Orange County Whole House Remodel – Costs & Tips

As homes begin to age and become outdated, many homeowners begin to consider a whole house remodel. Some individuals evaluate their homes to determine which room or project to begin. Others decide that it makes the most sense to undertake a whole-house remodel so that everything they wish to renovate is completed simultaneously.

A full home remodel is a terrific way to transform an outdated home into a beautiful, contemporary one, but there are substantial costs and potential obstacles that must be considered beforehand.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable general contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about planning for a full residential remodel – here are some considerations, ideas, and tips to get you started.


GreatBuildz Whole Home Remodeling Guide

When undertaking a complete home renovation in Orange County, the first step is to establish goals, conduct research, create a budget, and compile a wish list. If at all feasible, you should have an overarching goal for your renovation project that will drive your decisions.

For instance, perhaps your goal is to simply modernize the home’s décor or to expand a small kitchen. Alternately, you may like to convert a room to a different use, add another bathroom, make the living area more open and appealing, etc.

whole house remodel whole house

Creating a “wish list” of all the areas/items in your home you’d like to renovate, in order of importance, is a fantastic place to start. A gut remodel is significantly different from a full house renovation in which the walls and house systems remain intact.

This list should serve as a guide for determining which items are within your total remodeling budget and which must be postponed. This checklist should include both the rooms and home systems that you wish to renovate. (including floors, windows, etc.)

Constructing a Project Scope

Once you have a wish list, you can begin to refine it into a practical strategy based on your top objectives. You can assess each item on your list of whole-house renovations in a variety of ways. 

First and foremost, would this improvement enhance the long-term worth of your home? Second, is this an item that your family may no longer require in a few years? Will this improvement enhance the home’s overall functionality? Are you excluding the replacement of aging home systems such as electrical and plumbing?

Lastly, keep in mind the “primary” purpose and objective of the whole home remodel. These questions will assist you in transforming your wish list into a realistic project scope.

Design & Vision

If you’re working with a designer, he or she can advise you on the optimal layout and design for your renovation. If not, you will need to act as your own guide and begin searching online for photos, styles, and designs that mirror the layout and appearance you wish to create. You can use websites like Pinterest to create a board of images that symbolize the desired aesthetic for your entire home renovation project.

whole house remodel designer

If you are altering the layout of your home or removing walls, you will need the assistance of an architect to create new floor plans. With this preliminary plan, your style “board,” a scope of work, and a budget, you can begin intelligently start meeting with contractors to discuss costs, method, and timeline.

How much does it cost to renovate a whole house in Orange County?

In Orange County and Southern California, a ballpark budget of $100-$300 per square foot is a decent place to begin.

Whole house remodels might be difficult to estimate due to the fact that the overall cost will rely heavily on what is included. Each residence is unique and requires a distinct scope of work to accomplish the desired renovation. Therefore, the only way to obtain an accurate, realistic quote is to solicit bids from many whole-house remodelers (and potentially have an architect design the plans).

Creating an approximate budget for whole house remodel costs in Orange County can be accomplished by separating the project into its primary components.

whole house remodel whole (2)

You begin with the most expensive components, which are most likely the kitchen and bathrooms, if these are included in the renovation. On the basis of the costs for each of these components, you may calculate your overall budget.

Depending on the scope of your renovation, you may then add the following: flooring, windows, interior/exterior paint, doors, windows, landscape/exterior, and any systems such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofing, etc. To estimate the costs of each item, you may either conduct online research or consult with contractors and other remodeling experts (like designers and architects).

Related: 2023 Comprehensive Home Improvement Cost Guide

Unfortunately, the structural parts are the most difficult to budget for, presuming you are reconfiguring your space by adding or removing walls. The cost of your renovation will depend on the specifics of your scenario and the structural engineer’s design, which may include structural support, beams, foundation reinforcement, shear walls, etc.

Whole Home Remodel Costs

Because this is too complex for a layperson to budget, your best option is to obtain numerous estimates from contractors. Ensure that each contractor breaks down his bid into all of its component parts so that you can compare these structural expenses “apples to apples.”

Cost Guide for Kitchen Remodeling in 2023

Always allow a ‘padding’ or contingency of 10-25% in your budget, regardless of how you estimate the rough whole-house remodel cost. There will almost always be unforeseen events, revisions, scope expansions, etc.

In addition, when performing a full home remodel, you must consider the eventual sale of your property. Ensure that your layout and design will appeal to the average buyer. Try to establish whether your investment in the renovation is something that future buyers will want and be willing to pay for when you decide to sell. The Remodeling Impact Report produced by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is a good source of basic information and advice.

Employing an Architect or a Designer

Most architects and designers have extensive familiarity and experience with whole-house remodels. The issue for many Orange County homeowners is to find a professional that meets their design/style preferences and their financial constraints. You should be forthright with prospective architects and designers on both your budget for their fee and your entire renovation cost.

