The Seven Habits of Highly Productive Home Renovation: Habit 1 - Be Proactive

In a nod to Stephen R Covey and his iconic book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People I would like to use his framework to correlate how these habits can be effectively applied to architectural renovation and home remodeling.


The task of deciding to renovate or add to your house is often arrived at as a “reactive” process, and that is both understandable and quite typical. You come to a point where you are growing out of your house, or some old component is driving you crazy.

The trick is to use this trigger as a way to be “proactive” with your design. Think of how long you will be in the house, and what the renovation needs to accommodate.

Here are some things commonly considered.

1.  Energy Efficiency: How long will we be in the house and what are the payback times on such things as better insulation, LED lights, high efficiency heating and cooling systems, or even innovative construction systems such as SIPS panels or Photo voltaic Cells (PV’s)

2.  Lifestyle Planning: Will you potentially have an aging parent come to live with you, do you see your lifestyle being better accommodated with your master bedroom on the main level, etc. Are you planning on having kids, or are the kids getting bigger. Do you want the kids close, or do you need some distance and privacy.

3. Budget: Do the basic research of not only what you can afford but what is practical based on the neighborhood. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish, but also don’t over improve.

4.  Schedule: Establish a schedule and create deadlines, even if those are self-imposed. You can consult with an architect as to how realistic this is early in the process, but it is a critical aspect of the project.

5.  Figure out what type of architecture you like: Do your web research on sites like Houzz to get an idea of what styles and architectural elements appeal to you and save those images so you can discuss them with your architect when the time comes.

Being “Proactive” at the beginning of the project is critical, but it is important to stay proactive throughout the project so that as issues arise you are controlling them so that they are not controlling the project.

We’ll get to Habit 2 “Begin with the End in Mind” in the next blog.