Scheduling your renovation

By YIP | 30 Aug 2010

Planning and preparing a schedule for your renovation will ensure that you finish on time and avoid blowing up your budget. Rosalie Griffiths explains.

Having a well-planned schedule is an extremely important step if you want your renovation to run on time. Not keeping to a schedule is also the main reason why renovations run over budget. Just like when you go and do the supermarket shopping – if you take time to prepare a list before you go, you tend to get the shopping done in less time and spend less money than if you don’t have a list. Renovating is no different.

So, how do you make the renovation list? First, the list is best constructed in a spreadsheet or table format. You can use Excel or a specific software program such as MS project. For those who are visually oriented, you may well want to convert the list into a visual diagram, Gant chart or flow chart of each of the groups of tasks. Remember that your list will change as the renovation proceeds – things will be added as it is often not until you start taking things out that the full extent of repair work or building supply materials are known.

Preparing your reno schedule

There are four key components to a schedule. They are:

  • A list of each task required
  • Who is going to do each task
  • How long each task is going to take
  • Some flexibility to allow for changes
There are often one or two items that are the ‘critical elements’ in the renovation, that is, certain things have to be done before the critical element can be done, and various tasks can only be done after the critical element.

A great example of this is a new kitchen. The critical element here is the installation of the new cabinets. The bench tops (if reconstituted granite/ acrylic or similar style) and splashback can’t be measured or installed until after the cabinets are in. Similarly, the new appliances can only be installed after the cabinets are in. The electrician and plumber need to have installed the appropriate wiring and plumbing for the new appliances before the cabinets go in. And of course, the old kitchen has to be removed before anything else is done.

So, for a new kitchen the tasks required may be similar to the following:

Step 1: Measure up and agree on new kitchen items

Step 2: Order new appliances (note: cabinet maker will require sizing information of the new appliances)

Step 3: Remove old kitchen and dispose of it (have you ordered a trailer or a bin to do this?)

Step 4: Plumber to rough in for new tap and appliance positions

Step 5: Electrician to rough in for new wiring, lighting and powerpoint positions

Step 6: Complete any repairs (eg, holes caused by ducted rangehoods, changing tap, waste or powerpoint positions)

Step 7: Purchase any additional items (eg, need extra skirting boards, cornices and so on)

Step 8: Clean area so it’s ready for installation of items

Step 9: Install flooring (if using tiles)

Step 10: Have appliances delivered to the site before the cabinets are installed. Install new cabinets

Step 11: Measure up for reconstituted granite benchtops (Note: check how long between measure up and installation – usually 10–15 business days)

Step 12: Install reconstituted granite benchtops

Step 13: Install and connect plumbed appliances and sink

Step 14: Install and connect electrical appliances. Complete any powerpoint work

Step 15: Do touch-ups – painting, skirting board, cornice work, etc

Step 16: Measure up for glass splashback (Note: check how long between measure up and installation – usually 10–15 business days)

Step 17: Prepare splashback surface – smooth, flat, firm

Step 18: Install glass splashback

Step 19: Check if any other items are required to complete the job

Step 20: Clean!

For the works described above, you will need to co-ordinate approximately nine types of experts:

  • cabinet maker
  • supplier of the appliances
  • electrician
  • plumber
  • stone mason
  • glass specialist
  • tiler
  • handyperson and/or carpenter and/ or plasterer (to remove kitchen, do the repairs, preparation work and completion items)
  • cleaner

These are the people who will do each task. So, for each task, write down who is actually going to do that task. 

Next, you need to know how long each task is going to take. If you don’t know this, make sure you ask tradespeople and your suppliers how long things will take, including the time from ordering to delivery of items. Allow some additional time.

Of course, there is no point in preparing a schedule if you don’t stick to it! This is your job – check that people know when they are scheduled in and ensure that their component is completed in time for the next person to come in. Some steps can be changed around without too much inconvenience to anyone, while other tasks are essential and if they get changed, the whole project timelines will blow out. So, don’t sweat on the things that aren’t critical.

In order to assist our tradespeople, we have a complete copy of the work schedule kept at the site – so each tradesperson knows what they are to do and when it needs to be completed by. Some days you can schedule several tradies to be there at the same time – this is OK so long as they are able to work in separate rooms. This can also speed up the time taken for the renovation considerably.

However, for some days only a single trade can operate effectively. For example, there is no point in having the electrician on site on the same day as someone who requires power – because the electrician is likely to need to turn the power off while they are working there. Similarly a bath can’t be resurfaced while a plumber is trying to install the bath taps or shower – this simply doesn’t work.

In conclusion

Regardless of your project, the main things when scheduling the works are as follows:

  • List each task and decide who is going to do it. Work out the ‘critical elements’ first and work backwards and forwards from there
  • Allow some flexibility as you will need to modify things along the way – this is part of the building process
  • Sequence things so that tradespeople only need to return once or twice to complete their work. For most of our projects, our electrician and plumber come on site twice – once to do the rough in works, then to do the installation and completion tasks
  • Do remember to add time for cleaning during the works and at the end

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