Tips for Historic Home Owners {#8 Make a List}

Sometimes the amount of work that needs to be done on an old house is overwhelming. Every little project seems to fall victim to The Mushroom Effect and your budget fades into a distant memory. The project gets so big that many homeowners get paralyzed and don’t know what to do next. But you can avoid “renovation paralysis”with one simple fix.

A checklist, a honey-do list, or just a plain to-do list. Whatever you want to call it a list helps you see the big picture and prioritize.

Here’s how to do it:

My Home Improvement List

Here’s a peek at my repair list (I obviously need more time to work on my own house!)

    1. Write down every improvement or repair you want to do to your old house. (Include little stuff. i.e. fix bedroom doorknob)
    2. Together with your spouse pick the order of importance for each item. (Hint: start outside)
    3. Rewrite the list in order of importance.
    4. Place the list somewhere prominent.
    5. Start at the top and work your way down.

Making a list keeps you focused. It eliminates distractions and help you accomplish your goals. And including little repairs in the list gives you small victories that help keep you motivated. Just be specific. If your list says ‘Renovate House’ you may have missed the point.


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by Scott Sidler

Scott is the owner of Austin Home Restorations, a company that specializes in renovating and restoring historic homes in Orlando, FL and the creator of The Craftsman Blog. When not working on, teaching about or writing about old houses he spends time fixing up his own old bungalow with his wife Delores and their son Charley.


  1. I like your personal list, Scott! Looks like you need to hire someone to work on your own house! I actually do a walk-around with new Old House owners after they first purchase their house. My list is very different from theirs, since I have “fix broken window” and “repair roof” and they usually have “remodel bathroom” and “knock out wall to make huge walk-in closet!” I can usually convince them to do my list first!

    • Ha! I definitely need help with my list! Yeah, it seems to take about a year for people who are new to Old Houses to get the feel of things. After that first year I find they start to really appreciate the house and make much wiser decision about remodels.

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