I just reviewed an addition project that also involves a new kitchen in the new space along with re-orientating some of the existing space. After getting the nickel tour of the place and reviewing some preliminary plans, the owners asked me my thoughts on budget and how long it would take to do the project. Those two question are asked of me almost on a daily basis and can be a couple of the hardest questions to answer because well, it’s Remodeling, and it’s complicated.
I gave then the boilerplate answers on cost that I wrote about last year in “how much will my remodel cost”. It’s still about the same, $135 dollars a sq. ft. for additions, followed by the average cost of a new kitchen, appliances, throw in some miscellaneous work and Voila, we have an initial ball park budget in about 15 minutes.
The harder question at this point is how long will it take? Well are we talking how long from this point forward or after we have a signed contract or permit? Do we have all the specifications or are we going to be held up with some product selections? Those are the first couple things that can throw a monkey wrench in your remodeling ideas and schedule if you haven’t first planed ahead and second made all your selections.
I like to work backwards when answering the “how long question” starting with it takes about 3-4 months to do an addition or whole house remodel or a renovation which is not a much different from building a new home. Of course the more complicated the project, the longer it may take.
We have to obtain a building permit before we can start the project which also takes some time. The application is filled out and turned in along with your plans, engineering and site plan, and now you can expect the permit review process to take between 2-8 weeks in our neck of the woods. Luckily, with most of our projects it seems to take about 3-6 weeks to get the permit depending on the jurisdiction where we need to it from (i.e Thurston County, City of Lacey or Olympia). Again, it’s all depending on the complexity of the project. An added curveball comes if there are any critical area issues like wetlands, water front, septic issues, or if you’re in the dreaded “pocket gopher” area, and that can add about 4-8 more weeks on top of the initial review process. Yup, you read that right, it can easily take 4 + months to get your project done from start to finish.
Now we are back at the beginning, which is turning the initial ideas and designs into working plans. We typically allow 2-4 weeks for design and drafting time, then another 2-4 weeks for engineering. It’s not that it actually takes that long, but keep in mind that both the designer and engineer are probably working on a dozen projects on top of yours, so everyone needs lead time. Once the plans and engineering are all done we are ready to turn in for permit.
The clients I met with today already had a leg up on the timeline since they had a great start on the initial designs, but they need to finalize their design, get the engineering completed and make all their product selections in the homework assignment we give you. Don’t worry, the homework is the easy part.
At this point if everything went well with the permit process and we have no complications, we would probably be ready to actually start the addition in about 6 to 8 weeks at the earliest! Now finally we schedule the work out over the next 3-4 months.
I started out with saying it’s a complicated answer, and it surely is. Now let’s throw in the unexpected that really should be expected because after all it’s a remodel, and you can really start to understand how the timeline for a simple addition can really take about 6 months from conception to completion with a whole lot a steps in-between.
I have always recommended that our clients choose and hire a contractor they feel comfortable with. Be fully confident in the service they will provide you, and then ensure you can communicate well with them. You will be working with them for quite a while before it’s all said and done. This way, when the work is complete, everyone is happy with the results and you can enjoy the investment for years to come.