Remodel Planning ChecklistYou have a limited amount of money that you are planning to invest in your remodel, and you want to be smart about the money you spend. There are many aspects of a house that could be upgraded, and often people do not consider them all until after starting the remodeling process. Use a renovation checklist to make sure you don’t forget about anything. Cost and time efficiencies can be captured when coordinating improvement projects to happen in one round. If you haven’t thought through all of the systems in your home all ahead of time, the items you identify later will blow your initial budget. Thinking through all of these systems in your home will help you plan efficiently.

Use this Remodel Planning Checklist to help you plan the complete scope of your remodel.
The idea is not to add unnecessary items to your remodeling plan, but rather to consciously rule them out up front, so that you are less likely to spontaneously add them on later.

Home Maintenance & Repair
renovation checklistIf you purchased your home recently you probably had a home inspection completed during escrow. If you’ve been in your house for a number of years, you may want to consider getting an updated home inspection. Before focusing on cosmetic upgrades, consider repair of any items that came up during your home inspection report. The first priority is to preserve your home and keep it in good condition.
renovation checklistMake sure that the roof over your head is in good order. If you have not done so already, have the roof, flashing, gutters and downspouts inspected. An inspection should be able to identify the remaining life span or your existing roof. A new roof will usually last 20+ years.

Have your attic ventilation and insulation inspected as well.

renovation checklistSome people prefer to repaint the interior of their home before moving in, but might overlook the condition of the exterior paint. Inspect your paint on the inside and out. If there is any paint peeling away, it is a sign that you should allocate some funds for this. When selecting paint, consider factors such as washability and how easily the paint will touch up as needed. Be sure proper preparation is done before paint is applied.
Windows & Doors
renovation checklist Many older homes have original, single pane windows. Look for damage on existing windows and consider energy efficiency. Some cities have strict regulations about replacing windows, requiring new windows to be of a style that matches the original. Consult your city planning department for details. New windows, particularly high-end wood windows can be a costly item in your remodel budget, but with a fairly high return on investment.


Internal and external doors should also be checked for any damage, security and weatherproofing issues. A new steel entry door has one of the highest returns on investment.

Appliances/ HVAC
renovation checklistConsider all of the appliances in your home for remaining life span and energy efficiency. In addition to the kitchen appliances, evaluate your washer, dryer, furnace, water heater and air conditioner. Your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) units have a limited lifespan. A furnace typically lasts 15-18 years and water heaters can last as little as 10 years.
It is often possible to negotiate discounts on appliances when ordering several items at one time.
Layout, extension & additions

renovation checklistThe current trend is to purchase an older home that has character and style and modernize it. One common aspect of this is to open up the layout. Older homes tend to have segmented kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms and family rooms. You may want to consider removing some walls to connect different spaces, expand certain rooms, and add bathrooms or walk-in closets.

Any structural work such as this will of course require consultation with an architect and/or structural engineer. Layout changes often trigger foundation upgrades, which can be very costly. A more cost effective way to add space could be to convert an attic or finish out a basement.

Floors & Trim
renovation checklistEvaluate if you want to remove carpeting and add hardwood floors, refinish existing hardwood floors or change out tile floors for a more modern look.
In extended, added or converted rooms, you’ll want to add baseboards, crown molding and other decorative trim that will make these spaces blend with the rest of the home.
renovation checklistIf you have to open walls for other reasons, consider making upgrades to your electrical system while you have this access. This could be an opportunity to update old wiring for safety, efficiency, and up-to-date gadgetry such as in ceiling speakers, cable/internet wiring, and satellite hook up.



  • Have your electrical service panel inspected to ensure you are set up for your current power usage needs.
  • Electrical outlets may need to be upgraded if they are not grounded and if you do not have the required GFCI outlets in your kitchen and bathrooms.
  • You may want to add, or you may be required to add additional outlets if the existing number is below code.
  • Check that you have adequate ventilation in your bathrooms and consider adding ceiling fans if necessary.
  • Finally, consider the lighting in your home. Review the existing light fixtures and determine if you are planning to replace any of them. Inspect all light switches and make sure they work properly. Consider if you want to have any additional lights installed on the inside or outside your house. 

For a complete list of electrical and wiring upgrades to consider, check out our wiring & electrical article.

renovation checklist



Consider making upgrades to your plumbing during a remodel, particularly if your remodel will involve bathrooms, the laundry room or the kitchen. Again, if walls are already opened it is a perfect time to upgrade the pipes.



          • Older homes were made with galvanized pipes. Unfortunately these pipes corrode heavily over time, restricting the flow of water and depositing contaminants into the water supply. Consider replacing the pipes that will be exposed during your project with new copper piping.
          • You might also consider replacing the pipes that bring water into the home from the main supply.
          • Have your sewer line checked for any required maintenance. Old sewer lines often get obstructed over time with the pipes breaking down and tree roots growing in. It is not unusual to experience the sewer line backing up into the toilet and showers/bathtubs of older homes. Old sewer pipes generally need to be replaced or cleaned out yearly.
          • Finally, consider replacing any leaking or outdated plumbing fixtures, such as faucets, sinks and toilets.

Kitchen and bathroom upgrades
renovation checklistUpdating kitchens and baths to a modern look with quality appliances and fixtures can add to the beauty of your home as well as the value. Upgrades can be minor or involve a complete overhaul. In addition to other general upgrades already listed such as floors, electrical and lighting that would apply to kitchens and baths, other aspects to consider include:



            • Cabinets
            • Cabinet pulls/ knobs
            • Countertops
            • Backsplash
            • Appliances
            • Other cosmetic room upgrades

Landscaping & Decking
renovation checklist Don’t forget to include any changes that you hope to make to your front or backyard.
You may want to install additional outdoor lighting or budget for backyard furniture and accessories.
Inspect existing decks for damage and decide if you want to add any additional decking.
And no matter how tempting it might be to work on outside projects during or before certain parts of the remodel, wait until everything else is complete before you start your landscaping.


This list may seem daunting and overwhelming. The key is to understand the full makeup of your home and consider all possibilities up front instead of as an afterthought. From there you can set your budget and prioritize.

Once you have a good idea of the scope of your project, think about who you need to hire.