When it comes to remodeling a home, you can just about bank on minor problems occurring. One of the most common issues I run into as a designer is maintaining deadlines with all of the contractors and people involved in the process. Deadline extensions are as common as houseflies—and just as annoying. I’ve remodeled a number of homes and spaces during my career, and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a project that didn’t require an extension for some aspect of the work that needed to be done. Missing deadlines can be a stressful part of any home project, but I have discovered a way to alleviate that stress for myself with design assignments. Here’s my simple process:

Take your deadlines, and throw them out the window. 🙂

I’m only halfway kidding. Staunch deadlines do need to be discarded and replaced with a flexible timeline. This system should give space for meeting your earliest deadline, but it should also present a realistic worst-case deadline that you can live with. Here’s how I plan my timeline:

If I have a project that I believe should take three months, I automatically map out three deadlines that I can expect (or live with, at the very least). The first is the best-case scenario: having the project done in three months. Next, I double the deadline to six months; that’s an achievable deadline that I can live with, should I need that time because of unexpected problems that may occur. Finally, I take my second deadline and add half of that time for my worst-case deadline. In this case, that would be 6 + 3, so my ultimate deadline would be nine months for this project.

This process will help planners in several ways. First, it will build in some safety nets for projects; there’s nothing worse than only having a Plan A without anything to fall back on. Second, having plans B and C will prevent unnecessary stress, headaches and worry. Alternative timelines force planners to consider the “what if” that oftentimes goes unanswered in only hoping for the best outcome. It’s great to shoot for the ideal, but it will always be wisdom to consider unforeseen mishaps that Murphy’s Law can heap upon your plans.

So what have I learned over the years about remodeling deadlines? Anticipate delays (more than one), give yourself several extensions, be extremely flexible and fluid, and prepare for the unknowns as much as possible. Unrealistic expectations create stressful working conditions for everyone involved, which can be detrimental to the success of your project and team. With an understanding of what to expect in tow, redesigning your space can be a rewarding experience.

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