Planning home improvements

by Andy Youings March 24, 2017

Planning home improvements

Planning a home improvement project

There’s something about this time of year and the arrival of spring (or is it that you’ve finally recovered from Christmas and your finances are looking a little healthier?) that your thoughts turn to improving your life with some home improvements. If so, your head is probably flooded with ideas, inspiration and plans for your next home project; whether it’s decorating the kid’s bedrooms, giving your garden a makeover or building an extension to create a completely new living space. There’s a lot to decide and plan. What better way to collect your thoughts and piece together your home improvement plan than using your Say Nice Things journal or notebook.

You first thought will probably be; “where do I start?”

First: Inspiration

The first step is to narrow down your ideas and start building a clearer idea of what you’re going to do. We recommend collecting visual ideas from home improvement magazines, online resources (such as the excellent Houzz) and product brochures for the things that you’d like to include in your own project. Initially, these can be stored in the pocket at the back of your journal before filtering the options to finalising your choices. Why not use the blank pages of your journal’s ‘doodle section’ to commit to your favourite colours schemes and design inspirations in the form of a collage to help you take your chosen scheme forward?

Next: Budget and planning

Next comes budget. Before you go too crazy and get carried away with that granite worktop, understand how much you can afford to spend and start allocating the budget to various elements of your project. Thoroughly research each part, speaking to suppliers, contractors and other professionals to accurately price each element. This is relatively straight-forward for a simple re-decoration project but for bigger, more complex projects (such as an extension) this approach is more complex. However, time spent now will help you avoid the dreaded over-spend later in the project and ensure that every element of the project has been considered and included. Remember, there are often costs you don’t consider to begin with so pay attention to things like:

  • Architect, structural engineer and other professional fees
  • Planning application, building regulations and other local authority fees
  • Contingency fund (for unforeseen problems along the way)
  • VAT (is it included in your quote?)

Use one section of your journal to determine your overall budget, detail each of the key elements and track your spend against each area. By looking at how much each part of the project is going to cost, you can more easily understand where you need to cut costs or where you can afford to spend more.

At this stage, if your project is a large one you’re also likely to have lots of meetings with architects, builders, kitchen designers, etc. We recommend you dedicate a further section of your journal to recording the key discussions and action points from each meeting. This really helps to keep things moving forward by maintaining clarity on who has agreed to do what and by when.

Finally: Get cracking

Image of Chequer A5 notebook being used to plan a new bathroomOnce you have made your final decision on how you will be improving your home, use your journal to fine tune plans before you get started. Important details like room layouts, colour schemes, tradesmen contacts, etc. can all be recorded in your journal to allow easy reference throughout the work. In addition, a section of your journal can be used to create a timeline of tasks that will need to be completed in order to complete your scheme. By breaking everything down into these parts, the overall project will seem less daunting and will help you and everyone else involved to get stuck in. The perpetual calendar section can also be tailored to your requirements, marking down key appointments, deadlines and other milestones on your journey to completion. 

If you’ve had experience of home improvements before, you will know that life can take over and your work may often have to be put on hold. If you have a plan in place and use your journal to record your progress, it will be much easier to pick up where you left off as well as planning for some down-time. Finally, be sure to take ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of your project and include them in your journal, this will bring a great sense of achievement when you look back and act as a huge motivation when you embark on your next home improvement adventure!

Happy journaling.

Andy Youings
Andy Youings


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