How soon will my renovation be finished?

Hugh Trueman of Mondeau Bathroom & Kitchen (

The holiday season is approaching, and I expect to be doing a fair bit of entertaining. I’m hoping this fall to have my kitchen and main-floor bathroom completely renovated by the second week in December at the latest. How fast can I expect a renovator to get the job done, cleaned up and “guest-ready”?


Your project is fairly ambitious, so my first reaction is to step back and take stock of what is involved. Planning is key for any renovation to go off as planned, and you have picked two projects that will probably throw your family routines off track for a couple of months. The last thing you want to happen is to end up with a lot of guests and an unfinished renovation in progress.


The fall is a busy time of year for most families. It is also a busy time for contractors and suppliers. You are not the only one who wants their project completed before the holidays. To have a project of this size start and end on time at this time of year means that you should probably have started planning and booking your contractor early in the summer. Most good contractors are still very busy and so your chances of finding one available on short notice are reduced.


You have two projects in mind. So let’s look at each one separately.


The bathroom (I am assuming it’s a powder room) is a smaller job that you may be able to tackle now. If you are only doing a face-lift (changing fixtures, paint and tile, and redecorating) then it is less destructive and easier to complete in a short time. A full renovation of this kind (recommended in a home that is more than 15 years old, or where signs of major damage or mould are present) can take up to a month, depending on the extent of the repairs and changes required. In either case, if you have a firm plan, have a contractor booked and if you order materials and fixtures that are readily available, your chances of success are increased. You have no time to wait for those beautiful tiles from Italy. So stick to your guns when ordering and don’t get tempted into something with a long lead time. You cannot finish a project if you don’t have the materials.


Secondly, you want to change your kitchen. This is a major project that can take months to complete. Have you started yet? If not, you may want to hold off on this one until after the holidays. Cabinets and granite counter-tops can take 16 weeks or more to be made and delivered. Unless you are planning on catering your turkey dinner, this is an important room not to be without while making holiday preparations. Perhaps you can get away with just changing your countertop, sink and faucets for now, or you could start with upgrading your appliances. You could then do the major work in the New Year when timing is not as crucial. You and your renovator would have several months to get things exactly as you want them before the next “holidays” — when summer and more potential visitors arrive.


In general, here are some basic DO’s and DO NOTs to keep in mind if you have a specific deadline to meet:

DO Order what is available. That means “in stock” or “immediate delivery”.

DO NOT start before you have everything, and I mean everything, on site ready to go, including your contractor.

DO NOT change your mind midway through project.

DO finish what you start. It is better, and usually less expensive, to change a fixture or detail afterwards if necessary.

DO one project at a time.

DO be prepared at home to adjust your living arrangements around the project. (A second bathroom to use. Cooking facilities. Etc.)

DO communicate very well and often with your contractor, and DON’T hinder their ability to work. That includes: Keeping kids and pets away from the job site. Moving all personal possessions out of the way before work begins. Being available to answer questions and allowing proper access to the site when needed to get the job done.

DO get all of your permits and permissions ahead of time.

DO allow time for the unexpected. If your home is more than 15 years old, who knows what your contractor will find when he starts tearing things apart. Don’t schedule your reno to finish the day before Aunt Jenny arrives from Winnipeg. Best laid plans can fall apart for unexpected reasons, ships sink, trucks break down and people… well I think you get the picture!



DON’T stress yourself and your family if it can be avoided. Renovating can and should be enjoyable. It is a renewing of your home. Allow enough time and plan for it to happen properly, and your project will be a success. When the renovator has packed up his tools for the last time, you’ve hung new curtains and artwork, and stood back to admire your beautiful new space, you want to have enough time left for yourself to enjoy the experience, maybe even to have a nap. Then it’s time to send out the invitations, knowing your home is ready to welcome and entertain your friends and family.