Your Remodel needs a Master Plan not a Floor Plan

14 min read Too many people skip over essential steps in planning their home remodel … and it shows. With the Master Plan Method, you take the time to plan your remodel right, right from the start.

A great home remodel needs more than a good floor plan. It needs a master plan.

Having a master plan is more than pinning a bunch of things you like. It’s more than having the furnace guy or the roofing guy come out and say, ‘Oh yep. Your home inspector was right. Plan for a remodel.’ And it’s more than having a perfectly tidy, organized blueprint for your house.

A master plan is your guide for the entire remodeling journey. It’s a travel book you create for yourself to set the home update on the right track.

I believe no homeowner should remodel without one. I create a master plan for every one of my clients with my Mid-Century Master Plan Package.

It’s also what I teach people to create for themselves in my Ready to Remodel program. This online course takes people through every step they need to plan a perfect MCM remodel. The community we create around the process is made up of homeowners all working through the same steps.

This will work for you. It works if your goal is to get everything on your remodel done as quickly as possible. It also works if you want to tackle your first project right now, and be comfortable in the notion that you have your plans squared away for the next year, the year after that, and the year your kid goes to kindergarten or leaves the nest because you have your master plan.

So sit back and close your eyes or grab a notebook. Because today we’re going to talk about the hows, the whys and the whats of the master planning process.

The Master Plan Design Framework

So … what are those essential steps of the masterplan process … I’ve summed them up into a simple, alliterative framework. 

The Five D Framework for design.  We are going to spend this whole season talking about it one way or another but here’s the jist of it

1: Dream

Start your remodel planning by turning your mind inward.  This the DREAM phase.  

This is where you get to figure out what you really want out of your remodel. Because people want to remodel for more than the latest, shiny kitchen tile.

The odds are, you want to update your home because it’s feeling too small, not encouraging the lifestyle you want. Maybe it is adding up maintenance hassles one after another, or just failing to make your life better.

Dig into to your underlying whys. You’ll be able to set up a remodel that cost costs less, and that you love more.

2. Discover

Next you need to Discover what’s up with the house you have right now.  This your chance to 1. become the EXPERT in your home and what it needs.

This is your chance to become the expert in your home and what it needs. No contractor or home inspector – or even architect – can never know your house better than you do yourself. Pull together enough information, and you will have it confidence to become the team lead on your remodel. Ensure it turns out the way you want – not the way that seems best to your plumber, your dad, or the folks on HGTV.

3. Distill

As you’re doing that you also get some real fun.  It is time to DISTILL your personal MCM style from all those hours spent scrolling on social media

This is where you create a style guide for the house. It will keep your choices in check and aligned with your values. Put all of your Instagram and Pinterest scrolling to work for you; roll it up into a clear cohesive plan for the style of your home. That will ensure that the final result looks polished, intentional and creates the vibe you want. Plus this saves you the stress of hassle of a million (I am not exaggerating) choices. Think: faucets, handles flooring and colors. Set parameters that help you focus your options. Make each choice only once.

4. Draft

At that point, it’s time to draft the possibilities that you want to actually take on in your home note.

This isn’t the time to start drawing a floor plan in pen or carving it in stone. The draft phase, it’s about opening up and considering your options as much as it is about deciding on outcomes. This is where you get to pick from and improve on current home updates that are common to mid-century houses and that other mid century homeowners have used in the past.

You don’t have to start from scratch. There were 15 million mid-century ranch houses across the U S. They’ve all needed updating to match lifestyles a lot like yours. Learn from the mistakes and successes of other people planning home updates like yours. Figure out what’s going to work best for you in your house.

5. Develop

Finally you’ll develop all of the work you’ve done above into your master plan, pulling together your choices into an easy to access document that sets the scale phases, budget, and methods you’ll use for your remodel.

A remodel is such a complex machine; you need to have a roadmap to take you from start to finish. Pulling together your entire bucket list into an organized plan will help you budget, communicate and execute. Then love your great remodel this year or over the next decade.

The work doesn’t stop there.  Your master plan is a living document. I will help you see a little way into the future. You can also roll with any changes that may come up as you grow into new ideas, or hit road bumps in the process. Let it evolve into your fully fleshed out dreams.  But if you take time for  all these steps as you plan your remodel, I KNOW that the outcome will be immeasurably better for you and for your home.

