How a Master Plan Saves Remodeling Time and Money

12 min read A Mid-Century Master Plan isn’t just the right idea to keep your design goals on track, it will also save time and money as you remodel!

Nothing is more expensive in a remodel than changing your mind after construction is underway.  It will tank your timeline too.  The best way I know to avoid both of those problems – to save time and money as you remodel – well (Surprise) it’s a master plan.  

The cost of construction has rarely been higher.  Everyone wants to remodel and there aren’t enough skilled tradespeople or (boards of cedar) to go around.  Delays and high costs are somewhat inevitable. 

BUT there is one lever that the homeowner can still control – how much of a decision making bottle neck, crisis generator or way smoother YOU are in the process.  Some chaos is inevitable, sure.  But you as a homeowner can pull your self back out of the equation and save time and money with a good master plan.

This episode includes the audio a recent Facebook live where I discuss how delayed decision making will cost you in two ways:

Every Change Order Adds cost

the way that your eventual remodeling contract will work. There are fixed or estimated costs, allowances for the items not yet decided and then … change orders. Changing your mind after the contract is signed will nearly always add cost, even if the change is to make the project “cheaper.”

Putting off Choices leads to Decision Fatigue

A remodel is filled with an overwhelming number of decisions. The process doesn’t just feel overwhelming it IS … scientifically. The name for that overwhelm is decision fatigue. That’s what happens when you add up the effect of constantly making one choice after another within a limited period of time.

Symptoms of decision fatigue can involve:

  • making poor choices 
  • getting yourself stuck in analysis paralysis
  • choosing the status quo
  • reacting aggressively to options
  • and can make it harder for you to make a reasonable trade off between one option and another. 

 Avoid them both with a master plan that keeps your project on track!

Want to know more about making a Master Plan for your remodel?  For the past 5 years I’ve been working with Mid-Century Homeowners to plan home updates they LOVE using my Master Plan Method framework.⁠⁠  

Want more on how a Master Plan can save time and money in your remodel.  Sign up for "planning an mcm remodel to fit your life and budget" a free masterclass!

I’m teaching this framework in a FREE MASTERCLASS next TUESDAY.  Want to be there?  Sign up today!!

Listen Now On

Apple | Google |  Spotify | Stitcher

Or watch it on Facebook video

Resources to help you save time and money in your remodel


Nothing is more expensive in a remodel than changing your mind. After construction is underway, it will tank your timeline too. And the best way I know to avoid both of those problems, surprise, it’s a master plan.

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

Today I’m actually going to share the content of a recent live mini training I did on Facebook. And it I’m partly introducing the concept of a master plan, which all you dedicated podcast listeners know quite well. But I’m specifically getting into some of the ways that a master plan can save both time and money. We’re going to get down to brass tacks about the contract. You may sign someday with a contractor.

I’m talking change orders, allowance, and timeline. We’re living in a moment of year, several years. When the cost of construction has rarely been higher. Everyone wants to remodel and there aren’t enough skilled tradespeople or boards of Cedar to go around delays and high costs are inevitable, but there is still one lever we can control. How much of a decision making bottleneck crisis generator or way smoother you are in the process.

Some chaos is inevitable. Sure, but you as the homeowner and remodel planner can still pull yourself back out of the equation with a good master plan. There’s also inevitable stress to any remodel. I’ve never met anyone who found planning one to be entirely sunshine and roses. But again, you can control the challenge level of your remodel. A master plan is a great way to take your remodel baby steps and plan it out one step at a time.

So as not to overwhelm yourself or worse, make bad decisions and experience remodelers remorse. But before we get into that, my free masterclass planning, a remodel to fit your life and budget is happening on Tuesday. I am beyond excited to share it with you seriously. And this class I’m going to be teaching the two biggest mistakes homeowners are making on their remodels that always result in a remodel that costs more takes longer and doesn’t end up how they want my five step process for planning a remodel. You can lead with confidence. One that will turn the house you have into the home you will love and how to cut the chaos of remodeling in half with one simple maneuver. Everyone should do this.

Have you registered yet? If not go to the show notes or directly to to get your confirmation email and the masterclass action guide in your inbox right away. If you’re already on the wait list, I’ll have emailed you about it earlier this week. Check your inbox. You can get those show notes on my website at 6 0 7 without further ado. Here’s the audio of that Facebook mini training.

Hey there, I want to talk to you today about how valuable a master plan can be. Not only in the design of the great mid-century choices, it can help you find the tweaks to your layout, which will change your life on a day by day basis. But also the way that a master plan can save you time and money, because nothing is more expensive than changing your mind mid remodel.

Having a clear plan in place is what keeps a project cost low. So let’s talk about how knowing your own home can help you avoid expensive surprises. Setting. Your priorities can help you ensure that you put your money where your heart is and taking the time to plan before you start. We’ll make sure everything goes more efficiently once you begin. So also, if you want to know more about planning a mid-century remodel with a master plan, so you can get the clarity and competence, you need to lead a remodel.

