Bluewater Interiors Designs by Roxanne

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When to Start Your Renovation

It was early March when Cheryl and Dave called me to talk about renovating their cottage. They wanted to start the planning process right away and get the ball rolling so the cottage was done by July 1 –  their annual family celebration. This is how our conversation went…

Cheryl: So do you think we can get this all wrapped up by the end of June?

Me: June? Ummm….

Dave: Yes, June. We must have this all done by the July long weekend because we have a large family gathering here.

Me: You will be lucky to find someone to even begin your renovation by July….and the design process takes time, at least 2 months. So no, end of June is not possible.

Dave: But while we are designing, we can get a crew in here to start the demo, yes?

Me: No, it doesn’t work that way. General Contractors like to have a plan in place before they send their crew in. They don’t want to demo a place not knowing what the plan is to rebuild it. I think you need to consider September/October as a start time.

Cheryl: Really? That long, hey?

Me: Yes, unfortunately. There is so much to consider when planning your renovation, researching contractors, designing a new space, material selection, material availability given COVID and so much more.

Dave: So when should we have started this process, just out of curiosity?

Me: Ideally? Nine – twelve months ago.  

Thud. That was the sound of their jaws hitting the table.

So, when do you start planning?

If it’s one thing I have learned in my years of designing renovations, it is that the planning can never start soon enough. I have also learned that people have wild expectations on when and how fast a renovation can be done.

Let’s look at what Cheryl and Dave could have done to plan their renovation to ensure it would be done by the end of June 2021.

the functional plan
July 2020

This may seem like a long lead time, but you have probably been thinking about a renovation for years. Thinking about replacing the flooring, re-doing the kitchen, etc are common conversations that happen a year or more before you even think ‘let’s do this’.

During this time Cheryl and Dave should think about what they want to do in their renovation. They should be exploring their needs, their options in what to renovate, their budget and searching for inspiration. This is kinda like the dream stage with a bit of realism (budget, space constraints) thrown in.

Realistically, there is no way to over-plan a renovation.

12+ months before the renovation

At least 12 months out is the perfect time to start planning your renovation. The bigger the project, the more time you’ll likely need but 12 months is a realistic time period to get to work nailing down your vision, budgeting, and planning!

This is also the time to investigate options and research ideas. For example, you may be thinking of an open floor plan. You will want to determine if this is feasible given your space, whether the walls you want to take down are load bearing, and what is the cost of taking it down and putting up a support beam, etc.

You may also want to determine the timing for getting a permit. Depending on what you are doing, it could take 6-12 months to get approvals. So be sure you know what the timeline is here.

9 – 12 months before the renovation

This is the point when you want to hire a designer or architect depending on your needs. It takes time to create a floor plan that fits your needs and suits your lifestyle. This is a huge investment and you do not want to rush this process. Speaking of which, you will want to get your financial ducks all lined up.

Once you have floor plans, you can start looking for a general contractor. I can’t stress enough about researching your options, getting references, seeing their previous work. This is not something you rush either.

6 – 9 months before the renovation

The design of your renovation begins. The design concept and development happen during this time. This is where a lot of decision making happens. Selecting fixtures and finishes with the help of a designer goes a long way.

3 – 6 months before the renovation

Finalizing the design plans with small tweaks in the floor plans to account for any design elements should happen at this point.

Also important is the plan of how you will live during the renovation. Hotel, rental, or mobile home in driveway are some options. I’ve seen people choose to camp out in their back yard while work is being done!

1 – 3 months before the renovation

Once materials and finishes are finalized, you can begin purchasing items and keeping them in storage. This is a great way to manage your budget.

A Final Word

)Now is the perfect to time to plan your renovation – to investigate, research and learn about every detail of your renovation. As I said before there’s really no way you can over-plan a reno. 

Be sure to download My Renovation Planner (below) to get started.

Just remember, with planning you are carefully proceeding with a well thought-out plan, creating a vision and design. Planning allows you to have the time to continually evolve and perfect your plan. There is no rush. After all this is a huge investment in your home. 

And, when the time comes and you DO decide to go ahead, you’ll be ready! 

Do you want to know more about my Renovation Design Plan service? Set up a 20 minute chat with me to see if it is the right fit for you. Or you can call me at 519-494-8965.

Until next time, stay safe my friends…



P.S.  I have an innovative online design service that will help you with all aspects of planning your renovation. It is called Design Your Renovation and it is coming soon! Send me a message if you want to be added to my list to know when it launches!

Enter your email & get your free copy now.

The Definitive Guide to Renovations

A solid overview of what you need to consider when when renovating.
PLUS Bonus Content including checklists to help you through your renovation and a Renovation Planner


Hi, I am Roxanne

Interior Decorator + Designer

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