Home Improvement

How Long Does It Take to Renovate a House? A Comprehensive Guide

One of the less anticipated results of the Covid Pandemic was a tremendous uptick in home improvement projects. Chalk it up to the extra hours that everyone spent at home or maybe being less tired from not having a commute. Either way, people got serious about doing that home remodel project or projects that had been sitting in the backs of their heads.

Of course, some homeowners also came to the conclusion that a cosmetic change wouldn’t do it. They need a major home renovation. The inevitable question that follows is: How long does it take to renovate a house?

If you’re considering renovating a home, keep reading for a breakdown of what goes into a remodel and the kind of times involved.

Scope

One of the biggest X factors in the renovation process is the scope of the job. After all, the timeline for renovating the kitchen in a 2000-square foot home will not closely resemble the timeline for a complete home renovation on a 5000-square foot home.

As a general rule, you can assume that smaller projects focused on one part of your home will take less time than more expansive projects that touch several parts of your home.

You should also assume that projects that call for changes in your plumbing and/or your electrical system will add time to the job. Most electrical work requires that the main power remains off for the duration of the work as a safety precaution. That lack of power makes almost all other kinds of work difficult or even impossible.

Plumbing isn’t quite as disruptive. Plumbers can work around other works to an extent, and vice versa. Wherever the plumber is actually in the process of putting in pipes or testing them, all other work grinds to a halt.

Planning

For any project that does more than making some cosmetic changes, there is a good chance that you’ll use a professional designer or an architect to develop the plans. If you think your renovation will involve changes in the actual structure, you’ll need an architect. An architect will ensure the changes are safe.

This means you must find a designer or architect you like. You must hire them. You’ll have at least one and probably several meetings about what you want.

There is a decent chance they’ll visit your home to get a look at the materials in place and its current layout. Then, they must draft plans, get your input, and finalize those plans.

If things go very well, the process can take several weeks and a couple of months is common.

Bidding and Contractor Selection

Once you have the final plans in hand, you move into the joy of the bidding and contractor selection phase. Some homeowners will invite a pre-selected list of contractors they’ve already vetted. Some will ask their architect for recommendations.

Good contractors will ask you to let them tour the house in advance. This lets them see the current condition of the home, make notes, and even take pictures. They’ll use all of that information to formulate a bid on the project.

Selecting a contractor isn’t always straightforward. The lowest bid, for example, isn’t always the best deal. You should weigh things like their projected timeline, reputation, and even your own gut reaction to the contractor.

The good news is that bidding and selection usually only run a few weeks.

Legal and Administrative Hoops

The good thing about getting a contractor on board is that they know which legal hoops you must jump through to get started. The exact requirements in any given location will vary, but you’ll almost always need some kind of approval from the local government.

You might need the actual plan approved. You’ll likely need building permits. Your contractor will likely also need to schedule inspections for different phases of the project.

You should also make sure that you either don’t need or secure approval from the homeowners association where you live if there is one.

This can prove one of the stickier parts of the process in terms of time. Neither you nor your contractor can know for sure how long permits and HOA approval may take. If things go smoothly, though, you can typically wrap up this part in a month.

Construction

This is the part that most homeowners both look forward to and dread. They look forward to it because it means all that preliminary work and hoop-jumping will finally come to fruition.

They may also dread the prospect because it often means moving out. You end up packing some or all of your belongings, putting some of them in storage, and taking the rest to a temporary home like an apartment.

This is the stretch where the contractor takes over your home and executes the plan. It often means gutting the home back to the studs in the walls and the underlayment on the floor. It can even mean removing some walls.

Your contractor will likely bring in a number of subcontractors for parts of the work, such as:

  • Painters
  • Roofers
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Masons
  • Carpenters

They may even hire people who specialize in flooring if they don’t keep flooring experts on staff. This phase has the widest potential completion time.

It can run as little as a few weeks for smaller projects. For major, full-home renovations, the process can last 6 months to more than a year. The bids for the project will typically include a projected timeline for completion.

How Long Does Take to Renovate a House?

Renovations vary so much in scope that there is no hard and fast answer for how long a renovation takes. For smaller renovations that only require a contractor and permit approvals. The timeline can run from a few months to 7 months.

For major renovations that call for an architect, plan approvals, permitting, and subcontractors, assume that the project will run a year or longer if things go according to plan.

Other Factors that Influence Completion Time

There are explicable problems that a good contractor can foresee and plan around. For example, they can build extra time into the schedule for permits if they think there will be a backlog. There are other factors that change the timeline that contractors cannot predict or reasonably plan around.

Weather

One of the major variables that can completely disrupt the schedule for a renovation is the weather. This is one reason why many contractors try to schedule work from late spring to early fall. That’s the period of time when you typically see the least bad weather.

Unfortunately, contractors cannot predict things like an unusually rainy summer. If your renovation project hinges on a lot of outdoor work, such as a new roof and new siding, that work can’t happen while the weather is bad.

Otherwise, the materials go in place wet, which encourages mold and mildew growth. These are things you do not want growing behind your siding or beneath your shingles.

Changes in the Plan

Another factor that disrupts schedules are late-stage changes by the homeowner. Let’s say that you decide late in the game that you want a different style of windows or a different kind of flooring.

The contractor and possibly architect will typically try to work around those changes, but it adds time to the project. The contractor must put in a new order for the materials. It may also mean tearing out and re-doing a lot of work.

Backordered Materials

Backordered materials become a serious problem during late-stage changes. While you might have your heart set on some kind of flooring, windows, or fixtures, it doesn’t mean that your contractor can get them in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, there have been ongoing problems with supply shortages since the pandemic started.

Unexpected Problems

While it’s not as common as some people might fear, there is always the possibility that a contractor will find unexpected problems while renovating a home. For example, they might discover cracks in your foundation or substandard wiring all through your home. Resolving these issues can prove time-consuming.

Financing

Some people save up and plan on paying for renovations out of pocket. If things go to plan, that can work out.

What if an unexpected problem crops up or you make a major change to the plan. In those cases, you may need financing like a Plenti home renovation loan.

Securing that financing can take a while, depending on your credit score and income. All of that can extend the total timeline of the project.

Home Renovation and You

Homeowners rightly want a clear-cut answer to the question: “How long does it take to renovate a house?” Renovations are big undertakings for most homeowners, and often involve a significant disruption in your life.

Sadly, there are a lot of variables that can affect the total timeline ranging from weather and unexpected problems to financing and permitting delays. With that said, your contractor will give you their best estimate about the duration of the project.

Looking for more tips about home improvement or renovation? Check out the posts in our Home Improvement section.
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