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How to Determine the Length of Your Interior Design Project

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From developing a relationship with your interior designer to crafting a home that brings ease to your daily life, the design process is an interactive one worth doing right. When clients come to us, they often share this sentiment. But what do most of our first-time clients not know?

How long an interior design project takes. 

A design project has hundreds of moving parts that impact your overall timeline. Just because your project has been on your mind for a long time doesn’t mean that it can (or should) happen overnight.

Besides, these large-scale, high-quality decorating and home improvement projects are ones that will enhance your life for the next 10-25 years. Taking the necessary time to properly plan and execute the project is key to achieving results that bring you joy and everyday luxury long into the future.

Today, I’m going to share some insight into what you can expect and how to judge the potential length of your project. But first… let’s talk about some terms you are likely to hear when discussing a project with your designer.

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Interior Design Terms & Concepts to Know

Project Scope

“Project scope” is an outline of the exact work to be completed in each space. The larger the project, the more prep work you’ll need, the more furnishings and finishes you’ll have to source and the greater number of trades you’ll require. All of these details impact your project timeline.

Permits

Any renovation project (which simply means anything more than decorating), will likely require city permits… which again, take time, as you have to rely on the availability of the city clerks and other governing boards to issue them.

Working with us on a design plan before you start construction, or even before you consider hiring a contractor, is essential to getting the final result you imagine. Once the construction is done, we’ll bring in the right furniture and accessories to complete the project — where you really see the complete transformation!

Lead Times

When it comes to products, “Lead time” is the amount of time it takes for materials, finishes, and furnishings that we designate for your project to be manufactured and delivered. If the materials we select are all in stock and ready to ship, your lead time is less… if products are backordered, the lead time is longer. Anything custom made naturally has longer lead times.

The upside of bringing us into your project early is that we order the materials, finishes and furnishings, especially custom ones, prior to your construction phase (if you have one). We plan the delivery of shipments to coincide with your installation phase once the construction phase is complete.

Schedules

When I say “schedules,” I mean your schedule, our schedule and our trades’ schedules. If you have ever watched a renovation show on TV, you may expect your project to be complete in just a few weeks… but I have to be straight with you, my team and I, we can’t work 7 days a week 😉 We work regular business hours, as do our contractors and suppliers.

To create your project timeline, we have to look at everyone’s schedule and map out the phases in a way that works for everyone. Of course, this takes a bit of time and a lot of coordinating, but is well worth it for the finished product — a home that feels like you.

Your Role

Believe it or not, you have an equally important role in keeping your project on schedule. Timely decisions, invoice payments, and smooth communication all impact how quickly your project gets done.

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Phases of a Design Project

Even for design professionals who have been in business for many years, calculating an accurate project timeline is nearly impossible without knowing the project’s scope. That said, we do have some general estimates based on our many years of experience.

The best way to judge your timeline is to look at each phase individually…

I. Design Phase

We usually schedule your project kick off 2-3 months before the projected construction start date. This gives us 6-12 weeks for the design and planning process which includes a week for revisions.

II. Procurement & Project Management Phase

This phase has the most variation by scope. First, we assess whether permits are required. If so, the timeline will vary greatly depending on the scope of the project and whether we are working within established norms or asking for a variance of some kind. It also depends on how backlogged the permit office is at the time of submission.

We then create a renovation work timeline based on the scope of the project. Basic cosmetic renovations can take 2-4 months to complete. Larger scale renovations can take upwards of 6 months. Again, this number largely depends on scope and what you are actually doing in your space.

For furniture and finishes, we expect 3-18 weeks of lead time (key term!) from the order date. If you are furnishing an entire home or have several custom-designed pieces, this time frame may increase. While procurement and project management overlap in the interest of efficiency, we always make sure that the lead time for construction materials coincides with when the trades will need them on site.

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III. Installation Phase

Once construction is complete, we’re ready to install the furnishings and accessories we’ve purchased for you. We typically schedule 1-3 days for the installation of furnishings, depending on the size of the project.

Doing the Math to Calculate Your Project Timeline

If you added up the low and high time estimates for each phase, you’ll see that there is a LOT of variation from one project to the next. If you do the math based on your project scope, this should give you an idea of  a general timeline for your project – then add a buffer of ⅓ more time and that will probably be about right.

Here are a few examples of timelines — from the day you sign on to work with us to completion — for a few different types of projects:

  • Furnishing a single room with no renovation component: 6 months
  • Main floor project including some basic cosmetic renovations, like painting, a fireplace upgrade, flooring, trimwork, etc. but with no kitchens or bathrooms: 7-9 months
  • A full renovation from planning to completion will require a minimum of 8 months

(So if you want a full home renovation complete by Christmas… get on your interior designer’s calendar in January!)

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When to Start Your Design Project

In general, if you know roughly how long your design project will take, and when you would like it to be complete, you can calculate backward to discern the best time to start assembling your design team. Keep in mind that we often have a full project calendar and will not likely be able to schedule the design phase of your project for 1 to 3 months from the time you contact us.

When asked, I always recommend January as a great time to start a design project. Not only is everyone feeling refreshed from time off during the holidays, but schedules tend to be lighter at the beginning of the new year, as well.

And keep in mind, if you hope to have your home completed by the holidays next year, a spring start is absolutely necessary… especially if there is a renovation component. Anything begun mid-summer or later will most likely not be ready to enjoy by that holiday season. These things simply can’t be rushed!

If you’ve been toying with the idea of a home renovation for a while and now finally feels like the right time, let’s chat. Our team would be honoured to help you begin the new year with a fresh start for your beautiful home on the horizon.

If you’re not quite ready yet, no problem. You can get more helpful tips and exclusive insights in our monthly newsletter. Join us here!

Until next time,
Lori

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