Updated: Jun 8
Bathroom remodeling projects can be exciting and transformative, but they can also be filled with delays and setbacks. Many homeowners are surprised by how long the process can take and the unexpected obstacles that arise during a project.
So, in this article, we will discuss some of the most common factors that can cause delays in a bathroom remodel and what you can do to minimize the impact.
If you check out the article “What goes into a full bathroom remodel, and how long does it take”, you can get a general idea of the steps that go into a bathroom remodel before we dive into the potential delays that can occur during the process.
Unfortunately, delays and setbacks are just a part of the remodeling process, but with the right information, the right planning, and the right contractor, you can mitigate, and even eliminate delays completely if the right actions are taken.
So, here are a few areas for you to be aware of.
Unforeseen issues: The initial project estimate is just that, the best guess based on what can be seen. Once the walls, floors, and ceilings are removed, there’s no telling what to expect. In a bathroom, the most likely culprits that delay a project and demolish a budget are things like wood rot, water damage, mold, and plumbing or electrical issues.
While in most cases these unforeseen issues are minor and should not affect the overall project, there are times when the damage can be significant. In these instances, you can potentially expect to tack on several days of work, plus some additional costs of labor and materials for the repair.
In order to manage these types of issues, it can be helpful to create a plan and a backup plan before the issue ever happens.
Also, a good contractor should take this into consideration when estimating the total cost and time frame of the project and planning out the project schedule.
Otherwise, the homeowner may be surprised when they get hit with an additional bill and delay down the road.
Permits and inspections: One of the least exciting, but still important parts of the process includes the approval of permits and getting someone out to the site to inspect certain parts of the job. Not all projects will require a permit or inspections, but if they do, delays could range from a couple of days to a couple of months. This is where a contractor should be diligent in planning ahead to avoid these types of delays.
If you’re not familiar with pulling permits, the process can potentially take weeks or even months to get approved. And without a permit, some jobs cannot even begin.
Then, in some cases, the job will also need to be inspected, meaning additional waiting time for the inspector to be scheduled and provide his or her sign-off.
So, be sure your contractor is aware of any permits necessary for your project, and that they plan accordingly to prevent any delays during this part of the process.
Subcontractors: Quite possibly the number one reason for project delays is subcontractors. A subcontractor is an individual or business that the contractor running the project hires to perform a certain task.
This could include general laborers, painters, tile installers, electricians, plumbers, and so on. They do not work for the contractor, but instead are hired on for specific jobs when needed.
Not all contractors use subcontractors, but more than likely, every major bathroom remodel should anticipate the need for a licensed and insured plumber and electrician.
Unfortunately, when these specialty subcontractors are on their own schedule and working for different contractors, it can become a challenge to get them scheduled at a time that is convenient for everyone. Not to mention, since they don’t work for the contractor, they aren’t always going to play by the contractor's rules.
So, don’t be surprised if it takes a couple of days to a couple of weeks to get subcontractors to come in and complete a task, especially if there are delays earlier in the project.
Materials and finishing decisions: As a homeowner who is investing a lot of time and money into a new bathroom, you want to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want.
The challenge is when there is indecisiveness, delayed decisions, or changes made throughout the project. Some of the overall design decisions impact how the bathroom is built, what materials are needed to complete the installation, and so on.
For instance, if you wait too long to select a tile, and the one you want is on backorder for 6 weeks, it’s likely your project will also be delayed because other tasks can’t be completed until the tile is installed.
Or, if you decide you want to install a special light fixture in a different location after the walls have gone up, you’re going to end up with a delay and additional expenses redoing the work, getting the electrician back out again, and buying more materials to complete the task.
So, keep in mind that if you want to make changes or save decisions for later on in the process, it could impact the project time and cost.
The thing about all of these factors is that they all affect each other. So if you run into unforeseen issues that require additional work, it’ll need to be completed before the plumber and electrician come by.
Which could push their scheduled time back by days or weeks depending on their availability. When their schedule gets pushed back, so does the inspection, then the drywall installation, then the tile installation, and everything else that follows.
It can be a true snowball effect that most homeowners are not expecting. So when it comes to your bathroom remodel, constant communication and collaboration between you and your contractor and/or designer are essential to ensuring these factors have a minimal impact on your project.
Here at Heartwood Homes, our goal is to plan ahead and account for these potential setbacks before they ever happen, so if and when they do, we can act on them promptly to avoid any major delays or increases to your budget.