Planning Your Home Renovation: How to Get Started

Project planning
November 01, 2018

Welcome to part one of our four-part series, designed to help you take your remodeling ideas from dream to reality.

Planning a home remodel can be equal parts exciting and chaotic—but don’t let the chaos get in the way of your dream home.

Choosing your projects, making your budget, and finding a contractor are just a few of the tasks on your renovation to-do list.

This series is designed to help you tackle your home renovation project from start to finish, giving you the lowdown on remodeling plans designed to help ease the stress of home improvement projects.

Part 1: Planning Your Home Renovation, will delve into the planning and researching aspects of a remodel. You’ll learn how to examine your remodel motivations, find inspiration, plan your schedule, and so much more.

Let’s get the show on the road and get you one step closer to your dream home—it’s time to draft some remodeling plans!

Want to get straight to planning tips? Hop to any section by clicking on the links below:

Planning Your Home Renovation - Consider motivations

Considering Your Motivations

Before you get started on your remodeling plans, it’s important to take a step back and examine your “Why?”.

In other words, what inspired you to consider a home renovation? What are you trying to achieve with your remodel project? Perhaps the arrival of a new little one has you considering a room addition to make more space for your growing family, or maybe you’re interested in enhancing the functionality of your kitchen and utilizing your space better.

Whatever the case, it’s crucial that you determine which “problems” you need to solve in your home. This process sets you up to find proper “solutions,” which can help guide your project selection.

That leads us to the question of the hour: why are you remodeling your home?

Here are a few of the motivations you may need to consider before outlining your remodeling plans:

Change in needs

Life happens. Is your house ready to help you through any big changes?

There are plenty of life situations that may have you considering a remodeling project.

The arrival of a new baby means baby-proofing your home. But if you’re pressed for space, it may also mean turning your study into an infant-friendly nursery, or adding on an additional bedroom to welcome your little one.

Maybe an elderly family member is moving in with you, and you’d like to help them feel as comfortable as possible. It’s important to update your home so that important living space areas are accessible to them. Will they be able to get from the kitchen to their bedroom with ease? Can they help themselves in and out of the bathroom? Are there any stairs you’ll need to avoid or remove?

Perhaps you’ve reached retirement age, and you want to stay in your home for the long haul. If you plan to age in place, you’ll want to consider the features you need as you enter your golden years.

Here are some remodeling projects that may help you adapt to a shifting living situation:

  • Additional bedroom: Whether you’re moving in your aging parent or welcoming a child, an additional bedroom may prove to be a great way to increase your living space.
  • Accessible bathroom upgrades: If you’ve invited an aging family member to live with you or you plan to age in place, it’s crucial that your bathroom is designed for accessibility. Your remodel might include the addition of a sit-down shower, grab bar and rails near the bathtub, or a taller toilet.
  • Accessible cabinets: If you plan to age in place in your home, you may want to consider lowering your upper wall cabinetry about three inches lower than conventional height for accessibility.

Aesthetic projects

If your home is in need of a facelift, there are plenty of ways to bring it into the modern age and improve your family’s comfort in one fell swoop.

Maybe your kitchen’s less-than-stylish linoleum flooring has seen better days, or maybe your old-school wallpaper has yellowed so much that you don’t remember its original color.

Perhaps you need to look upward for motivation. While that popcorn ceiling may have been the standard in the 70s, we can all agree that popcorn should be exclusive to movie and game nights.

There are plenty of remodeling projects that can help you create a more comfortable, stylish living space.

Here are a few examples to consider:

  • Paint: A fresh paint job is a simple and easy way to make a big statement in a tired space. Whether you’re refreshing your living room walls with a more modern shade or you’re planning a tape mural on your accent wall, fresh paint can go far.
  • New appliances: It’s amazing how much of an impact switching from bulky white appliances to sleek stainless models can make. These days, it doesn’t stop there. Modern appliances are available in a variety of colors. Go for a retro look with a teal fridge, or brighten up your space with a bright yellow stove. No matter which you choose, be sure to do your research to find a well-reviewed model.
  • New counters: A new countertop can transform the look of your kitchen. There are a variety of materials available in many different price points, allowing you to get the look and function you’d like in your kitchen countertops. In addition to traditional countertop options, self-stick countertop adhesive is available in an enormous range of faux materials—many of which are convincing to even the most scrutinizing eyes.
  • New flooring: Maybe you’ve finally decided to say goodbye to your linoleum tiles, or maybe your wood floors have seen better, less scuffed days. New flooring isn’t as big of a project as it used to be; with new options like snap-together vinyl, your renovation may be done sooner than you thought.
The renovations don’t stop indoors, though!

