Fixer Upper: The Steps for the Flip

I’ve had a few questions about the steps of the fixer upper, and how we knew what to tackle as the stages of the renovation moved along. Today I’m going to narrow down the specific stages we went through in order to complete the fixer upper.

The Steps of the Fixer Upper by The Wood Grain Cottage

When we first bought the house, we knew there were some serious items that needed addressed. For one, we knew the level of our renovation would require us to bring those items to code, namely the electrical and plumbing. The electrical in the house had been cobbled together, and the bedrooms had a bar on the wall with the electrical outlets. That meant the wiring didn’t run inside the walls, which is what it needed to be. And since we planned on removing one of the bedrooms to create the master bathroom, knock down several walls, and re- design the kitchen and laundry room, we knew there would be a big chunk of the house that we would have new electrical. At that point, the electrician guided us through the process, and our State codes.

Fixer Upper Update by The Wood Grain Cottage(Kitchen)

The plumbing was also in the same scenerio. Since we were adding a bathroom, and reconfiguring the rest of the plumbing in the house, it was necessary to remove all the current plumbing and start over. Plus, the previous plumbing was cast iron, and it was very corroded.

Fixer Upper Update by The Wood Grain Cottage(Laundry Room)

And since we had all new plumbing being done, we decided to re-work the central air system (same company for both). The house only had a window a/c unit, and I can’t imagine it was doing a very good job of keeping up when the weather turned hot. Choosing central heating and cooling was a very easy decision. Yes, it was definitely an extra expense, but a major perk for the buyer. Plus, with the house down to bare studs, we had the perfect opportunity to do new vent ducting, which meant cutting into the sub flooring. 

Demolation (Part 2) at the Fixer Upper by The Wood Grain Cottage-3(Master Bath)

So, with all that said, how did we know the proper steps, and how to gut it, and put it back together? Well, the first stage is always demolition. We worked on that for weeks, removing the third bedroom, the existing bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room until the house was a blank, clean slate.

Demolation (Part 2) at the Fixer Upper by The Wood Grain Cottage-12(Master Bath)

Once the demo was complete, we began adding the new walls for our floorplan, which meant the master bathroom, closing off one entrance in the hall bathroom, and adding the higher ceiling in the living room.

Fixer Upper Update by The Wood Grain Cottage(Master Bath, New walls, Plumbing & Electrical)

We also added the new windows throughout the house, which made several of them quite larger.

Drywall & Exterior Progress at the Fixer Upper by The Wood Grain Cottage

With the new windows in place, and the new walls, we gave the electrician and plumber a copy of the cabinet layout, which I was finishing with the cabinet company during demolition. With the cabinet layout, the electrician and plumber knew, based on State regulations, where they would need outlets, plumbing lines, etc.

The electrician went in first, removing the old wiring, and installed the new, plus all the boxes for the new overhead lighting.

Fixer Upper Update by The Wood Grain Cottage-10

The plumber also came in during this stage and drilled holes for the plumbing, and set the tub in the hall bath. They also installed the pvc lines, etc., and began on the new duct work for the central a/c.

Fixer Upper Update by The Wood Grain Cottage-8

Once the plumber and electrician were finished, the sheet rock was hung throughout the house. Then, they came in to tape and add drywall mud to the joints in the sheet rock. They typically add a few different coats of mud, so this lasts a few days with dry time. With the mud dry, they came in to add texture on the walls. After this dried, they came back to sand any areas that needed smoothed, or touched up.

Drywall & Exterior Progress at the Fixer Upper by The Wood Grain Cottage-3

With that, the house was ready for primer and paint! Because the drywall was new, priming was essential. If not, the walls soak up so much of the paint, you go through much more than necessary. We had our contractor tape off the windows, then spray the entire house, ceilings included, with primer. Once that dried, we also had him spray the ceilings with the ceiling color. Painting ceilings isn’t the funnest part of the job, and spraying it on it much easier! With the ceilings dry, my mom and I painted the house, mainly just the walls and built in’s. At this point, there isn’t any trim, so the walls went pretty fast.

Fixer Upper Update- Paint & Flooring-14

Next, we had the engineered hardwood flooring installed throughout the house, minus the rooms that would get carpet or tile.

