan, it’s now time to plan your daily life as the construction phase begins. Some home remodels might allow you and your family to live inside the house while work is being done. Although, the contractor may require you to vacate the home for 24 hours or more during the demolition or other critical phases of construction.

Be prepared to have your home life somewhat interrupted as the construction moves forward. You might need to get a hotel room for the night, or perhaps you might need to store some valuables in an off-site area.

The best way to be prepared is to create another checklist of things that you’ll need to be mindful of as your new home remodel is underway.

Seattle Realtor 

Remodeling your Seattle home can be an involved and expensive process, but it will pay off in the future as you enjoy your new addition and increased property values. 

If you’re looking to sell or buy a home in the Seattle area, give me a call at (206) 953-8311 or send me an email to learn more about how I help provide you with an exceptional selling or buying experience.

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Scott is more than just a realtor: in the short time that I have known him he has become a trusted advisor and friend.  I first had the pleasure of working with Scott when I decided to sell my property on the East side.  He went well beyond what I came to expect from other brokers and helped me in every aspect of getting my house ready for sale.  He also gathered the most up-to-date market intelligence so that we could set the right offering price.  Once the sale was done, Scott gave me the education I needed to purchase my new home in Seattle with confidence.  Throughout the process he provided personalized service and had a team of specialists on standby to assist in every aspect of the transaction.  If you’ve spent any time looking at real estate in Seattle recently, you know that every advantage counts.  In today’s competitive market, you need a person like Scott on your side. ~ Mark M.

Buying or selling your perfect Seattle home?

shaveson@windermere.com • (206) 953-8311
214 W McGraw St. Seattle, WA 98119