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Ask a Contractor: Should We Renovate All at Once, or in Steps?

QPhotouestion: We want to do several upgrades to our house, including the kitchen, the master bathroom and a new deck. Should we have them all done at the same time, or would it be easier on my family to have them done one at a time?

Answer: From Alon Toker, president of Mega Builders in Chatsworth, California:

Certainly a more comprehensive project would take a toll on a family, whether the family remains in place or finds temporary housing elsewhere. After all, moving out is also stressful.

Still, I think you should opt to get it all done in a single swoop, or you could lose momentum. In my experience, no one is less likely to undertake a remodeling project than someone who has just completed one.

It makes financial sense as well. Generally speaking, it is more cost effective to bundle all your project’s objectives into a single undertaking.

Here’s why: A construction project progresses trade by trade, from the “rough” stages to the “finish” work. For example, tile work should go in before the last coat of paint but after the cabinets are in. The electrician will wire the open walls during the rough stage and return toward the project’s completion to install light fixtures and trim.

Breaking up a home-remodeling project by room or by any other arbitrary criteria undermines this natural and efficient progression. As a result, crews will work on rough items and then do finish work only to return to address additional rough items in a different location of the house. Total project time and cost will increase as a result.

Given travel time, daily setup and breakdown times (bringing materials from the truck, collecting tools, daily cleanup of the job site), the one-at-a-time process creates waste. This also means higher time-related costs, such as for supervision, overhead and temporary facilities.

I suggest you get all the pain out of the way and enjoy your new and improved home.

Do you have a question for a contractor? Please email your question to Alon Toker at

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