A Guide to Home Renovation and Remodeling Terms

Home renovation and remodeling is an exciting process. From designing a kitchen remodel to choosing the perfect bathroom flooring, you’ll learn a lot along the way. Despite the excitement, many aspects of the process can seem intimidating at first. Even the terms used in the renovation industry can be confusing at times.

Plan a better whole house renovation by knowing exactly what you’re talking about. By learning common industry terms, you’ll be better able to communicate with contractors to get the results that you want.

Here are the most important home renovation terms and what they mean.


For any significant home remodeling Des Moines, blueprints will be required. These documents are produced by architects and engineers to illustrate the underlying plan for a remodel. These are technical documents and highly detailed, featuring dimensions, materials, and the geometry of your improvements.

Accurate and detailed blueprints will ensure that your finished project comes out exactly as intended.

3D Modeling

Before you get to the blueprints, you’ll need to settle on a design. You can work closely with home renovation and remodeling experts to explore different concepts for your improvements. Visualizing these improvements was once difficult, and relied on physically comparing varied materials, photographs of similar builds, and artist impressions.

3D modeling is the evolution of that process. Home designers and architects can now produce highly detailed computer models so that you can see changes almost as soon as they are conceptualized. The technology reduces the time and cost that it takes to design home improvements.

Building Inspector

Some improvements will require permits and approval before work can commence. A building inspector works for the city government, and reviews blueprints to ensure that remodeling Des Moines is in line with existing building codes and other regulations. A building inspector will also review completed work.

Not every job requires a permit. Smaller home improvements that don’t change the structure, wiring, or plumbing, can usually be completed without bringing a building inspector into the project. If you do need any permits, the best Des Moines contractors will take care of the paperwork for you.

Home Footprint

The footprint of your home is the actual area it takes up on the ground. Think of it as the top down dimensions of your home, including the main structure, attached garage, and porches or decks etc.

Some Des Moines remodeling projects will require a change to the house footprint. A larger footprint usually means having more functional living space, so you could potentially increase the value of your home.

Keep in mind that the footprint is different to the functional square footage of your home. I.e., a two story home will have more actual floorspace than its footprint.

In most jurisdictions, the footprint only relates to areas that are covered by roofing. Decking and other features may not be calculated in the footprint of a home.


While this term might sound drastic, in most cases the actual demolition work will be quite tame. Demolition simply relates to any process where existing structure or materials will be removed. If contractors pull up an old floor in your bathroom, this will be considered demolition. If you remove a kitchen wall to open your living space, this is also considered demolition.

This process clears space for renovations or remodeling to begin. It’s one of the earliest stages of any project. The exact amount of demolition required will be relative to the improvements that you have planned.

General Contractor

The general contractor is the primary point of contact who is responsible for overseeing the entire remodeling or renovation process. In most cases, the general contractor will take on the role of project manager.

The best general contractors will be experts in construction and renovation. They also need to possess strong organization and communication skills. Choosing and vetting a general contractor is one of the most important things you will do when beginning home renovation or remodeling.


While a general contractor may perform some of the physical work on site, most tasks will be carried out by subcontractors. These are specialty contractors who are hired to perform a specific function. Plumbers and electricians are examples of subcontractors.

When working with a full-service home improvement company you won’t need to hire subcontractors directly. Your general contractor will choose the most suitable professionals based on the work that needs to be performed.


This term relates to any professional that has specialized in a trade. Roofing, tiling, flooring, and drywall tradespeople are common on home remodeling and renovation projects. They are hired as subcontractors to work on your home.


Every home needs a strong footing to ensure that it will last for generations. Footing is the base structure of a home foundation. It is a large mass of reinforced concrete that prevents movement of the completed structure. Any significant additions to your home will need reinforced footing.

This is the first element of the load bearing structure.

Load Bearing

Load bearing is a term used to describe any part of a structure that supports the weight of overlying parts. Footing is the first element, followed by the rest of the foundation. Other load bearing elements can include pillars, beams, and walls.

