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How to plan your home renovation to avoid delays

Supply chain delays, weather changes and bureaucratic hurdles in the planning process can affect your timeline

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is underestimating the time required for a home renovation project. Whether you’re planning a minor refresh or a complete overhaul, the reality is that building projects of all sizes often take longer than anticipated. From the early planning stages before the builder even starts, to the actual construction process, there are countless steps to navigate to get to the finish line. But the good news is that with the right preparation and knowledge, you can plan properly, stay on track and enjoy your renovation project.

Early stages

The very early stages of a home renovation are often the most underestimated in terms of the time they require.

The design phase, for example, can be as brief or lengthy as you and your design professional make it. Depending on the complexity of your vision and how clearly you communicate your brief, this process can be as quick as four weeks or last much, much longer.

To ensure this stage moves swiftly, spend time clearly identifying what you want and find ways to communicate your vision for your home. Many designers will have briefing documents to fill out to help you get your ideas down on paper. Inspiration images and other visual reference sources are helpful ways to get your ideas across.

Be upfront about your budget. Your designer or architect can only correctly advise you if they know what you are comfortable spending. Finding out late into the design process that the options don’t align with your budget can result in starting all over again.

Planning process

If your renovation requires planning permission, you will need to make an application to the county council. The planning process typically takes three months in total. After two months, you’ll receive a decision from the planners, followed by the final grant one month later. However, the planners may request additional information, extending this timeline.

The planning process can be further prolonged if someone objects to your renovation plans and appeals the decision to An Bord Pleanála. This can cause significant delays, so informing your neighbours about your renovation plans and addressing any concerns they may have is advisable to avoid potential objections.

Lead times

Staying on top of lead times is another crucial factor for maintaining a smooth timeline and preventing delays. Not everything you choose will be in stock or readily available. Many items will be on lead times and depending on the time of year, they can be up to 12 weeks or longer.

The lead times advertised for products may vary due to factors such as factory holidays, material availability and manufacturing schedules. If you’ve set a specific deadline for your renovation, such as completing it by Christmas, inquire well in advance about ordering cut-off dates to guarantee timely delivery. Communicate your required delivery dates to your suppliers so they can advise you accordingly.

Unpredictable factors

It’s important to acknowledge that not everything will go as planned. Even the most meticulous planning can’t always account for unforeseen issues, particularly in older homes where hidden structural or stability problems may not reveal themselves until the renovation work starts.

External factors beyond your control can also disrupt your renovation programme. Supply chain delays, sudden changes in weather and bureaucratic hurdles in the planning process can all affect your project timeline. For instance, a late shipment of materials can halt construction progress, while inclement weather can delay outdoor work. Even the most seemingly straightforward renovation can encounter unforeseen delays. The key to navigating these unpredictable factors is to anticipate them by allocating at least a 10 per cent contingency in both your project timeline and budget.

Tender process

Regardless of the size of the project, a tendering process is essential. This involves preparing a set of drawings and documents listing everything you want to be included in your project and sending them to multiple contractors for pricing.

A good set of tender drawings and specifications will also be invaluable in ensuring your builder has priced exactly what you want and doesn’t make any assumptions that could cause delays further into the project.

Tender documents clearly outline all the materials you intend to use, making the builder aware of your plans and enabling them to provide informed guidance on product suitability and potential challenges. For instance, you may wish to use a mosaic tile for your bathroom flooring but without a set of tender drawings your contractor is likely to price to install a standard floor tile. A mosaic tile will require specialist fitting and additional preparation, increasing the complexity, time and installation cost. By including the mosaic tile in your tender drawings and specifications, your contractor will have anticipated this, ensuring a smoother renovation process.

Realistic timelines

Planning your renovation starts with understanding the typical timescales for different project sizes. Generally, a bathroom refurbishment can take four to eight weeks, a kitchen renovation requires eight to 16 weeks, and a house refurbishment and extension may span from eight to 18 months. Keep in mind that these are just estimates and unexpected challenges can extend the timeline. Build a time contingency into your renovation plans to ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected. Embracing the unexpected and staying adaptable will ensure a smoother renovation experience.

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