What to know about building timelines

Ben Wilson's avatar

Ben Wilson | 12/10/16

'How long is the build going to take?' A question always asked and one that a good building contractor will have a clear idea of the answer, should the build run according to plan!

There are many factors which can change the building schedule, as a homeowner, it is beneficial to fully understand your building timelines, what can affect them, how long each element is due to take and the impact occurred should individual timings change.

1) Before the building plans are finalised, have your builder review them, in some cases what can be drawn on paper is not always achievable when it comes to the actual build.  Occasionally throughout a build tweaks need to be made, so it is wise to get your builder and architect talking from the onset.
2) Undertake a pre-work/start up meeting.  This is where your building contractor, more accurately the specific project manager will go through the schedule of work for your build.  Each build has its own construction timeline, although many builds run a certain course, no build is exactly the same and your timeline will have been specifically mapped out for by your chosen building contractor.  
3) Truly understand the schedule of works, what each element entails and why that specific timeline has been put in place.  It may seem that some areas of your build have been allocated longer than you expected; however, undertaking a successful build is like undertaking a large jigsaw.  It's the art of bringing together the right skills at the right time and managing completion of individual projects before the puzzle can move to the next phase.  
4) To remain in your home or vacate during the building works?  This can have a major impact on the building schedule.  Yes, it is possible for separate living quarters to be set up in the house away from the building works; however, on a large project where the entire house will be affected the need for the project to effectively be undertaken in 2 parts can add on weeks, sometimes months. 
4) The unavoidables; weather, unforeseen complexities, product lead times, 3rd party involvements such as inspector visits can all put a building project out of sync.  During these periods a strong project manager will have the experience to keep your project moving along by potentially shifting focus to other areas that can continue.
5) As the homeowner you will be required to make many decisions, ensuring decisions are made prior to the commencement of your build will give your project the best start and chance of running to schedule.  In addition you have the right to change your mind; however, the implications could be substantial not only on the timeline of your build but potentially also your budget.  A change during construction potentially means work stopping to discuss and review. This could mean placing an order for new materials and possibly shifting the schedule which could result in trades booked to work on the build having to be rescheduled.  The most appropriate management of a substantial change is to weigh the factors against budget/timeline to recognise if the change is 100% required.
6) The finishing touches can feel like they're taking the longest.  This is mainly due to the actual construction often being built relatively quickly and the progress you see is great; however, come to the detail at the end of a project and it can feel that progress is slow.  Finalising a project often requires a large number of skilled workers, a bathroom alone may require a carpenter, plumber, tiler and decorator.  As the homeowners, you can aid in the finalisation of a project by ensuring that all decisions on paint colours, lighting, flooring etc have been made in advance of the project reaching this stage.

No building projects are exactly the same, whether you're undertaking a house extension, home renovation, loft conversion or a new build, timelines will all differ from project to project.

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