People who haven’t remodeled before may not understand how long it takes to plan, budget, and complete a big project. Many variables affect the timetable, but three stand out: project design, budget, and permitting.
Design. A kitchen remodel using stock cabinets in an existing footprint will require less time than one with custom cabinets, a bump-out addition, and a steel beam to support the wall opening for that addition.
Budget. Cost is a good indicator of how long a project will take. Imagine two 1000-square-foot additions, one with a cost of $100,000 and the other with a $400,000 price tag. It’s a good bet that the latter will be more complex and take longer to design and build.
Permitting. The legal approvals required for projects have multiplied over the years. Signoff will be needed from the zoning board, the building department, the health department,and possibly the conservation authority. For exterior renovations in older towns, the design committee or historical commission may want a say. These bureaucracies can move slowly, but the contractor should be able to estimate the time required in a particular jurisdiction.
Fortunately, there are things the homeowners can do to keep things moving. These include heeding deadlines, providing the designer with good details, and minimizing changes.
Insist on deadlines. Designers and contractors work hard to get work done promptly, but without firm dates things can slip. Homeowners should make sure there are firm dates for meetings and project milestones. “The plans will be done in a couple of weeks” may leave too much wiggle room. Compare that to “The plans will be ready on March 15,” which provides needed accountability. Similarly, homeowners who postpone scheduled meetings will also throw off the timetable.
Think things through. The more detailed the plan, the less chance of delays. Electrical plans are a good example. The homeowners should think through their furniture and decorations so the right number and type of lights and outlets can be specified in the right locations. For instance, a piece of artwork above the fireplace may need a certain type of lighting. Waiting until the job is underway to consider these things could cause a hold up while the new wiring is installed and the framing altered to accommodate it.
Minimize changes. Change orders require time to plan and coordinate. Changes made late in the design stage can extend design time, while those made after project kickoff can extend build time.
The bottom line is that, if completing the project by a certain date is a priority, the homeowners need to be absolutely clear with the remodeling contractor about it, and they need to get assurance that the contractor is on board. Then the homeowners, contractor, and designer can discuss ways to make sure it happens.
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