You can also complete a variety of aesthetic-focused projects outside of your home—and plenty of them come with the added benefit of enhancing your home’s curb appeal.
  • Doors: A bright accent color on your front door adds instant curb appeal. Add a fun knocker to take it to the next level.
  • Siding: If you want to update the look of your entire home, siding is one place to start. And new faux siding options can be a cost-effective alternative to other materials.
  • Roofing replacements: If your shingles are starting to curl or resemble cups, it could be time to replace your roof.
  • Landscaping additions: If you’re looking to reduce your water bill, a landscaping overhaul may be a good option. In addition to using less water, water-wise landscapes can be more beneficial for the environment too.

Make your home safer

If you’ve identified safety concerns in your home, don’t hesitate to renovate.

Here are some problems that may cause a safety concern, and the projects that resolve them:

  • Electrical problems: If your lights are flickering a bit too much and new bulbs don’t seem to do the trick, it could be a sign of faulty wiring connections. Have a professional take a look to address to problem.
  • Roof leaks: There are a variety of causes of a leaky roof. A contractor can help you identify and repair roof leaks straight away to prevent the damage from becoming too severe. Learn more about roof repair in our roof replacement guide.
  • Window security upgrades: No matter your design aesthetic, safety should always be your number one priority. Renovations to improve your home’s safety may include the addition of new windows that latch correctly.

To improve function

As your life changes, your needs do, too. New family members, new interests, and new jobs may mean that the home that once perfectly suited your needs is no longer functional for your family.

Here are some projects that can take your home from funky to functional.

  • Adding a second bathroom: Perhaps your two toddlers are now two teenagers and one bathroom for both just isn’t cutting it any longer. A second bathroom may streamline your family’s mornings and make getting to school on time that much easier.
  • Remodeling your kitchen: Maybe your love of cooking has inspired you to upgrade your kitchen from a cramped galley to a functional cook space. That could mean anything from new appliances to a full kitchen demo.
  • Adding a deck: Have you found yourself spending more time relaxing outdoors and entertaining friends? A new deck is just the solution to make your outdoor space more livable.

Energy efficiency

Your home design and construction may make a difference in your energy bill.

If you’re looking to create an energy-efficient home and minimize your monthly energy bill, here are a few projects to explore:

  • Update your insulation: You might be surprised by how much subpar insulation can affect the temperature of your living space. Update your insulation to help your home maintain a comfortable temperature.
  • Install energy-efficient appliances: Whether your dishwasher’s endless washing cycle is burning through both water and energy like there’s no tomorrow, or your fridge is working overtime to keep your food cold, energy-efficient appliances can make a world of difference.
  • Windows: It’s amazing the difference double-pane windows can make when it comes to your comfort—and potentially to your electrical bill. Increase your insulation and energy efficiency by upgrading your single panes.

Planning Your Home Renovation - Find Inspirations

Where to Find Inspiration for Your Renovations

For many, one of the most challenging aspects of a renovation is the vision. Sure, you know the project you’d like to complete. You also know the style you like, whether that’s a modern and sleek design or shabby chic. But selecting exactly what you want in your new space, and understanding how to bring it all together, can be a really challenging question.

Well, it’s a good thing that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—it’s a great idea to look to others for inspiration.

Here are a few places you can find remodeling plan inspiration:

  • Pinterest: Pinterest is the ideal place to find design inspiration. Projects on Pinterest run the gamut of every price point, from ultra luxury to budget friendly. Create Pinterest boards to store all your ideas in one place and easily access them from your phone when you’re on-the-go.
  • Family and friends: You walk into countless homes in the span of a month, and most are likely ripe for the picking in terms of design inspiration. Some things to consider as you walk into each home include: What do you like about your loved ones’ homes? Which features do you want to include in your own living space?
  • Nature: Inspiration is all around us! Bringing the outdoors in is a great way to put a little life in any room. You can incorporate nature through aesthetic accents, like decorative branches or floral designs, water features, and by using sustainable materials.
  • Magazines: We may be in a digital age, but magazines are still full of inspiration. Clip images you like and create a real life inspiration board to keep in your space and review with your family, friends, and contractor.
  • Home renovation shows: Put those hours of TV to good use! Home design channels like HGTV and the DIY network feature tons of beautiful designs to get your creative juices flowing. Keep a notebook on your coffee table and jot down any designs you’d like in your own home.

