Last updated on January 11, 2022

Home renovation and remodeling is an exciting process. From designing a kitchen remodel to choosing the perfect bathroom flooring, you’ll learn a lot along the way. Despite the excitement, many aspects of the process can seem intimidating at first. Even the terms used in the renovation industry can be confusing at times.

Plan a better whole house renovation by knowing exactly what you’re talking about. By learning common industry terms, you’ll be better able to communicate with contractors to get the results that you want.

Here are the most important home renovation terms and what they mean.


For any significant home remodeling Des Moines, blueprints will be required. These documents are produced by architects and engineers to illustrate the underlying plan for a remodel. These are technical documents and highly detailed, featuring dimensions, materials, and the geometry of your improvements.

Accurate and detailed blueprints will ensure that your finished project comes out exactly as intended.

3D Modeling

Before you get to the blueprints, you’ll need to settle on a design. You can work closely with home renovation and remodeling experts to explore different concepts for your improvements. Visualizing these improvements was once difficult, and relied on physically comparing varied materials, photographs of similar builds, and artist impressions.

3D modeling is the evolution of that process. Home designers and architects can now produce highly detailed computer models so that you can see changes almost as soon as they are conceptualized. The technology reduces the time and cost that it takes to design home improvements.

Building Inspector

Some improvements will require permits and approval before work can commence. A building inspector works for the city government, and reviews blueprints to ensure that remodeling Des Moines is in line with existing building codes and other regulations. A building inspector will also review completed work.

Not every job requires a permit. Smaller home improvements that don’t change the structure, wiring, or plumbing, can usually be completed without bringing a building inspector into the project. If you do need any permits, the best Des Moines contractors will take care of the paperwork for you.

Home Footprint

The footprint of your home is the actual area it takes up on the ground. Think of it as the top down dimensions of your home, including the main structure, attached garage, and porches or decks etc.

Some Des Moines remodeling projects will require a change to the house footprint. A larger footprint usually means having more functional living space, so you could potentially increase the value of your home.

Keep in mind that the footprint is different to the functional square footage of your home. I.e., a two story home will have more actual floorspace than its footprint.

In most jurisdictions, the footprint only relates to areas that are covered by roofing. Decking and other features may not be calculated in the footprint of a home.


While this term might sound drastic, in most cases the actual demolition work will be quite tame. Demolition simply relates to any process where existing structure or materials will be removed. If contractors pull up an old floor in your bathroom, this will be considered demolition. If you remove a kitchen wall to open your living space, this is also considered demolition.

This process clears space for renovations or remodeling to begin. It’s one of the earliest stages of any project. The exact amount of demolition required will be relative to the improvements that you have planned.

General Contractor

The general contractor is the primary point of contact who is responsible for overseeing the entire remodeling or renovation process. In most cases, the general contractor will take on the role of project manager.

The best general contractors will be experts in construction and renovation. They also need to possess strong organization and communication skills. Choosing and vetting a general contractor is one of the most important things you will do when beginning home renovation or remodeling.


While a general contractor may perform some of the physical work on site, most tasks will be carried out by subcontractors. These are specialty contractors who are hired to perform a specific function. Plumbers and electricians are examples of subcontractors.

When working with a full-service home improvement company you won’t need to hire subcontractors directly. Your general contractor will choose the most suitable professionals based on the work that needs to be performed.


This term relates to any professional that has specialized in a trade. Roofing, tiling, flooring, and drywall tradespeople are common on home remodeling and renovation projects. They are hired as subcontractors to work on your home.


Every home needs a strong footing to ensure that it will last for generations. Footing is the base structure of a home foundation. It is a large mass of reinforced concrete that prevents movement of the completed structure. Any significant additions to your home will need reinforced footing.

This is the first element of the load bearing structure.

Load Bearing

Load bearing is a term used to describe any part of a structure that supports the weight of overlying parts. Footing is the first element, followed by the rest of the foundation. Other load bearing elements can include pillars, beams, and walls.

Load bearing elements need to be carefully considered when planning remodeling Des Moines. Major structural changes or additions will need to be considered carefully in terms of the load bearing elements that they will require, and how they might affect elements that are already in place.

Design Build Company

When a home renovation, remodeling, or construction company is design build, it means that it handles everything from design and architecture, right through to the physical work. As a homeowner, it’s always beneficial to work with a design build company, because you will deal with a single point of contact throughout every stage of the project.

This makes for a more convenient remodel or renovation, and it can also ensure that costs are kept low through consolidation and close management of different services.

Gutting a Room

Some projects will call for the gutting of a room. This simply refers to the process of removing everything inside the room, right down to the framing and subfloor.


Flooring replacement is a popular home renovation project in Des Moines and throughout America. What some homeowners don’t realize is that there’s an entire subfloor beneath the materials that you actually see. The subfloor is mounted directly to the joists, and it ensures stability of the final flooring material. You may need to replace the subfloor on some projects if it has deteriorated or become water damaged.


Finishing is a process that converts any space into usable living area with walls, floors, and a ceiling. Basement finishing is the most popular type, although its also common to finish attics, garages, and even garden sheds.

Finishing is a valuable home improvement because it can give you more space for an expanding family. Finishing could also increase the value of your home.


Here’s a term that usually stumps homeowners when it is seen on an invoice or work order. R&R simply refers to remove and replace. If your plan a kitchen remodel, then the R&R would cover the removal and replacement of cabinets, fixtures, hardware, appliances and other features.


Some home improvement projects are relatively simple and low cost. When retrofitting is an option, you will usually be able to minimize your renovation bill. Retrofitting is the process of directly replacing a feature with a more modern solution. Installing direct replacement windows is a form of retrofitting. Installing a new air conditioner but retaining the same ducting system is also a form of retrofitting.

Retrofitting is also seen when upgrading plumbing. If you have older pipes that are worn and in need of replacement, you could have a contractor retrofit new ones without actually changing the basic design or layout of your system.

HVAC System

Has your contractor recommended that you upgrade or replace your HVAC system? Homeowners rarely use this acronym, but it is common throughout commercial and industrial environments. It refers to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. If you have a mini split system at home, it’s a type of HVAC system. Furnaces and air conditioners are HVAC systems too.

Extensions to your home could require additions, such as ducting installation. If your unit is incorrectly sized for your home, then it may need to be replaced. Older HVAC systems can be replaced with more modern ones to improve efficiency and comfort. While a new HVAC system might seem like a costly investment, you could actually save money over the lifetime of your home by choosing a system that uses less energy.

Plan a Successful Home Renovation or Remodel

You know the jargon, now it’s time to talk to professionals in the industry and build your dream home. You can turn run down or outdated living spaces into ones that you’ll be proud of. For a home that matters, you can work with expert contractors at HomeWorx Iowa.

We are a complete design build home renovation and remodeling company, covering everything from the smallest odd jobs, right up to large home improvement projects. We manage your project from planning and design, all the way through to installation and modification.

Contact us today to start exploring your options. You deserve the best home possible, and the team at HomeWorx can turn your concepts into reality.