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7 Things That Slow Down Construction

Even the most organized and responsive contractor can encounter problems and delays once the walls have been opened and supplies have been ordered.

Welcome Homes
/ Jan 31, 2022 / 4 min read
Whether it’s a luxurious primary bathroom, a shiny new kitchen, or a complete home renovation, the idea of a newly remodeled space is exciting and filled with possibilities. But before you begin any remodeling project or home construction, it’s crucial to understand what needs to be in place and what challenges can arise before the first sledgehammer is lifted. Even the most organized and responsive contractor may encounter problems and delays once the walls have been opened and supplies have been ordered.

Here are seven of the most common issues that slow down construction, and tips on how to avoid them.

Communication

When meeting with prospective contractors, it's essential to note how comfortable you feel talking to and communicating with them. You’ll be spending a lot of time with each other, going back and forth via email, phone, and in-person, so it’s crucial that you can communicate effectively with each other. Beyond the obvious specifics about cost and timing, make sure you’re asking questions like:
  • How will you manage the project?
  • What is the payment schedule?
  • What can I do to help avoid delays?
  • Will you be onsite frequently?
  • What is the best way to communicate with you?

Budget

It's not enough to have an estimate of what you're going to spend. You need a firm, detailed budget that clearly lays out every dollar you’re spending and on what. There’s no amount too small to include in your budget—it may seem like overkill now, but when you’re in the thick of it and trying to determine whether you can spend more here or cut back there, you’ll appreciate the preliminary attention to detail.

You’ll also want to include a cushion in your budget for surprises that might come up, including mold, termites, and leaking pipes. 

READ: How Long Does it Take to Build a New House?


Decide how you’re going to pay for the work well before you begin. If you’re planning to use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a home renovation loan rather than savings, get your financing approved before talking to contractors. Waiting for approval can delay the start, and your contractor may accept other projects that have their money in order. This could push yours further and further back in their calendar.

Home renovations can cost $10 to $150 per square foot, depending on the cost of supplies, the quality of appliances and fixtures, and the intricacy of the design finishes. Do your research, set your budget, work backward into the details, and avoid costly delays down the road.

Permits

Permits are a necessary but tedious part of the construction process, and depending on your municipality’s timeline, scheduling, and backlog, permitting can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to be completed and delivered. Since your project can’t legally begin without the proper permits in place, it’s crucial that you leave plenty of time for this step.

Make sure you know exactly what permits are needed for your particular project. Some municipalities require approval by environmental commissions, historical groups, or other entities that are meant to keep community development safe and visually appealing. Once you know what’s needed, you’ll have to prepare the permit applications with all supporting documentation and application fees.

Unlike some of the other items on this list, there’s nothing you can do to speed up the permitting process. Some contractors are better connected with these committees or regulators and might have a slight advantage in getting your permits bumped up in line; you should ask about this during the interview process.

You’ll also want to budget for permits. According to Home Advisor, they can represent anywhere from 2 – 18% of the total cost, depending on where the project is located.

READ: Here’s How a New Home is Built


Change Orders

Once your project starts, the slightest change can cause significant delays. A change order is any amendment to a construction contract that changes the scope of work. Even something seemingly small can snowball into a larger project and add significant time to your timeline. Let's say you picked a refrigerator before construction began, but now you've decided that you want one that's two inches wider. That extra two inches may not seem monumental, but the change means that the countertops that have already been cut need to be recut (or replaced). Cabinets being built may need to be changed, and the outlets that have already been installed may need to be moved. That’s a lot of change and a lot of time (and money) added.

Bottom line? Take the time to give your plans plenty of thought before making decisions and placing orders. If you aren't confident in your ability to choose design elements, hire an interior designer to advise you.

Of course, not all change orders are a result of you changing your mind—they might be the result of something that you can’t control, like errors in plans and drawings, lack of labor, and material shortages.

Scope

Once you've opened up your walls and ceilings, you and your contractor may decide to upgrade old electrical wiring, install an additional window, or take down a wall that you’d originally planned to keep. Additions to a project are expected during construction, and contractors are usually okay with minor adjustments but be aware they can extend the timeline. (See “change order” above.)

Supply Chains

Unfortunately, supply chain problems can significantly impact the progress of your home remodel. There's little anyone can do to change delivery timelines on items like appliances, bathroom fixtures, imported tile, or solid surface countertops. If possible, order appliances and other big-ticket items early in the process—as soon as you have blueprints. That gives you a better chance of them being on-site in time.

Weather

As is true of supply chain problems, you can't fix weather delays. Not only is it inconvenient to have your project completion date pushed back because of rain or snow, it also means lost wages for your contractor, their team, and sub-contractors. Nobody likes a weather delay.

Welcome Homes handles all permitting, hiring, and ordering. You move in six months later. Let's chat.

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