Start a remodeling business by following these 10 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your remodeling business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a remodeling business?
If you are simply offering up your own skills and time as a part-time remodeler, the start-up cost will be around $50,000 to $75,000 as you will need a complete set of tools, a vehicle for transporting tools and supplies, and the proper licensing and insurance in order to operate in your state and locality. If you are looking to enter the business world offering major renovation services, expect to have start-up capital of $250,000 to $500,000 as you'll need to be able to purchase your first few orders of materials and hire staff before your customer pays you for the completed job.
What are the ongoing expenses for a remodeling business?
You will need to maintain accounts with material suppliers, pay your crews on a regular basis, and maintain vehicles and tools. Fortunately, your office space can be fairly minimal.
Who is the target market?
Home and business owners who are seeking to have their property professionally renovated and are willing to pay a fair price for labor and materials. Large businesses that need renovating may have more space, allowing you to charge more for your work.
How does a remodeling business make money?
Your remodeling business generates income by charging your customers for labor and materials for their renovation. You are responsible for providing your own tools, as part of your trade. However paint, hardware, lumber, flooring, and other supplies are purchased by you at wholesale prices and then you charge your customer for them at a premium price. Your hourly labor costs will be determined by level of expertise, the type of job that is being completed, and local competitive rates.
How much can you charge customers?
Your rates will vary depending on size and complexity of the job. Rates vary from $45/hr to $85/hr and can be lower or higher. You will want to complete an extensive competitive comparison to ensure your client is getting a good value. The average renovation project costs between $3,000 and $15,000.
How much profit can a remodeling business make?
The typical markup on materials is 15%. Income for a one-man company can be around $20,000 a year working part-time while a large contractor with multiple crews can see income in the seven figure range when they complete multiple large jobs over the year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Ensuring quality work that completely satisfies your customer is the number one means of generating more business, and therefore additional profit. You will need to ensure the quality control and customer service are always of top priority for your successful remodeling business.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Remodeling Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your remodeling business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a remodeling business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Remodeling businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
How to promote & market a remodeling business
Direct Mail campaigns can help your name appear in front of local homeowners. Ask to sponsor a do-it-yourself workshop at your local big box store. Make sure to add your company name on the side of all the vehicles that appear at the job site and where you order supplies. Consider joining groups such as the National Association of Home Builders or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to add their advertising power to your own.
How to keep customers coming back
Potential clients love to see an example of the work they might hire you to complete. Position signs in front of homes that you are working on or have recently completed. Ask satisfied customers if you can add pictures of their new kitchen to your website and social media. Encourage customer feedback, as their word will carry far more weight than a simple advertisement. Be willing to return to the jobsite to complete touch ups for up to a year, as that happy customer is the most likely individual who will hire you again. Always provide professionally prepared contracts and business cards and make sure your phones are answered in a businesslike manner.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start A Remodeling Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
A remodeling business is a great investment for the person who has a passion for home improvement, with extensive knowledge of multiple construction skills and enjoys a background of business and accounting. Dedication to completing work thoroughly with close attention to detail while providing superior customer service is also required.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a remodeling business?
Whether you simply manage the business or are swinging a hammer with the crew, you might be expected to:
- Participate in demolition, installation of flooring, walls, and cabinetry
- Source supplies and materials for the job site
- Maintain open communication channels with the customer, updating them on progress
- Schedule your reliable crews and subcontractors in a time-efficient manner
- Maintain proper licensing to operate in your state
- Train new crew members to maintain your high standards
- Complete punch lists after you finish a job
- Establish relationships with tool and materials vendors/suppliers
- Maintain payroll records/pay your crews on a timely basis
- Collect payment from customers
- Create contracts for customer approval
- Promote your business to generate new jobs for the future
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful remodeling business?
Your remodeling business will find greater success when you have a wide range of skills under your belt as the owner/operator. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Solid understanding and experience in construction techniques with regards to kitchen, bathrooms, siding, windows, additions, and flooring
- Appreciation and knowledge of quality materials and their fair pricing structure
- Good accounting knowledge to maintain accurate records for accounts payable/receivable and payroll requirements
- Excellent time management that lines up additional crews to complete the next phase of construction without waiting
- Good ability to establish and maintain positive relationships with customers by providing clear and honest communication throughout the remodel
- Ability to identify experienced crew members you are hiring as subcontractors or as employees
- Knowledge of safety standards, permits, and licenses required to operate a safe workplace
What is the growth potential for a remodeling business?
Some individuals work on a part-time basis by themselves completing renovations for local homeowners. However, with the right business model in place you can be responsible for finishing interiors of apartment buildings, entire subdivisions, and large commercial spaces. The quality of your work and responsiveness of service will build your reputation, helping to land larger contracts able to expand your small business into a major general contracting business.
TRUiC's YouTube Channel
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a remodeling business?
You will need to network with other contractors and potential customers. Attend the next Home Show and rent a booth as an exhibitor to get your name out and about. Ask to leave your flyer and business contact at local hardware/DIY stores and reach out to local plumbers, electricians, and even general contractors who may need help on their next big job. Word of mouth is often responsible for finding your next customer, so you'll need to work hard to build a positive reputation.
How and when to build a team
As soon as you cannot keep up with demand, start putting out feelers for qualified carpenters and installers. Do not hesitate to complete background checks and ask for references from verifiable sources.