The decision to renovate can be triggered by a number of things. You may need to repair or replace something, such as roofing, siding or windows. It may be time to "freshen up" a tired-looking kitchen. Changes in your household, such as the arrival of a new child or the need for a home office may require changes to your home. Often, homeowners simply want to update their home so that it better suits their lifestyle.

Take inventory.

Make a list of everything in your home that you need to or would like to change. This includes "must-do" repairs and replacements to maintain your home in good shape, as well as things that don't work well and things you would like to change. Finally, also note down what you really like about your home and wouldn't want to change; this can help you, and later your renovator, to focus on the assets of your home that you want to preserve.

Consider each item.

Describe each item on your list briefly in terms of your day-to-day living experience. Here are a few examples of how homeowners describe some of the more common problems that lead to renovation:

"We only have one bathroom and with two teenagers and two working parents, getting everyone out the door in the morning is a real headache. I feel like I've been in a traffic jam before I even leave the house."

"We never really use our living room. It's too formal for the way we live, and with the smaller windows in these older homes, it's too dark and feels closed-in."

Make sure that everyone in your home participates.

Professional renovators find that people often overlook things that are inconvenient in their homes simply because they are used to them. So take some time doing this inventory and get input from all members of the household.

Think about seasonal conditions.

If you are planning your renovation in the summer, think back to last winter. Did you have enough closet space for coats and boots? Are there areas of your home that are drafty or hard to heat? Conversely, if your planning is taking place during the colder months, think about your lifestyle during the summer.

* Download Worksheet "A" to write down the changes you want to make to your home.