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Read the full Transcript

A great home remodel needs more than a good floor plan. It needs a master plan. I use the master plan method to work with my design clients. Way too many people skip over essential steps of the design process when they plan a remodel – and it shows. Today, we’ll talk about why you need a master plan, what should go into it ,and how it can transform your remodeling process.

Hey, there.  Welcome back to Mid Mod Remodel. This is the show about updating MCM homes, helping you match a mid-century home to your modern life. I’m your host, Della Hansmann, architect and mid-century ranch enthusiast. You’re listening to season six episode one.

Today, and really for the rest of this season, we’re going to talk about the master plan method for home remodeling. We’ll establish what it is, what it isn’t. It’s really shocking to me, how few people use these steps to plan their home remodel. It creates so many problems when you don’t have a big picture plan in mind before you update. I want to talk to you about the unusual way I work with my clients and the amazing results that they get by using this method.

Having a master plan is more than pinning a bunch of things you like. It’s more than having the furnace guy or the roofing guy come out and say, ‘Oh yep. Your home inspector was right. That’s got to be replaced. Plan for a remodel.’ And it’s more than having a perfectly tidy, organized blueprint for your house. A master plan is your guide for the entire trip. It’s a travel book you create for yourself to set the remodel on the right track.

A master plan can’t guarantee perfect success inexpensiveness and timeliness. Nothing can, but it will smooth every step of your remodel process.

I believe no homeowner should remodel without one. And it’s what I create for every one of my clients. It’s also what I teach people to create for themselves in my Ready to Remodel online program. This takes people through every step they need to plan a perfect MCM remodel.

And I wanted to let you know that what’s happening behind the scenes in my business right now. We are planning to relaunch that program this fall. I’m so excited about that happening.

Today we’re going to talk about why you might want to master plan your remodel, and the elements that make up a great master plan process.

This will work for you, whether your goal is to get everything on your remodel done as quickly as possible, or whether you want to tackle your first project right now, and be comfortable in the notion that you have your plans squared away for the next year, the year after that, and the year your kid goes to kindergarten or leaves the nest because you have your master plan.

So sit back and close your eyes or grab a notebook. Because today we’re going to talk about the hows, the whys and the whats of the master planning process.

By the way, if you know someone who has been struggling with their remodeling plans and you think they could do some help and advice send this episode to them. This is the hello welcome intro episode that sets the framework for basically everything I do and talk about.

Season one of mid mod remodel podcast was two years ago now. And I used that also as a sort of an overview process of all of the philosophies that I have around mid-century remodeling. My philosophies haven’t changed, but the step-by-step approach I use with dozens of clients and custom design work, updating their mid-century homes, and with hundreds of MCM homeowners, who’ve reached out to me for advice and guidance through social media has become more streamlined. And that’s why I want to re-address it today.

So before we go into further into the idea of a master plan and why I think it’s so special and important and unusual, I should say that from a certain point of view, everyone who remodels has a master plan of sorts. It might just not be very clear, helpful, or well thought out. Their master plan might be as simple as I will make every decision on the fly. Or ‘ah, I don’t know. My contractor will decide’. Or ‘I have 47 boards on Pinterest, and when I am asked at the last minute to pick all the door handles for the house, I will race and comb through every one of them until I find that door handle I liked four months ago. Oh shoot. Was that on Instagram instead? Aah!

Like I said, everyone, managing a remodel has some mechanism in place to make their decisions and direct the flow of the remodel. They’ll have a way to choose each finish ,to decide on the layout, to pick the people they’ll work with.

But some of those unspoken unwritten master plans, as you might’ve guessed from my tone, aren’t the best way to tackle a project as complex, expensive and important as your home update.

For the best most cost-effective outcome- you need a fully fleshed out master plan. Like the one we’re going to talk about in this episode.

My great grandmother and namesake was fond of pithy Midwestern aphorisms as Grandma Della used to say, a stitch in time saves nine. And she was right plan now for a better outcome in the future.

Let’s put it another way. There are some of the decisions you’ll make for yourself during the process I recommend to build a master plan that would be made at any point in a remodel, no matter what you do. I’m just proposing that you make them once upfront, or even several times in the early stages as you narrow your focus. But that you make them at the beginning of your process when you’re feeling open-ended, open-minded, and free rather than under the stressful conditions of the construction deadline.

