Once you’ve identified and prioritized your family’s goals, consider them in the context of how you all spend your time:

  • How much of each person’s time is spent at home?
  • Indoors? Outdoors?
  • In what rooms or spaces?
  • Doing what?
  • At what times of day?
  • Remember to include each person’s hobbies and other recreational pursuits. 

Make a list, or if your family and lifestyle are more complex, consider creating an activity timetable. This might help you realize, for example, that it makes sense to have one room rather than several to accommodate movie watching, Wii or Xbox, exercise, and working or playing games on the computer (assuming that these activities don’t all occur at the same time). This kind of planning can really save money.

Also think about what may change as time passes. Consider your likely activities one, three, five, and ten years hence.

Take Comfort into Account

You’ve already identified parts of your home that don’t work well. Now consider what does work well. What rooms or other spaces do you enjoy spending time in?

List all the rooms and functional outdoor spaces in and around your house. Note the positive features and shortcomings of each. Now think of each room or space in terms of comfort. What about that room makes you comfortable or uncomfortable, and in what way? Is it pleasantly or unpleasantly

  • warm or cool?
  • drafty or breezy?
  • light or dark?
  • musty or odiferous?
  • cramped or cozy?
  • sterile or cluttered?
  • large or small?
  • high or low ceilinged? 

 Also consider: Are the answers different at different times of day or in different seasons?

Rank Your Qualitative Preferences

Before proceeding to the design phase, it’s important for you to be clear—with yourself, your family, and everyone you’ll be working with—about what matters to you. Each decision maker should rank the following factors from most (1) to least (10) important:

  • Aesthetics
  • Comfort
  • Function
  • Durability
  • Energy efficiency
  • Maintenance
  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • Utility bills
  • Environmental impact 

Share your rankings with your architect or designer. (It’s fine if the different members of the family don’t always agree with one another; show everyone’s rankings.) This information will help you make the inevitable trade-offs that come up in the course of design.

What’s Next?

Communicate all the planning work you’ve done to your design and construction team. If you’re doing all the work yourself, use your lists, notes, and tables as touchstones as you move through design and construction.

Keep in mind that remodeling can have a life of its own; what actually happens may well deviate from your initial expectations. If you remain open-minded, you’ll be able to face the unexpected opportunities and challenges with a level head.

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