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.

Simple Improvements Before a Home Renovation

Home renovation is the best way to modernize if your living spaces are seriously outdated or even run down. However, you might not have the budget for a full renovation today, or, you may simply want to make some changes that will create an immediate impact. The changes you make could still be incorporated into your complete home renovation later.

Before you start to worry about an extensive budget, a savings plan, or even financing, consider the home improvements that you could make before calling contractors Des Moines.

Add Light to Your Living Spaces

Does your home feel small and cramped? It might not be your living spaces, but how you’re lighting them.

Modern homes are typically open plan where kitchen, dining, and the main living area are all closely integrated with each other. This might be something on your wish list for a complete home renovation later. In the meantime, you can create the illusion of space by lighting up your living areas.

You could replace light fixtures with modern options, and even splash out a little for designer fixtures that will add class and distinction. If you don’t want to book a contractor for some quick rewiring, then you could make an enormous difference with freestanding and table lamps.

If lighting isn’t doing the trick, then it could be your furniture. Dark and bulky furniture can feel imposing in a room. Consider repainting/recovering existing furniture, replacing rugs for lighter colors, or changing your minor decorative elements for features that use neutral textiles.

Replace Hardware on Cabinets and Drawers

Even older cabinets can be drastically improved with some new hardware. Replacing door handles and drawer pulls could make a surprising amount of difference in your kitchen. Best of all, cabinet hardware is relatively inexpensive, even if you go for some premium choices.

Keep in mind that you’ll eventually want to replace your cabinets, so you could aim for hardware that will work with a newer modern aesthetic once you book your complete home renovation.

Consider Adding Some Removable Wallpaper

Removable wallpaper is a new trend in interior design. It’s incredibly easy to work with and the results can be outstanding if you take the time to carefully install your wallpaper.

This option would be perfect for covering tired walls in living rooms and bedrooms. You could also use removable wallpaper to create a dramatic feature wall without needing to repaint. Consider adding a bold color behind your TV and media center, or on the headboard wall of a bedroom.

Remember to keep a consistent color theme in mind. A dramatic bold color like red, blue, or green could work well in a room that is otherwise neutrally shaded. If you’re adding wallpaper to a room that is already rich in color, then follow the ‘shade-on-shade’ approach. Use a similar color to the main theme but increase the saturation so that it stands out.

Removable wallpaper doesn’t cost a lot, and if you get tired of the look, it’s easy to change it. This is a great stopgap until you’re ready for a professional home renovation Des Moines.

Treat Your Windows to Something New

Window replacement is something that you can achieve with a complete home renovation. As you continue planning or saving, you could simply dress up your windows with new coverings. Whether you prefer drapes, curtains, or blinds, you can get great results by modernizing with something fresh and clean.

Modern styling doesn’t shy away from color on window coverings. Choosing rich colored curtains could work especially well in a room that is otherwise mostly white or beige.

Create an Outdoor Living Space

Sometimes you don’t even need to change your interior when you want a better and more modern home. If you have a covered patio or deck area, then you could create an outdoor ‘room’ following the latest trends.

Shop for some quality weatherproof furniture, maybe add a portable firepit, and decorate with potted plants or young trees. You can add outdoor lighting for a welcoming and intimate space that can be used for entertaining year-round.

If you fall in love with a cost-effective outdoor living space, then you could even improve it once you book your complete home renovation. Contractors can create a designer deck that incorporates all the features and space to turn your home into an entertainer’s dream.

Know When It’s Time to Book a Complete Home Renovation

Minor changes can make a big difference today, but you’ll eventually need to think about a complete home renovation to modernize and refresh your home. Renovation doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive. You can enjoy competitive quotes and the best workmanship when you choose the team at HomeWorx Iowa.

Talk to us if your home is beyond rehabilitation or if you just want the complete makeover that only contractors Des Moines can provide. Our comprehensive remodeling service can bring your home up to date with the latest trends that will add lasting value and comfort.

With a complete design and installation service, you’ll work with a single project management team from concept to completion. HomeWorx is standing by to help you turn your home into one you’ll love for years to come.

Flooring for Whole Home Renovation

Flooring is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when planning a whole home renovation. Your choice of material will set the aesthetic in every room. Durability will be a major factor, with varied materials suiting different areas of the home depending on traffic and purpose. Get your choices right and you could enjoy a fresh look that lasts for years.

You’ll need to explore all the available options before settling on a material that suits your home. Take the time to learn about the most popular choices and you’ll be better prepared when you kick off your next project.

