How Long Does a Kitchen Remodel Really Take?
The home remodeling programs on HGTV are fun and entertaining to watch. Old, ugly and outdated kitchens are transformed into shiny, new and modern in 60 minutes.
Although these shows are considered ”reality” shows, they don’t show the realities of the remodeling process. They don’t show the planning and preparation that goes into a successful kitchen design and remodel. And they don’t even come close to showing a realistic timeline to complete the project.
How Much Time Will My Kitchen Project Take?
The second most common question clients ask – after “how much will it cost?” — is “how long will it take?”
Some home renovation projects can be completed quickly. Some take several months. It all depends on the scope of the project, availability of materials and the design complexity.
You may have heard people who remodeled their kitchens say, “I thought it would be done faster than it was.” The three probable reasons for this complaint are:
- The contractor gave an inaccurate time estimate
- The homeowner had unrealistic expectations
- The homeowner requested changes mid-way through the project
The More Complex the Project, the Longer It Takes
In a straightforward kitchen design, new appliances and cabinets replace old ones in the same layout, and there is little construction involved. Certainly, this type of kitchen remodel project will take the least amount of time. On average, you’re looking at 6-8 weeks for a moderate-sized kitchen.
A more complex kitchen renovation will involve a bigger space, wall removals, structural changes, plumbing and electrical system changes and reconfiguring the floor plan. As a result, this large project will take longer. Renovation may take months.
Every remodel project is different. Because of this, your kitchen designer will create a realistic timeline for your unique remodel project.
Can Your Kitchen Remodel Take Even Longer?
A carefully planned renovation project includes a detailed schedule with a series of steps to be completed in sequence. Even so, delays can occur. And these delays are not necessarily because of incompetence or carelessness.
Kitchen remodels can be tricky because they involve a lot of moving parts:
- coordinating the arrival of specially ordered products
- monitoring schedules of electricians, plumbers and other subcontractors. Each must wait for the work of others to be completed before they can do their work.
Everything is tied together.
Some of the reasons for project delays are out of your contractor’s or designer’s control, such as product back-orders or subcontractor availability. Every schedule should have some time built in for situations like these.
In addition, projects can be slowed down or go completely off the schedule when crews have to work around nap times and other homeowner activities. Too many changes to the project once construction has begun is very often the cause for delays.
Plan for the Worst Case Scenario
Truth: Your daily life will be disrupted during renovations. Be prepared to have no kitchen and rearrange your family and your schedule accordingly.
To be safe, plan for a longer construction time frame than you are expecting, factoring in everything from the planning stages to project completion. The actual time when the kitchen will be out of commission (meaning takeout and restaurant meals and no chance to use your kitchen), will most likely be much shorter, about six weeks or so, but plan ahead for the no-kitchen days.
A Basic Timeline for a Kitchen Remodel
1. Design meetings, Selections, Drawings, Permits: 1-4 weeks
The first step to your kitchen remodel is designing the layout. From the initial consultation to the final design approval, the process might take up to month, depending on lots of different factors and your ability to make selections and decisions. This is where the expertise and experience of your kitchen designer can guide you and offer help in making the design and selection process (relatively) easy and fast.
You have to choose and purchase your appliances early; your cabinets, drawings and ultimately the final design will be based on the appliances you select. If you change the appliances later in the project, it changes the layout of the kitchen and that, in turn, can cause serious delays.
During the initial design phase, your kitchen designer will create the floor plans, elevations and lighting and electrical plans. You will work with her to revise, then approve and finalize.
You will make these selections: appliances, plumbing fixtures, including sink(s), cabinets, countertops, backsplash, light fixtures, flooring and cabinet hardware.
Your contractor will apply for Permits.
2. Ordering Product: 4-8 Weeks
Products take time to order, coordinate and receive. This step depends on product availability, lead times and your satisfaction with the items after they arrive. Time should be built into the schedule to allow for damage, returns and changing your mind.
Once your orders are placed, products will begin arriving, with cabinetry generally taking 4-6 weeks from ordering.