You want register for next week’s free live masterclass. It’s about planning a mid-century remodel that will fit your life and budget. And in it, I’m laying out the framework that I use with all of my custom design clients to create wonderful master plans that help them keep a remodel on target from start to finish and result in a house that becomes a home they love.

So today I want to start with a quick overview of what a master plan is. And isn’t a lot of people think that what they need to plan a remodel is a floor plan. Maybe with the addition of some bonus Pinterest boards to help focus their vision. But that’s kind of like planning a vacation with a map and a book of postcards. It’s going to lead to a bumpy ride. I’ve seen too many homeowners have stressful, expensive, and ultimately unsatisfying remodels because they didn’t have a clearly thought through invisible vision of what they wanted.

I don’t just push recommend master plans because they’ll make your home more beautiful, better, more functional on a daily basis. I love them because they saved my homeowners time and money.

So to talk about the money, I want to talk about the nature of working with a contractor, which is a person that you’ve hired to do building work on your home with a contract that contract, when you get to it will include some hard or estimated prices that won’t be affected by your choices. Although they may go up and down with the economy with the availability of materials, et cetera. Um, and it will also include other things that are listed as allowances that often happens to include kitchen tile, all the tile, um, lighting, fixtures, plumbing, fixtures, et cetera. And it’ll have a bubble of money around that. An estimate of what the contractors thinks you’ll choose.

But if you change your mind by something more expensive or less expensive, it won’t affect the contractor you have with your, the contract you have with your contractor. Anything that the not an allowance that gets changed after the contract is signed, requires a change order.

Now change orders make sense to a lot of people in this way. If you choose to change the trim in your house from time to Walnut, that’s a more expensive material. So it might make sense to you that the cost of the project will go up and there will also be a fee for the additional labor. The logistical changes, the work, the stress, the hassle you’ve caused your general contractor, uh, that is the change order fee. And it may be negotiated or there may be a flat fee for every change order. This depends on the contract.

Everyone understands that this kind of change order will make their project more expensive, but here’s where people find it counterintuitive. If you decide to change from Walnut to pine, there will still be a change order fee because it will still make your contractor’s life harder, more complicated. Choosing a less expensive material still requires an addition to the cost of the whole remodel.

And if you’re out here thinking I’m not going to have a general contractor, I’m doing my own remodel. I’ll just hire an electrician and a plumber. When I need them, then you won’t experience a change order fee, but you will experience the reason than any reputable contractor will charge you a change order. If you change your mind, um, even to make the process simpler, cheaper, less complex, there will still be causing you stress time shifts the hassle of changing your plans. Oh no, I have to call back the electrician and put it back a week. Now he’s not available. Oh no, I have to order a different material.

Then I have to return the one I bought. And even if you get the money back, you have to arrange for it to be picked up, take it back to the store. Um, you’ve already done something to the house. Nailed, glued, screwed things onto the house that has to be removed in a neat and tidy way. Anytime you change your mind, once the process is underway, it will be more complicated and more expensive.

And here’s the thing. Any construction is expensive and time consuming. The models can be particularly unpredictable and expensive because there’s so many unknown factors, small things will go wrong. That wonderful material you chose from a small company will have a supply line. Problem, get hung up in production, unexpected structure or maintenance mold who knows something could be discovered in the walls. When you start to get underway, there are a million things that can go wrong in the best of construction cases.

And now, as we are all trying to remodel in a global pandemic construction costs have gone up. Labor is hard to find. Everyone’s busy. Supply lines are stretched out. There’s not a lot we can do about it. So I have to counsel patients, but there is some good news. It’s going to start with bad news. One of the biggest problems I’ve observed in my decade plus of residential construction is that the biggest drag on a project speed and cost can come from the owner. That’s not great.

Okay. But it does mean it’s something you can control for. So the best cost and timeline you can possibly hope for comes when you have planned well in advance. And that’s why we’re talking about master plans today. I’ve been talking about them for a month on the mid mod remodel podcast. And I’m talking about them in the masterclass next week.

Master plans are where it’s at taking a master plan approach to your remodel. It’s the best way I know to counteract the challenges and delays and rising construction costs inevitable in a residential remodel.

So the other factor I wanted to talk about today is timing. Um, specifically timing can be slowed up if you need to make a decision at the last minute, uh, and you aren’t prepared executive function. What we use in our brains to make choices can be used up. So you have to budget it just like your budgeting dollars, budget, green modeling energy, spend it.

Now when you’re fresh, enthusiastic, and everything seems exciting and positive by making clear decisions, following a process that takes you from fuzzy focus to clarity. Step by step, our remodel is filled with an overwhelming number of decisions and it doesn’t feel overwhelming. It scientifically is the name for that process of overwhelm is decision fatigue, which is what happens when you add up the effects of constantly making one choice.