An architect or designer will determine whether they are a good fit for you based on these characteristics. For instance, if you want to spend $100,000 on a makeover but the architect you’re considering is accustomed to undertaking projects beginning at $500,000, they are likely not a good fit.

whole house remodel architect

In addition, speak with at least one whole-house remodeler early in the process about the costs and budget for your whole-house remodel. Since a contractor frequently works with clients on similar projects, they have an excellent understanding of pricing and budgets. Most remodeling companies can offer you a ballpark estimate of the budget simply by viewing your area and gaining a general understanding of the scope of work.

This can help you determine your budget before hiring an architect to draw up the plans. Alternately, if you have a designer or architect produce a preliminary plan for you, be sure to show it to a contractor to get their perspective on cost/budget as well as any suggestions for plan modifications that could save you money.

What is the procedure for a full home remodel?


Before a contractor begins work, he or she must analyze and decide on a number of crucial factors. Depending on whether you are performing a complete gut renovation or a smaller-scale makeover, you will need to determine whether you can live in the property during the project. Some individuals choose to move out and rent an AirBnB or short-term rental in order to avoid living through the construction noise.

Moving out also expedites construction because the contractor’s crew can simultaneously work on all areas of the house. Others feel more at ease in their own homes, even if it means enduring the hardship of living without the use of a kitchen or certain bathrooms/bedrooms, etc.

whole house remodel pre-construction

Additionally, you will need to unload the contents of any rooms that are undergoing remodeling. If you’re remodeling a kitchen, for instance, you’ll need to store the contents of your cabinets and refrigerator in a different location. Larger pieces of furniture that must be removed from other rooms will require storage space in your garage or shed. If you don’t have the space, you may also rent a temporary storage container that can be placed in your driveway to store your possessions for the entire renovation.


This is the initial step in the home-remodeling process, and it can typically be done very quickly (several days). Most contractors prefer to complete as much of the demolition as possible at the outset, so they don’t have to rehire this workforce. The contractor will likely bring a large truck or park a roll-off dumpster in front of the residence so that they can immediately dispose of all demolition debris.

This portion of the work can be somewhat dusty, so it is essential that the contractor closes up demolition areas with plastic so that most of the dust does not spread throughout the house. Consider running a portable Hepa filter during the demolition process if any family members have allergies or are sensitive to dust.


If your home renovation includes the removal, relocation, or addition of walls, this will be the following phase. Framing encompasses the construction of walls, the addition of any structural elements required for removing walls, and the creation of any new door and window openings.

This stage will give the homeowner their first impression of the new area in the case of extensive home renovations involving floorplan modifications. This is sometimes most pronounced when converting a closed floorplan to an open floorplan.

Utility Rough-Ins

Now that a portion of the drywall has been removed and the walls are “open,” the contractor will want to work on the plumbing, electrical, gas, and HVAC systems within the walls.

In certain big home renovation projects, the homeowner may require the contractor to repair or upgrade an entire home system, such as the wiring, plumbing lines, or furnace/ducts. In some instances, this phase of the project will involve relocating a few systems to accommodate the new layout/design or installing additional outlets, lighting, or plumbing locations.

whole house remodel utility

During this time, the contractor will be bringing in numerous subcontractors who are specialists in their particular professions. This is an excellent time for the homeowner to begin “reviewing” the work on a regular basis to check that everything looks good and that nothing has been overlooked. Frequently, the homeowner will notice something that has to be fixed, such as a wall lacking sufficient electrical outlets or a light in the incorrect place, etc.


After all interior wall work is complete, the contractor can install any necessary insulation and begin “closing up” by installing new drywall on the exposed framing. This phase of a gut remodel will take a considerable amount of time, as the walls and ceiling of the entire house will require new drywall.

The process begins with drywall nailing and continues with the crew taping the drywall at all seams, applying drywall compound (mudding), allowing it to cure, sanding it smooth, and applying any texture requested by the homeowner. The homeowners should anticipate that this phase of the job will also be highly dusty, and they (homeowner and contractor) should adequately prepare.


After the drywall is installed, it is time to paint the entire house. Depending on the type and color of paint you choose for your whole-house remodel, this process may require up to three coats to get a final appearance.

If you choose a single color for the entire home, this process can be completed fast. If, on the other hand, you want different colors in each area, this involves a great deal of planning and work. During this phase, the home will inevitably have a strong paint odor, so ensure that the contractor maintains adequate ventilation to mitigate this impact.


Some contractors prefer to install flooring towards the conclusion of a whole home remodel to prevent any nicks or scrapes. Others prefer to install it beforehand and protect it with cardboard or a similar substance to prevent harm. Carpet and other simple flooring materials can be installed in a single day.

whole house remodel flooring

Installing laminate or wood flooring could take many days. While installing tile floors, especially on expansive sections, could take a week or more.

Cabinets and Surfaces

Because the kitchen and bathrooms are included in the majority of full house remodel, the next step will be to install the kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, and countertops for both. This component may also comprise closet cabinetry or other built-in cabinetry and shelving made of wood.

