By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

Believe it or not, if you want to remodel next summer, you better start planning today. We can’t tell you how many people call us each spring hoping to begin (and complete!) construction in the summer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

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Planning well in advance and employing the right professionals allowed the owners of this master suite to remodel their bath, above, and bedroom, below left, in just six months.

We had a client call in March, determined to finish in June. It’s now August and the room has a month or two to go. Another client called us in the summer of 2003 wanting to start construction that fall. It actually took until the summer of 2004 to finish the planning, and construction just finished in summer 2005.

It’s no fun for clients or for us when a misunderstanding of the time involved dashes their hopes of a quick remodel. In reality, you should begin working on the design at least three to six months before you want to start construction. Here are the steps involved and the time you should allow.

The first phase usually takes 4-6 weeks. This includes meeting with your architect to discuss your goals, time for the architect to design several options, meeting again to discuss the options and budget implications, and time for you to decide which plan to use. If you do not have existing plans for your home, plans will need to be drawn up and that adds another week or two.

Once you have considered your options and made your decision, the final floor plan and elevations must be drawn, and the permit drawings executed. At the same time, the outline specifications are prepared. This involves choosing the materials and finishes, such as windows, countertops, fixtures and flooring. Allow about 4—12 weeks for exploring magazines, catalogs, showrooms and the Internet.

If you have not already selected a contractor, you should interview several, find out when your project will fit into their schedule, and have them submit bids. The contractor will need your completed plans and specifications before he or she can compile a bid. Allow at least 2-3 weeks for the contractor to prepare a bid and a week or two to analyze the bids and make your selection.

The plans must also be submitted to the city to obtain a building permit. Allow 2-4 weeks for the review process and another 1-2 weeks for submitting any changes they may require. With your building permit, you are ready to begin construction. Actual construction time will depend on the size of your remodel.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but we promise if you allow yourself plenty of time during the planning and design phase, the construction phase will be much smoother, and you will get the remodel you are hoping for, when you are hoping for it. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at as*@re*******************.com.

Allow plenty of lead time for that remodeling project