First, let’s start with the simple question: What is a needs analysis? In business, a needs analysis or needs assessment is used to help improve employee and company performance, among other things. I find it an effective tool for looking at your home as well.
Before you make any decisions about your home—whether you’re thinking of buying, selling, or renovating—it’s a good idea to have an honest conversation about needs. Sit down with everyone in your household and talk about your current housing situation: what works, what doesn’t, and what should change.
This is a needs analysis, and it really should be your starting point for any sort of home improvement plan.
Put Aesthetics Aside for a Moment
Sometimes people start with the look of the home: Do you want it to look modern or do you want it to look traditional?
They’ll say, “I saw this picture in a magazine and I want my house to look like this.” Then, later, they’re like, “Well, my place looks good. But I didn’t really solve anything.”
That’s why you deal with the functionality and flow first, before you address aesthetics and glamour. Style is the frosting on the cake; first, the cake’s got to be right.
Function Should Be Front of Mind
You must start by acknowledging how you live and what’s going to make your relationship with your family better—what’s going to provide the greatest platform for your family to grow?
You’ve got to address your needs, which is why I want people to do a needs analysis before they do anything.
Start with the Essentials
When I meet a homeowner for the first time, they probably don’t realize it, but I’m doing a good old-fashioned needs analysis. This is something I first picked up when I was 13 years old, when I was learning how to sell cars.
For instance, you can’t sell a car to a couple without understanding their family dynamic—you can’t sell them a two-seater if they have six kids! You’re going to have to sell them something that meets their needs. Do they have soccer games? Do they go to the beach? Do they have a dog? Do they ever bring their mother who has a wheelchair?
The same kind of thinking should apply to a home. You’ve got to understand the kind of home that you and your family need, and you have to be aware of your needs before making any big decisions.
How You Ask is Important
You’ll find that if you do the needs analysis in an open forum, you’ll get one set of answers. If you do it on a form where everybody gets to write their needs on a piece of paper—a sort of secret ballot—you’ll get a different set of answers.
It depends on how your family normally communicates. But I would encourage one of those two methodologies to do your own needs analysis. If you feel like you’re not capable of doing it fairly, then invite a friend or family member to moderate for you.
And try to make it fun and casual, not serious! Have some chips, have some candy, play a board game, come up with a fun way to do it, so everyone is comfortable. That way, you’ll find out how you can budget effectively to give you and your family the type of home that works best for everyone.
Ask for Honest Feedback
To get started on a needs analysis, you essentially ask a variety of questions that help every family member to identify what their pain points are. And then you create a plan specifically to address those pain points.
Those pain points can be emotional, practical, or functional. But you’ve got to address them.
“What’s the one thing you would change about our house if we bought it today?” That’s question number one. Then you go on: “What’s one thing that you love about our house? What’s one thing that frustrates you about the house?”