Setting a reasonable schedule

First-time remodelers are invariably shocked when they find out how long their project will take to get built, from first sketch to last paint touch-up.

You can avoid a major disappointment by being realistic about your overall project schedule from the beginning. If you’re contemplat­ing starting designs for a major kitchen remodeling in mid-September, with the idea that you’ll be cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in your new kitchen, you’re headed for a rude awakening.

Why do projects take so long? Let’s look at the steps involved.

First, just getting your project organized can take a couple of weeks. You’ll probably want to talk to the Building Department to find out what their requirements for getting a building permit are. You may also want to talk to the Planning Department, if your pro­ject is an addition, to see if there are any restrictions on the design your project.

You may decide that you want the help of a design professional, such as an architect or interior designer. Finding a good design profes­sional, who is available to take your project, can often take a couple of weeks. And if they’re busy (as a good designer ought to be) they may not be able to start on your project for weeks, if not months.

It’s often a good idea to spend some time cutting design ideas out of home improvement magazines. You can put together a binder filled with your “wish list.” Not only will this help a design profes­sional, but it will often make discussions easier if you’re doing this with a partner, such as a husband or wife.

Usually the design phase is next. This is where you make all the decisions on how your floor plan will lay out, and what all the materials will be.

Even a small kitchen remodeling has an astounding number of deci­sions to be made. Do you want fixed or roll-out shelves? What kind of faucets for the sink? What should the cabinet door pulls look like? A double oven or single-plus-convection/microwave? Updraft or downdraft exhaust vent? And on and on.

If you’re exploring a number of different floor plan options, as well as considering various appliances and finishes, this can take a considerable amount of time. Some ideas take time to settle, too.

From my own experiences, and those of others, even a small custom kitchen can take anywhere from a month to six months just to design. Your decisiveness and the time you have available to shop are typically the factors governing design time.

After the design is finalized, you’ll need detailed construction drawings, along with any required engineering, before you can get your build­ing permit and final pricing from a contractor.

Construction documents can take anywhere from two weeks for a small project, to six or more weeks for a larger residential project. If you need to get soil borings, engineering, or a lot survey, this will extend the time also.

Before you start construction you’ll need a building permit. The City’s review of the construction documents may take anywhere from two or three weeks for a small project, to three or four months for a larger project. If your pro­ject requires special reviews, such as for a variance, it can take significantly longer.

How long will it take to get pricing from a contractor? Figure a minimum of two to three weeks for a small project such as small kitchen remodeling, three to four weeks for larger projects such as a major addition with signifi­cant structural work.

Then there’s the actual construction time. A major kitchen remo­deling can often take at least three months to construct. An addition can take four to six months — often significantly more — depending on the extent of the project.

You can see that even a small project can take five months from the gleam-in-your-eye stage until it’s finished. A major addition can take up to a year or more.

Avoid surprises by planning ahead. If you want your project to be completed by a certain date, get some professional advice on how long your project is likely to take. Then work backwards to figure out when you need to get started.

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