Setting a Realistic Timeline for Your Kitchen Remodel

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, one of the first things you’ll need to do is set a realistic timeline. Rushing through a kitchen remodel can lead to mistakes, stress, and regrets down the road. Creating a thoughtful schedule upfront allows you to prepare properly and set expectations.

Table of Contents

Before you hire your own kitchen and bath contractor, we’ll walk through the 7 key phases of a kitchen remodel project and how long each stage typically takes. We’ll also provide tips to help you create a smooth-flowing kitchen remodel schedule.

Spacious U shaped kitchen with peninsula

1. Planning and Preparation: 2-4 weeks

Before calling in the contractors, the planning and preparation stage lays the groundwork for your entire kitchen overhaul. This upfront work makes a huge difference in how organized, efficient, and successful your remodel will be.

Determining the Scope of Work

The first step is deciding the scope of work – how extensive you want the renovation to be. Are you doing a minor kitchen remodel with new cabinets and countertops? Or a the complete gut job to the studs? The project scope guides all other planning and dictates how long the remodel will take.

  • A minor kitchen remodel often takes 4-8 weeks.
  • A major remodel involving structural changes may take 3-4 months.

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), the planning stage of a kitchen remodel can take between 2-8 weeks depending on the scope. Their guidelines recommend finalizing cabinetry specs 8 weeks before the installation date.

Take Measurements and Create a Floor Plan

Use a measuring tape to measure your existing kitchen layout. Sketch your kitchen footprint including windows, doorways, appliances, and fixtures. Having accurate dimensions in hand simplifies decision-making for the new kitchen design.

Gather Inspiration for Your Dream Kitchen

Spend time gathering inspiration from home magazines, Pinterest, model homes, kitchen showrooms, and photos from remodelers. Note the cabinetry, counters, backsplashes, floors, and styling elements you’re drawn to. This vision board helps narrow down choices and communicate with your contractor.

Interview Contractors and Lock in Your Team

Vet several general contractors and read reviews. Ask about their experience, process, pricing, and timeline capabilities. Make sure to get a detailed quote in writing before signing a contract.

Order Materials and Prep the Kitchen

Long lead time materials like custom cabinetry should be ordered 8-10 weeks out. Have your contractor help source all needed materials planned into the timeline.

Box up little-used kitchen items and designate temporary kitchen storage to streamline prep.

2. Hiring the Right Contractor: 2-3 weeks

Finding an experienced and reliable general contractor is critical for staying on track with your kitchen remodel. Discuss timeline capabilities upfront and look for these traits:

Strong Planning and Communication Skills

A firm kitchen remodel timeline relies on careful planning and coordination of cabinetry, counters, flooring, plumbers, electricians, and other sub-contractors. Look for a lead contractor who communicates promptly and has a fastidious approach.

Experience with Kitchen Remodels

Find a general contractor with at least 5-10 years focusing specifically on kitchen overhauls. They should be able to showcase beautiful finished kitchens in their portfolio.

Organized Project Management Process

Ask about their step-by-step process and capabilities for project management. Look for an orderly approach with shop drawings, 3D renderings, site supervision, and coordinated workflows.

Commitment to Staying on Schedule

Make sure to talk with the general contractor about how they stay laser-focused on timelines. Find someone who is transparent about lead times and proactive about keeping the project moving briskly.

Setup temporary kitchen for remodeling

3. Temporary Kitchen and Waste Management: 1 week prep

Before demolition day, you’ll need to set up a temporary kitchen to cook meals during the remodel. Safety protocols also need to be made to contain waste.

