Five common delays to watch for in remodeling projects

When it comes to remodeling projects, one thing you can almost always depend on is that there will be delays. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, and be sure to leave room in your plans for the inevitable issues that come up during projects big or small.

No matter how experienced you are, or how much effort you put into planning, things can and will go wrong. But if you know what to watch for, and how to be ready for it, you’ll be better able to get your project back on track as soon as possible.

As a Real Estate Consultant with more than 30 years as a licensed Realtor in Arlington, Virginia, I’ve watched many of my clients remodeling and building projects and noticed a few issues that universally cause delays. Here they are:

Permit Delays

When it’s time to remodel or make improvements to your home, one thing you must take into account right from the start is whether you need a permit. Permits are crucial to ensure changes to your home are on record with the county, and permits ensure inspectors will check for any problems along the way. (Check out “Do I need a permit for my remodeling project” to learn more).

If permit offices are understaffed or overwhelmed with a high number of requests (a likely possibility), getting the permits you need can take a while. Plus, if your contractor doesn’t have all the necessary materials on hand such as plans or documents, more delays can happen. Plan ahead and know what you need for your permits and you’ll hopefully head off this potential delay before it can happen.

Pre-existing conditions

Unplanned problems can happen if hidden problems reveal themselves during the project. Things like rot, mold, asbestos, insect damage, and poor construction, often can’t be seen until you’re in the middle of the project, and they will have to be addressed before the project can move on. These will add time and money to your project, but if you talk to your contractor, get a clear idea of the work needed and expected time frame, you can adjust your plans and continue on the right path.


Here in Arlington, Virginia, residents are able to enjoy all four seasons. However, this means that sometimes our weather can be unpredictable, and as much as you try to plan ahead and listen to your local forecaster, no one can predict the weather with 100 percent certainty. Rain, snow and windy days can all affect the work being done for your remodel project. Things like pouring concrete, painting, and working on a roof can be delayed by inclement weather. When this happens, ask your contractor if there are alternate tasks that can be addressed to maximize efficient use of their time. If not, take a mental break, and be prepared to get back to work as soon as the weather turns for the better.

Wait times and back orders

If your contractor asks you to start making decisions at the very beginning of the project on things like paint colors, plumbing fixtures, lighting and tilework, listen to him. Often these items must be ordered ahead of time and the wait until they are delivered can delay a project if ordering is put off too long. Back orders and delivery issues are often a problem as well, causing delays while waiting for the products to be fulfilled. When planning for your project, do your research and make your selections ahead of time and it’ll pay off in saved time.

Communication Issues

Clear communication with your contractor through the life of the project should probably have been the very first thing I mentioned. Everyone will have certain expectations for the timing of the project. It’s important to sit down with your contractor and review the project in detail from start to end to avoid surprises. Understand what your responsibilities are throughout the project. Agree on the best method of communication for all parties, whether it’s email, texting, or phone calls, and stick to it.

Preparing for the inevitable is the best tactic to take for a successful remodeling project. It’s normal to expect the contractor you’re working with to provide and stick to a schedule. But it’s also important to be prepared for the possibility of speed bumps and how to navigate them for a successful experience overall.