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Planning A Renovation Project: How Long Does It Take?

“How long does a renovation take?” is a question we have often been asked over the years, and our response is always, “there are two parts to the process – the planning stage, which includes design and the building permit, and the construction stage.”

The time required is contingent on a number of factors, from the type of renovation and the scope of the project to how long you, the homeowner, take to feel comfortable with the design and make the necessary decisions.

Let’s look at each type of project in more detail so we can better answer this question.

If the project is small, such as a small bathroom or kitchen renovation, then it typically doesn’t take all that long to complete. What defines a project as small, besides the square footage, is that the layout does not change. Placement of fixtures, such as sinks and toilets, aren’t being moved.

Small projects like these are sometimes referred to as “pull and replace” projects because the room is simply getting updated. For a small bathroom reno, the actual construction time can be as little as a week, but usually two. Keep in mind that selections still need to be made far enough in advance that the materials are available when construction begins.

Typical design and planning time: 1-2 months

A mid-sized project is also often a kitchen or a larger bathroom, and this is defined when you begin to change the floor plan and move around fixtures. For example, in a mid-sized kitchen renovation, the space is rearranged to improve functionality and as such, the appliances aren’t kept in the same location.

A mid-sized renovation project, like the ones described above, can take a month or two to develop the design, and if you need a building permit, that can add an extra month.

Typical design and planning time: 2-4 months

Finally, there are large renovation projects, such as whole-house renovations or second storey additions. These projects can take between six to twelve months to get design and building permits in place. This depends on two things: How long it takes for the homeowner to feel comfortable with the design and what City approvals are needed.

Here’s a closer look at the process for a large renovation project.

Once we’ve had the initial consultation and understand what our clients want to achieve, and have an agreement on budget or investment level, we sign a design agreement. We’ll present them with three design concepts. From there, clients will typically choose one that we’ll begin to refine. Sometimes this process goes relatively quickly. Other times, this can take longer, but in either instance it is important that we spend the necessary time to get the design right.

Once the client is comfortable with the design, it is sent to City officials for zoning review. This is where the City assesses the drawings to make sure they comply with zoning by-laws. This review typically takes a month; however, when the drawings don’t comply (for whatever reason), we have two options: the drawings can be modified and resubmitted, or we can go before the Committee of Adjustment to request a minor variance. If we have to present our case before the Committee, this can add another two to three months to the process.

Only when we have the approvals we need can we continue with the structural drawings and apply for building permits. Each step adds a month.

A large renovation project is a lengthy endeavor. Certainly, throughout this process things are happening, but construction cannot begin until we have the drawings finalized and the necessary paperwork approved.

Typical design and planning time: 6-12 months

Whether you are considering a small renovation project to update your bathroom or a large second-storey addition, start planning sooner rather than later. While the time needed to plan your reno properly can be extensive, it is always worth it in the end.