Timing is the key to a successful renovation. If you’re wondering which pieces to do first, here are some chicken-and-egg scenarios for you:
1. What comes first -- architect or contractor?
Neither. There is no chicken-and-egg scenario when it comes to hiring an architect and contractor. You should select both your contractor and architect at the start of the design process. They can work together on estimating the cost of your renovation and use their common experiences to recommend materials and construction methodologies.
Most important when you hire a contractor or architect is his or her competency. A successful renovation requires a competent architect and contractor.
If either of these two pieces of the puzzle are not first-rate, your renovation can turn out to be a disaster. One of our clients hired a terrible architect who had no sense of urgency and he was always late producing plans. The project took much longer than it should have.
2. What comes first -- floor or walls?
Walls. Paint them before you refinish a wood floor or install a tile floor. The reason is that you do not want painters walking over your newly finished floor, using ladders, and potentially dropping tools.
Your contractor will need to supervise the floor installers to make sure they do not damage the walls, but it is easier to protect walls from damage than floors.
The only exception to painting before finishing the floors is the baseboards, as they normally need touch ups after floor work. Make sure the painter who is touching up the baseboards walks on the floor with socks and uses a blanket to protect the floors from his paint can and tools.
3. What comes first -- plumbing or electrical?
Plumbing. Even the most skilled plumbers tend to be the messiest trade on a project, and it is best to do all the dirty work first.
Also, good electricians are more readily available than good plumbers (there are fewer licensed plumbers than licensed electricians), so if you can book your plumber at the beginning of your project, you minimize the risk that the plumber will not show up later due to an emergency service call.
The plumbing work is also generally higher risk (there are more leaks on jobs than electrical shorts) so you want to do it when a leak causes less damage, which is at the start of the project.
Yoel Borgenicht is the president of King Rose Construction, specializing in residential and commercial renovations in the New York City metro area.