Planning Your Home Renovation - Plan your vision

Planning Your Vision

Creating a plan of attack for bringing your vision to life may be a bit daunting to the less organization minded. But it’s nothing to be afraid of, even if planning isn’t really your “thing”. Here’s our foolproof step-by-step guide to creating a thorough remodeling plan.

  • Make a wish list: Your wish list should contain every remodeling project you’re considering. This may include anything from wood flooring to built-in closets, a new stove to a farmhouse sink.

    Once you’ve got everything listed, divide your master list into two smaller lists: must-haves and would-likes. Reality is that you may not be able to accomplish everything on your wish list—it is a “wish” list, after all. While you would like a farmhouse sink, if your stove has ceased to function, you must have a new one.
  • Assess compatibility and consider long-term goals: Consider your home’s current aesthetics and how compatible your plan is with those. Will your new renovation harmonize with your home’s current aesthetics and functionality? An inharmonious addition may stick out like a sore thumb, and unless you’re planning the first phase in a complete overhaul of your house, you may want to consider blending with your current aesthetic. If this is the beginning of a complete overhaul, make sure that your current project will blend with your ultimate vision.
  • Consider your budget: Renovating your home can be quite the investment, especially if your remodeling projects involve some major demolition or restructuring. If your wish list is budget-busting, you may need to trim down your projects and examine your home renovation financing options. Learn more about budgeting for a home renovation for your remodeling plans in “Part 2: Budgeting for Your Home Renovation”.
  • Categorize projects: Once you’ve got your list of must-haves and would-likes, go through each project and categorize it as either a DIY project that you’re planning on accomplishing on your own, or a project that requires the help of a professional in any capacity. This will help you get a better idea of both cost and timeline.
  • Understand local bylaws: Make sure you determine whether your renovations are permissible. A skilled contractor may handle permits and the like, but it’s a good idea to do your own research.

How to Plan Renovations Around Your Family’s Schedule

There’s no way around it: sizeable renovation projects will disrupt your life. They may put your kitchen out of commission for a few months, turn your backyard into a construction zone, or whittle your bathrooms down from two to one.

That’s why it’s essential that you plan your renovations around your family’s schedule, to minimize chaos and maximize efficiency. Here are a few steps to help:

  • Consult your calendar: If you have big family events coming up soon, it may be best to hold off renovations for now. Things like holidays and graduations may bring a lot of family to town, and the last thing you want is a single bathroom while entertaining guests.
  • School season vs. summer vacation: Do you want to complete the renovations while kids are home during the summer? Or have them out of the house while renovations get underway? Each has its benefits and downsides. If the kids are home, that may free up your time to be available to contractors and others you’ll need to meet with—but it also may make construction a bit more difficult logistically speaking. Consider your kids’ lifestyle and understand the ramifications of whichever you choose.
  • Plan vacations to get out of the renovation zone: If you’re comfortable with leaving your home for a little while, and have a trusted friend or family member nearby who can check in for you, a family vacation may be the perfect solution to get everyone out of the way. Be sure to have a designated person near your home who will be available in case of an emergency.
  • Make any necessary living arrangements: If your renovations will require your water or electricity to be turned off for an extended period of time, you’ll need to book a hotel or arrange to stay with family or friends.

    A project that should only take a day or two may be easier done if the kids are out of the house. Send them for a sleepover at a friend’s.

    Construction may mean a lot of noise, which can be hard for Fluffy and Fido. Consider boarding your pets or arranging a place for them to stay. Learn more tips to keep your pets safe during renovations on our blog.
  • As much as possible, create a safe, calm space for family: Designate an area of your home that’s relatively untouched by the construction and renovation project for relaxation and downtime. This will reduce your family’s stress and increase their happiness.

Once the Planning Is Done

Planning and researching may seem like a big task, but you won’t regret it. This first step will make your renovation smoother in the long run and eliminate as much guesswork as possible.

Once you’ve got the planning and researching portion done, it’s time to move onto the next step: crafting a budget for your remodeling plans. Be sure to check out “Part 2: Budgeting for Your Home Renovation”, the next installment in our four-part home renovation series.