Fixer Upper Update- Paint & Flooring-1

Then, the cabinets were installed throughout the entire house! Aside from drywall, which reaaalllly changes the feel of the house, cabinets drastically make the house feel utterly different. That is honestly one of my very favorite days! And because we wanted them to look perfect (people pay big attention to cabinets), we had the cabinet company install them. I love, love, love, Christopher’s Kitchen and Bath. If you are local, (Western Slope of Colorado) give them a call. (And no, that’s not sponsored!)

Fixer Upper Update- Cabinets & Tile by The Wood Grain Cottage-6

We also had our cabinet company install the farmhouse sink. Since the sink has it’s own apron (front piece), the cabinet installer had to cut the front of the cabinet to allow for the sink to set into the space. They have this down to a science, and I wouldn’t want anyone doing it that wasn’t sure what to do. If you cut too much of the cabinet face, you will see it around the sink. That’s not good. Luckily we didn’t have any problems (and I didn’t anticipate any!), but if you choose to do this, make sure whoever you use is experienced!

Next, was installing the tile! We chose to have the tile butt up to the cabinetry, instead of running underneath. This choice is yours, but for our time frame, and the amount of tile we were having installed (showers, backsplash, and the kitchen wall), it worked better to have the cabinets in first. This can easily vary, and you can have the tile underneath the cabinets if you choose to. It does take a little bit extra tile, but it’s not a huge deal.

Fixer Upper Update- Cabinets & Tile by The Wood Grain Cottage-2

The tile did take a few days since we had a lot of it throughout the house. And in certain cases, like the tile wall in the kitchen, the back splash, and the bench in the mudroom, we needed the cabinets in place first, so we knew where the tile needed to start and stop. Those are all things to take into consideration. Once the actual tile is laid, it needs to set before they can install the grout. The grout also needs to cure before they can seal it for everyday use. MY TIP: Plan accordingly, and keep in mind, tile labor is expensive, but NOT something to skimp on. Not all tile people are created equal. And with subway tile, you need a professional. It shows every flaw. 

Fixer Upper Update- Cabinets & Tile by The Wood Grain Cottage-4

With the tile finished, the small remaining items with the cabinets were finished (mudroom bench and cabinet hardware), and the electrician came back to finish wiring the outlets (we always have them wire up at least one when they’re at the house doing the wiring to use for extension cords, spot lights, etc.) and light fixtures. This is always a big day too! And this is where you really get to see if your cabinet layout works with where you chose the fixtures to be mounted. MY TIP: spend some time on this in the very beginning, and make sure your electrician has a copy of the cabinet layout! Be specific with where you want lights- they aren’t mind readers!

Then, carpet was installed in the bedrooms. The trim was installed throughout the house, which we had the contractor pre-paint to save on time and the potential of an accident happening with the flooring and carpet. They hung the interior doors, installed the door knobs, and finished the other miscellaneous items that were remaining. 

Fixer Upper Update by The Wood Grain Cottage

Next, we finished the exterior of the house by finishing the deck, adding gravel, etc. We had the exterior of the house painted during the same time frame as the interior painting, we just didn’t get to finish all of it since the weather began to change into fall and winter. So, we finished it this spring.

Fixer Upper Makeover by The Wood Grain Cottage-6673


So, in conclusion here is a rough step by step of our process:


Adding New Walls: The floorplan changed a bit

Adding New Windows

New Electrical

New Plumbing and Central A/C


Sheetrock, plus tape and texturing

Priming and Painting (Interior & Exterior)

Engineered Hardwood Flooring Installation

Cabinet Installation

Tile Installation

Carpet Installation

New Trim, plus final painting

New Deck Paint, plus touch up outdoor painting

Final yard clean up

Final house cleaning

For Sale Sign


I hope that helps answer any questions about our process, or the time frame. If you have any additional questions, please see the source list, what I’d do differently, or the full reveal.

If you have any other questions, leave them in the comment section and I’ll answer them!


One Comment

  1. Thank you for this super detailed round up! I truly can’t believe all of the work you did to the house. We won’t need to replace electrical or plumbing, but we now have an idea of the direction we should take on our own home. Thank you again 🙂

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