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11 Need to Know Construction Terms for Your Home Remodeling Project

May 25th, 2023 | 4 min read

By Michael Flory

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You’re seriously considering doing some home remodeling projects. Your kitchen needs updating. You want a more open layout for your dining and living rooms. Your bathroom needs a complete overhaul. Your deck is original to the home - cracking, splitting, and - is it even safe to use any more? 

A good place to start any remodeling project is with the construction terminology you’re going to need to research and discuss your ideas with vendors and contractors. 

As a premier home remodeling company in the Mid-Michigan area, we have years of experience designing and remodeling beautiful home spaces for our clients.  Our goal is to not only design and build the remodel you want, but also to answer your questions about the details of the home remodeling process. 

In this article, you’ll learn 11 of the most important and frequently used terms in the construction and remodeling industries.

You’ll be prepared to communicate effectively and make informed decisions, well on your way to getting the positive remodeling experience as well as the beautiful finished project that you want!

1. Contractor 

A contractor is a professional who oversees and manages the construction or renovation of a building project. If you know you can’t manage and remodel your own home, there are a few different contractor choices you may want to consider hiring:

A general contractor will oversee your entire remodeling project. They may hire subcontractors for specialty work, such as plumbing or electrical, but they are responsible for managing your project as a whole.

A design-build contractor provides both design and construction services, offering a streamlined process for homeowners who want to work with a single firm for their entire project.

A specialty contractor provides a specific service, such as plumbing, electrical, or HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) installation. They may work as subcontractors for a general or design-build contractor or be hired directly by homeowners for specialized work.

2. Blueprints

A blueprint is a detailed plan or drawing that shows the layout and design of your remodel. Blueprints can be drawn up by your contractor or an architect and will give directions to everyone working on your project. Blueprints are often referred to as construction/final plans.


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3. Building codes 

Building codes are sets of regulations that specify minimum standards for construction to ensure that your project is built safely and well. 

It’s important to know that both state and local governments may set their own codes which can differ from each other. In terms of which to follow, your local building codes are generally greater in scope, more specific, and take precedence over state codes. 

If your contractor is licensed and insured, they are responsible for complying with building codes. If you manage and oversee your home remodel (DIY / self-managed), you will interact directly with your local building department.

4. Permits

A permit is a legal document that allows for construction or renovation work to be done in compliance with building codes. 

Building permit applications typically require detailed plans and specifications, along with the payment of fees. These need to be displayed at your remodeling site where they can be easily seen by the public and inspectors. 

To avoid safety hazards and costly fines, you will need to make sure the proper permits are pulled for your remodeling project. You should always be careful to hire a contractor who closely follows permit requirements.

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5. Demolition

Most remodeling projects require a demolition or tearing-down phase. Existing structures, walls, and fixtures need to be removed before new installations and upgrades can be added.

6. Subcontractor

Subcontractors are trade professionals who are hired to perform a specific task or job, like plumbing or electrical work. Unless you’re doing your remodel yourself, your general contractor will be responsible for the subcontractors who work on your project.

Good contractors have established relationships with subcontractors they trust to show up on time and do quality work. 

7. Scope of work

Your scope of work is a detailed outline of all the work to be done on your project, including the timeline, materials, and labor required. Developing a scope of work is a big part of the design process aimed at helping your remodeling experience go smoothly.

8. Fixtures

Fixture is a general construction term referring to any permanent or semi-permanent element in your home, such as a sink, toilet, or bathtub. Depending on the type of remodeling project you are doing, fixture selections may include anything from lighting to countertops to faucets and shower heads.

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9. Change order

It is typical for changes and adjustments to be made during remodeling projects. If the changes are significant enough, a change order, or written agreement between you and your contractor, will be needed to modify your original scope of work.

Change orders ensure that everyone stays on the same page during the remodeling process, especially when changes to the timeline or overall project cost come into play.

10. Punch list

After your project is substantially finished, a walk-through inspection should be done to collect a list of final tasks and items that need to be completed. This is called a punch list and is part of the remodeling experience to make sure that you are satisfied with the final product.

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11. Workmanship

Workmanship refers to the quality of the renovation work done on your remodeling project, including the skill, care, and attention to detail of the professionals involved. 

We offer a lifetime workmanship warranty at Custom Built - meaning - we are so confident in the quality of both the work and service we offer that we back them with the best workmanship warranty in our industry. 

Next steps for getting your remodeling project started

Now that you understand some of the most frequently used remodeling terms, you are that much closer to getting your project started. Whether you want to do it yourself or hire a contractor, knowing and using the right language will translate into a better experience for you.

As a premier design-build company, we have over 15 years of experience remodeling hundreds of homes in the mid-Michigan area. We are committed to not only creating beautiful home spaces but also providing a full-service remodeling experience for our clients. 

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To learn more about the remodeling process, read the following articles:

Michael Flory

Michael brings over 2 decades of building and remodeling experience to his position as the Owner and Visionary of Custom Built. Michael’s passion to make an impact on the home building industry has led him to serve for over ten years at the local and state Home Builders Association, culminating as President of the HBA of Michigan in 2020.