How Long Does a Kitchen Renovation Take?

A wide-open question sparks an interesting discussion of the factors that can affect scheduling of a kitchen remodel. July 12, 2008

How long does your average kitchen renovation take?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor J:
How long is your average rope?

From contributor O:
A month to two months or longer. Depends on if the homeowner is doing the work, or a remodel contractor. Sometimes the work starts quickly, like the homeowners demo the old cabinets themselves within 24 hours, then can't make up their minds on various issues, then it stalls and drags on for 4 or 5 months. If you get into this, keep a sink hooked up at all times! Even if it looks bad. They will love it and refer your work.

From contributor B:
There are so many variables. I've done one where I tore the old cabinets out on a Monday, repaired the drywall on the walls and ceiling Monday afternoon, installed cabinets on Tuesday. Installed ceramic tile on the floor on Wednesday after the countertops were installed. They grouted the tile floor on Thursday. I installed appliances and hooked up the sink on Friday, and she was cooking in her brand new kitchen Friday night. That was textbook and everything went perfectly. That job working out like that has gotten me lots of work because of her endorsement. They don't all work like that, for sure.

From contributor K:
Another huge factor is if you are GC'ing the job, with control of the subs (for us, electrical and plumbing; all else, we do) and if there are inspections (rough and final) involved... These can add weeks to a job.

I agree with contributor B. If it's the same footprint, no changes in plumbing or electrical, the install (cabs, tops, walls, floors) can take a week. But, like he said, how often does that happen? We also do like contributor J and leave a working sink and dishwasher if we can. On average though, I would say 4-6 weeks... more to do with subs and inspections.

One goodwill measure we provide is a gift at the beginning of each job, which has paper products (plates, cups, cutlery, etc.) in it, as all of theirs are usually boxed up, along with a certificate for dinner out the first night. Also, if their garbage/recycle were in their cabs, we provide temporary fliptop cans.

From contributor X:
When asked "how long" by the customer, my standard reply is that it takes 3 months from the very start of communication to the final end of completion. I set aside one month to do all the paperwork, such as contracts, drawings, filing of permits, credit checks, money deposits and approvals. The second month I order all the supplies that will be needed and that I have everything that will be needed. I contact all the others that will be working on the job (plumbers, electricians, etc.,) so we are all working together for a completion date without interruptions. Third month is building the products, installing same, making sure everyone is satisfied and the job is well done. I prefer having all the kinks and problems worked out before the third month. If not, we wait till they are worked out. It's teamwork with everyone that is involved. A recommendation from one team member means business for all.

From contributor E:
Kitchen renovation is way too broad a scope of work. I'd say somewhere between a week and a year depending on what's included. As a one man shop I don't do enough kitchens to have an accurate average that would mean anything to anyone.

One kitchen I'm finishing up now, we started on the design last February. Another kitchen I'll be finishing in a couple weeks we started designing in June. Years ago before I went solely to building custom, I did a kitchen remodel using off-the-shelf cabinets in less than a week, from design to ready to cook.

So much depends on exactly what you would include in an average renovation. Do you want complete renovations (walls torn down and house extended), to be lumped with just replacing cabinetry in the same layout? If so, you're going to have an inaccurate set of averages to go by.

Not trying to give you a hard time, but contributor J does have a point. Getting an average for such a broad scope of work is not an easy thing to do.

From contributor L:
We are solely a custom cabinet shop. We are not licensed for any electric, plumbing, etc. Therefore we do not get involved with such matters. When the customer's cabinets are ready to install, we tell the customer to order demolition. We then inspect the site for compatibility, and all things being good, immediately install the cabinets and countertops. Any delays are then between the customer and their tradesmen. I have found over the years that this is the most efficient way to go.

From contributor Y:
The general consensus is usually 6-8 weeks from start to finish. The key question is "When does the time start?" Granted, we have all worked on kitchens that take a whole lot longer than 8 weeks. I have one in process that I've been on since May/07 and probably won't finish for another couple of weeks and I have some that I've knocked out in a couple of weeks. I think, though, that where small shops get into trouble is the start date. Another area is money management. Using money from one project to fund another, with the pretense that it will all work out in the end.

If you have only one project in process and can concentrate on only that project for a full 8-10 hours a day, then I would say that most kitchens could be assembled and installed in about 6 weeks. Add another week for finishing if you do that too. Unfortunately, though, most of us work on multiple projects, so our attention is usually divided between those projects. Granted the actual time may still work out to 6-8 weeks processing time, but the actual calendar could reflect many months. It all gets back to start dates peppered with how many projects and other things you are trying to juggle.

From contributor H:
It takes three months from order to finish. Aside from the fact that we all make cabinets, consider this. A client goes to the borg (box stores) and orders "custom cabinets." They take at least 8 weeks (and they pay in advance). That leaves another 4 weeks for everything else to fall into place, which more times than not, does not. If you can get an order and have it built and installed in two weeks complete, then you have not much else to do.

From contributor N:
Some tips from a guy that has learned the hard way... When we start our average kitchen renovation, we talk to the clients about needs, wants, etc. Then we move on to the more important issues of budgets. Then the needs and wants tend to change dramatically. I have a simple system we use that has been very successful, with no headaches (minor supply ones always occur) so far. We establish a pay schedule while in our initial design meetings. By this I mean I tell our clients that our drafting and time isn't always free, depending on how far we go. I used to spend hours designing for people, pricing with them, having their son's friend and his cousin do the work because they were cheaper. So now I give people a preliminary visit on the house, establish wants, needs, and a budget, and explain that if they want us to go further, it will cost money.

I then set out our construction schedule depending on job type. For a typical kitchen we don't charge very much for CAD time, usually 250 smoles. I then set the schedule similar to the following. Once design is signed and contract is signed, the initial deposit is arranged. I tend to go for a smaller deposit until my crew shows up. Then we have a pay schedule developed like the following: Kitchen materials=x, demolition=x, plumbing=x, electrical=x, etc. All set up as benchmarks, so that while the work proceeds, you're getting paid on time as these benchmarks are eclipsed. No one wants to get to the end of the job and have 20K outstanding. We try and get 90-95% of our money while the work is in progress. I also set up each job so that all the materials are sitting ready on the shop floor before we start, so that we don't have to wait for anything.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you can manage a kitchen renovation in 3-4 weeks, you are in a league of your own. My only caution to anybody doing kitchen renovations is to make sure that your extras are very well documented and priced quickly and signed by the homeowner. Hate surprises at the end...