What Is A Master Plan, and Why Do You Need One?

If you own a home, then chances are you have a million different project ideas rolling around in your head making your brain hurt. I did when I bought my home, and all of my clients do as well, so you are definitely not alone. You are probably uncertain of how much the various ideas cost individually and/or combined, if they are feasible, and maybe you are even planning on tackling a few of them on your own. Everyone starts chipping away at some of the smaller projects they can wrap their brains around without thinking of the big picture, because no one’s brain can fold and wrap that much without some help. Sometimes that includes cleaning out a large closet, a Bathroom remodel or maybe even a new Kitchen. However, if you don’t have a road map of ALL of the projects you hope to accomplish, you could be headed for major pitfalls. This road map is your Master Plan, and every home owner with home improvement projects on the brain should have one.

When you finally call an architect to help you sort through the jumbled mess of project ideas lodged in your brain, you will want to combine all of your priorities, and ideally, all or most of your wish list items into one comprehensive Master Plan. If you need to phase your Master Plan into manageable parts, that’s fine. Read my blog about phasing, and also the one about determining your priorities, just for good measure. These are all tied together, as you can imagine.

The benefit of a Master Plan is that it allows you to see how everything ties together. If there are certain efficiencies in grouping certain projects, you will know ahead of time and plan accordingly. Alternately, if you don’t think ahead, you could miss effective groupings that should have been combined but weren’t. I had clients who were initially interviewing architects to redesign their Kitchen and add a large Great Room for their family. During the interview I casually asked, “I realize you called me to talk about the Main Floor, but do you by any chance have some future project upstairs floating around in the back of your mind? It can sometimes affect what we might do on your Main Floor so I wanted to check.” They were in fact planning on remodeling their Master Suite at a later date (which happened to be located directly above the Kitchen), but didn’t mention it, thinking it had nothing to do with the Main Floor remodel. I explained to them that if later they try to move plumbing fixtures upstairs (the ones in the Bathroom floor (which also happens to be the Kitchen ceiling)), that there is a high likelihood they will need to rip open part of their new Kitchen ceiling (or cabinets) to do it. Alternately, if they get stuck in a corner not wanting to rip open their new Kitchen, they risk being very hindered with what they can change upstairs at a later date. They couldn’t afford to do both projects at the same time, so I recommended that they allow me to design the layout for the Master Bathroom with the rest of the Main Floor to create a Master Plan. If we know where the future toilets, sinks, showers and cabinets will be, we can install whatever plumbing, electrical, etc. might be needed for the future Bathroom project, while we have the Main Floor walls opened up during this phase of construction. That way, when they eventually demolish the Master Bathroom, all of the plumbing and wires will be right there in their necessary locations waiting for them. It only slightly increased the cost of the initial phase and saved them thousands of dollars in the long run. Please, oh please tell your architect if you plan on doing other projects later as your cash flow allows! Create a Master Plan. Seeing everything together really helps put things into perspective and allows you to compare and contrast ideas. You may even end up foregoing something you were about to take a hammer to, when you realize that in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t a priority. It just happened to be the one thing you could wrap your brain around. You might see the Master Plan and realize it isn’t as big and scary as originally anticipated, and decide to do it in one go. Even if you don’t do everything at once, you will inevitably see groups of things that either could be done together to save money or HAVE to be done together to avoid catastrophe. I just don’t want to see you painfully destroy your shiny new sparkly remodel to access something you could have accessed before said remodel was finished. Create a Master Plan, save money and avoid avoidable mistakes.