How Long Does a Full Renovation Take? Understanding Iowa House Renovation Project Stages

Customers often ask us, "how long does it take to renovate a house?". The truth is that each project is unique and requires different amounts of time to complete. Whole home remodeling timelines depend on the scale, i.e. whether it's a cosmetic renovation, medium renovation, or a major overhaul — which can take from 6 months to a year.

As experienced home remodelers and custom builders, we've put together a simple guide to better understand the process and its general timelines, including how homeowners can help speed up the process. And remember, if you're considering a remodel, we're always happy to discuss your project at Zenith!

What Factors Influence the Schedule of a Total Home Renovation Project?

While most reputable contractors, including us, endeavor to try our best to remain on schedule, sometimes unforeseen circumstances can affect the completion date of whole house remodeling projects.


For optimal construction in Des Moines, dry and cool spring weather is the best. Building early in Spring allows for the completion of the foundation, framing, and home exterior before it gets hot.

Extreme swings in temperature, both hot and cold, impact how paint dries, while too much precipitation can cause mud and compromise foundations and flooring, as well as prevent the framing from going up.

However, once the foundation has dried and most of the work has moved indoors, outside weather won't influence scheduling as much. One thing to bear in mind is that building in winter is usually less expensive, and permits are approved faster because there is less demand.

Construction Permits and HOA delays

Getting a building permit isn't always easy. Even if your builder is super efficient and organized, there may be hold-ups or delays at the permit office that can delay the remodeling process. This could be because the permit office is dealing with a backlog, or someone from the Homeowners Association board has been out-of-pocket for a period of time.

Unforeseen Issues with The Current Structure

Occasionally, when demolition begins, issues arise that cannot be ignored, and dealing with them may delay your remodeling timeline. Mold and water damage, issues with plumbing systems, a cracked foundation, and low-quality workmanship are the most common, which, while never fun, aren't necessarily reasons to panic. At Zenith Design + Build, we have seen these issues before and know exactly how to handle them with minimal added time and expense.

Changes in Design

Changing design in the process of renovation

Most skilled builders can accommodate reasonable and minor design changes within a complete home renovation. However, if they are substantial and require more materials, manpower, or going back to the drawing board, this can be a serious budget-buster and cause building delays.

Whole Home Remodeling Timelines

A home renovation timeline varies according to the home's size and the scope of the project. The renovation schedule for smaller houses can take between 7 and 10 months to complete from discovery to the end of construction. Larger whole house remodels can take between 9 and 15 months if all goes according to plan.

At Zenith Design + Build, there are five steps that form part of the remodel schedule:

  • Discovery
  • First consultation
  • Design & proposal
  • Pre-construction
  • Construction

Stage 1: Choosing The Design-Build Company OR The Discovery Stage

During the discovery phase, you'll interview designers, contractors, and building firms like Zenith Design + Build to determine which company is suitable for your whole home remodel. This will give you an idea of design possibilities as well as cost. Depending on the number of interviews, this can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months.

We always advise prospective customers to interview several companies, so they're inspired by a range of ideas and gain a better insight into how different design firms would approach their homes. It's also important for homeowners to determine whether they gel with the company's designers and vision for their remodel.

Stage 2: Answering Your Questions OR The First Consultation

During a whole house remodel consultation with Zenith Design + Build, we provide the information customers need to feel comfortable moving forward with a design. During this phase, we discuss the desired project scope and ideas for the renovation and offer ballpark costs. To get the most from this consultation, we encourage you to:

  • Bring inspirational pictures from Pinterest, Houzz, or magazines, so we can see what your preferences are. 
  • Prepare questions. This may also help you discover design options you may not have considered and would like to include. 
  • Have a general idea of your budget. Home remodels can become expensive, so it’s important to do your research and be realistic about your budget. Bring this number to your consultation, so we know what to work with and can suggest affordable ideas. 

Once we have answered all your initial questions, we'll move forward with a design plan. On that note, it's critical, to be honest with us if you don't like a suggestion or design solution. We know for homeowners that a remodel is a sizable investment and want them to be happy with their choices. If they're not 100% certain about something, we always encourage them to let us know, so we can propose an alternative. A well-planned renovation is the goal.

Stage 3: Designing Your Dream OR The Design & Proposal Stage

Design discussion between the contractor and clients

The timeline for the design phase is about 5 or 6 weeks, but it depends on your participation. During this phase, you'll work directly with a designer to determine the look and feel of your new space, from structure to interior walls to the very last detail. At Zenith Design + Build, we communicate via phone or in-person if you're comfortable and exchange emails.