After another, after another, within a limited period of time, our brains only have enough bandwidth to make a certain number of decisions before they wear out. So when we start off, we’re faced with the decision we weigh options. We think carefully, we make rational choices, but over time, as you get tired, you’re make decisions more rapidly, more poorly, um,

A metaphor that helps to illustrate it is that you can tire out a muscle when you’re doing a new exercise and arm curl. I don’t lift weights. I don’t really know, but you’re doing a new exercise. Your focus is cleaning. Your posture is perfect. You start to go right at it. As you do it too much, you become tired. You might go more slowly. Your posture might start to slip. You might slouch. Um, you have a greater risk of injury and over time it becomes dangerous.

Just the same way you can get tired of making too many choices. And this is what happens when you get to the end of the day and you get really snacky, even though you’re not hungry, or if you’re me, you get too tired to choose to get up off the sofa and go to bed. That’s not just me, right? I hope that’s everyone. No, I don’t hope that’s you. But scientifically I know that it is

The symptoms of decision fatigue can involve making bad choices, getting yourself stuck in analysis paralysis, choosing the status quo over any new and different reacting, aggressively to options that are presented to you. That’s a defense mechanism, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant to the people around you, your loved ones, your contractor or designer. Um, I can make it hard for you to make a reasonable trade off between one option and another, and it can make it challenging to exercise.

Self-control the ways that show up in a remodel are myriad. Someone who is experiencing decision fatigue, they reject a good design option because it feels like just one more thing too much. Or they may recklessly say yes to too many options because they can’t focus on how these will all affect the budget later. The bottom line change comes back to shock, later.

The master plan priority setting process is important . Inevitably the last few things done in a remodel get your least attention and your least good decisions. And in my experience of working with homeowners, they almost always tell me that they regret some of the last few decisions they made. The last few budget cuts. They authorized or conversely, the last expensive thing they added to the project. It can go either way, but in general, people regret those last few choices on a remodel.

Ironically, those can be some of the biggest impacts on the overall effect once it’s completed, because they’ve just making too many decisions in a row. When you do that, you’re almost guaranteed to get a poor choice at the end. So the best way to avoid decision fatigue is to minimize the number of choices you need to make or to space them out strategically.

When you’re planning a remodel, you want to give yourself as big of a time window, as you can, long lead time to make those choices in as logical order as possible. First making big picture decisions and then focusing in on an ever tighter process of narrowing choices. So you don’t end up making one specific small commitment at the beginning of the process, that then creates a snowball avalanche of more and more complex ramifications. I often see homeowners who ar planning a remodel, get hung up with a detailed decision that should come at the end, rather than thinking about the big picture.

For example, you’re planning a kitchen remodel and you’ll fixate on picking the perfect tile. Um, picking a tile is fine. I love it, but it’s not the first thing you want to do. When you’re thinking about a kitchen overhaul, a metaphor I love for this is focusing an old fashioned camera.

Before you set up, you’ve got your camera on the tripod. You’re looking at your subject. Let’s say it’s a portrait. Before you start focusing on telling the person what expression they should make, you make sure that in the frame of the picture, you’ve got their head and their feet. You make sure that a light pole or a tree isn’t growing out of their head. You make sure the lighting is good. Do we need to face a different direction entirely once you’ve done that, you can talk to them about their posture, their facial expression.

You can make sure that hair isn’t in their face and you can focus the camera down to get the perfect shot. So.

Doorbell well, that’s exciting. And there’s dog – the guard dog. There we go. Um, I’m going to use this as a reason to wrap up the life, but I want to tell you …

(Thanks, Roxy. That’s enough. I’m going to give you the emergency peanut butter. Take it. Good girl. ).

Um, I would love for you to join me. Just let all the chaos and a free live masterclass next Tuesday. It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to share with people. The framework that I use to plan great models for my clients that you can use to plan a great master plan for your mid century model. We mid century homeowners. We need these master plans even more than regular remodelers, because this is what helps us make sure that we’re keeping them at century character in our homes. And that even if we work with a contractor, who’s a great quality work person, but not necessarily invested in the style of the house that we can make sure they understand what’s important to the process. And then we get the mid-century result that we’re looking for. I can’t wait to see you there

Per usual. Find those show notes at 607. Grab the links I’ve mentioned, or just watch this episode on video to see my smiling face. Plus the show notes are where you can register for next week’s class. Don’t miss it.

Although if you can’t make it to the class time, slot of 6:00 PM, that’s okay. Register anyway. And I’ll send you a video link to watch the replay.

And if you’ve been listening along to the podcast for a while now, wishing you could ask me some of the questions that pop into your head while you hear it coming to this masterclass will be your chance to ask me a question live and in person, no, actually live and on zoom about your home, your remodel process, whatever you need to know. So I’ll see you there on Tuesday.

Next week’s podcast episode will be the last for this season. I’m going to be sharing some of my personal favorite design tips for planning, a remodel strategies you can use to take your home update from good to great. I think you’ll love them ciao for now.