When you’re starting a remodeling project, there’s always someone asking the question, “How long is this going to take?”. Budgeting the time for a remodel project is just as important as budgeting the money.
Calculating how long a project is going to take is important for planning purposes. If you do a good job, there will be fewer surprises regarding delays and budget overruns. A project can be divided into several parts. First, there’s planning and permitting. Next, there’s demolition and the clean up related to that. That is followed by construction and inspection. Finally, we have final clean up and decorating.
There are variables all along the process. Let’s look at an example of a remodel project for a bathroom. The first decision is when do you “start the clock” running on a project? Before you even start a project, you should do the planning and preliminary shopping for materials and supplies. Unless you have a complicated project, it should take you one trip to your local building department to determine what plans you need to submit for a permit.
At this point, you want to draw up any plans required. It doesn’t hurt to start to research lead times for materials and contractors. Remember, the clock? At this point, it hasn’t started ticking yet. A trip to your local building department should be completed within 1 or 2 days. If you need a permit you can’t start demolition until the permit is issued. It is unrealistic that you can walk into the building department in the middle of Friday afternoon and walk out with a permit so you can start demolition on Saturday morning.
Budget one to two days for permitting. Apply for the permit early in the week so you can start as quickly as possible. Once you have your permit in hand, you can start the demolition project. You’ll want to budget 2 or 3 days to cover getting a dumpster delivered and performing the demo work. A contractor can usually work faster at demolition than the average homeowner. Keep that constraint in mind.
Order any fixtures, tile or cabinets that you need for the project. Get estimated delivery lead times when you do so. Once you’ve removed the existing cabinets, fixtures, tiling, and drywall it could take a day to clean up. TV reality shows aren’t realistic when they portray a contractor going in with a sledgehammer and making a few hits on the wall and finishing quickly. You or your contractor will have to make sure that electricity and water are turned off to the area. Removing a tub or toilet usually takes more time than you had planned. Now that the area is prepped for work, electrical and plumbing work can begin.
Know when you’re going to need inspections. As soon as tasks to be inspected are completed, call for an inspection. If for some reason you don’t pass, you’ll have to go back and correct anything the inspector requires. Assuming you pass initial inspections, you can begin to proceed with installing drywall and subflooring material. After that portion is finished, you can get to the “fun” part of the project – beginning the finish work.
Once you’ve finished the project, there’s the final inspection and clean up. You must keep ahead of your contractors so you know what work has been completed and what tasks remain. Get time estimates and add in an extra day to cover weather-related delays along with delivery delays. You have to work ahead on this so you are not faced with walking into a tile store and finding out that what you want has to be custom ordered and will take 6 weeks.
As you can see, budgeting time for a project is not necessarily an exact science. A remodeling company can usually estimate fairly closely what it will take in terms of time. If you’re doing part of the work yourself, you can easily run into time overruns.
If you do have to come up with an estimate of how long the project is going to take, be conservative. Being able to under promise and then over deliver can reduce any frustration associated with a remodeling project. In the end, you can make a rough estimate of how long it will take, but keeping the project on track and moving ahead could take longer than anticipated.