How Long Does a Home Renovation Take?

So you’re all set for the big day. You have your chosen contractor and you’re all ready to sign so they can start working on your home. But wait, you don’t know how long this will take. Any miscalculation in timing can mean the difference between spending your renovation period in ease, or scrambling to move your stuff and yourselves out so the contractors can do the work.

This is why knowing how long a home renovation takes is crucial for a smooth and pleasant renovation. It allows you to plan according to your home’s timeline and have everything where it needs to be, when it needs to be.

This article will aim to answer how long does a home renovation take, and offer some tips and tricks on how to speed up the timeframe for a home renovation.

Let’s take a look.

Key Takeaways:

  • The scope of the home and size of the project affect the timeline the most.
  • Keeping a renovation as simple as possible is the best way to speed it up.

How Long Does a Home Renovation Take

To understand how long a home renovation takes, it’s important to take into consideration that these types of home renovation can take upwards of 7 to 9 months, with cosmetic renovations taking as little as a week to a month or two. This is a wide gap in how long a renovation can take, so let’s break it down below.

Design Phase

The design phase can take anywhere between 1-3 months. This is where you and your interior designer and building team go over the plans of your home and discuss with you how you want your renovation to go. If you want structural changes, a unique shape of window, or anything highly customized, this is the time to discuss it.

The reason the design phase can take so long is due to the thought and detail that goes into each new blueprint and design proposal. Even the slightest tweak or change can cause the entire mathematics and plans to be redone.

 

Living room in modern design
Living room in modern design

 

When I sit down with a client at Renowell to discuss the design of the remodel, I like to be thorough. This takes more time, but leads to more satisfaction in the long run.

The key difference between renovating and remodeling is the end goal. If you want to refresh a space with a new coat of paint and fixtures, this is considered renovating. If you’re rearranging the floorplan and knocking down walls, this is considered remodeling. Stated Kamron Sanders of Better Homes and Gardens.

Stock-up and Permit Phase

The stock-up and permit phase can take between 1-2 months. This is because there is sometimes high demand for certain stock, which can delay when material will arrive. No work can start until all of the materials arrive. Likewise, no work can start until all the city permits are procured. There can be backlogs in the city offices, which can sometimes cause a delay in getting the necessary permits for work.

Construction Phase

The construction phase has the widest amount of variance, taking anywhere between 3-9 months. The scope of the project and the size of the home are typically the main factors that affect how long the construction phase will take.

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What Affects How Long a Home Renovation Takes

There are several factors that affect how long a home renovation will take, such as:

  • The scope of the project.
  • The size of the home.
  • How much customization is going into the remodel.
  • Any structural work.
  • The weather.

The Scope of the Project

The scope of the project can drastically affect how long a home renovation will take. The scope includes the type of material involved, the aspects of the home being changed, and any customization taking place.

A home with a small scope of project, such as a new paint job, will take a much shorter time than a large-scope project, such as structural changes.

Pro Tip: Forgo the floating staircase in favor of going more extravagant in places where it matters more, like the kitchen. You’ll focus the time taken to where it matters more.

The Size of the Home

The size of the home drastically affects how long a home renovation in Mississauga and Ontario will take as everything is based on square footage. The more square footage there is, the more materials will need to be installed.

For example, a 1000-square foot home will take less time to renovate due to less materials needing to be used and less space to remodel. A 2500-square foot home will take longer due to the wider space and more material that needs to be hand-placed.

 

Bright kitchen in 1000-square foot home
Bright kitchen in 1000-square foot home

 

Customization

How customized a home will be can affect how long a home remodel will take. For example, if you want hand-carved oak doors in your front entry-way, these pieces will take longer to procure than standard wood doors. The same goes for unique shaped windows or heated versus unheated flooring.

I always mention the timeline during discussions regarding design and customizations. That way, clients are always in the know and don’t experience any surprises regarding the timeline.

Structural Work

Structural work can change how long a home renovation will take considerably due to the time and effort taken to gut and restructure a home. When we talk about structural work, it is not simply knocking out a wall. It’s ensuring the load-bearing weight is still evenly distributed with the walls taken out. It’s also ensuring that the underlying pipes and electrical wiring are still sound, or updated if they need to be rerouted.

Weather Changes

The weather can also affect how long a renovation will take and cause unexpected delays. A successful home remodel needs consistent and mild weather. Extreme weather can affect this in unsavoury ways. For example, cold weather that’s below freezing can make paint dry incorrectly, and cement hardens in incorrect ways.

Here is a table that includes all the ways weather can affect a renovation.

WeatherEffect
Extremely high or low humidity, out of the normal or preferred range of 35%-55%.This will cause new wood in a hardwood floor installation to react drastically, and hamper renovation progress.
Extreme hot or cold weather for caulk and sealants.This will cause caulk and sealants to cure incorrectly and run the risk of cracking.
Hot weather and exterior paint.This will cause uneven coatings of the pain, and run the risk of streaks.
Lightning, rain, and high winds in regards to safety standards.This can cause construction delays as these types of weather pose hazardous risks for the workers involved in the remodel.

Pro Tip: Time your home renovation in Kitchener and Ontario for the spring and summer months, as this will help you avoid any construction in the extreme cold months of winter.

Tips for Speeding Up a Home Renovation

There are a few ways to speed up the process of a home renovation, convenient for those who want to be out of their homes for the shortest possible time. These tips are as follows:

  • Keep the renovation simple.
  • Don’t change things halfway.
  • Keep the project small.

