How to Plan a Home Renovation

Beth Dickerson|January 26, 2024
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Any home renovation whether big or small must be carefully planned and designed to help you manage the risks involved. Before you jump right into your project, here are some helpful pointers on how to go about some important steps. 


Green Features

Thinking about sustainability up front is a good idea. There are the obvious things such as thinking about how your project can make good use of lighting and passive heating as well as which materials have a lower carbon footprint. However you can also go one step further and do things like repurpose a kitchen counter as maybe an outdoor kitchen counter or even cut it up and use it for tiling elsewhere.


Hiring an Architect

For your larger projects that require walls coming down then it is probably a good idea to hire an architect. They can help navigate the rules of where you live with what is code and what is not and can sometimes help with permitting. Things can get more complicated when you are doing more than just renovating what is already existing.



Any scope of work document should include costs that you may not even think about such as fees for dumpster or the like. If the builder’s estimate exceeds your budget, write down your hierarchy of needs and wants and ask your contractor if they can revise it accordingly, Olsen said.



Older properties tend to have more structural issues so it’s important to know this up front. If you share a wall with a neighbor, also known as a party wall, it is a good idea to get a condition survey of their home before work begins, especially if you are doing excavations. This should include getting photographs, descriptions and measurements of any existing cracks or defects just to protect yourself.



Changing your mind about fixtures and fittings can be expensive if work has already begun.

For example, if you decide you prefer an engineered wood floor instead of the vinyl one that has been estimated for, it may not simply be the materials that cost more. It can sometimes be more complicated where the concrete base underneath may need to be finished to a different level. 

Also, be cautious of big money payments upfront. If the builder doesn’t provide you with a payment schedule, then don’t sign the contract. Make sure everything is spelled out clearly and shop around for what is customary for the area you are in.