Designating Temporary Kitchen Space

Carve out space for a temporary kitchen away from the construction zone if possible. This might be a corner of the living room, basement, or garage fitted with:

  • Compact Sink – Have your contractor install a compact sink that can hook up to a nearby bathroom’s plumbing so dishes can be washed. Choose a small 12-16-inch sink that can be mounted to a sturdy surface.
  • Mini Refrigerator – Secure a compact 3-4 cubic feet mini fridge to store essentials like drinks, lunches, and fresh food. Carefully measure dimensions to ensure it fit your chosen space.
  • Countertop Microwave – A countertop microwave with about 1 cubic foot capacity reheats food quickly with minimal counter space. Ensure your electrical supply can handle the voltage.
  • Portable Induction Cooktop – Induction burners heat pans instantly for stove-like cooking without flames or installed gas lines. Easy to store away when not cooking.
  • Folding Table – A plastic 6-foot folding table creates a prep surface next to your sink and microwave for unpacking takeout and meal prep. Durable and easy to break down when the remodel finishes.

Having even this simple temporary kitchen helps prevent constantly needing to eat out or use disposable dishes during the 6-12 weeks of construction.

Meal prep will be simpler if you contain cooking to easy freezer meals, sandwiches, salads, and takeout.

Carefully Planning Waste Disposal

Your contractor should cart away large debris safely. Discuss how smaller waste will be contained and removed. Construction trash should never be left sitting in piles indoors or dragged through the home.

  • Provide tarps for collecting debris
  • Review tidy site maintenance protocols
  • Specify required dumpster rentals

4. Demolition: 2-3 days

Demo day is exciting since you can finally see old elements cleared out. But it also gets messy and requires health precautions.

Clearing Out Old Cabinets and Materials

The contractor will remove old cabinets, countertops, sinks, and floors and prepare the walls/ceilings down to the studs. Book at least 2-3 days for removal of existing kitchen components and materials.

Put Safety First During Demolition

Remodeling stirs up harmful dust and debris. Workers should contain dust spread using tarps and negative air machines. Family members should avoid the zone during active demos.

Inspect the Space

Walk through the empty kitchen space with your contractor so you fully understand the scope of work needed for plumbing, wiring, flooring, etc. This is easier to see once opened up.

5. New Kitchen Construction Begins: 6-8 weeks

The construction phase is when the physical transformation accelerates. You’ll start seeing new walls, windows, and structures going up.

Schedule Stacked Trades and Tasks

Meticulous coordination is vital so crews can complete tasks efficiently in the right order. Permits often dictate work sequences too.

  • Rough in new electrical and plumbing
  • Frame new walls/floors
  • Hang drywall
  • Paint
  • Install cabinets
  • Tile backsplashes
  • Hook up appliances
  • Install lighting fixtures

Build in Buffer Time

Inevitably issues crop up mid-project that can cause delays if not accounted for. Make sure the schedule builds in 7-10 “contingency days” for handling unexpected hiccups.

Common snags include:

  • Permit approval delays
  • Material shipment delays
  • Product damage replacement
  • Buried electrical issues
  • Rotted floors only visible during a demo
  • Appliance supply chain delays

The NARI advises building in a 10-15% cushion into the total project duration to account for potential hiccups in materials delivery, contractor scheduling, permits, and inspection delays.

U Shape kitchen with white cabinets

6. Finish Work: 3-4 weeks

The final month of your kitchen reno consists of exciting finish work like installing cabinets, countertops, fixtures, and decor.

Countdown for Cabinet Installation

Cabinet installation is the cornerstone of the kitchen layout and storage. Make sure to have countertop templates completed so new tops can go in shortly after.

  • Prep the cabinet boxes and position them properly, level and plumb
  • Allow 2-3 days for adjustments and hardware install

Modern kitchen style with granite countertops

Countertop Template and Installation

Expect 1-2 days for your countertop company to field measure and make cardboard templates for your cabinets. Actual countertop fabrication and installation typically takes 5-7 business days.

Flooring Goes Down Next

Now that cabinets and tops are placed, new flooring can be laid. Make sure to allow a few days for this, factoring in subfloor prep and grout cure times.

Finish Plumbing and Electrical

With surfaces covered, the contractor can complete hooking up sink plumbing, and stop at rough-in points for appliances, lighting, and outlets.