3. Structural Changes: 2-3 Days / Weeks / Months
This phase all depends on how extensive your renovation is. If your kitchen remodel includes extensive structural changes, like new doors and windows, removing walls and raising the ceiling, this might extend your timeline by a couple of weeks, even months.
After you have made all of your design decisions, the existing kitchen must be taken out. This demolition phase includes removing your existing cabinets, flooring, countertops, and appliances, which typically takes a couple of days and prepares your kitchen for your new look.
Be sure everything that is staying in your house is protected with tarp or plastic while the crew gets to work tearing out everything else. Depending on how large your kitchen is, and how extensive the renovation, this shouldn’t take more than a day or two.
Be aware – there will be lots of noise, dirt and dust, workmen in and out of your house, and vehicles in and around your property.
4. Rough in Plumbing and Electrical: 2-5 days
Your former kitchen is now gone and your space is stripped down to the studs. It will be easy to get new plumbing, HVAC and/or electrical where it needs to go. From electrical outlets to appliance power lines, everything has to be marked out for the electrician.
Your contractor may need to change some things, depending what he sees what’s behind the walls.
The HVAC, plumbing and electrical is installed. The plumbing will take a day or two, the HVAC takes approximately a few days, and the electrical takes about two days on average.
These times are contingent, of course, on all subs showing up when scheduled and that they don’t encounter any unforeseen issues.
5. Installation of Insulation and Drywall: 1-5 days
During this phase, insulation gets installed, then drywall gets prepped, installed, and primed. Your kitchen is now ready for the next phase of the remodel.
6. Installation of Floors: 1-5 days
The kind of floor you choose will decide the time it takes to complete. For instance, ceramic tile can take around 3-4 days to complete, and wood flooring may take up to 4-6 days. These are averages but it does give you an idea of the time involved.
7. Painting: 1-3 Days
When paint is applied before any cabinets or appliances get installed, this step should only take a few days. Painting is much easier when the painter doesn’t have to cut around cabinets. It will take a day for drying time and touch ups.
8. Cabinet Installation and Fitting: 3-5 Days
Depending on the size of your kitchen, the time frame for cabinet installation varies, but 3-5 days is a good estimate. The cabinets are fitted to make sure they’re perfect, without gaps or unevenness.
Obviously, the more cabinets you have, the longer it takes.
9. Installation of All Other Material, Including Appliances, Lighting, Backsplash, Cabinet Hardware: 1-10 Days
Installation of the other items after cabinets in your new kitchen is usually in this order: appliances, lighting, backsplash and cabinet hardware. All of this is subject to change, depending on job site conditions and when materials show up.
Installation of ceiling lights, task lights and under cabinets lights can take 1-2 days.
The same goes for backsplash installation, but intricate designs may take longer.
Cabinets can be drilled for hardware, if this hasn’t been done with cabinet installation.
Your sink(s) can be installed now if it can be done before the countertops are in.
10. Countertops: 1-2 Weeks
Nothing can happen with your countertops until the cabinets are installed. When the cabinets are in, the countertop fabricator will come out and measure for your countertops and create a “template”.
After the measurements are taken, countertops will be fabricated, delivered and installed. This typically takes up to 10 days, but it depends on the material you have selected.
11. Final Phase: 1-3 Days
Cabinet toe kick, baseboards, moldings, decorative accents, paint touch-ups, cabinet adjustments and other finishing details usually take several days to complete.
The total length of time for a kitchen remodel — from design to move-in — varies from home to home, but you should plan on about a six to eight-week time frame for an average kitchen. In general, kitchen designers report that their kitchen renovations are completed between three weeks to two months, depending on the level of complexity.
That time estimate depends on everything going smoothly, that your cabinets arrive in perfect condition and nothing needs re-made, that the workmen don’t drop your sink and crack it and it must be re-ordered, that the fabricator measures perfectly for the countertop, that the lighting fixtures you selected aren’t back ordered for weeks, that there’s no plumbing leak that sets the schedule back for days.
This timeline we’ve put together is meant to give you a look at the various aspects of the renovation project and provide a range of time for how long each step should take, considering the factors that may be outside of your control of and the contractor’s.
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.