How long does it take to renovate a house, what’s the process?

The Process

When you are looking at how long it takes to renovate a house, there are a few things you need to consider! In this topic we will talk about the various stages which affect how long it takes to renovate a house. 

The biggest thing you can do to reduce the amount of time it takes to renovate a house is to really understand the process from the beginning to the end. That way, you are able to undertake the phases concurrently and with no delays.

Don’t forget when all is said and done with your renovation, it will not be the length of time it took that you will remember, but how it turned out!

So keep your eye on the prize and don’t rush anything to the detriment of your overall vision.

The design process

This sounds like it should be achievable, but when we are looking at the time it takes to renovate a house, the design phase can be one of the longest. Who you choose as your design team and how clear you are on your outcomes will be key in this phase.

We would normally anticipate that the timeframes are upwards of three months for a renovation/extension.  The designer will need time to get measurements, this may involve getting a land surveyor to check the boundaries of the house and then using this information to create a design concept.

This design concept will then need to be developed with inputs from yourself after it has been pitched. A great designer might nail the brief first time. Generally there will be several iterations of design development along the way, and perhaps lots of thinking about what you want to create and achieve.

This is how some people end up in the design phase for several years. This stuff is tricky and important to get right. If you are designing for several years, then obviously this will cause the time it takes to renovate a house to blow out significantly!

You will then need to commit to the design, to sign off that this is the house/home of your dreams and you will be happy with building this and living there!

Depending on the level of documentation you need, you may then be required to do any of the following:

  • Go to planning.
  • Produce detailed design documentation.
  • Complete structural engineering documentation.
  • Complete a geotechnical survey.
  • There are many variations to this dependant on what you are doing including but not limited to heritage studies, traffic management reports, arborist reports, etc.

top tips for reducing the time it takes to renovate a house

  • Have your design outcome really clear. A list of what you would like to be including in each area. Must haves and nice to haves.
  • Understand the look and feel you are trying to achieve and put together a comprehensive mood board to keep your intent really clear.
  • Have a shortlist of designers you love. Make enquiries of them such as “how long their waitlist is”, “how long it generally takes their other clients to renovate a house” and “what the design phase looks like in terms of stages and timing”.
  • Understand the stages of the design process and what you need to have prepared for each one.
  • Understand how you are intending to build or renovate, so you know what level of documentation will be required.

The tender process

This seems simple enough and it can be, but it can also be a really hard stage of the process.

The things to think about are:

  • Who are you going to get to tender?
  • What are their lead times?
  • How many people will tender?
  • What level of documentation will I need for these types of builders/contractors/trades?
  • How long do they need to have the documents for to provide a price?
  • How will I know I am comparing apples with apples?
  • Who will run the tender, you or your architect, a project manager or designer.

The tender process is a really important stage that often gets overlooked as it is not as fun perhaps as the others! However, how you run your tender is both communicating to the builders and trades about your level of efficiency and effectiveness, as well as an opportunity to learn about them.

A whole separate topic is how to tender correctly. Think about the format you wish to receive the quotes back in. If you just allow everyone to submit in their own formats, it can be really difficult to read the information.

Sometimes, the tender that looks the most cost effective can end up being more expensive when reading through the details. They can also add more time to your overall build if there are underlying issues and no liquidated damages to ensure that the process is completed on time.

You will also need to determine the lead time with the builder you are looking at, as well as look at their overall construction time. Really good builders can book out a year or so in advance, and they will be looking to fill the next gap asap. This can be frustrating as a builder may be tendering 4 or 5 projects at once and only be able to take on one. They will be looking for the best fit, but also know that if they lock in and sign a contract, it may mean that they will need to pull out of other tenders.


The construction process is the amount of time the builder will be on site building. When we are thinking about how long it takes to renovate a house, this is the time that often comes to mind.

The amount of time it takes to renovate or build a house depends on the amount of work required and how big the team that are completing the work are. Sometimes the works seems really easy, but the sequencing is challenging.

As this is one area of the work that often blows out, you can do a few things to manage the project and the length of time it takes to renovate your house.

Some of the following might keep your build and renovation progress in check:

  • Understand the length of time in the contract to complete the work.
  • Review the construction program to see if it is realistic.
  • Know if there are any decisions that need to be made and when they need to be made by.
  • Understand the lead time on any fixtures and fitting that you are supplying and organise them to come to site in a timely manner.

Even with the best laid plans you should allow for some delays.

A top tip to understanding how long your renovation will really take is to speak to past clients who have built with your builder. Was the build or renovation completed on time, or were there delays?

The answer to these enquiries will help you understand how realistic the timeframe really is so you can understand the true time that it will take to renovate or build your home.

The defects period

The build does not often end at the handover of your brand new and amazing home! The hard work really ends when the defects end!

There are two phases to the defect period:

  • The first being before you move in.
  • The second irons out any of the inevitable teething issues that you are sure to have. Think small roof leaks, aircon settings, door handles or door catching… etc etc etc!

Before you move in you want to have as many of the main defects completed as once you do take possession, re-painting a wall or fixing a scratched door panel can cause much more inconvenience. However, realistically we also know that at the end of a build everyone is thinking “how long will this renovation take!?” and we are keen as mustard to get back into our homes!

Styling your house into a home

The final, and potentially fun for some phase is the styling and furnishing phase. Contrary to most renovation shows we see and sometimes the expectations we set.. The styling phase is not normally completed in 2 hours, but takes months and sometimes years.

This is actually the time to enjoy the fruits of your hard work and have fun with the styling. Enjoy the process of decorating the home you have created.

Some overarching principals!

To recap, how long does it take to renovate a house?? Well this depends on so many, many factors as we have outlined above… but generally speaking:

Design Process: 3 months to 2 years.

Tender Process: 2 months to 4 months.

Construction Process: 3 months to 2 years.

Defects: Negligible to 6 months.

Styling: Is this ever really finished?!

We know the above is really vague as there are so many variables!

But to give you a great guide, Rebeka will design in three months and build a smaller renovation in three to 6 months. A larger house will be 6 months in design and a one year build. Where do you think you will sit? Kribashini has been on the renovating room by room and project by project cycle for several years now.

Whatever your path, know that you are not alone!

If you haven’t yet taken the first steps in your renovation and need some advice, become a BuildHer today by joining Here.

If you would like to Develop for Profit, book in a call with Rachel Here.

Related Articles