How long should a major renovation take?
Renovations can be unpredictable. Each is unique and creating a realistic timeline is part science, part art. One thing is certain: Accurate renovation timelines are based on careful legwork, not guesswork.
From a customer’s perspective here’s how that legwork looks.
1. Pay attention to small promises. Little things like arriving on time, receiving references when promised, and getting a follow-up call when scheduled all indicate how a contractor manages time, and ultimately how well he’ll manage your project. Speaking of references, check them. They, combined with online reviews help you evaluate a contractor’s promise keeping ability. Sometimes more in depth information is available in the form of customer surveys. A track record of fulfilling promises (both large and small) indicates an ability to keep a project running on time.
2. Seek “bad news” sooner than later. Large problems are avoided if they’re addressed early. For example, hearing about a delay a week before it happens creates a much smaller dilemma than finding out moments before it happens. What if out of town guests are coming and you need this step complete before their arrival? Suddenly making adjustment for everything else becomes significantly more difficult.
3. Clarify the scope of work. Or, maybe a better way to say this is Identify Your Assumptions. A detailed scope of work clarifies expectations for both customer and contractor. Know what is included and not included in your renovation. Forming a reasonable timeline is possible once expectations are clear. Without a detailed scope, assumptions eventually lead to confusion, frustration, inefficiency and delay. Not to mention, contractors can be held accountable when a clear scope is created and communicated in writing before construction.
4. Make selections before construction. Deciding on the right fixtures, hardware, flooring, paint colors, etc can take time, but should never interfere with construction. Making these decisions during construction only bogs down the construction schedule.
5. Get the drawings. Putting a well-crafted design or drawing on paper helps you and your contractor share the same vision for your renovation. Otherwise you may visualize one thing and your contractor something entirely different. Don’t rely on your contractor to guess what you’re thinking. Inevitably, this leads to inefficiency and an unreliable timeline.
6. Establish a fixed price. This may sound obvious, but starting a project based only on estimates is far too common, just like the delays they cause. Your goal as a homeowner is to eliminate unexpected costs. To be clear, not every uncertainty can be eliminated. What you find once you start tearing down walls is really anyone’s guess. The point is stopping a project because of cost will destroy a timeline. Know what you’ll pay before you start.
7. Know the change order process. You as a customer may decide to increase the scope of your renovation during construction. This happens frequently, but an unclear change order process can lead to huge delays. Have your contractor clarify his/her change order process before moving into construction.
Good contractors anticipate your questions/concerns in each of these areas, and offer established processes for you to follow. As you consider your next renovation, save yourself time (and needless frustration) with an accurate project timeline, not based on guesswork. After all, a little extra legwork is well worth the time!