Tips to Plan Your Upcoming Home Renovation

Making big changes in your home is exciting. You’re turning it into something uniquely yours and stamping your personality on the house.

Like any major undertaking, though, the key to a successful home renovation is in how well you plan for it. 

You could jump right in and get started, but if you didn’t think about the challenges and consequences, you'd probably be in for some costly obstacles.

Before you lift a finger or make a purchase for your upcoming renovation, use these tips for the most productive planning.

1. Make a Need and Want List

You’re going to have a lot of things you want to do as you get moving into the project. Some of these will be essentials, like structural changes, while others are things you can live without but would prefer to have.

Early in the planning process, start a list with “Need” and “Want” sections. Any time you think of something else you’d like to add, write it down under the proper column.

This will help you prioritize everything and avoid forgetting something that could be vital to your renovation. You can always get it when you remember, but if you’re in the middle of the work, the wait will delay the results.

2. Figure Out Your Budget (and Follow It)

When you’re renovating, any costs are ballpark estimates. This makes it a little more difficult to figure out a budget. Still, the more you can plan for, the better you can prepare financially.

The list you wrote in Tip #1 will help you here. Take everything on the “Need” list and get estimated prices. Don’t forget to include labor and overhead costs, like electricity, equipment, and other necessities. This is streamlined if you hire a contractor because you can use their estimate to guide your budget.

Then, add in the costs of the things in your “Wants” column. The total of the two tells you how much you’re looking at for the renovation. From there, you can decide if it’s a reasonable amount based on what you plan to spend, or if you need to adjust a few things until you get to the desired price range.

3. Expect Obstacles and Challenges

No matter how well you’ve planned for every contingency, unexpected things pop up. Plan for those challenges by adding a buffer in your budget and your schedule.

For example, a project that was supposed to take a week stretches into a month or longer. In the meantime, you’ve been staying at an Airbnb. 

If you planned for contingencies, you chose a place that is flexible enough to let you reserve it longer. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with the headache of trying to find another lodging site at the last minute.

This situation puts a strain on your budget and your schedule. If you were able to plan for contingencies, it becomes an inconvenience instead of a disaster.

4. Shop Around for Contractors

A substantial factor in the success of your renovation is who you have doing the work. Most people will hire outside help at some point for things like plumbing and electrical wiring or hvac services like replacing a PTAC Unit.

You may be able to do some of the smaller things on your own, like caulking trim and painting. At some point, it’s going to be more than you can do without help.

When it’s time to hire someone, look for a qualified, experienced expert in their field. A general contractor may have their preferred professionals they usually outsource. Instead of going with their recommendations, check the reviews of anyone who could be working in your home.

What do any previous clients say about professionalism and overall work? Do they offer free consultations and estimates? Are there any red flags to be aware of from online reviews or their Better Business Bureau ratings?

Schedule a time to meet with any service professionals. Ultimately, it’s up to your gut whether you think they’ll be able to give you the results you want, within your price range, and on schedule.

5. Plan for a Return on Your Investment

Someday, whether it’s soon or a long time down the road, you might put your house up for sale. Planning your renovations well maximizes your investment and increases your home’s value.

Some ROI renovations are completely different from what you’re currently doing. Others could be added on during the process if you plan for them now. 

As you’re envisioning your dream house, keep these lucrative home improvement changes in mind:

  • Garage door replacements (a 94% ROI)
  • Manufactured stone veneer on the exterior of your home (a 92% ROI)
  • Minor kitchen remodels, such as upgrading appliances or cupboards (a 72% ROI)
  • Replacing your current windows with vinyl alternatives (a 69% ROI)
  • Adding a composite deck (a 63% ROI)

When you know how much value your renovation is going to add to your home, it helps you adjust your budget. Something that won’t bring you a return on your investment later should be minimized, whereas, if you get your money back eventually, go all out.


A home renovation is full of creativity, imagination, and excitement. Along with those emotions is the reality of dealing with the heavy-duty work and the side effects. 

With these tips, you can plan to eliminate much of the stress and focus on the goal—your dream home!