How long can a renovation take?

by in Good To Know

How long can a renovation take?
How long can a renovation take?

As many of you already know construction projects and renovations can be a tremendous strain.  The stakes are high and we have found that establishing realistic planning and schedule expectations from the beginning directly impacts your enjoyment of the process.   In addition to design considerations and the budget, the length of time required to accomplish a renovation must be considered in order to properly prepare for a renovation.  In this article we focus on the schedule and the duration of a typical residential renovation.  

A typical renovation - where the Owner hires a Designer and subsequently a Contractor - includes  two major phases, the Planning Phase and then the Construction Phase.  In the planning phase, the architectural office - or Designer - organizes and directs the development of the project in conjunction with the Owner's vision and direction.  Proper planning minimizes omissions, errors, and oversights that can add expense and affect  the schedule  during the construction phase.  By working with an architect for instance, most Owners  will easily save in construction cost the entire architectural fee.   Good design notwithstanding, proper planning and documentation is an essential starting point for a successful renovation.

The first phase, or the Planning Phase, can be broken down into three smaller phases including:  Field Measure; Design; Approvals and Permits and their typical duration are as follows:

Field Measure:  1 to 2 weeks.   A detailed survey provides the base upon which an informed and authoritative plan of action can begin.  Walls, windows and doors are recorded.  So too are structural, electrical, mechanical and plumbing items. The first drawings of the project are generated and delivered during this phase and, once completed, design can begin. 

Design:  4 to 8 weeks.   As the design develops, multiple design reviews provide an opportunity for discussion and guidance to assure that all needs are met.  For example, items such as lighting, appliances, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, tiles, furniture, and color pallets are all developed in concert to provide a design solution uniquely suited to the Owner.  

Approvals:  12 to 16 weeks.  For a standard apartment renovation in Manhattan we are typically required to gain approval from two agencies.  First is the building's manager or agent,  and then the Department of Buildings (DOB) and other City agencies if required.  After the Building Manager provides their approval then plans are submitted to the DOB.   Meanwhile, in order to make the best use of the time allotted for approvals we like to solicit bids from Contractors  while the plans are being reviewed by the governing authorities in order to maintain momentum.  If you're renovating outside of Manhattan, then most Building Departments will review and approve an application within 3 to 4 weeks instead of the above mentioned 12 to 16 weeks.

The second phase, or the Construction Phase, can be broken down by your contractor with a detailed schedule for your particular Scope of Work.  The duration of the Construction Phase is directly related to the complexity of the project.   The complexity rises when systems such as HVAC and electrical wiring are scheduled to be replaced, or when new tile layouts, cabinetry, and moldings are included.  While there are exceptions a typical renovation of a bathroom can take 4 to 6 weeks, a kitchen 12 to 14 weeks, and a full gut renovation 24 to 36 weeks.  An Architect can, if contracted to do so, represent your best interests during this phase.  Here, an Architect will attend weekly site meetings to monitor progress and schedules.  Open communication links together the Owner, Contractor and the Architect and ensures clear and timely information and decision making.  

Each project is a unique entity and individual care is applied to ensure the client’s complete satisfaction.  Overall scale and the ability of the client to conclude and maintain decisions can keep a schedule to a minimum.  Smaller project, such as kitchen and or bathroom renovations can move much quicker because each entity, Owner, Architect, Building Manager, DOB and Contractor has less to do than with full scale renovations.  Other strategies can be employed to meet some schedule requirements – please ask us how!