Load bearing elements need to be carefully considered when planning remodeling Des Moines. Major structural changes or additions will need to be considered carefully in terms of the load bearing elements that they will require, and how they might affect elements that are already in place.

Design Build Company

When a home renovation, remodeling, or construction company is design build, it means that it handles everything from design and architecture, right through to the physical work. As a homeowner, it’s always beneficial to work with a design build company, because you will deal with a single point of contact throughout every stage of the project.

This makes for a more convenient remodel or renovation, and it can also ensure that costs are kept low through consolidation and close management of different services.

Gutting a Room

Some projects will call for the gutting of a room. This simply refers to the process of removing everything inside the room, right down to the framing and subfloor.


Flooring replacement is a popular home renovation project in Des Moines and throughout America. What some homeowners don’t realize is that there’s an entire subfloor beneath the materials that you actually see. The subfloor is mounted directly to the joists, and it ensures stability of the final flooring material. You may need to replace the subfloor on some projects if it has deteriorated or become water damaged.


Finishing is a process that converts any space into usable living area with walls, floors, and a ceiling. Basement finishing is the most popular type, although its also common to finish attics, garages, and even garden sheds.

Finishing is a valuable home improvement because it can give you more space for an expanding family. Finishing could also increase the value of your home.


Here’s a term that usually stumps homeowners when it is seen on an invoice or work order. R&R simply refers to remove and replace. If your plan a kitchen remodel, then the R&R would cover the removal and replacement of cabinets, fixtures, hardware, appliances and other features.


Some home improvement projects are relatively simple and low cost. When retrofitting is an option, you will usually be able to minimize your renovation bill. Retrofitting is the process of directly replacing a feature with a more modern solution. Installing direct replacement windows is a form of retrofitting. Installing a new air conditioner but retaining the same ducting system is also a form of retrofitting.

Retrofitting is also seen when upgrading plumbing. If you have older pipes that are worn and in need of replacement, you could have a contractor retrofit new ones without actually changing the basic design or layout of your system.

HVAC System

Has your contractor recommended that you upgrade or replace your HVAC system? Homeowners rarely use this acronym, but it is common throughout commercial and industrial environments. It refers to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. If you have a mini split system at home, it’s a type of HVAC system. Furnaces and air conditioners are HVAC systems too.

Extensions to your home could require additions, such as ducting installation. If your unit is incorrectly sized for your home, then it may need to be replaced. Older HVAC systems can be replaced with more modern ones to improve efficiency and comfort. While a new HVAC system might seem like a costly investment, you could actually save money over the lifetime of your home by choosing a system that uses less energy.

Plan a Successful Home Renovation or Remodel

You know the jargon, now it’s time to talk to professionals in the industry and build your dream home. You can turn run down or outdated living spaces into ones that you’ll be proud of. For a home that matters, you can work with expert contractors at HomeWorx Iowa.

We are a complete design build home renovation and remodeling company, covering everything from the smallest odd jobs, right up to large home improvement projects. We manage your project from planning and design, all the way through to installation and modification.

Contact us today to start exploring your options. You deserve the best home possible, and the team at HomeWorx can turn your concepts into reality.

Home Renovation Planning: What to Think About Before You Start

Getting started on a whole home remodeling can be intimidating. Where do you start, who can help, and what are the best improvements to make?

The single most important thing to remember is that you should always have a plan. When you go into your project well prepared, you’ll know exactly what you’re spending your money on and what you’re going to get out of it.

Before you even think about designs and material selections, make sure you’ve read this before-you-begin guide for complete home remodeling and renovation.

  1. Be Sure to Plan for the Future

Many homeowners make the mistake of remodeling only for the present, without thinking about the long-term future. If you’re likely to live in your current home for your lifetime, then you should aim to make an investment that continues to offer returns.

