Why Projects Take So Long

If you’re anything like me, I want the HGTV way when it comes to projects: done in 20 minutes for $20.That literally NEVER happens. Like, ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re a DIYer, or you’ve hired the pros to complete a project for you, no doubt you’ve been frustrated by the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point D (D as in DONE). I’m frequently on both sides of this dilemma, as a do-it-myselfer AND a general contractor, but that doesn’t mean I’m never surprised or frustrated by how long a project takes. Here are my takes on what some of the biggest holdups are when it comes to projects, construction projects in particular. (You can read my hilarious take on what it’d be like to date a construction project here).

  1. Unrealistic timeline: Yeah, sorry. I know it’s not technically a REASON a project is held up, but I have to start here. If someone doesn’t have a good idea from the get go how long a project will take, that will create some serious frustration when it doesn’t happen like you expect. Managing my own expectations and the expectations of our clients is one of my biggest jobs! I want just as badly as my client to see a kitchen remodel happen from start to finish in one month, but that is wildly unrealistic. Here’s my advice: whatever your time estimate is, add 30%. Then still be prepared to run into snags along the way.

  2. Contractors schedules: As a consumer, I totally get the frustration of the unreliability of a contractor’s schedule, but as a contractor, I totally get the frustration of the unreliability of a project schedule. You never know before you bust open a wall what the bones look like. If you go in for a minor cavity repair, when the dentist actually gets in there and sees that you really needed a root canal, it’s just going to take longer and cost more. Unless your contractor is Superman and has 20/20 x-ray vision, be patient. There is also a very tricky part of scheduling that isn’t often thought of: because of the unpredictability of some projects, if the general contractor has to take more time on something, then it’s likely that the opening they had scheduled with the plumber or electrician will be shifted as well. They might not have another opening for a while, and this can be just as frustrating for the contractors as it is for you. Here’s my advice:

  3. Materials availability: This JUST happened to me with some lighting for our store: I placed the order for the recessed lighting, and the estimated ship date was the end of the month. Bummer, but I could (and had to) wait for 3 weeks. A few days before the ship date, I got an email saying the delivery was delayed for A MONTH. The delay in lighting materials pushed back the electricians installation, which pushed back when we can actually get in our store. Boo. Sometimes things are backordered. Or out of stock from the time you picked it to the time you buy it. Sometimes not quite enough materials are ordered but when you go to order more it’s discontinued. The frustrating possibilities are endless!

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