This is one of the most common questions I hear. It usually comes right after “How much will my remodeling project cost?” As I’ve detailed on my blog, there are four major phases to a sizable remodeling project like a kitchen bath or room addition:
- Contractor Selection
- Design, Materials Selection and Planning
- Ordering Materials and Scheduling Availability
- Build Out or Remodeling
Let’s look at the realistic time frame to complete each phase.
The contractor selection process varies considerably from customer to customer. Some are able to look at a handful of contractors and make a decision in a few weeks, while others may take years to decide. Experience has taught me that between a customer’s busy schedule and the amount of time it takes the competing contractors to produce their proposals, this process can take far longer than a customer initially estimates.
If you carefully select whom you invite to your home, then three qualified contractors are usually sufficient to obtain a good bid comparison. (See my blog on comparing remodeling quotes) More than three competing contractors can make the process longer and add more confusion in many cases.
The decision should be more about who is the best candidate for the project than who has the best price. Accurate prices cannot even begin to be established by anyone until the project has been fully defined and specified. I would suggest that, on average, at least a month to two months is a reasonable time to compare several candidates and make a decision on who you want to work with.
Design, Material Selection and Planning
This phase can vary depending upon the size, scope and complexity of your project, however, for most kitchen or bathroom projects three to six weeks is a very realistic time frame. Within this phase, the contractor will work with the customer to accomplish the following:
- Identify project objectives
- Measure and document existing project conditions
- Propose and approve a design scope
- Submit a preliminary budget
- Provide design revisions
- Suggest cost saving options
- Confirm product and material selections
- Coordinate colors
- Submit detailed contract specifications
Larger projects, such as a room addition or whole home conversion, could easily require three to six months to complete all the planning.
Ordering Materials and Scheduling Availability
The timing for this phase often varies depending on the types of products selected and the contractor’s schedule. Some products are what we refer to as “stock product”, which require no real lead time. If the project only calls for stock products, and a contractor is available, the project could get started right away. This is often the case for rental or flip and sell properties.
Most homes, however, require some lead time to order materials. Average quality cabinetry can easily take three to six weeks to order. High end cabinets can take four to eight months. Plumbing, light fixtures, tile or flooring choices may take two to four weeks or more also.
Also, a quality contractor usually stays busy, and it may take four to six weeks or longer before the contractor is available to start construction. In this economy, however, many fine contractors will have much shorter lead times.
Finally, the contactor will actually perform the build out with removal of the existing space, rearranging walls, doors and windows and finally caulking the last piece of trim and sweeping up the last pile of debris. At the end of the project, the contractor should walk the room with the client, finish the punch list items and turn over all of the product warranty information. For a kitchen or bath remodel, this phase typically takes three to five weeks. I like to write a four to six week window of opportunity in our contracts to allow for Murphy’s law. A larger room addition or whole home conversion can easily require three to six months or longer to complete.
Although it is possible to use stock materials and perform a full kitchen remodel in a week or two, the average homeowner should expect a total timeframe of about three to six months for a kitchen remodel process from the beginning to end.