Part of what I do for people is simply to ask them to make their necessary future choices in advance. But some of what comes under the heading of my master plan method is the time and space to dig a little deeper on your dreams and ask yourself some of the often overlooked questions.

That’s where there’s really potential for magic. If you ask yourself those questions that too many people overlook, you can set yourself up for a home update that is fundamentally different, not just easier, cheaper, and less stressful, than the one you would have had without those steps.

So let’s take a moment to just define master plan. The dictionary says it’s a comprehensive or far reaching plan of action.

You probably heard it in daily life as described for big picture, large reaching projects, a five-year plan for a university campus, a master plan for city redevelopment. It basically means anything that covers long-term growth and takes the time to analyze the situation before diving into solutions.

From my point of view, a simple of the master plan is it as the outline, all the decisions you’re going to make during the course of your remodel, bolstered and reinforced by the reasoning behind those decisions – your why.

Why your family might need a different solution than someone else. Why your particular house needs a little more or less work in some areas than a typical one. And why your personal style leads you to choose one item or another.

Then there’s the what – all of the various things you’d like to see happen during the course of your remodel set down at the beginning. That’s the process.

The magic comes from your why, because those why things, your pin, everything else. You will inevitably have to make some decisions on the fly, change your mind, address a new situation. You’ll be able to make them with confidence and stick to your guns if needed, because you know the reasoning behind your choices, not just that you pick them up on a whim.

I also want it to address who a master plan is for. I would say anyone who plans to remodel now or in the future needs a master plan. It’s a useful one, an effective tool for people who want the most efficient, possible process to start now and get it done as quickly as they can, especially under these pandemic conditions.

And it’s also valuable for people who want to start on one part and break up the rest of the plan into several years. It’s even useful for someone who’s feeling so swamped and at sea, by the remodel process, they don’t know what their budget should be. They don’t have the money saved up for the plan now, but they simply want to be set in good stead so they can start planning for a remodel they have no intention of beginning now, but want to undertake in a few years when their finances are all in line.

The transformation I see in my clients during the master plan process is so satisfying. Clients come to me saying we’ve been meaning to remodel for years, but just don’t know where to start. We’re overwhelmed. And by the time the process is complete, they’re excited and energized. They often tell me which contractor they’re planning to call next week so they can start getting their ducks in a row.

I love watching them happen.

And speaking of contractors, do your future contractor a favor by coming to them with a master plan. Look, contractor sometimes get a bad rep from architects and homeowners alike.

Now I can’t speak for every contractor in the United States, but on balance, I find that general and subcontractors are great folks. They’re talented, hardworking, organized craftsmen who are genuinely interested in getting the best outcome for their clients. But here’s the thing. They don’t have the training or the time, especially right now, to take their clients through a detailed introspective planning process.

So a contractor will try to do your favor by telling you that, Yes, he does kitchens – and even has an in-house draft person who can draw up plans. I hope you hear my air quotes here. That’s great. I actually love when my clients pair up with a contractor like this after we’ve gone through the master process because they can get inexpensive drafted plans to demonstrate everything that we’ve done signed together.

But if you jump over the design process straight from, Hey, I want a kitchen remodel to the skills of an unknown in-house drafts person who happens to have access to AutoCAD in their office computer, you are not going to be taking the time to consider what your house could be or to tailor it for your life and your needs.

So, with the master plan, the best case scenario is this: working with a designer to create your own goals just makes your contractor’s life easier. When you can clearly communicate to them what you want, they’ll be sure they’re going to give you a result you love.

If we look at the worst case remodeling scenarios, these are both possible when you go into a contract relationship blind without comparing multiple bids and without having firm plans in hand. In a few cases, you’ll encounter an actual bad faith relationship, a hard to work with person who doesn’t actually care about getting you the result that you want. Or the saddest outcome – there’s a disconnect between what you can communicate (You’re not really telling them what you want), and they are making incorrect assumptions about what that is. And the end result is something that neither you nor they want to happen.

That’s a tragedy and it can be avoided with good planning and design.

So what are the essential steps of the master plan process?

I’ve summed them up into a simple alliterative framework, the five D framework for Design. We’re going to spend this whole season talking about it one way or another, but today I’ll give you the gist.

You should start planning your remodel by turning your mind inward. This is the dream phase.