Large quantities of kitchen cabinets, such as those required for a kitchen, can take a long time to manufacture. Therefore it’s crucial that the client chooses the design and color early on in the renovation process so that these can be ordered months before their installation date. Custom countertops must also be fabricated, but with a shorter lead time.

Tile & Fixtures

Next on the list of activities for a total home remodel are the tiling and installation of various fixtures. Your remodeler must install plumbing fixtures such as bathtubs, faucets, and shower hardware, as well as electrical fixtures including outlets, switches, and light fixtures.

The majority of home renovations will necessitate the installation of tile in locations such as the bathroom, tub, and kitchen backsplash. Tile installation is a time-consuming endeavor that demands a specialist.

Appliances and Finishing

Connecting and installing the kitchen’s primary appliances as well as the washer and dryer is the final significant phase of a full residential renovation. In addition, the contractor will now install any necessary wood trim, such as baseboard, casing around the doors and windows, stairway railings, etc.

Corrections and Punch List

Now that the entire house renovation is complete, the contractor will come through and fix any items that don’t look quite right, adjust cabinetry, caulk any gaps, touch up any scuffed paint, etc. This is also your time to thoroughly inspect the completed work and to assemble your own checklist or “punch list” of areas that need repair.

Home Improvement Financing

There are numerous alternatives for homeowners to fund a total house remodel. Clearly, they can cover the cost with their own savings. Or, consumers can fund the construction using a home equity line of credit (HELOC), a cash-out refinance, a construction loan, or a home renovation loan from a firm like Lightstream or SoFi, which is typically processed quickly but carries a higher interest rate.

Examine this comprehensive list of remodeling finance choices, together with their benefits and drawbacks.

whole house remodel flooring

Tips For a Whole House Remodel

During the first 20 to 30 percent of a whole-home remodeling project, while the walls are being removed, the majority of the project’s most significant challenges and surprises come. During this phase of a whole-house makeover, they are most likely to discover significant problems such as rot, termite damage, foundation fractures, or old/worn electrical and plumbing systems. Prepare for some additional expenses (10-20% of your budget) during this time period. The remainder of the project should contain fewer unexpected issues.

Determine your contractor’s preferred mode of communication and maintain regular contact. Check the work frequently for errors. Notify the contractor immediately if you see a problem, as this is the best and easiest time to perform a repair.

GreatBuildz Guide: 30 Things To Discuss With Your Contractor Before You Start Your Remodel

Realize that delays are inevitable (but don’t be a pushover) and that your project could take 10 to 30 percent longer than anticipated. Set the expectation with your contractor that workers will be present at your residence each weekday. There are valid grounds for delays caused by emergencies or material problems. However, if the contractor’s crews quit showing up regularly, you can conclude there is a larger problem you must solve.

During a full home remodel, make as many decisions and material selections/purchases as early as possible. Almost always, delaying the selection of materials will result in delays, as there is typically a lead time for shipping and delivery. In addition, if you don’t give your contractor clear instructions because you haven’t made a decision, it will normally cost you more to make the adjustment later in the project.

Full Home Remodel Orange County Kitchen

Although it’s more enjoyable and exciting to improve the aesthetics of the home by upgrading obvious places, you shouldn’t forget the ‘less visible’ major home systems that could cause huge issues in the future if they’re not addressed.

Consider noise and energy efficiency when remodeling your entire home. Consider replacing your windows if you want to reduce the amount of outdoor noise. Examine whether upgrading your insulation, outdated water heater, and HVAC system will result in continuous cost savings and increased efficiency. Consider installing a solar system to provide some or all of your electricity demands.

If you are unsure of the contractor’s quality after the conclusion of the project, consider hiring a home inspector to check the work, including locations that are not accessible to you, such as the attic, crawlspace, etc.

Run a filter or your furnace fan to remove any dust and debris from the air once the project is complete. Consider hiring a professional to clean the ducts and vents of your HVAC system. Lastly, remember to replace your furnace filter.


Finding the Right Contractor for a Total Home Remodel

Here are some recommendations for hiring the proper contractor for your Orange County whole home remodel. It is advised to look only for local, licensed General Contractors. Other contractors are not qualified or equipped to perform this type of construction, and the use of an unlicensed contractor or handyman is not recommended.

Confirm that any contractor you contact has experience with whole-house remodels. You want to pick a contractor who has conducted extensive residential renovations in Orange County and is therefore familiar with the requirements and potential complications.

When picking a contractor, you should also examine a number of additional factors. Verify on the Contractors State License Board website that each contractor’s license is active, there are no disciplinary charges against it, and it has Workers Compensation insurance (if the GC has their own employees). In addition, verify that they are insured and obtain a copy of their insurance certificates.

Request that your home remodeler give you at least three references that you can contact. Check their internet reviews on Google, Yelp, and other sites. Check out my blog for additional advice on how to select the best general contractor in Orange County.

When it comes to planning and coordinating a whole house remodel, you shouldn’t have to go it alone – GreatBuildz can help simplify your renovation experience.


GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.


Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information:

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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