Only 221 days to Christmas: start that refurb now

If you want to revamp your house for the festive season, it’s time to get things going

Suppliers and tradespeople are especially busy this time of year so lead times tend to be a little longer.

Suppliers and tradespeople are especially busy this time of year so lead times tend to be a little longer.


Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year, so much so that by the time the day arrives, like the poor shop assistants subjected to looped Christmas carols for weeks on end, you could be forgiven for being a little fed up with the whole affair.

I prefer to leave my Christmas shopping and organising for the big day well into the month of December. I really don’t see the need for advanced planning as I feel it takes away from the enjoyment of the season and tends to create a sense of panic.

 That said, however, there is one area where I do believe in plenty of forward planning when it comes to setting a Christmas deadline: if you are planning on having work done to your home.

 In fact if you can avoid it all I would strongly advise against setting a completion date of December for a home renovation project. It’s an extremely busy time of year for everyone and with so many external pressures it can make what is already a stressful process almost unbearable.

 The amount of time required for planning your project will depend on the amount of work that you are having done. If for example you are planning on a building project bear in mind that a job which requires planning permission can take 12 months or more from the day you appoint your architect to the day that you move back in.

Submit application

The planning permission process alone takes three months. Before you get to the point that you can submit the application you will need to allow time to agree on the designs, which can take a couple of months depending on how decisive you are.

You also need to factor in time for getting contractors to price for the works once the planning has been approved and then you need to allow time for the build itself – and this is the best case scenario. There are many things that could delay your project like issues with the planning application, delays on site due to unforeseen items which the contractor needs to put right or delays from suppliers.

It’s not just the larger projects that require forward planning. Something as simple as a bathroom revamp can take four weeks and this doesn’t include the time to select the tiles, agree the layout and choose the bathroom fittings, or indeed the lead times if any of the items that have been chosen are not in stock. So you really need to start the process in September for a project like this to ensure that you are finished by December.

Lead times

Suppliers and tradespeople are especially busy this time of year so lead times tend to be a little longer. Custom-built joinery can have a lead time of between four to eight weeks and furniture stores will have a Christmas cut off for ordering to guarantee it can be delivered in time for the holidays.

 In most cases suppliers and tradespeople will always try to accommodate you and will often agree to the deadline in an effort to please. However, external pressures at this time of year mean the risk of people being letting you down is far higher than normal andit really isn’t a time of year when it’s okay for the deadline to slip, especially if you are planning to entertain or host guests in your newly refurbished home. So unless you’ve given yourself plenty of lead-in time, don’t put yourself under pressure, and decide on an acceptable deadline after the holidays.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant @optimisedesign