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3 Custom items that might delay your remodel

By Hannah Casper, Houzz

It’s pretty well known that remodels can be time-consuming beasts. Whether you’re painting a bathroom yourself or hiring a team to gut your kitchen (or your whole house), there’s a fair amount of time involved. Time planning, time executing, time cleaning up afterward — time, time, time. And while every little part of a renovation involves a certain amount of time (I swear, I’ll stop saying “time” soon), there are certain items or phases that take longer than others. Here are the top three time sucks during a remodel.

1. Custom cabinetry. Having cabinetry that is fabricated to your exact specifications is a dream come true. Why, yes, I would like specialty storage for my wine glasses in the kitchen. And yes, I do want my bathroom vanity to have knee space and a hidden mirror so I can do my makeup in style. Sounds nice, right?

Well, nice comes with a price. And while customization like this is expensive moneywise, I’m talking about the “price” of how long it takes to build. In almost every remodel we do, we make sure all the details for the cabinetry are solidified before the start of the project. That way, the cabinets can go into production while we work on everything else leading up to their installation (demolition, framing, electrical work, sheetrock, painting — the list goes on and on).

After all, custom cabinetry is built from scratch. That’s what makes it so special — you have the option to specify every little thing about it. So make sure you communicate with your design team about planning accordingly to allow plenty of time to get the cabinets built and ready to be installed on schedule.

And speaking of specifying every little thing: If you request a specialty wood (I’m lookin’ at you, Macassar ebony!), it’s possible that your remodeler’s cabinet company might not keep it on hand, and it will have to source it. What does that mean? You guessed it — more time.

One of the longest cabinetry production times I ever witnessed was when a customer requested that we fabricate a rounded banquette that he had drawn out. Our cabinetmaker had never done anything of the sort before. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t willing to, it just meant that he had to take some extra time to gather the tools and equipment he needed to make the dream banquette a reality. Specialty furniture pieces like this are definitely time-suckers, but man, are they worth it.

2. Made-to-order windows and doors. We often see homeowners wanting to replace their old windows with newer, more energy-efficient models. I’m all for this. It helps insulate your house and enables your HVAC system to work more efficiently, both of which add up to money saved in the long run.

However, ordering replacement windows that will fit in the existing window opening can sometimes mean ordering specialty-size windows. (Sound familiar? This is in the same vein as custom cabinetry.)

Why might someone do this instead of opting for standard-size windows? Maybe it’s just the homeowner’s preference, but usually doing direct replacement windows like this means you won’t have to do any additional construction to reduce or enlarge the size of the opening.

However, made-to-order windows and doors don’t just mean direct replacement windows. There are some exceptionally cool accordion-style folding doors and massive sliders that, as you can probably guess, are manufactured on a case-by-case basis. Worth the wait? Definitely. But still, there is a long wait.

Related: When to Use Pocket Doors Instead

3. Lead times on specialty items. I know “specialty items” is a vague term, but there are plenty of items besides the big-ticket pieces listed above that can have lead times.

For example, if you or your designer has specified that your finishes on plumbing fixtures or hardware be something beyond the basic nickels and chromes and brasses, there’s a likelihood you’ll have to wait for them.

One finish that’s a little hard to find? Black nickel. It’s got a very sleek look, but black nickel pieces often need to be custom plated, as it’s not a standard finish. Another example that I’ve personally witnessed is a homeowner ordering hand-blown glass pendants to go above a kitchen island. They were gorgeous and totally fit the space, but there was a bit of wait for them, because, well, they didn’t exist before we ordered them.

You might be starting to see a pattern here. The more customized you make your remodel, the longer it can take. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want your future remodeled space to be the space you’ve always dreamed of — by all means, customize away.

Just be aware that remodelers may insist on starting the project a little later (so they can place the orders for specialty items before the project starts, in an effort to avoid lead times altogether), or they may have a little lag in work here or there.

Really, anything custom made requires careful scheduling to make sure that the lead times are built into the project, not an obstacle that stops the project entirely. No matter what, the end product will be worth it. Customization is what turns a standard cookie-cutter house into your dream home. After all, isn’t that the goal of a remodel?


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