As the holidays wind down, and people continue to “stay home” more often due to COVID, many homeowners are now looking forward to starting & completing some of the home improvements they may have been putting off until the new year – myself included! Personally, I’ve been planning my renovation for a few months now, but we decided to push the work into 2021 due to budgetary considerations.
Since renovating a home is such a huge undertaking and involves a lot of time & resources, I thought I would break down the topic of planning & budgeting for a home renovation into several parts – the first one being, “Planning & Prioritizing” your project. Here are some things to consider as you get started with planning & building out your project scope.
What’s the “Problem”?
First and foremost, you need to identify your ultimate goal of renovating. This starts with identifying your “design problem”. Have you started noticing a functional flaw in your home? Maybe you’ve started spending a lot more time at home this year, and never noticed how TINY your laundry room really is… or maybe you’re spending more time in your kitchen and you are now realizing how closed off to the “social spaces” (living room… family room) of the home that you are missing out on moments with your family. Or perhaps it has been a long time since you’ve updated the fixtures & finishes in your home, and it is just simply feeling “old and tired”.
For WHOM Are You Renovating?
Along the lines of, and almost parallel to, defining your design problem, you should also determine for whom you are renovating. Are you thinking of improving your home in order to improve your own lifestyle? Is this your “forever home” and you are looking to personalize it a bit more? Or, are you renovating because you plan on selling in the near future? The reason this is important is because maybe there are things that bug you specifically – or personal preferences you have – that maybe aren’t worth tackling during this renovation since you will be leaving the home in the near future. It helps to know your audience so that you can adequately prioritize the work to be done.
When you are prioritizing the areas to improve, focus on those that improve the functionality of the home. You will inevitably come across functionality issues when you are defining your design problem, and these will be the things that make the home feel “inconvenient” or “uncomfortable”. For example, maybe there is only 1 bathroom in a 3+ bedroom-home. Maybe there is a downstairs bedroom, and the only bathroom downstairs is a powder room (i.e., there is no place to bathe or shower). Functional deficiencies in a home will be the problems that have the biggest direct impact on your home’s value – and if you’re planning to sell, will almost certainly be the reason why potential buyers might skip right over your home when deciding to make an offer!
Return on Your Investment
When prioritizing your improvements, you should focus on those that have the highest return on your investment. Solving functional deficiencies in the home certainly does increase the value of your home and therefore, have a high ROI, but there are some aesthetic improvements that add more value than others. The old adage “kitchens and bathrooms sell homes” is absolutely true, in terms of the value they add to your home. So, while updating kitchens & bathrooms are also the most complicated & costly improvements you can make, they do add the most value, so focus your attention on these rooms. Finally, improvements that allow you to add square footage to the home often also yield the highest ROIs.
Scope the Work in Phases
If you are considering a large, extensive remodel, think about breaking the work down into phases. Maybe you can complete your kitchen remodel separately from tackling any of the bathrooms. When you define the scope for each phase, think about areas that might be connected to each other and would make sense to complete together as you are space planning. To illustrate what I mean, here is an example from my own planned renovation…
My Own Project...
When I renovate my own home, I plan on remodeling our entire kitchen, removing a load-bearing wall so it opens up to the living room, replacing the very original cabinets & appliances and adding a large kitchen island, which we don’t currently have. I also plan on relocating our laundry room to a small, upstairs bedroom – and converting the vacated, downstairs laundry room into a downstairs bedroom. The bedroom into which the laundry room will go, will be made a bit smaller, 1. because a laundry room doesn’t necessarily need to be that big and 2. to make our adjacent master bathroom larger. Our entire project will likely be done in 3 phases:
- Kitchen Remodel,
- Laundry Relocation & Master Bathroom Update, and
- Downstairs bedroom conversion & bathroom remodel (we will be expanding the bathroom to add a shower, which is currently only a powder room).
If you are thinking about starting a home renovation in the new year, I hope this gives you a jumping-off point for planning of your project. Once you have organized your ideas and thoughts and have started to define your project scope, you can then begin to build out a budget for your renovation, which is what we will discuss in more detail next week, so stay tuned!
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