How long does a major remodel take from start to finish in Seattle?
Whole-house remodels in Seattle can take a year or more, depending on several factors.
So you've just purchased a new Seattle home that badly needs a gut renovation, or you're finally ready to update the home you've lived in for decades. Perhaps you've already started gathering ideas online or from your favorite home renovation TV shows. But one question remains: Just how long will it take to plan and complete your project? You may be in for a shock.
In our experience, doing a major, whole-house renovation in Seattle can take longer than most homeowners expect. In fact, if you count the time from the initial meetings in which you choose a designer to the final item getting crossed off the punch list, the process can stretch to 12 months or even more. Here are the factors that make a whole-house remodel a long process and a few tips for making it as quick as possible.
How long does it take to choose a designer for a whole-house remodel?
Allow a month or two to properly vet and choose a designer for your remodel.
A gut renovation is one of the most involved home projects imaginable, and your designer will be integral to its success and your ultimate satisfaction with your remodeled home. It's vitally important that you take your time in choosing a designer with whom you communicate well and who understands your vision. If you haven't already, I highly recommend that you read our Guide to Hiring a Remodeler, which includes questions you should ask as you choose a designer. Take your time and really get to know the company you are considering working with. You will thank yourself later.
How long does it take to design your remodel?
The time it takes to create the plan documents for a remodel depends on the firm you are working with. Factors include if they have a cue to get started, how refined their process is, how complicated the project is, what level of detail is included in the specifications, how available you are for meetings, how quickly you can make decisions, etc. In general, you should count on two to six months for design. If you've never remodeled a home before, you will probably be surprised at how many decisions there are to make. Designing a home remodel is definitely a process you do not want to rush, and the time you spend with your designer choosing layouts and finishes helps ensure that you will be happy with the final result.
How long does it take to get a building permit in Seattle?
From start to finish, it can take six, seven, or even eight months for Seattle to issue a building permit.
The process has several phases:
- Apply for a project number (2 weeks): Your designer will submit a site plan and a brief overview of the proposed project to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI). They may send an inspector out to your home to confirm that the information is accurate.
- Set an intake date (2 to 4 months): Seattle has been experiencing a building boom, and there is currently a backlog of building permit applications, not to mention some major hang-ups with the recent launch of their new computer system. Once you have a project number, you will be able to schedule an intake, which will be the day your designer can submit your complete set of plans for review.
- Plan review (2 weeks to 2 months): SDCI staff will carefully review your building plans to make sure they are in compliance with all relevant building and safety codes.
- Revisions (1 to 4 weeks): In almost every case, the city will request at least one round of corrections to be made to the plans. Depending on how full your designer's schedule is and how complicated the corrections, expect to wait a week or two while plans are revised to meet code. The city will then take another week or two to review the revised plans. This back-and-forth can sometimes continue for several rounds, especially on complicated projects.
- Permit issued: Once your designer makes all the requested changes and submits the final set of plans, the city will request payment for permit fees, and, finally, issue your permit.
How long does construction take for a major remodel in Seattle?
Generally, the construction phase of a major remodel will be three to five months.
Many homeowners are surprised to find out that the building of their project is actually quicker than the design and permitting phases. Of course, this depends greatly on how organized and focused your builder is and the degree to which you can stick with your original plan and design choices. Most reputable builders will create a detailed schedule of the construction process and share it with you. One factor that can slow down construction is a subcontractor that does not complete work on schedule. That is why it is important to choose a general contractor or design-build company that has established long-term relationships with reliable subcontractors. Important subs, like plumbers and electricians, are in high demand these days, which is why building can sometimes take a little longer in Seattle than it might in other cities.
Ready to take the first step?
If you are considering a whole-house remodel or addition, we would be happy to discuss your vision with you. Feel free to contact us to start the conversation. Another great place to start is with our Guide to Hiring a Remodeler, which outlines the various approaches to getting your project designed and built and includes helpful worksheets and checklists. I also encourage you to check out our Additions Pricing Guide.