Like most home owners these days, you are likely busy with work, activities, family, and all other stuff we call “life”. Often at the top of your (or your spouse’s) wish list are certain aspects of the home you wish to (or badly need to) renovate … but life takes over and months or years down the road you are still feeling somewhat overwhelmed by a list that never seems to get any shorter. So here is one technique that may help.
- Look at your available funds – consider what you have available that you are prepared to spend on renovations for the next year without pushing yourself in to financial crisis.
- List everything
First off, do a brain dump … get everything you feel needs remodelling / replacing in your home down on paper. At this point don’t worry about any sense of order. Just write down everything you can think of in a bullet list format. This may include some larger items such as gutting the kitchen, or building a deck, but will also include smaller more manageable tasks such as swapping out the washing machine that leaks or carpet in one room. I would suggest you do this on your own at this stage as this can rapidly become a battle ground between couples if you try to produce the list together at first attempt.
3. Start to rank these items by importance to you. I recommend a 3 prong ranking such as following:
A – critical (eg. affects the short term safety or weatherproofing). Emotional attachment or design aesthetics doesn’t usually play a big part. Examples: leaking roof, electrical fire safety issues, asbestos abatement.
B – if this is not done in the next 3-6 months your anxiety levels will continue to increase & it may be starting to take a strain on your relationship or general well being. If it has already got to that point then it probably ranks as an ‘A’. Example: the master bathroom has been in a state of partial demo for X months and sharing with the kids has gotten really old.
C – it can wait but should be part of the longer term plan (ie. 6 months plus). These are the wish- list items & typically bigger investments such as a complete kitchen renovation. They also take longer to plan.
- Write beside each item which room it impacts. For something that impacts multiple rooms (such as the roof) then write ‘many’.
- Give the same list to your spouse … have them review the list and add anything they can think of. At this stage they don’t get to delete anything & they don’t get to change your ranking … they just add their own ranking. If they don’t agree with something being on the list at all then they simply do not rank it.
- Now review the list to see what you agree on … Circle those you both agree on
- Initial which items either of you will personally take care of. If you decide that you need to hire someone then initial as to who will make the arrangements and then a date (deadline) by which you will do this.
- This is where it can get a little tricky … simultaneously you need to keep a degree of focus on the ‘B’ items, especially the ones you both agree on. If, for example, one of your ‘B’ items is renovating a bathroom & one of the ‘A’ items is dealing with mould issues in the same bathroom then now may be the time to jump straight on that bathroom renovation so as to avoid doing work twice. Some items may be quite obvious … but prepare yourself for changes to your list once you start speaking to a contractor / designer / architect as they can help guide you as to where you will spend less when looking at the whole big picture.
- Circle back to point 1: now you have some ideas on cost to deal with the ‘A’ items and quite possibly some of the ‘B’ items, look at what is left for the rest. Can you afford to do more in the same 12 month period or should it wait? Only you can answer this part.