Man installing a new mirror in a renewed bathroom.

How To Plan Your Home Renovation

Sarah Sharkey6-minute read
PUBLISHED: March 25, 2022


A home renovation is a major undertaking. But many homeowners choose to renovate their homes, some to add value to their homes, others to make adjustments to their space to accommodate a lifestyle change. Still others simply want to give their home a refresh that suits their style.

Whatever your reasons for renovating, it is important to make a plan before jumping in headfirst. Let’s explore how to plan your home renovation to help make this process as smooth as possible.

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Start With Your Vision: Build A Detailed Home Improvement Plan

The first step in mapping out your home renovation is to consider exactly what needs to be done. Although you may have plenty of ideas, it's time to nail down the specifics of your vision.

Start the process by outlining everything that absolutely needs to be done. If you are tackling a small scope, like a single bathroom remodel, this list will be a bit less time-consuming to put together.

If you’re working on a whole-house remodel, focus on the big necessary projects first. These projects involve the structural integrity or basic functionality of your home and cannot be put off. For example, replacing an old roof, replacing severely damaged siding, or a bathroom remodel due to functionality issues would be deemed absolutely essential repairs.

After you have a list of nonnegotiable projects, add projects that would be nice to complete but won’t impact your home's integrity or basic functionality. For example, you might want to a kitchen remodel to upgrade the space or install a backyard pool. But you can put those wants on the “nice to have” list. These extra items will be the first to go if the budget is tight.

You can take things a step further by ranking your “nice to have” list based on the added value each would bring.

Once you have a list of everything that needs to be done and everything you’d like to have done, it is time to take another look at those projects. Divide out which projects you want to DIY and which will need the expertise of a contractor. Try to be realistic about your abilities when separating these projects. You might have the skills to successfully DIY some projects. But other tasks, like plumbing and electrical work, will likely require the help of a contractor.

It might take some time to make a plan that you feel confident about. But taking this time upfront to work through your vision can help you understand the true scope of the projects ahead of time. With this clear picture of your renovations, you can avoid making expensive changes in the middle of the project.

Put Together A Realistic Home Renovation Budget

Crafting a vision of what you’d like your home to look like in the future is an exciting prospect. But before you put that mapped-out renovation plan into action, you’ll need to create a realistic home remodeling budget. Otherwise, you could be stuck with a halfway completed renovation that stops when the money runs out.

Research each item on your renovation project list to find out what costs you can expect. Additionally, it is a good idea to talk to a professional to receive a realistic cost estimate.

The bad news is that renovation costs can add up quickly. But the good news is that understanding the costs ahead of time can give you the time you need to prepare your finances for the costs.

Even with realistic estimates, it is likely that something will not go according to plan. And with that, your costs may increase during the course of the project. Add a buffer into your house remodel budget instead of waiting to be blindsided by an unexpected cost. For example, you might add an additional 10% to your renovation budget to cover these unforeseen but possible costs.

In the best-case scenario, you won’t need the extra funds. But if you do need to dip into the buffer, you’ll be glad it’s there.

When you have a final estimate on renovation costs, it's time to determine where the money will come from. In some cases, you may have the funds to cover the costs outright. But if you don’t, there are other financing options. One of the best options is to take out a personal loan to cover your home improvement costs.

If you decide to go with a home improvement loan, take the time to obtain that financing before the renovation gets underway.

Working On A Home Project?

Use a personal loan to finance exactly what's needed for turning your house into a home.

Hire A Top Team Of Contractors

Even if you are an avid DIY-er, some projects are simply not DIY projects. For example, it might be required by law that a licensed electrician handles the electrical work. With that, you’ll likely need to hire contractors for at least some portions of the job.

Start your search for a reliable contractor by asking family, friends and neighbors for referrals. If you are lucky, you’ll find a great recommendation with a glowing review. If not, check out online sites like Angie’s List to see which contractors produce top-quality work in your area.

When you have a list of contractors, ask questions to help understand how each contractor works. You’ll want to find someone with plenty of experience, proper licensing, appropriate insurance, and reputable references. Ask about what building materials they’ll be using and who should handle pulling permits to meet building code regulations.

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure to discuss the terms of payment. A reputable contractor will not require you to pay for the whole project upfront. But getting on the same page about payment timelines is critical. You don’t want to run into issues down the line.

When you decide on a particular contractor, it is critical to get everything about the project in writing. You don’t want to rely on verbal agreements because that leaves room for misinterpretation.

Create Your Timeline

With the right contractors lined up, it is time to create a timeline for your renovation. As you build out this timeline, make sure to add extra time for unforeseen issues. Although your favorite home renovation show might not show delays to their work, you’ll want to leave some wiggle room in the deadlines.

In general, a timeline should start with the projects that involve structural issues such as foundation repair or a roof replacement. Once those items are taken care of, you can proceed with the demolition of the target areas.

If possible, you may want to stagger demolition to work through one room at a time. The staggered demolition can help keep more space livable in the home.

Next up, you’ll want the basic functions of the space taken care of. In any room, that can include HVAC ductwork, electrical systems, and plumbing frameworks. From there, you can move forward with drywall installation, cabinets, flooring, painting, and more.

If you have questions about the best timeline for your project, consult with your contractor for personalized advice.

Start Your Home Improvement Project

With a solid plan in place, it is time to start the renovation process. A successful home improvement project will follow your plan very closely. But keep in mind that unforeseen issues could cause delays along the way.

Instead of being frustrated with the delays, try to plan for them ahead of time. Give yourself and your budget the breathing room it needs for a streamlined home remodeling project.

Tips For A Smooth Renovation

A smooth renovation process starts with a great plan. But most home renovation projects will have some bumps along the way. With that, there are still some steps you can take to enjoy a smoother ride.

If you’ll be living in the home while renovating, start by ensuring the safety of any pets or children by putting barriers in place. You don’t want anyone wandering into the renovation zone that could hurt themselves. Additionally, you may want to organize child and pet care that allows them to be out of the home during the potentially loud and distressing parts of a home renovation.

Next up, set up a command center for all things renovation. It is good to set this up near the renovation itself so that all of the necessary information is easily available.

At different stages throughout the process, the contractor may have to shut off the power or water to continue work. If you’ll be home, make sure to be aware of that and plan around it.

And finally, keep an eye on the weather. If a storm is brewing, you may want to hold off on landscaping work until it has passed. You don’t want to have work get destroyed or have an unsafe situation on your hands.

The Bottom Line: Homeowners Will Benefit From Detailed Home Renovation Plans

As you find home improvement ideas that strike your fancy, building a home renovation plan is helpful. When crafting a home renovation plan, you can map out the realistic steps required to arrive at your dream renovation. With that, you can make adjustments to make the renovation work with your living arrangements and budget.

Ready to dive into a home renovation? Apply for the necessary funding with Rocket LoansSM today.

Working On A Home Project?

Use a personal loan to finance exactly what's needed for turning your house into a home.

Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys diving into the details to help readers make savvy financial decisions. She’s covered mortgages, money management, insurance, budgeting, and more. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog. When she's not writing, she's outside exploring the coast. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.