Five ways to complete a home refurb on time

Sort it: Establish a realistic deadline that everyone can work with – and stick to it

Before work starts on site make sure you’ve checked the timeline with the contractor to ensure it’s realistic.

Before work starts on site make sure you’ve checked the timeline with the contractor to ensure it’s realistic.

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Nobody likes deadlines, but they’re vital for keeping projects on track. By putting a time limit on your home improvement, you’ll ensure your project moves along swiftly and you’ll find it easier to make decisions. Here are five foolproof tips for setting – and sticking to – a deadline so your home improvement completes on time.

Be realistic

It’s important to set a deadline but critical that you’re realistic in the length of time you allocate for the project. Seek advice from those you’re working with. Your architect or designer, for example, will help you to establish a definite timeframe for each stage of the project.

Before work starts on site make sure you’ve checked the timeline with the contractor to ensure it’s realistic. By all means, explain what your preferred end date is, but take on board how much time the contractor is suggesting the project will take. You might be tempted to put everyone under pressure to keep them focused but if the deadline is unrealistic you will only set everyone up to fail.

Never make commitments – such as organising rental accommodation or deliveries – before you’ve agreed a completion date that everyone is happy with. The worst thing you can do is create unnecessary pressure. A home renovation’s success depends on good relationships.

Understand where delays might occur

It is vital to understand anything that could potentially disrupt the completion date. This means having a clear picture of what the lead times (how long it takes from the day you order to delivery day) are for key items that the builder depends on. Windows, kitchens and any custom-built or bespoke items can have lead times of anything from six to 12 weeks, so it’s vital you understand these timelines as early on in the process as possible.

Find out the stages in the renovation when you are likely to encounter delays and plan for this. Planning permission, for example, is not guaranteed and may be subject to delays. You need to allocate some buffer time if this process is dragged out.

Once you know what all of the lead times are and have identified all of the stages where a delay might occur, plot these into your timeline and work backwards to ensure the programme is going to work.

Share the date

Once you have a definite date for completion make sure everyone is aware of it. It’s essential you share the end date with everyone involved. Ideally, this is set in stone before the project starts so everyone is clear.

Make all of the suppliers aware of the date too and ensure everything is ordered well in advance so it is ready for delivery when the builder needs it. Keep an eye on the end date as you move through the project. If delays do arise find out if there are ways to put the project back on track.

Factor in holidays

It might seem like a good idea to go away while the works are in full swing and to stay out of everyone’s way. If you can plan holidays around the messiest time of the works, especially if you’re living in the house while the works are happening, it’s a good idea. But make sure you’re available when critical decisions need to be made. If you’re away right at the point when the contractor needs you it could cause a delay and affect other areas of the project. Double check with your contractor whether or not he will be taking any time off during the project. If your project is running over Christmas or builders’ holidays you’ll need to take this into account.

If you need to travel a lot for work, be very clear about your availability with everyone involved. Find out when critical decisions need to be made and ensure you are available to make them.

Allow some buffer time

Just like setting aside a financial contingency, you need to plan for a time contingency too. If at all possible try to avoid setting deadlines that coincide with important events such as Christmas and weddings. If these events are prompting you to do the work, then you need to plan well in advance and allow yourself at least two months prior to the event to settle back in to your home and allow for any unforeseen setbacks.

Denise O'Connor is an architect and design consultant. See optimise-design.com

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