Whole-Home Remodel Series: The Planning Stage

So, you’ve decided you’re ready to take on a whole-home remodel. Whatever your reasons, there are myriad options—and decisions to be made—for remodeling your home. The planning stage is the time for you to clearly define your remodeling goals; the more clarity you have when starting this process, the easier your remodel will be.

Identify Your Motivations

Home remodels are typically seen as a disruptive and time-consuming undertaking, so in order to make it as stress-free as possible, it’s important to clearly identify your motivations. Are you outgrowing your home and in need of more space? Is the layout of your home not conducive to your family’s needs and you want to improve the flow? Is your home outdated and in need of a refresh? Are you looking to add “age-in-place” features to help you stay in your home as long as possible? (We offer some great remodeling ideas for aging in place in this blog post.) Once you’ve nailed down the main driver of your remodel, it’s time to start organizing your ideas.

Your Vision: Style & Design

Design magazines and websites are great places to start. Figuring out what you like—and don’t like—is the first step. Houzz and Pinterest are two online resources that expose you to more images than you can imagine, plus those sites provide a virtual place to organize all of your ideas. (Check out our Houzz and Pinterest profiles for inspiration!) If you prefer to go the old-school route, design magazines will never go out of style and there are many from which to choose. Dwell, California Homes, Better Homes & Gardens, This Old House, and Sunset Magazine are just a few of the many magazines that are chock full of great ideas and inspiration. Treat this as a brainstorming session for your remodel: dream big!

Define Your Budget

Once you’ve come up with your wish list for your dream home, it’s time to take a step back into reality and figure out how much you want to invest in your remodeling project. It’s easy to dream big; just remember, big dreams require big budgets.

Also important is sharing your budget with your design team (architect, designer, contractor) from the onset; being vague about how much you can afford until your project design is complete can be a recipe for disappointment. By providing a clear picture of your desired investment, you allow your team to work within those parameters to design a project that can be built within your budget. Hint: remodels are full of unknown surprises (some good, some expensive) so it’s a smart idea to plan for a contingency of 10%-20% of your budget to cover the inevitable unforeseen discoveries that may arise during your remodel—including all of those “while you’re at it” requests you’re likely to ask for.

Review Your Vision

Now that you have established your budget, it’s wise to go back and revise your ideabooks to narrow down your choices. Not to necessarily come up with a final plan (that’ll be done later in the process with your architect and/or designer and general contractor), but to more clearly define your overall style from a realistic and practical point of view. During this planning stage, it’s a good time to prioritize your wish list and come up with 10-15 must-haves for your remodel. It may be prudent to consider how you anticipate using your home now versus ten years from now? Needs change as family members grow older, toddlers become teenagers, teens move out, and adults invariably get older. When customizing plans, it’s smart to think long term for a timeless remodel.

Pick Your Team

Remodeling your home requires a team (an architect and a contractor, at a minimum), and to ensure your team works like the well-oiled machine you want it to, it’s imperative that all members work together to build your home the way you envision it. We’ve found that the best way to do this is to get those two players involved in the process around the same time. (Read about our DesignAssist process, here.)

Now that we’ve walked you through the planning stage, you’ve established your remodeling investment, and you’ve narrowed down your design and style choices, the next post in our Whole-Home Remodel series offers tips for choosing the right contractor for your project. Ensuing posts will explore some common decisions you may face, starting after demolition is complete and your home is taken down to the studs. Check back or subscribe to our blog posts so you don’t miss out!