Hardwood Flooring for a Luxurious Home Renovation

This material is usually the first to come to mind when you are looking for luxury and distinction. Hardwood flooring can turn the ordinary home into a work of true beauty. Natural timber is also long lasting and can be refinished many times over to keep up with the demands of your household.

While one of the most popular flooring materials for a whole home renovation, hardwood is also the most expensive. The elegant natural look also comes with high maintenance requirements for polishing and refinishing. If you’re looking for exotic wood species that will make your home stand out, you could expect to pay up to $14 per square foot, or even more for the rarest species.

Hardwood is an excellent choice if you’re ready for the upkeep and willing to pay a little extra for something that’s truly luxurious. Do keep in mind that hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture damage, so it’s not well suited to kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

Laminate Flooring for High Traffic Areas

Gone are the days when laminate flooring was the ‘second tier choice’ in home renovation. Older laminates were typically low in quality with aesthetics that always looked a little too artificial. Today, laminates are engineered to high standards, offering great looks, excellent durability, and affordable pricing.

Quality laminate flooring can range between $5 and $7 per square foot. Higher end products could cost a more, but you’ll benefit from a more realistic aesthetic.

Unless you’re on a very strict budget, laminate flooring isn’t recommended for every room in your home. Instead, use this material to complement your main flooring choice while keeping costs manageable. Secondary living areas, playrooms, hobby rooms, and home offices are all perfectly suited to this material.

Vinyl Flooring that is Durable and Cost Effective

Vinyl, like laminate flooring, is cost effective. You could spend as little as $5 per square foot in most cases. Vinyl is waterproof, resistant to damage, and some manufactures can closely replicate the aesthetic of wood. However, even the best examples still have a slight artificial appearance, especially when it comes to the precise uniformity of the planks.

Use this material in a Home Renovation for shared bathrooms, laundry room, or anywhere that you want good looks with high durability. The non-slip properties of vinyl are extremely desirable in areas that will be exposed to moisture. Vinyl is also ideal for basement finishing and garage conversion, so you’ll want to take a closer look at your options if you’ll be making changes in either of these spaces.

Tile Flooring for a Classic Aesthetic

Some of the most elegant buildings ever designed use tile flooring. Both ceramic and porcelain tiles can look great in your home, particularly if you’re aiming for a classic or transitional aesthetic. Of course, tiles are available in countless color and design options, so they’re also well suited to Home Renovation in a innovative modern decor.

Tiles repel water when carefully installed, so they are excellent for kitchens and bathrooms where moisture could be a problem. Tiles are easy to keep clean through regular sweeping or vacuuming with a soft brush attachment. You can mop spills from tiles with ease, and you won’t have to worry about discoloration.

Any room is suited to tiles, but you should think about comfort. Tiles are hard underfoot and are not the best option for kid’s bedrooms or playrooms. In living areas, you’ll want to incorporate rugs to create a varied aesthetic while offering comfort for your family and guests.

Cost can vary dramatically when using tiles. Some options will fall under $10 per square foot for installation. Some luxury, designer, and imported tiles could exceed $20 per square foot. Your costs will depend on the look and longevity that you want to achieve. The highest quality porcelain tiles could easily last the lifetime of your home if properly installed and cared for.

Engineered Wood Flooring for Luxury on a Budget

What if you love the look of hardwood but you want to keep your budget at a reasonable level? Engineered wood flooring could be the answer. This is a unique material that incorporates an engineered subsurface that is veneered with a layer of real wood. The aesthetic is fantastic and to most people is indistinguishable from solid hardwood.

Engineered wood panels are easy to install, especially when using slot-together systems. This will keep your whole home renovation costs down. You could even go for highly stylized flooring like parquet tiles, at just a fraction of the cost of solid wood.

Consider engineered wood panels for your kitchen or bathroom. They’re more stable when exposed to moisture, making them an alternative to hardwood in many situations. Quality engineered wood can usually be refinished at least once, so you’ll get decent longevity from this option.

Quality panels can cost around $7 per square foot. Costs can increase depending on the veneer material that you choose.

Plan a Whole Home Renovation with the Best Contractors in Des Moines

Flooring is critical, but it’s just one decision to make in your whole home renovation. Materials can inspire your overall design, helping you to create the home that you’ve always wanted.

You can design your best home yet with the team at HomeWorx Iowa. With extensive experience in home renovation and remodeling, we can talk you through all your options, while creating a design that reflects your wants and needs. More than just talk about it, we’ll even provide a complete 3D render before any work begins. You’ll be able to visualize changes and adjust as necessary. Our attention to detail in the planning stage will save you money, time, stress, and the disappointment that can come from a rushed renovation.

Your home is your biggest investment. Ensure that it continues to pay off for years to come by renovating with HomeWorx.