Ah, those addictive home renovation shows on TV. It’s so easy to watch more than you mean to, and wonder where the time has gone. We know how it is. (In fact, Houseplay Renovations was featured in an episode of HGTV’s My First Home Renovation!)

But there’s something you should know about those shows: entertaining as they are, they don’t represent a realistic renovation timeframe. They give you glimpses of the process, but every stage is in fast-forward. For every minute of work you see, there are dozens of hours you don’t. (Those are some hard-working video editors.)


It’s easy – and oh-so-tempting! – to approach a renovation with a carefree, “It won’t take long!” attitude. We know; we’ve been guilty of that ourselves in the past. But taking the time to plan ahead is an essential step when it comes to completing a major project successfully.

Each of the steps listed below takes time. At Houseplay, our project timeframes naturally vary depending on project scope, but we typically allow 2 weeks between the initial call / meeting and contract signing, then 4-6 weeks for the design process, and 2-4 weeks for permits. After that, we’re ready to start construction!

Here are a few key points to consider as you work to create your very own renovation timeline:

  • Are you prepared to devote time to connecting with a designer to approve paint colors, fixtures, and appliances in time for the project start date? Design is the first step to making sure that a project is created to fit your tastes, needs, and budget. Here at Houseplay, we offer design services tailored to your needs. And if you choose to hire Houseplay for design services, you’ll receive exclusive bonus credits toward the overall cost of your project.
  • Will your project require an architect’s drawings? If so, many contractors can connect you with a qualified architect and streamline this process. If you’re changing the layout of a space (say, removing walls or portions of walls) your project may require an architect’s assistance. However, you might be able to work with a designer instead, which could save you money.
  • Will your project require permits? Cosmetic work – such as painting, tiling, or replacing windows – generally doesn’t require permits. But if you’re doing plumbing and electrical work beyond a basic ‘pull and replace’, you’ll need a permit. In New Jersey, building departments have 20 business days to approve a permit. (Want to check the rules in your area? My Building Department has an online search function.)
  • Does your project require professionals licensed in a specific trade? For example, if you’re considering a bathroom renovation, you’ll likely want to hire a general contractor who works in partnership with a licensed plumber. Leaks behind tiled walls are expensive to remedy, and they can cause bigger problems, like mold. It’s important to get it right the first time.
  • Do you have a sense of trust and rapport with the contractor? Are you willing to provide the contractor with the necessary access to your home? Homeowners often provide trusted contractors with a key, so that the renovations can continue when the homeowner needs to be elsewhere. Naturally, you’ll want to secure your valuables beforehand, too. (More on choosing a contractor in our next post!)
  • Are you ready to prepare a work area, setting aside space for tools and materials? If so, you’ll save money and prevent hassle too. A typical contractor estimate includes the cost of one set-up at the start of the project, and one clean-up at the close. If workers need to redo setup each day, it slows down the project, stirs up dust and debris, and costs you more too. So save by sectioning off the construction area!

Stay tuned for the final post in our Get Ready to Renovate series, where we’ll share our Choosing a Contractor Checklist!


Disclaimer: Although we have made every effort to ensure that the information in this post is correct, we do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.