There’s a lot that you can do to future proof your home, from upgrading your plumbing, to installing underfloor heating. Each improvement should be chosen with longevity in mind. Spending a little more on materials today could ensure that they last a lifetime.

If you think that you will need more space in the future, then you could go beyond home renovation and include some moderate remodeling. Expanding your kitchen, converting a garage, or even finishing your basement could provide extra living space that will be useful as your family grows.

Remodeling is an investment, so make sure that it pays off.

  1. Research Home Renovations That Will Bring Value

When you think of home remodeling as an investment, you’ll start to gain a better idea of the value that each improvement can bring. Even if you think you might move in the future, you could still aim for high quality renovations that will maintain or even raise the value of your home.

Some of the most valuable remodeling and renovation projects include:

  • Garage door replacement: a new garage door could last for decades when properly maintained.
  • Prominent exterior features like a stone veneer for your front siding.
  • The addition of a deck or covered patio to increase your summer living and entertaining space.
  • Kitchen remodeling or renovation. You can regain up to 80% of your costs at resale.
  • Replacing your entry door will improve the curbside appeal of your home. Choose a high-quality designer steel door to improve looks and security.
  • Replace your siding and roofing if your home is over 20 years old. This will protect the structure and raise appeal.

It’s especially important to focus on value-driven improvements when you only have a limited budget to work with.

  1. Book Early, Especially During Peak Season

Let’s say you’ve planned your remodel, you know exactly what you want, and you’re ready to move ahead with a contractor. If you’ve proceeded with your plans and material ideas without talking to the professionals, then you could be disappointed when it comes time to book the work.

Contractors are especially busy during spring, summer, and autumn, which could leave you waiting to get your project started. Involve designers and home contractors as early as possible. This will give you an accurate timeframe for when work will begin, and when it’s likely to be completed. (Note that setbacks can occur. This is another reason why it’s important to book as early as possible during peak seasons).

There’s more than just convenience at stake here. Material prices can change throughout the year. You could even find that some of your preferred options are out of stock when you finally get around to booking the contractors.

Start as early as possible and avoid potential disappointment.

  1. Separate DIY From Professional Work

Tens of thousands of homeowners take on DIY projects every year. Some of these are never finished, while others end up being completed with sub-par results. DIY is a great way to improve your home, but it’s not right for every project. Before you start any improvements on your own, ask yourself the most important questions:

  • Do you have the time to take on a project while balancing work and family responsibilities?
  • Do you have experience in DIY?
  • Do you have the right tools to complete the work with professional results?
  • Could the project be achieved quicker and with lower overall costs if you choose to work with a professional?

If you have doubts about any of these questions, then it’s likely that it would be better to work with a house remodeling contractor. Professional improvements typically come with less stress and disruption. Contractors also have access to wholesale prices on materials and hardware, so you could even save money while still paying labor costs.

Most importantly, professionals will leave your home looking its absolute best, with high quality craftsmanship that will stand up to daily use for years to come.

  1. Make Sure Permits are Taken Care Of

Not every home renovation project requires a permit. Improvements that don’t change the structure, wiring, or plumbing of your home can typically be completed without a permit (although the rules can vary from state to state). Repainting, replacing flooring, and changing kitchen cabinets are all examples of renovation jobs that won’t need a permit. Basement finishing, plumbing upgrades, and major rewiring are examples of where permits would usually be required.

You should never begin remodeling without checking for compliance. You may also have rules enforced by a homeowner’s association. These typically govern the changes you can make outside of your home.

This is one area where professional house remodeling contractors can come in handy. A registered renovation company in Des Moines will ensure that all compliance issues are taken care of before the work begins.

  1. Pack or Move Anything That Could Get in the Way

In the excitement that comes before whole home renovation, it’s easy to forget about the small things. For example; where will you store all your furniture and personal belongings while contractors are working?

