DIY Renovation Planning + a Free Worksheet

As you may know, I’m currently wrapping up another One Room Challenge makeover – our main bathroom. These makeovers require a lot of planning and budgeting before I ever get started and today I thought I’d share exactly how I do that.


Keep a Bucket List


I have a DIY bucket list of all the projects I’d like to do, big or small. That way if I never forget an idea (no matter how crazy). I like to group ideas by room or space and add labels to indicate the size/craziness of the idea (recover a footstool vs tearing down a wall). I keep track of my bucket list in Trello, but you could also use a spreadsheet or a special notebook.


Gather Inspiration


Even if you’re project is not something you’re planning on tackling for a while you can still start collecting inspiration! This where my favourite site comes in: Pinterest. Pinterest is where I find a lot of the inspiration for my DIY projects.


When I start thinking about a project I want to tackle, for example my laundry room, I set up a secret Pinterest board and start pinning. Maybe I’ll find a paint colour I like or a tutorial for a project that looks good – even if it’s not quite right, I’ll pin it so I don’t forget it.


At any given time I might have 2-3 secret Pinterest boards for upcoming DIY projects. When it comes time to actually start working on my project I’ll go through and delete pins that are not longer relevant or helpful and when the project ends I delete the secret board.


Start your Project Planning


When it’s almost time to start working on a large project, make a list of everything you about want to do and write it down. Pull items from your bucket list and break down all the individual to-do’s – really getting into all the nitty-gritty stuff.


For example, originally I had the “Stack washer & dryer” on my laundry room bucket list.  Now that I’m starting to plan for my laundry room I’ve added more tasks with all the little things that have to get done: buying the stacking kit, clearing top of the machines of all the crap useful items stored on them, taking down the wall shelves, bribing a strong neighbour with beer to help Chris lift the dryer…you get the idea.


At this point I’ll also go into my secret Pinterest board and take a look at all my pins. If there’s anything that I don’t like anymore, I delete them. If something is really important that I don’t want to forget, like a tutorial for example, I’ll make sure to add the link to my task list so I don’t forget.


Schedule Everything


Once you have a good thorough list of everything you need to get done, start attaching dates. I tend to break my projects into such small chunks that I only track due dates.


One of the hardest things about scheduling is being realistic. Keep standing commitments and special events in mind and always make sure you give yourself days off so you don’t get burnt out! Weather can also mess with your plans. If some aspect of your project needs to be done outdoors make sure to allow for possible rain (or snow!) delays.


When I’m planning a big project now I try to give myself one to two tasks a day (max!). It may not seem like a lot, but everything always takes longer than you expect, especially if it’s something you haven’t done before. I would rather finish today’s tasks and have the option of knocking off one of tomorrow’s than be overwhelmed with all the stuff I thought I’d have finished by now.


Maybe you think building and installing two drawers and installing a new light fixture in one day doesn’t sound like too much…but then trying to attach the drawer slides inside your existing cabinet takes two frickin’ hours and instead of doing that again today you’d rather watch last night’s episode of Conviction.


p.s. drawers are my new enemy.


Take it from a former professional project manager, it’s better to be ahead of your schedule than behind.


Create a Budget


For every item on your to-do list you should be also be budgeting for any associated costs. The little things are where you tend to lose track so make sure you account for every possible purchase to make sure you don’t go over budget.


Your budget is also a good place to keep track of any links to any items you plan to buy online.


Setting a budget is helpful, but don’t forget to go back to it and keep track of your actual costs. This will help you create better budgets in the future!



Ready to start planning your next large DIY project?

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Planning a large DIY project or room makeover with free budget and project planner

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