How Long Does It Take?

No two contractors are the same and no two regions are the same, but wholesome information is always of value. Estimating how long an action or activity then, varies from contractor to contractor, and locale to locale. A contractor that specializes in remodels is going to have a different experience from a contractor that specializes in new construction, and a contractor in New York City is going to have a different experience from one in Springfield, Mo.

Having made my caveats, the following chart, from the syndicated columnist Tim Carter, is based on his experience completing a 400 sq.ft. single room addition. Your experience will no doubt vary, but Carter’s estimates, though general, are an excellent place to start.

The importance here is not Carter’s chart in and of itself; rather that he took the time to collect the data from which to make the estimates in the first place . . . good for him!

So . . . here are Carter’s estimates for the time certain tasks may take:

Planning – All Aspects 80 Hours
Building Permit 6 Hours
Survey/Stakeout 8 Hours
Site Clearing 12 Hours
Excavation 24 Hours
Footings/Foundations 40 Hours
Footing Drain Tile & 1″ Gravel Cover 8 Hours
Downspout Drainage System 12 Hours
Termite Control 4 Hours
Structural Steel 6 Hour
Rough Grading 14 Hours
Excess Dirt Off-site Removal 12 Hours
Gravel 12 Hours
Interior Concrete Slabs 16 Hours
Demolition 40 Hours
Asbestos Removal 12 Hours
Lead Abatement 12 Hours
Rough Carpentry 80 Hours
Backhoe Work 12 Hours
Roofing 20 Hours
Heating/Ventilating/Air Conditioning 40 Hours
Plumbing 40 Hours
Electric 36 Hours
Phone/Computer/Cable TV Wiring 12 Hours
Security/Fire Alarm Wiring 8 Hours
Insulation 12 Hours
Drywall/Plastering 40 Hours
Windows 16 Hours
Exterior Doors 8 Hours
Exterior Carpentry 24 Hours
Masonry 36 Hours
Stucco 40 Hours
Vinyl Siding/Trim 24 Hours
Gutters/Downspouts 12 Hours
Exterior Painting/Staining 24 Hours
Exterior Sidewalks/Patios 24 Hours
Interior Trim 24 Hours
Interior Doors 12 Hours
Built-in Cabinetry 16 Hours
Interior Painting 50 Hours
Wall Coverings 16 Hours
Hardwood Flooring 32 Hours
Carpeting 16 Hours
Linoleum/Vinyl Tile 10 Hours
Ceramic Tile 24 Hours
Kitchen Cabinets 24 Hours
Bath Cabinets 4 Hours
Kitchen Counter Tops 4 Hours
Bath Counter Tops 2 Hours
Laundry Room Cabinets & Tops 6 Hours
Appliances 8 Hours
Plumbing Fixtures/Fans 12 Hours
Lighting Fixtures/Fans 12 Hours
Mirrors 6 Hours
Hardware 10 Hours
Miscellaneous Fixtures 8 Hours
Specialty Shelving 6 Hours
Miscellaneous Allowance Items 12 Hours
Garage Doors & Openers 12 Hours
Driveway Apron (cleaning) 8 Hours
Driveway (restoration from trucks) 16 Hours
Final Grading 8 Hours
Landscaping 12 Hours
Debris Removal/Dumpster Fees 30 Hours
Construction Utilities 8 Hours
Final Cleaning 12 Hours
Weather Delays 24 Hours
Mistakes/Problems GC 32 Hours
Mistakes/Problems Subs 32 Hours
Tool Rental 12 Hours
Phone Ordering 16 Hours


Hanely-Wood Publishing does it again. The publishers at HW have a new magazine focusing on the high-end remodeling market. In their October ’06 issue is an article titled “Working With Consultants”. Since nobody can know it all, this is an excellent primer for contractors contemplating a consultant in their mix. Yes . . . I am partial to the article because I and a client were interviewed for the piece, but nevertheless . . . it’s a good read.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” -Michael McGriffy, MD.

How Long Do “Things” Last?

So . . . how long should a brand new refrigerator last? When a client asks how long your proposed new flooring will last, what do you say? When you are quizzed about electrical issues, how do you respond? You could say, “Look, why don’t you ask an electrician,” and risk insulting the client, or you might reply with, “Copper plated wiring, copper clad aluminum, and bare copper wiring are expected to last a lifetime. Electrical accessories and lighting controls are expected to last about 10 years.” That’s taken verbatim from the report . . .

In an NAHB study conducted in February this year (2007), they published a report titled Life Expectancy of Home Components. In that report, sponsored by Bank of America Home Equity, they published an unblinking collection of data every remodeler and home builder can use when answering tough questions from prospects. Having answers to these questions would, without question, differentiate a savvy, well-informed contractor from the run of the mill, unlicensed, door slammers competing for the same construction dollars.

Working with an informed client is always better than working for one who is second guessing you at every corner. Clients aren’t born with the knowledge they need to interact competently with you, and like the old saying goes, they don’t know what they don’t know. In fact they normally think they know a heck of a lot more than they actually do. It therefore falls within your realm to, in the process of setting expectations, educate them. Keeping up to date and well-informed yourself is, without question, the sanest path a contractor can take.

There are many reasons to belong to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), but if ever there was a single compelling reason to belong, it would be for the unfettered access to their research. To have access to this information is worth the price of membership alone.

The knowledge that we consider knowledge proves itself in action. What we now mean by knowledge is information in action, information focused on results. –Peter F. Drucker

One for the books . . .

NAHB recently predicted that an increasing number of couples are opting to sleep apart . . . well . . . I’m not so sure this is an idea whose time has come . . . at least not in my house.

The NAHB, National Association of Home Builders, recently reported that by year 2015, 60% of custom-built homes will contain two . . . separate, but equal . . . master suites. Others will opt for “special” sleeping nooks off a central master suite.

This has nothing to do with what two consenting adults may, or may not do in the privacy of thier bedroom, but actually has more to do with snoring, as well as the the need for late night emails and early trips to the gym.

So . . . why would I make mention of this? Next time you’re sitting with a client for a new home or preparing to add a spiffy master suite and you need an edge to make the sale, keep this mind. Tactfully handled. this subject might prove you a forward and innovative thinker . . . just the kind of contractor an upwardly mobile couple would want to take on thier next project.