Your garage could be an ideal place to move larger furniture items. If there’s a bedroom or secondary living area that won’t be remodeled, then this could also be an ideal location to move items that could get in the way. If there are things that can’t easily be moved, then these should be covered while work is ongoing.

Talk to your contractor about anything that might need to be relocated.

  1. Choose a Space to Escape to During the Renovation

Have you ever heard of remodeling fever? It’s something that can develop in even the most level-headed homeowners. Remodeling fever is a feeling of chaos that can take over when the project begins. It’s natural to feel like you’ve lost control of your household when contractors are coming in daily. The noise and disruptions to your normal lifestyle can take a toll.

To combat this, you’ll need to set space aside where you can relax and escape the bustle of a large remodeling project. A bedroom, secondary living space, or even a detached guesthouse or finished garage could be suitable.

Another strategy is to plan remodeling and renovation work for times when you won’t be home. Some families even choose to have work performed while they’re on vacation. If you work with a project manager that you trust, then you can receive updates and make quick decisions even when you’re not at home. Email has changed the way we communicate, and it’s the perfect way to stay in touch during a home renovation. You could receive updates with pictures or even video, no matter where you are in the world.

Whether you’re going to be at home or anywhere else, setting a space to escape the chaos will ensure that you can beat remodeling fever.

  1. Have a Clear Goal in Mind

Goal setting is just as important as planning. Unfortunately, the two are often confused. When you set goals for your remodeling project, they should be high level. Planning is different. It’s the time for details and should be performed along with a contractor or designer so that you can achieve your goals.

Some examples of goals for your project could include:

  • Creating more space in your home. If your family is growing and you are running out of usable space, then a whole home remodel would be the solution.
  • Modernizing your living spaces, bathrooms, kitchen etc. When you modernize your home, you bring it up to date while also adding features that will be useful in the future. Make this one of your goals and then build the details around it in the planning stage.
  • Adding value to your home. If you plan to sell in the future, then you should aim to maximize the return that you get from your investment. Some carefully selected home improvements could increase the market value of your home. Even if improvements don’t add value, they could make your home more marketable, helping it to sell faster and cutting down your real estate fees.
  • Adding accessibility for children or the elderly. The design of your home should be based around the age of those who live in it. If you have young children or you are planning to start a family, then you should create a home that is safe and convenient. Likewise, if you are soon to retire, or if you have elderly parents in the home, then your renovations should make the home safer and more accessible.
  • Creating a Certain Look or Feel. Many homeowners have a goal of creating a particular style. You may want to create a transitional home, a period home that takes inspiration from history, or even a Mediterranean home that is light, bright, and airy. If you make a specific aesthetic one of your goals, you’ll be able to use examples to streamline the design stage.

It’s clear that goals aren’t quite the same as plans. Your goals will inspire and inform your whole home remodel. Present your goals to your designer and you’ll be able to nail all the details for a final blueprint.

  1. Clean as You Go

This one might seem simple, but it’s something that many homeowners overlook. If you want to keep control of the project, then you should ensure that old materials and waste are being removed continuously throughout the remodel. If you work with experienced contractors, then this step will be relatively easy. Talk to the project manager about how they plan to manage waste and clutter for the duration of the remodel.

This is another one of those points where it becomes glaringly obvious that professional contractors are the best way to go. Waste and material removal is something you might not even think about on a DIY project, but it’s critical to your peace of mind and comfort.

Don’t forget that some materials can be recycled for other projects. If you are removing hardware, cabinets etc. that could be reused, then make sure you tell your contractor. Some of the items you remove today could be used for a future basement finishing, guesthouse, teen detached bedroom etc.

  1. Look for the Best Home Renovation Contractors in Des Moines

Even with all the best planning, you’ll need to make sure that you work with a team of contractors and designers that you can trust. Look for referrals from friends and family, or simply talk to local contractors to learn about their business and past projects.

In Des Moines, HomeWorx Iowa is your premium choice for remodeling and renovation that brings value and long-lasting beauty.