Investing time during this phase is worthwhile, as you'll want to ensure you're 100% happy with your design. When you're satisfied with it, we'll meet you to go over the proposal and costs for the project based on the design. Once you're ready to move forward with us as your remodeler, we'll sign a construction agreement to ensure your project's construction begins and we complete it according to your home renovation timeline.

Stage 4: Dream Prep-Work OR The Pre-Construction Stage

At this stage, our project manager takes over. You can expect him to:

  • Work with your designer to finalize plans
  • Order the materials needed for your project
  • Schedule a team of our experts to work on your home
  • Update you on when construction is expected to start 
  • Meet with you before construction starts to ensure everyone is on the same page

This phase of the home renovation process can take 8-10 weeks, depending on how long it is needed to source materials, when you sign on for us to start the work, and a few other factors that can affect construction schedules. Keep in mind we may have to finish another clients' remodel before starting yours. For this reason, Jon will update you periodically as he begins to solidify your construction start date.

Stage 5: From Dreams to Reality OR The Construction Stage

We work tirelessly to make this day as exciting and stress-free as possible for all our customers. Our teams are efficient when construction starts, ensuring there are as few disruptions to your living space as possible.

Every complete home renovation takes a different amount of time to finish. Here's a rough estimate of what you can currently expect for basic projects:

  • Finishing a basement: 6 weeks 
  • Kitchen remodel: 8 weeks
  • Whole house remodel: 8 weeks
  • Building a backyard retreat: 6 weeks
  • Exterior home makeover: 4 weeks

Once your project is completed, we'll do a final walkthrough. It's unlikely, but if there are any issues after we've left the project, we'll return to fix it. All our work comes with a 5-year warranty. We'll also give you a call once a year to check that you're still happy with your remodel and there are no issues.

During this phase, when remodelers, vendors, and suppliers are busy working on completing your project, it is possible for your project to take a little longer than initially expected. While we work as quickly and carefully as possible, there may be unforeseen delays related to supply chains, for instance, and we ask you to allow for these leniencies that are not always within our control. We can guarantee, though, that you'll love your new home once it's done.

How You Can Help Speed Up Your Home Remodel Schedule

Ways to fasten the renovation process

While it's perfectly normal for a total home renovation to run one or two weeks over time, there are a few things homeowners can do to facilitate a smooth process and help decrease the remodeling timeline.

Understand the Lead Time

We encourage clients to spend time deciding upon materials during the planning phase and then come to a final design before the pre-construction phase begins. This enables us to order materials without indecision. Not knowing what you want will delay your remodeling timeline, as some materials take longer to ship and source than others.

Stick to the Original Plan

While some midway changes are possible, they will affect the remodeling project timeline. One way to avoid this is to involve your builder in the design phase or only sign off once you're 100% happy with the final plan. Because we have experience building custom homes and remodeling, we'll always advise what is best for your unique project. If you're unsure about something, it's better to take your time rather than rush a decision and regret it halfway through the build.

Have a Conservative Budget

It's always a good idea to budget for an additional 5%-10% above your total home renovation budget. This gives contractors some wiggle room to adjust the scope if something does go wrong without you needing to re-budget the entire project, which merely delays things. Re-budgeting can also snowball if you need to change or cancel things to keep within budget.

Choose the Right Contractor 

Hiring a trustworthy contractor is the key

How long does a house remodel take? Inevitably, much longer if you choose a poor contractor. Because remodeling is expensive, it's understandable that homeowners sometimes pick cheaper contractors. However, if your builder is not at the forefront of every aspect of your home renovation, you may end up with a subpar job that is more expensive in the long run and your dream project will have turned into a nightmare project. Always seek a company that is transparent and has a  robust track record.

The Zenith Way

Given the current surge for custom home renovation projects, we recommend giving us a call 6 to 7 months before you want your home completed. We know this is relatively far in advance, as you likely want your remodel finished before that. But remember, at Zenith, we have a detailed process that gets the job done right the first time.

The pandemic has also affected all industries. As such, designers, vendors, and suppliers are incredibly busy attending to new and old projects that were previously delayed. In some cases, this adds time to the project preparation phase. And, our appointment calendar is busy too!

This means we're doing our best to serve all customers in each phase of the process. We don't like to do things in half-measures and give every project the time needed to ensure it is of high quality and goes according to plan.


How long does house renovation take? A few months at the very least, so if you are thinking of remodeling your home, then give us a call as soon as you start thinking about it. At Zenith, our team will help you make some early decisions about your renovation and also schedule your free consultation!

Zenith Design + Build is an award-winning custom home builder and remodeler based in Des Moines. We help homeowners transform their space into something they're proud to live in, whether it's an addition or a whole home remodel. If you're looking to remodel your home, reach out to us today!


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