Published On January 28, 2020 | Last Updated January 31, 2020
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In this post: Use these steps to plan a DIY project, and make a budget you can stick to. You can take any DIY project from concept to complete and create a home you love.

plan a diy project

We all dream of doing projects around the house to make our homes prettier and more functional. But sometimes, those projects can be daunting.

Our dreams may be bigger than our abilities. Or our bank balance. Or both.

Don’t give up hope! If you know how to make a DIY project plan and budget, you can face those daunting challenges and create a home you love.


This is the latest in our series to Build Your DIY Confidence. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can use this process to plan and complete any DIY project.

I use these steps to plan all of my DIY projects, big or small.

1. Start at the End

Think of your DIY project like a trip – You have to know where you want to end up before you can figure out how to get there.

The very first thing you need for any DIY project is a vision for the finished result. Save pictures of similar ideas that you like. Take notes. Make drawings.

Once you have a clear vision of what you want your project to look like, you can figure out how to do it.

2. Know Your Limits

Dreams and visions are great, but you also need a dose of reality. It’s important to set a clear and realistic spending limit for your project.

You have to look at the project budget from two sides. The first is how much you can afford to spend. The second is how much the project will actually cost.

Getting these two in agreement is the tricky part.

To get started planning a budget, research the materials and supplies you will need for your project. Write down your cost estimates for everything.

The result will likely be more than you want to spend. This is the time to get creative.

Research alternative materials or methods. Scale back your plans. Sell some of your stuff to increase your available funds. Or, practice patience. Keep saving until you can get what you want.

3. Beg and Borrow

I don’t advocate borrowing money for your home improvement projects. But I’m all for borrowing tools.

Tools can be expensive. If you’re only going to use a tool for one project, you probably don’t need to buy it. Ask around to see what you can borrow from friends and neighbors. You can also rent some equipment.

Not only will this save you money on your project, it will save you from having to store a bunch of tools you may never use again.

4. Plan the Work

So, now you know what materials you need, and you’ve started to gather your tools. Next, you need to plan out the work.

  • Gather project instructions
  • Estimate how long tasks will take
  • Plan the order in which tasks will need to be done
  • Purchase materials and have everything delivered before you start work
  • Schedule any help you may need

Get your plans on a calendar. If you’ll need help with your project, get your plans on your helpers’ calendars as well. (I like to bribe friends and family with treats in exchange for free help.)

5. Work the Plan

Finally, it’s time to actually do your project.

Create a clear working space for yourself. Make sure you have all of your tools, materials, and instructions ready at hand before you get started. This will help your work go more smoothly.

And you’re doing it! With a DIY project plan and budget, you’ll be amazed what you can do.

Get the DIY Project Planning Workbook

These steps lay out what to do to plan any DIY project. Need a little more help with how to actually do it?

DIY Project Planning Workbook

Get a copy of our DIY Project Planning Workbook. It walks you through each step of the process, and more, with fillable templates and guides. It’s the perfect practical application tool to help you accomplish your DIY project goals.

This guide will help you plan everything you need for any DIY project. It will take you from dreaming about your project, to laying out the steps and planning your tasks, through actually getting it done.

plan a diy projectdiy project plan

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