The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Home Renovation

Have you been thinking about renovating your home one day but you have no idea where to start? Or maybe you recently bought an older home and need to bring it to life. With so many decisions to make, it can quickly feel overwhelming to tackle just thinking about it all.

So it’s our hope that this extensive guide will give you a roadmap to planning a home renovation that perfectly fits your budget and lifestyle.

We’ve provided several resources throughout this one guide, like infographics, templates, examples and links to even more helpful articles.

So take whatever you need! (By the way, Joshua is a licensed general contractor so you can have confidence that this information is coming from both expertise AND experience!)


Table of Contents


The Importance of Proper Planning for a Successful Home Renovation

Step 1. Make a List of Your Home Renovation Goals

Step 2. Create a Home Renovation Budget

Step 3. Design and Plan Your Home Renovation

Step 4. Hire the Right Contractors for Your Job

Step 5. Manage the Renovation Timeline

Bonus: Permits and Approvals

The Rewards of a Well-Planned Home Renovation


Planning Home Reno Infographic

The Importance of Proper Planning for a Successful Home Renovation


We have renovated several properties as both fixer upper flips and investment properties over the years. It has taken us some time to get into a rhythm with home renovations but what has been constant is: 1. Stay flexible!! and at the same time, 2. Each project requires good planning for a successful home renovation.

You may ask yourself “do I really have to spend all of this time planning?” or “can’t I just start and figure it out as I go?” Just know that taking a shortcut may save you time now but could very well cost you in both time and money later.

For example, if you decide to paint over a water stained wall without investigating the issue underneath, you may finish a renovation only to find a very expensive plumbing issue once it’s all done. Alternatively, if you make a list of the things that need to be repaired, budget for those expenses and communicate your needs to the professional assisting in the renovation, you are not only managing the project effectively but also ensuring that the project is completed on schedule with a smaller chance of significant interruptions to your life and finances.

To make things easier for you, we’ve created a Home Renovation Planner that includes several worksheets to make sure you stay on track throughout your home remodeling project. Think of this planner as your roadmap to renovation success. These worksheets will help you make informed decisions that align with your vision, and ensure that every dollar and effort is well spent.

Click here or on the photo below to start planning like a pro today! If you already have a planner, keep reading below for our suggested steps to a smooth planning process!

renovation planner pages


Step 1. Make a List of Your Home Renovation Goals

Set Realistic Goals for Your Project

The first step in the planning stage of your home renovation is to define your goals. What would you most like to achieve with this renovation? Is this renovation to increase your home’s value, create more space or just update outdated things? Also include the possible action steps it may take to get there.

Don’t worry, you may have to tweak this later. Just use this as a starting point. Outlining this will help you make more informed decisions in the very beginning of this process and keep you focused. You can jot this down as a simple list or use the “Goal Planner” worksheet in our Home Renovation Planner.

Evaluate the Current Condition of Your Home

Now that you have some nice renovation goals in mind, you will need to take into account any existing issues that you haven’t considered but also need to be included in your total expense budget. For example, when we were renovating our master bathroom, we wanted to replace the existing tub with a claw foot tub. However we knew there was also a slow leak coming from that bathroom, so we made sure to include that in our budget and plan so we could prioritize effectively.

Identify Functional and Aesthetic Improvements

Take note of functional aspects that need attention, like outdated plumbing or electrical systems, weird room layouts, or rooms that don’t have enough storage space. Additionally, consider the aesthetics you desire, like updating outdated fixtures, refreshing paint colors, or adding in some modern design elements throughout your space.

When it comes to aesthetics, explore different styles, colors, textures, and materials. Consider your personal taste, but also think about the overall harmony in your home. Look through design magazines, Pinterest, Houzz, and/or even visit showrooms to gather ideas. Then collect your design ideas and inspiration for the room/space, paint colors, furniture, accents and any other visuals for the project so you may share your vision with others who are involved.

Prioritize Your Home Renovation Goals

Once you have taken these factors into consideration, now it’s time to prioritize your goals. Take into account your budget, time constraints, and the overall impact each project will have on your daily life. Consider which areas will provide the most value and enhance your quality of living. For example, if you love cooking and entertaining, a kitchen remodel may be a top priority. 

It’s also possible that you may not be able to finish the entire house renovation in one phase, so think about splitting or grouping projects. You might prioritize by putting your full list in order from “Must be done” to “Optional” or labeling them as “high”, “medium” or “low” priority.

Step 2. Create a Home Renovation Budget

Next step is to make a realistic budget. Again, this is just a starting point so plan ahead to revisit this throughout the remodeling project. You may start with our budget template included in the Home Renovation Planner , use Excel or another software to watch your spending.

Set a Realistic Budget for Your Home Renovation

There are a lot of things to think about when creating your budget. If you need a place to start, Little House of the Corner has a Renovation Budget Tracker spreadsheet that is great in capturing all aspects of your project.

To put it simply, your home renovation budget is made up of 1. Your Funds and 2. Expenses. So another good starting point is finding a maximum amount that you are willing to spend for the entire renovation. Take into account your savings, potential loans, and any additional funds you may have available.

You may also want to break down your budget into categories based on the areas you plan to renovate. This allows you to proportionally prioritize spending and make adjustments if needed. For example, if you’re remodeling your kitchen (typically a larger expense than the rest of the house), allocate a portion of your budget specifically for that area.


Estimate Costs for Materials, Labor, Contractors and Contingencies

Then you’ll need to gather all of the anticipated expenses for your home improvement project(s). You will have to think about materials, labor, permits, and any pop-up repairs and/or additional work that may arise. You may need to engage a few contractors and suppliers at this point as well to get an idea of the costs involved.  Most folks recommend including a “surprise” fund of around 10-20% to your budget to account for these unexpected costs.


