Software or project management technique for DIY home renovations?
July 3, 2017 4:47 AM   Subscribe

My new home needs a lot of work, most of which I hope to be able to do myself. However, I'm struggling to stay on top of planning - e.g. thinking 'I must get X done' but then having to remember that X is contingent on Y happening, and then if I'm going to do Y at this point then I may as well do Z at the same time, but then Z requires A, B and C, which can't be put in place until I get a tradesperson to quote for D, etc etc.

Any tips for getting all these jobs out of my head and into a workable system? Bonus points if I can add lists of needed tools and materials to the system also.

Apologies if this has been covered before, however I was only able to find the tangentially related questions covering renovation budget tracking and layout planning.

Do I need to look for project management software? Gantt charts and the like? Free solutions would be preferable, obviously, but willing to pay a small fee for a designated tool. Thanks in advance.
posted by doornoise to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
We've been using a Trello board for this. Free, flexible, fun to use and has good mobile as well as desktop support. You can model "this task requires this task first" by linking to other cards in comments.
posted by simonw at 5:31 AM on July 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Came in to say Trello. Put the cards in order from top to bottom / first to last. Link to other cards as described above.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:58 AM on July 3, 2017

You might want to use Agile-related processes (very popular in software, but good for lots of things!), specifically the Scrum framework. Here's my very very short basic version of Scrum:

- write down all the things you know you need to do - this is your Backlog
- Prioritize the things in the backlog however it makes sense to you, and make a note of "dependencies" - things you need to do *before* you can do something else that you want to do
- pick a selection of things from the Backlog that you can reasonably get done in X period of time, referred to as a "Sprint" (two weeks or a month are probably good places to start, but you probably also want to think in terms of season and year for those "these projects would go well together" things)

- as you note new things that you need to do (dependencies that you weren't aware of), you add them to the Backlog

- after you finish your Sprint, take a look at what you've accomplished and failed to accomplish, and then start a new sprint with stuff from your backlog.

Trello is a good free tool for managing this kind of workflow; Asana is another.

There are lots of articles out there about using Scrum for home improvement projects but I can't recommend any in particular.
posted by mskyle at 6:30 AM on July 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have used both Trello and Asana for this. Trello is more free form, Asana is a little more structured (though not ridiculously so). Both would be free for your use, so no reason not to sign up for both and play with them for a bit. If you are truly dying for Gantt charts, you could look at Teamgantt which also has a free plan, but I haven't personally used it.
posted by primethyme at 6:55 AM on July 3, 2017

I would use a multi-level Kanban board for this, or possibly a half-assed project plan in excel. Unless you have dozens of gated/dependent tasks, MS Project or its ilk is overkill. I've used Kanban on a wide variety of projects and it's probably the most intuitive for me. I used a dry erase and a shit ton of colored post-its. From what I can tell Trello is a software version of a kanban board.

Lifehacker on personal kanban.

Another link on kanban, hosted by Zapier.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:34 AM on July 3, 2017

I've used various tools to manage construction/renovation projects - Google Sheets, Asana, Trello, etc. Eventually I settled on Airtable or TeamGantt.

Airtable is a spreadsheet / relational database / kanban board all-in-one, and they have great templates for project management.

Teamgantt is pretty great as well, and to be honest, if you're doing renovations and hiring trades, your process is more Waterfall than Agile. Tracking product lead times, understanding dependencies, knowing that this trade has to frame out this area so that this other trade can finish the electrical work so that this other trade can start the tiling work, etc, is pretty crucial. Gantt charts can't be beat for this.
posted by suedehead at 12:14 PM on July 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

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