How to Create a Realistic Design, Price and Construction Timeline

At Ekko Custom Cabinetry & Design, we are often confronted with unrealistic expectations of budgets, designs and expected timelines. Design shows on TV might lead you to believe that you can complete a dramatic interior makeover in days and at an unbelievably low cost. After reading an article published in “Houzz” August 30, 2017 by Yanic Simard, we thought it worthwhile to revisit this topic and add some details you might find helpful.

In reality, renovating a single small bathroom can easily take 3 months from initial design research to finished construction, while a fuller renovation of several rooms or a larger room (like a complete kitchen overhaul) can take half a year …. sometimes longer. There are many benefits to giving your design project a generous timeline.

Realistic Design-Living area Hutch         Realistic Design-Small powder room

Do Your Research :  Whether or not you are working with a designer or trades people in your project, you should do some research before the project gets underway. Gather ideas to get a better sense of exactly what you are looking for in the space being renovated. Save photos of appealing inspirations over several months. You need a vision to solidify direction for yourself or for your designers and trades people. Look at the various spaces you love and try to identify the common elements that attracted you. “Buyer’s remorse” is not enjoyable – give yourself plenty of time to do research on materials, colours, styles and operational layouts. Now, you are ready to start planning with your designer.

Consider Permit Requirements :  Determine what permits you may need to obtain, especially for larger projects that may involve additions, digging for a basement, electrical upgrades, gas lines for cooking appliances, air make-up for upgraded hood systems – potentially even exterior modifications. Knowing any limitations or obstacles ahead of time will help you stay on budget and on schedule.

Build Your Timeline : Do not overlook the time between when you decide to begin construction and when the relevant trades and materials are actually available. You may not be able to begin or advance construction on a moment’s notice. A thorough design process should allow 2 to 6 months. Projects usually involve more decisions than people expect. In the case of a kitchen redesign, consider all the selections that must be made and coordinated through the process – plumbing, electrical, appliances, layout, designs and colours, countertops, flooring, tying into the rest of the house ….. to name a few.


Realistic Design-Functional Kitchen   Realistic Design-Modern Kitchen

Construction Phase Timeline :  Again, seriously consider that the products and trades you want may require lead-time planning to ensure availability. If items must be custom produced or, more importantly, must come from overseas, that lead time can become a major issue if you have not planned on it. If you are ordering a custom or made-to-order product, expect a timeline of 6 to 12 weeks ….. or more, for manufacturing and shipping ……allow even more time if the product is coming from out of country or overseas. Most items you order will take at least four weeks to deliver and another four weeks for anything custom-manufactured. Do yourself and your trades a favour – allow 3 to 6 months for the actual construction phase if you have prepared properly. Keep in mind that some aspects of the renovation may not be able to start until other components are in place and installed. It is natural to feel impatient and want things to move as fast as possible once you’ve made the commitment but if you force a rushed job, you often get a rushed job – a bit of “buffer time” can be a good thing. You can never count on a major renovation or redesign to follow the ideal minimum timeline – always expect the unexpected and keep “O’Toole’s Commentary” in mind : “Murphy was an Optimist

Example Timeline – a reasonable timeline for a complete renovation of an average Canadian kitchen (about 160 square feet -> that is roughly 12 ft  X  13 ft)                                                                                                         Preliminary Design Phase - one month to enquire about permits, and research design styles and inspiration photos                                                                                                                                          Secondary Design Phase – at least 2 months shopping for Cabinets (the space design is the most critical consideration in this step unless you just want a bunch of generic standard boxes), handles, countertops, backsplash, flooring, sink, faucet, lighting, bar stools, paint ….. and more. Decisive choices of paint colours, finishes, electrical outlet placements and window treatments are all part of the process. Then allow for “back and forth” interaction on your layout, coordination of all elements affecting the layout, arriving at an acceptable budget , measuring and ordering.                                                                                     Construction Phase – allow a minimum 3 months and up to 6 months depending on the complexity of your project – it always better to be safe than sorry -> who really needs additional stress during a process that is intended to be a dream realized. If you have a major function as your intended “be ready by” target, plan to be finished 2 months ahead of that date – you’ll thank yourself later.                       Total : a planned timeline of  6 to 9  months (but actually finished 1 month early, phew !!)


Realistic Design-Hutch      Realistic Design-Limited Space Kitchen

Be Realistic With Your Budget – be honest with your designer (and yourself) about what your budget is and what that budget will be able to get you – sometimes the best decision is to wait until you can get what you want instead of compromising and getting a bad case of “buyer’s remorse”. Clients sometimes avoid giving their budget because they assume the designer will attempt to spend every last cent BUT it really helps to design something you will love, in your budget range if we know what is comfortable and what is excessive. Doing an early consultation with a designer just to set a budget for your project can help guide you. When you are establishing your budget, keep in mind ALL the components that will fall into that budget – cabinets, appliances, flooring, countertops, electrical, plumbing, etc. With this consideration in mind, we contacted Brent McMillan at Trail Appliances for some insight into what to allow for an “Appliance Package”. That was an eye-opener. Brent and his 3 top “guns” systematically came up with a range of “package” prices and features following the good, better, best and “off the charts” arrays of appliance packages. A basic “good” appliance package can come in at $ 6,100.00 / a “better” package can come in at $ 8,400.00 / a basic “best” package can come in starting at $ 11,500.00 and run up to $ 17,000.00 if you begin to introduce “built-in products”. From that point on we enter into the “off the charts” zone which can start at $ 61,500.00 (Sub Zero, Wolf, Miele, etc.) and run higher if you choose to incorporate custom hoods, matching facings and enclosures, exceptional services requirements and exceptional new technologies …… thanks for the input Brent.

Ultimately, if you set a well-considered budget from the beginning, that number can always be adjusted up or down as the decision making progresses. Without that starting point, people renovating often get to a place later in the project where they are suddenly shocked by how the numbers are adding up. With a budget to follow, you and your design assistants can avoid “sticker shock” and compile a realistic budget and design that brings your dreams to reality. There is a great satisfaction to coming in on budget with a renovation that you are happy with and completing it on time. Setting unrealistic objectives in either case, can greatly reduce the satisfaction and enjoyment of a project you have dreamed of and taken so much personal effort, sacrifice and savings to create. Enjoy taking your time with the process – designing your home should be fun, not stressful. Follow a realistic project schedule and budget …… your design dreams will become a reality in no time.

Realistic Design-Hutch unit  Realistic Design-Inviting Island

At  Ekko Cabinetry we strive to exceed your  expectations.  Whatever the reason for your renovation, consider this as an investment in your life and home – do it right the first time – you’ll be rewarded in your quality of life and the ultimate boost in your real estate value. Our Calgary Custom Cabinets  and bath design staff can help you through a process that will give you the space you have dreamed of …. and deserve

T.E. (Tim) Pressey 

Ekko Custom Kitchen Cabinetry and Design of Calgary

32 – 4th Street N.E.

Calgary, Alberta    T2E 3R7

(403) 263-3556

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