Consider the Long-Term Value of Your Renovation

Will any of the renovation projects increase the resale value of your home? If so, factor in the potential ROI (return on investment) when determining your budget. For example, a homeowner may consider investing $20k in a kitchen renovation if a real estate agent is confident in it increasing the home’s property value.

If you need specific ideas of renovation projects that could add value to your home, check out our list here!


Step 3. Design and Plan Your Home Renovation


Now that you have your goals and your budget, it’s time to create your action plan! If you don’t already have a renovation planner, grab ours here!

 renovation planner intro

Develop Your Custom Renovation Plan

You may decide to create your own home improvement or renovation plan by room or by calendar or timeline. Either way is fine, just be sure it lines up with both the goals and budget you set earlier. The key parts to include in your plan are: the scope of work or list of renovation projects, timeline, and materials so it is all in one place.

Check in with Architects and Designers

Once you’ve jotted down your ideas and timeline, we recommend you loop back around to a real estate professional, contractor, designer or architect to ensure the plan and projects are feasible, then adjust again as necessary. They’ll provide valuable insights, suggest practical solutions, and help you optimize the use of space.

Create a Detailed Floor Plan and Layout

Another approach is to create a detailed floor plan and layout to visualize the renovation. That way you can note the placement for furniture, fixtures, and other elements. Also pay attention to traffic flow, natural lighting, and the overall flow of the space. Consider the specific requirements of each room and how they fit into the larger picture of your home.


Step 4. Hire the Right Contractors for the Job


If you are not DIY-ing this home renovation project, we have a whole post here dedicated to hiring a reputable contractor for your home renovation, and if you don’t have time to read it over, grab this checklist to save you some time.

Contractor Checklist Promo

First, you’ll need to decide if you will hire one general contractor who will manage multiple subcontractors/tradesman (plumbers, electricians, etc) or if you will hire each individual tradesman yourself.

Research Potential Contractors and Get 3 Quotes

No matter which approach you take to hire, we recommend that you look for local contractors who have experience with the type of project(s) in your plan. Ask friends, family members, or neighbors for recommendations, or search online for contractors in your area. Most importantly, take your time to find the right fit and get at least 3 bids/quotes.

Verify That the Contractor Is Licensed and Insured

Another major consideration is to ensure that the contractor is licensed and insured. A contractor’s license simply means they are qualified to perform the work you need and insurance protects you and the contractor in case of an accident. Hiring an uninsured contractor will leave you vulnerable if something happens.

Check the Contractor’s References and Reviews

Lastly, be sure to also check references and/or reviews to make sure they have a good reputation in the industry. Note that sometimes a negative review can come from a misunderstanding, so also look to see if the contractor replies to reviews with a resolution or explanations as well.

 contractor in remodeled kitchen

Step 5. Manage the Home Renovation Timeline


Once you’ve got your plan in place, it’s important to share it with those who will be involved in your project, if you haven’t already. Communication is a key factor in effective timeline management.

Set Milestones and Deadlines for Each Renovation Phase

Use our project calendar or another project management tool to track milestones, deadlines, and any changes to the schedule. Regularly review the timeline with everyone involved and make adjustments as needed to keep the project on track.

Track Reno Progress and Adjusting Schedules as Needed

As mentioned before, you have to stay flexible and be prepared for unexpected delays or problems that may come up during the renovation process, no matter how well you plan in advance. So think through possible contingency plans in your timeline and factor in extra time for inspections and potential permit delays.

See Related Article: Don’t Make These 5 Renovation Mistakes


Bonus: Obtaining Permits and Approvals


If you are working with a reputable contractor, that person should be familiar with the permitting process and can help guide you through it, so you may skip this section. However it’s still good to be aware that before anyone starts tearing out walls in your home, make sure someone has considered and pulled the necessary building permits, for example.

Failing to obtain the proper permits can result in (possibly expensive) fines and/or legal issues, so it’s very important to take some time to make sure everything is in order before starting any work.


The Rewards of a Well-Planned Home Renovation


Taking time to thoughtfully design and plan your next home renovation has the potential to enhance your lifestyle, increase the value of your home, and create a haven that reflects your unique style and personality.

One of the greatest rewards for us after a renovation is the pure satisfaction of seeing our vision finally come to life. Every decision and detail is a reflection of your taste and preferences. Walking into a space that has been renovated in alignment with your goals is an incredible feeling of accomplishment and pride.

On the financial side, a well-planned renovation could give you a nice return on investment as well. Upgrading buyer-desirable areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, or updating the home’s curb appeal can boost the value of your home.

So with that we say to dream big but plan ahead meticulously, and you’ll go on a home renovation journey that will reward you with a beautiful, functional, and personalized living space that brings joy and fulfillment for years to come!

remodeled gray and cedar kitchen

Additional Renovation Ideas:


Hammer & Handsaw

Hammer & Handsaw

Hey, we’re Joshua and Dejené. We’ve completed several home renovations and decided to share what we’ve learned in the process. Here you’ll find our favorite DIY projects, tutorials and home renovation stories.

Hammer and Handsaw features affiliate links throughout this website. If you make a purchase from one of the links, we may make a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. View our full privacy policy here and thank you for your support!

renovation planner intro

Plan Your Next Home Renovation Like a Pro


Our Home Renovation Planner is a complete collection of the most common useful planning and renovation management tools that you NEED for your next home project.

Vetted and written by a general contractor, this planner will become a staple for newbie DIYers, homeowners and professionals alike.


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