Paint, Trim, and Decor Finishes

Book 2-3 days for painters to coat walls/trim and install new trims like baseboards. Another few days for unpacking dishes and decorating.

A Punch List and Final Sign Off

Walk through the finished kitchen and create a punch list for the contractor to address. Ensure small fixes like paint touch-ups happen before the final payment.

7. Smart Investments: Consult 6-12 months

Will your time and money invested in a kitchen refresh pay off when it comes time to sell your home?

Real Estate Agent Consultation

Have an initial consultation with trusted real estate professionals 6-12 months before listing your home. Ask what updates could help maximize the eventual sales price.

Often a kitchen remodel that increases functionality, light, and storage capacity without overproving for the neighborhood does return investment dollars.

Understand Healthy Profit Margins

Minor kitchen remodels often recoup 75-85 cents per dollar spent in increased home sale prices. Major luxury renovations sometimes over improve so talk with your agent.

Focus Return on Investment with Future Enjoyment Too

While real estate value matters, also carefully consider what finished kitchen would you enjoy using daily. Finishes that just appeal to the masses may end up not fitting your family’s lifestyle anyway.

Traditional style kitchen with wood cabinets

Can You DIY a Quick Kitchen Refresh?

With careful planning, minor cosmetic upgrades like painting cabinets, switching hardware, or adding backsplash tile may be DIY-friendly on a tight timeline.

Gather Supplies Over Time

Stretch out supply purchases for a DIY reno over 2-3 months to ease kitchen remodel budget strain. Store items safely until project kickoff.

Set Aside 2-3 Weekends

Allot several full weekends for your targeted DIY facelift along with a few weeknights for detail work like grouting. Avoid rushing.

Be Realistic With DIY Skills

Consider hiring a handyman for tricky parts like installing new faucets or hanging wall cabinets level and secure. Protect your safety and finish your look.

Minor Remodel

For modest upgrades like cabinet resurfacing or quartz countertop overlays, ask your contractor about faster timelines by pre-ordering everything.

Discuss Condensed Timelines

See if contractors can orchestrate overlapping crews or consolidated trips to speed up projects in under 3 weeks by avoiding multiple visits.

Prep Areas Beforehand

Do upfront work like clearing countertops or removing old backsplashes. Roll back area rugs and move appliances before the pros arrive.

Confirm All Materials Are On-site

Your contractor should provide a timeline for when all specialty supplies like door fronts will be delivered so teams can work efficiently.


How long does a minor kitchen remodel take?

A minor kitchen update with new cabinets, countertops, and paint can typically be completed in 4 to 8 weeks.

What’s the timeline for a full kitchen renovation?

For a major overhaul involving layout changes, expect your kitchen remodel to take 12-16 weeks on average.

How much time should I spend on planning before demolition?

Spend 2-4 weeks upfront selecting materials, interviewing contractors, creating drawings, and securing permits. Rushing into demolition causes delays later.

How much extra time should I buffer into the schedule?

Build in an extra 7-10 days minimum as a buffer for potential delays in materials, permits, shipped items, and contractor schedules during your remodel.

When should I consult a real estate agent about home value increases?

Have an initial meeting with your real estate agent 6-12 months before listing your home to discuss the return on investment for various kitchen remodel options.


Remodeling your kitchen is an intricate blend of demolition, construction, finishes, and decor. Carefully mapping out the timeline for each phase sets the tempo for you and your contractor to work in harmony. Starting with 2-4 weeks upfront for in-depth planning and research prevents decisions from getting backed up mid-project.

Budget 6-8 weeks for the heavy lifting of structural work, utilities, surfaces, and trim. Finally indulge for 3-4 weeks to see all the elements beautifully come together in cabinetry, sparkling counters, stylish backsplashes, and light fixtures that reflect your personality. Build in some contingency buffers too for life’s inevitable surprises that pop up. If you invest diligently upfront in organizing your kitchen overhaul process with your contractor, the journey can be as satisfying as the stylish finished product.

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