Building a Realistic Remodeling Timeline

Creating a timeline for your renovation? Read this first.

We live in a hectic society. If you are like me, you always seem to be running from one deadline, meeting, job estimate or kid’s activity to another. In our world, deadlines seem to be everywhere.

When it comes to a home remodeling project, determining the end date of a project and identifying the steps needed to make sure you meet those targets is today’s subject. One of my favorite “construction” movies is The Money Pit starring Tom Hanks and Shelly Long. When the project manager from the Sherk brothers arrives on site and Tom Hanks’ character asks him how long he thinks the project will take, his answer is 2 weeks (which, if you have ever seen the movie, is a totally unrealistic timeline). This drives home the point that many times contractors are misleading about how long a project will take in order to secure the work. Throughout the rest of The Money Pit,” the “2 weeks” line is repeated many times in regard to how much longer until the work is complete.

The start of a project is always exciting: everyone seems to love demo. In fact, in my new role as director of construction for Habitat for Humanity Eastern CT, we are developing a “wrecking crew” just to help with demo on homes gifted to us. It’s after the demo that things can get tricky. I have seen projects get to the end of demo and stall until materials or special order items arrive.

Here are 7 tips to help keep your remodel on schedule.

  • The project doesn’t start when the hammers hit the wall. In fact, it starts weeks or even months before. During the last major bath remodel I did, we waited until all the special order items arrived before we started demo. That way when it was time to start putting things back together, we were not scrambling for finish items.
  • Have a clear and concise conversation with the contractor and plan a schedule of events with a timeline. Will they be working on multiple other projects in addition to yours? Or are they dedicated to you and only you? If they have multiple projects on going, consult with your personal project manager and lay out the time table. If you have a self-imposed deadline, family event, or other reason you need the project complete by a specific date, let them know in advance.
  • As the homeowner, are you responsible for any of the materials? If so, have them available when your contractor will need them.
  • Keep in mind that last minute changes add time. Try to keep them to minimum and stick to the original floor plan, finish selections, etc.
  • Remodeling is known for surprises. Try to anticipate them as best you can and bring up any concerns with your contractor.
  • Be sure that your contract has start and end dates. Revise the end date as needed for change orders and extras. Never enter into an agreement without an end date.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Keeping those lines open with your contractor is key to staying on target for completion. If you feel they aren’t communicating with you or not returning emails or phone calls, it may be best to move to another choice to have the work done, especially in the vetting phase.

I have heard many times that there are three main factors that impact the outcome of a project: speed, quality and price. As a homeowner, try to prioritize two of these factors. The rest will fall into place for a positive result.

  • Pick speed and quality, the price will be high.
  • Pick speed and price and quality will suffer.
  • Pick quality and price and it may take more time than ideal to complete.

Choose wisely. And remember, your project will definitely be completed in 2 weeks! (But probably not really.)