We offer complete project management, ensuring your home renovation goes as smoothly as possible. With 3D design at the consultation stage, you can fully visualize your improvements before signing off on a final concept. Our workmanship is second to none. We make homes that matter and that will stand the test of time.

Talk to us today to begin your next whole home remodeling or renovation project.

Whole House Remodel: How to Prepare.

Is it time to refresh your aging home? New styles, growing families, and changing needs can all be addressed with a whole house remodel. Homeowners across America find remodeling to be more economical and often preferable to a move up home. If you’re considering a big project, preparation will be key. Here are there steps you’ll need to take to prepare for a successful whole house remodel

Planning is Everything on a Whole Home Remodel

No matter what you do, never go into your project without the proper planning in place. From finding the right remodeling contractor, to agreeing on a floor plan and material choices, planning is key.

Instead of going solely from modern trends, think about your unique needs and what you actually want from your home. Beauty and lasting appeal is one thing, but your home should also be practical and comfortable.

What motivates you to whole house remodel? Is it run down? Do you need an extension with more space? Does your garage need finishing? Maybe a basement conversion and finishing could bring you more living space?

Write down your goals and the features you think your home is missing. This will help when it comes time to draw up plans with your contractor.

Determine Your Budget and Communicate with Your Contractor

Your initial budget will guide the rest of your project. If you’re working on a tight budget you will need to weigh the pros and cons of each addition or renovation.

Think in terms of what could improve your lifestyle. If you plan to sell your home later, then aim for improvements that will increase value and appeal.

Keep in communication with your contractor to ensure your budget isn’t blown out. Reputable home remodeling contractors in Iowa will work with you to complete a whole house remodel that is within your means.

Consider Areas of the Home That Need Repairing

Whole home remodel is a chance to add space or features that are currently missing. It’s also a good chance to renovate or replace aging elements of your home.

Taking care of minor repairs and touch ups will be more affordable when combined with your remodel. Take advantage of the project to get in some of the much-needed work that has been neglected in recent years.

Fresh paint, new light fixtures, and even replacement windows can all add value. Insulation could make your home more energy efficient and more affordable to maintain. If you have plumbing issues or want to improve your plumbing or add new fixtures, then a whole home remodel is the time to do it.

Don’t forget the small things like repairs to your exterior, chimney, or even your deck or patio.

Think About the Future

If you love your neighborhood and your property, then you could remodel your home and live in it for life. Remodeling can modernize, improve, and add convenience to your home.

If you’ll be retiring in your home, then now could be a great time to make improvements with retirement in mind.

More accessible entryways, wider door openings, more living spaces on the ground floor… these are all things to consider if you think you might retire in your current home. You could even add unique features like a stair lift or dumbwaiter.

Other improvements like a central vacuum system could be combined with your remodel. Appliance installations will feel more integrated when they are performed at the same time as the whole house remodel work.

Find a Reliable Home Remodeling Contractor

Most critically, make sure that you choose a contractor you can trust. Ask friends and family for recommendations, or even talk to your colleagues. Interview potential contractors to get details about insurance and their policies on subcontracting. The most reputable whole house remodel contractors will show you examples of their previous work. If you aren’t getting the right feel from a contractor, then find one that you are comfortable with.

Be Prepared for Some Budget Overrun

No matter how well you plan, and even with the best contractor, budget overrun is common. Detailed planning will limit this, but you should still be prepared to spend at least 10% – 15% over your initial budget. Changing material costs, unforeseen structural problems, and a host of other issues could all increase the cost of a remodel.

Again, planning is key here. It will eliminate most of the big surprises and keep any overrun reasonable.

Start Whole Home Remodeling the Right Way

Define your wants and needs. Create a whole house remodel plan and stick to it. The key to a successful remodel is staying focused throughout the process. With some extra planning ahead of time, you’ll be setup for a project that meets your budget and gives you the home of your dreams.