This is where you get to figure out what you really want out of your remodel. Because people want to remodel for more than the latest, shiny kitchen tile. The odds are, you want to update your home because it’s feeling too small, not encouraging the lifestyle you want. Not adding up maintenance, hassles one after another, or just failing to make your life better, get to your underlying whys, and you’ll be able to set up a remodel that cost costs less, and that you love more.

Next, you need to discover what’s going on in the house you have right now.

This is your chance to become the expert in your home and what it needs because no contract act or home inspector or even architect can never know your house better than you do yourself. Pull together enough information, and you will have it confidence to become the team lead on your remodel so that it turns out the way you want it to – not the way that seems best to your plumber, your dad, or the folks on HGTV.

As you do all of that, you get to have some real fun. It’s time to distill your personal mid-century style from all those hours spent social media.

This is where you create a style guide for the house to keep your choices in check and aligned with your values. Put all of your Instagram and Pinterest scrolling to work for you by rolling it up into a clear cohesive plan for the style of your home. That will ensure that the final result looks polished, intentional and creates the vibe you want. Plus saves you the stress of hassle of a million (I am not exaggerating) choices of faucets, handles flooring and colors by setting parameters that help you focus your option and make each time only once.

At that point, it’s time to draft the possibilities that you want to actually take on in your home note.

This isn’t the time to start drawing a floor plan in pen or carving it in stone. The draft phase, it’s about opening up and considering your options as much as it is about deciding on outcomes. This is where you get to pick from and improve on current home updates that are common to mid-century houses and that other mid century homeowners have used in the past.

You don’t have to start from scratch. There were 15 million mid-century ranch houses across the U S, and they all needed updating to match lifestyles a lot like yours. Learn from the mistakes and successes of other people planning home updates like yours, and figure out what’s going to work best for you in your house.

Finally you’ll develop all of the work you’ve done above into your master plan, pulling together your choices into an easy to access document that sets the scale phases, budget, and methods you’ll use for your remodel.

A remodel is such a complex machine. You need to have a roadmap to take you from start to finish. Pull together your entire bucket list into an organized plan with priorities, logically grouped into projects and phases. This will help you budget, communicate and execute. Then love your great remodel this year or over the next decade.

The work doesn’t stop there.

Your master plan is a living document that will help you see a little way into the future. It will also make it easier to roll with any changes that come up as you grow into new ideas, or just evolve into your fully fleshed out dreams. Take the time for all these steps, as you plan your remodel. I know that the outcome will be immeasurably better for you and for your home.

Those steps, one more time, were DREAM, DISCOVER, DISTILL, DRAFT, and DEVELOP.

We are going to come back this, but I hope that you’ll think about it. Maybe listen to this episode one more time and share it with any friends who might be planning a remodel. This episode contains the essential ingredients for modeling success. I really want you to make some progress for yourself as you take this on.

So, I’ve just updated what I used to describe as my roadmap through a remodel into the more streamlined Five D design framewrk. To get access to this, go to midmod-midwest.com/framework and grab your copy.

If you need more help than just a download to plan your home update, I’ve still got you covered. You can find all you need to know about working directly with Mid mod Midwest on our services page midmod-midwest.com/services. Fill in an application form to let us know a little more about yourself, your house and your plans. We will have a look to make it sure we’re a good fit. And then we can set up an appointment to chat about the next steps. I love doing these calls. It’s always such a joy to meet a fellow mid-mod homeowner and listener to the podcast.

For those more independent spirits, remember, I am relaunching the Ready to Remodel Course again, this fall. It is designed to help mid-century homeowners who want to build their own master plans. We’ll go deep into the necessary steps we’ve just talked about for you to follow. Join a community of like-minded homeowners who are going to go through the same process that you are.

If we’re friends on Instagram, I wanted to let you know that I’ve jumped started this podcast season over on my I G T V channel. I’m meditating on each of the phases in turn videos on dreaming and discovering are already live. Check those out on Instagram, where you can find me @midmodmidwest. Just tap on the little TV icon to see those videos. To recap, the master plan is your secret weapon in the challenging world of home remodeling. Cut through the complexity. Make sure you’re ending up with the home you love by investing in yourself and taking the time to plan it right – right from the start.

You’ll find show notes for this episode at www.midmod-midwest.com/601, . Grab the handy workbook or get a link to our services page, or sign yourself up for the waitlist for the ready to remodel course. You can also see an outline of everything we’ve covered today. So long for now, mid mod remodelers. I am so excited to walk you through each of the five D design framework steps. Catch you later.