9 Tips for Planning A Home Renovation

What is the difference between a successful reno and one that if full of blowouts, overwhelm and stress? It pretty much boils down to where you start and the approach you take throughout the journey. In a nutshell there are steps you need to take and things you need to address along the way pretty much regardless of the size and type of your project.  Things go wrong when homeowners ignore or skip steps and base their decisions on assumption, or bad advice, not on the facts – or that facts of their project . Renovation can be a relatively easy and straightforward process if approached the right way. The old adage ‘ If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail pretty much sums this process up.

We’ve got 9 tips that’ll help you plan a successful home renovation project, These steps apply regardless of the size of your renovation – albeit a full house renovation and extension or simply a  kitchen makeover, and regardless of the reason you choose to renovate in the first place  whether you intend to renovate your current home, buy a home to renovate or even renovate for profit.

So don’t ignore or skip them… commit to doing this once and doing it right…

With that in mind, here are the 9 tips for planning a home renovation…

Modern Light Filled Kitchen

Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash


This step is all about exploring what you want to achieve and why. And believe it or not, this is the step that most renovators miss altogether.

Most homeowners typically go straight to a builder or an architect with their shopping list of rooms and a set outcome in mind. But having a clear ‘vision’ for your dream home in mind right from the start of your project gives you focus moving forward and clarity during your project making it easier to stay on track and in control. Because if you don’t know where you are going, who knows where you’ll end up, and nobody wants that.

Imagine going shopping for a wedding outfit for a summer wedding – it’s going to be lots easier to find something suitable when you start with a broader idea of what you want rather than very set ideas. Think about how looking for a semi formal brightly coloured outfit is a much easier set of criteria to fulfil than trying to find a blue flowy knee-length dress with silver buttons would be.  By focusing on the rooms too early means that you can miss the opportunity as there will be many ways to solve your particular renovation problem.

So explore and understand what you want to achieve and why. Is it that you want more usable space? or a defined indoor-outdoor connection, maybe? or do you want more flexibility or even increased street appeal, a home that is safe and functional? Work out what your dream home vision is, write it down and then put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. 

Being clear on this will guide you when things get challenging and will help you make difficult decisions during your project. It will give you and your team direction during the design process,  and it will save you from possible cost blowouts that can occur when changes are made during the building phase.

Modern house renovation with pool

Photo Credit


Once you have a clear vision for your project, now it’s time to work out how to achieve it. so the second step to reno success is finding the best pathway for your project. Renovating isn’t a one size fits all process.  

Every project is unique and has its own set of issues, so each person’s journey will be different. For example, a property with poor rear access might require the swimming pool to be installed first when the access is still available rather than at the end of the project or the materials the house is constructed from could dictate the way the project is approached. 

Because of this, it’s critical to find and follow the best pathway for your project.  It’s a fact, renovation, like life. It is so much easier if you have a clear strategy in place.

outdoor living

Photo Credit


Long gone are the days where you could do whatever you want on your property. 

There are rules and restrictions that apply to every property some more restrictive than others. So before you start down the road of renovation, it’s critical to understand what you can (and can’t do on your property). What restrictions apply and what they mean for your project.

Explore and understand what is actually possible and the reality of your renovation options. So make sure you check if there is anything else – like slope, views, drainage, access, pipes for example that might impact or restrict your renovation options.


A strong renovation strategy is a great starting point but to ensure success, the renovation process should always be viewed holistically.  Renovation is made up of many often isolated parts which means it’s easy to miss or ignore things especially if they aren’t included in the scope of work  and there is a greater chance of work being done multiple times.  So it’s important to look at the whole ‘big’ picture not just focusing on each part independently and exclusively and then moving on to the next. A holistic approach means a more efficient and cost effective outcome, with the flexibility a renovation project needs, as surprises will inevitably occur along the way.