What is the secret to a good home renovation? Keeping everything timeless. I like involving the client as much as possible throughout the design process. Keeping a certain cohesiveness that unites the rooms also makes the renovation feel more unified and prominent. Said Joshua Smith, an Interior Designer guest on Homes and Gardens.

Keep the Renovation Simple

Ornate and large-scale renovations will always take more time. You can avoid this by keeping your renovations simple. This includes going for basic, rectangular-cut windows instead of ornate floor-to-ceiling windows or other unique shapes. This also includes avoiding customizations.

The most common type of home renovation is an exterior renovation, followed by bathroom renovations, then kitchen renovations (1). This means that renovations can become extravagant easily when dealing with these areas of the home. Keeping them simple can make for a smoother renovation overall.

Don’t Change the Plan

Changing the pan when work has already been done can be detrimental to the project as a whole. It can lead to delays and work having to be re-done. Instead, sticking to the original plan as closely as possible helps keep everything streamlined and moving at a reasonable pace, without hiccups.

I cannot stress this point enough with clients. It’s okay to be hit with inspiration months after the finalization of the design plan. However, it will affect the entire project and cause delays. If delays are okay, then the design changes can be incorporated.

Keep the Project Small

As much as possible, try to keep the project small. A large project means many moving parts, which will take longer. This means more months of staying outside, away from home. Instead, if you can forgo structural changes, forgo them. Or if you can work on a smaller space, this will also keep the project moving faster.

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My Experience With Understanding How Long a Home Renovation Takes

In my experience, understanding how long a renovation takes is entirely dependent on how well you know your field. For me, I can make fairly accurate guesses after looking at the floor plans and proposed changes, especially if it’s in a city I’m familiar with. The key is to look at the individual pieces.

We can visualize it with a small example. There’s a kitchen and a bathroom that needs renovating, and those take 2-3 months, or 1-2 months, respectively. Add those together, and the home renovation in Hamilton and the GTA will already take upwards of 5 months for the construction alone, not including designing or stocking up materials. This can help one understand how long a kitchen renovation takes in regards to a full home renovation.

Ineffective Methods of Understanding How Long a Home Renovation Takes

There are a few ineffective methods for understanding how long a home renovation takes which homeowners will want to avoid in order to be more accurate with their timelines, which include:

  • Assuming all projects take the same amount of time.
  • Not accounting for permit procuring processes.
  • Ignoring how seasonal changes may affect work.
  • Not factoring in time taken for highly customized pieces.

Assuming All Projects Take the Same Amount of Time

Each project is unique. If one assumes that all projects take the same amount of time, this can lead to incorrect assumptions about the timeline and unrealistic expectations.

Instead, it is better to assume that each project is going to have its own timeline and duration for each part of the renovation to come together.

For example, a homeowner could have two bathrooms they are doing renovations on. One could assume that each would take the same amount of time. But, because one is a powder room, and the other is a bathroom with a tub installed, the one with the tub will take longer due to more objects that need removing and replacing.

Permit Procurement

Ignoring the time it takes to procure a permit can be detrimental to one’s expectations of the timeframe for a home renovation. This is because getting a permit can take a bit of time, around one month.

Failing to include permit procurement could mean the difference between having a secondary accommodation ready to move into at the right time, or being late by a month and having to pay its rent out of pocket.

Instead, it is better to anticipate and include permit procurement time into your timeline. That way everything else in your home renovation timeline lines up properly. This can help you understand if you need a permit to renovate your home in Ontario, and how long a permit takes to get.

In October 2023 alone, the permit office earned $7 million in permits alone for residential buildings in Canada (2). This bustling industry can sometimes experience a backlog due to the high demand for permits.

Ignoring Seasonal Changes

The weather and climate of the season can have a serious impact on a project and create unforeseen delays if not anticipated properly. Not anticipating colder or more extreme weather can result in delays that can last the entire winter season.

Instead, it is better to complete the work outside of extreme seasonal changes. For example, if you’re re-setting a foundation or putting up cement walls, ensure that the cement setting part of the project is completed before colder weather settles in. That way the cement dries properly and you can continue with other parts of the projects during the extreme weather, and you don’t have any delays.

The Time Taken for Highly Customized Pieces

Ornate and highly customized and unique pieces in a home renovation can seriously affect the timeline. Failing to include these into your estimated timeline can cause delays and a lack of schedules lining up for the installation of these parts.

Instead, it is better to plan for these delays and include them into your timeline. That way the item’s arrival and the installation window line up.

For example, say you want an ornate exterior door with hand-crafted stained glass. It’s a one-of-a-kind piece that has to be made from scratch by artisans. It will take longer to assemble than a standard exterior door, so you include this delay into the timeline so someone is ready to install the door at the right time — when it’s ready.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a small home renovation take?

A small home renovation can take anywhere between 7 and 9 months to be completed. This smaller time frame is due to less work and materials involved.

Conclusion

Learning how long does a home renovation take doesn’t have to cost hours of time and research. By simply knowing a few key points, such as how the size and scope affect the timeline of a project, you will have a more accurate idea of how long your remodel will take.

What are your thoughts on how long a home renovation takes? Let us know in the comments below!

Additional References:

  1. Statistica (2021.) Share of homeowners planning home renovations in Canada in 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1236906/canada-home-renovation-behavior/
  2. Statistics Canada (2023.) Building permits, by type of structure and type of work. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3410006601