Decisions made early can have an ongoing impact throughout the renovation journey, as can decisions made in each part of the process. The key is to understand the impacts and implications of the decisions made on other parts and throughout the process. which can make it difficult to recalibrate later if needed.


Modern Bathroom Renovation

Photo Credit


It’s a fact, money makes the world go round and it’s an unavoidable part of the renovation journey, because let’s face it, it all comes back to money. It’s the enabler (and sometimes the inhibitor) of your dreams.

There are two parts to the money equation: you need to  work out how you are going to pay for it (your funding options), and you need to work out what you can realistically afford to spend.

Calculate the total amount of money you are prepared to spend and then work backwards as this figure needs to cover upfront costs (often missed) , the cost of the construction and the cost of any extra items or your WOW factor.

Money can’t be ignored and ideally should be addressed early and carefully monitored throughout your project.  So set your budget early and track it, test it and adjust it throughout the project  – be accountable and make the difficult decisions when necessary.

It’s also important to cross check that your goals and budget are in alignment at key points along your renovation journey, Don’t wait until you are getting a builders quote to know.


Modern Home Renovation

Photo Credit


Renovation is all about decisions – big ones, small ones and every type in between. Having a clear project vision and a robust project strategy will help make decision making far easier by keeping you focused on the end goal. It’s really easy to be distracted by the little things when renovating, like light or tap fittings, rather than getting the function right. 

Renovation is a sequential process, so it’s vital to understand the necessary steps and to undertake them in the right order to ensure success. 

Do your research to keep your finger on the pulse and the decision making will be easier.  Be decisive, know what decisions need to be made and by when. When renovating, time is money – and indecision costs. 

Beautiful Modern Bathroom Renovation with Floating Vanity

Photo Credit


Renovation isn’t something most homeowners do everyday, you will maybe only do it once or twice in your lifetime. So it is important for you to understand that you don’t know what you don’t know … and don’t need too.  

Because of this, it’s critical that you seek the right advice – this is where the selection of your project team is so important, and then listen to and value the advice given.  It might not always be what you want to hear but that’s the point. 


It is so important for renovators to understand the role their project team will play and their importance to its ultimate success.  Acknowledge that the designer for example recommended by your friend (who built a new modern house) for your own renovation (of a character workers cottage) might not be a good fit for your project. 

People that understand your wants needs and vision, aesthetic and one you can relate to and trust are worth more than the monetary outlay. Leverage off the knowledge your team has from years of experience in projects similar to yours, and benefit from it.

Photo Credit


Many a renovation project has gone awry through lack of, or miscommunication between parties. To get the best outcome from your renovation, it’s critical to have a good relationship with your project team particularly your architect/designer, or builder. Aim to be clear, honest and consistent with your communication at all times.

Your team will give you better advice if they are informed and can base their decisions on the most accurate information.

It’s important to establish clear channels of communication right at the start of the relationship, and clearly lay out what those channels are and how they will work. Communication happens in many ways, it can be verbal, visual (photographs and drawings), written ( your project brief, email, text).

For communication to be effective, it needs to be a two way street.

9. get organised

Renovation inevitably goes hand and hand with enormous amounts of paperwork. So having an organisational strategy with tools to help you stay organised and on track for the duration of your renovation project is critical.

Setting up systems right at the start helps keeping track of the paperwork, research, communication, etc.

Tracking systems are also critical, budget and time tracking are two of the key ingredients to project success. Consistent monitoring will allow you to always have a handle on where your project is at, allowing you to recalibrate if and when needed


Planning and preparation are really the key to renovation success. But if that doesn’t sound very exciting, This might…getting the home of your dreams, on time and on budget having had an amazing renovation experience.allowing you to recalibrate if and when needed

I hope you’ve found this post interesting.

Leave a comment, we love to hear from you.

Until next time….stop dreaming and start planning…


While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, The Zen Reno does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. It is for information purposes only and expert advice should be sought regarding how this issue might affect your particular project.

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