Reading time: 8 minutes

How long do home renovations take?

Ready to renovate and want to know how long different projects take on average? Let's take a look at what to expect when transforming your home.

Guest Author
Words by: Matilda Battersby


A crack team of builders might be able to storm in and finish a renovation project in no time, because they have the skills, tools and suppliers at the ready.

Equally, you might be doing it yourself and learning on the job, which could take longer. But the extra time might well save you money and the result might be exactly what you want.

For a ballpark idea on timings, here’s what you need to know:

  1. How long does it take to renovate a kitchen?

  2. How long does it take to renovate a bathroom?

  3. How long does it take to renovate a bedroom?

  4. How long does it take to renovate a living room?

  5. How long does it take to renovate a garden?

My Home: track your home's value

Discover how much your home could be worth, track its changing value over time and find out what homes in your area have sold for.

1: How long does it take to renovate a kitchen?

A couple working on a brand new renovated kitchen

Depending on the scale of your project, renovating a kitchen can take anywhere between 2-3 weeks to 4-5 months.

Let’s break it down:

Refit keeping the original layout - 2-3 weeks

Even if you're keeping the original layout, removing the floor and units in the hub of your home is a big deal.

And if you're re-wiring for new lighting, be prepared to add a few extra days.

  • Removing old units - 2-3 days

  • Taking up old flooring - 2 days

  • First fix electrics - 2-3 days

  • Lighting installation - 2 days

  • Plaster work - 2-3 days

  • Installation of new units and worktops- 2-3 days

  • Installation of appliances - 1 day

  • Second fix electrics - 1-2 days

  • Painting and tiling - 3-4 days

Refit with a new layout - 4-5 weeks

If moving pipes is involved, for example shifting the sink or washing machine, or re-wiring is required, allow an extra 2 weeks.

Walls will need to be replastered after electrics are chased in at the first fix.

Extension and refit – 8-16 weeks

An extension is always going to take a fair chunk of time and you should allow three to four months for a big project like this.

You may need planning permission for your project, and in most cases, it takes around 8 weeks for a local authority to grant it.

The permission lasts for around three years from the date it’s granted.

Submit a planning application

But not every home or garden improvement needs planning permission.

There are plenty of projects that can be done under what’s known as ‘Permitted Development Rights’.

These fast-track rules created by the government allow a host of alterations to be done without the hassle of having to make a full planning application.

Planning permission isn’t needed for:

  • Single story extensions up to 6 metres on terraced and semi-detached homes

  • Single story extensions up to 8 metres on detached homes

  • Extensions up to 4 metres in height, or 3 metres if it’s within 2 metres of a property boundary

  • Double height extensions up to 3 metres, as long as it’s no closer than 7 metres to the property boundary

  • The extension mustn’t cover more than half of the garden

  • And must be built in similar materials as the original building

Even if you don't need full planning permission, you will need building regs approval.

Building regulations approval is different from planning permission, so it's possible to need both for a project.

Apply for building regs approval

And that's before you've even thought about digging foundations.

“Kitchen extensions can vary depending on the size, complexity and access, but generally allow eight to 16 weeks,” Tamsin Bryant, architect at ABL3 Architects.

“Lead times on ordering windows might mean builds have longer programs to accommodate the delivery of larger items.”

2: How long does it take to renovate a bathroom?

An ordinary bathroom renovation project is estimated to take around six weeks to complete.

That includes removing your existing bathroom features, plumbing, re-wiring and installing new electrics, replastering, re-tiling floors and walls and painting.

But if you don't need to go the whole hog, there are ways to trim that time down.

Refresh tiles and paint - 1 week

The cheapest and fastest way to refresh a bathroom is to keep your existing bathroom features and flooring.

If the loo, sink and shower or bath are in reasonably good condition, then a bathroom makeover can be done in around a week.

Refreshing wall tiles, a lick of paint and hanging new mirrors can work wonders with a small budget in a short time frame.

Replacing sanitaryware, tiles and paint – 3-4 weeks

If you're after a new look and style for the smallest room in the house and want to install new bathroom features, here's what to allow for:

  • Removing the sink, loo, shower/bath and tiles - 1 week

  • Installation of new pipes - 2-3 days

  • First-fix electrics - 3-4 days

  • Replastering walls 1-2 days

  • Laying new flooring - 2-3 days

  • Installing a new sink, loo and shower/bath - 1 week

  • Tiling the walls - 2-7 days (depending to tile size - the bigger the tiles, the faster the job)

Discovering a rotten board under the floor and having to deal with leaking pipes are common during bathroom renovations. So be ready to factor the extra time in.

Complete refit moving everything around – 6 weeks 

If you want to shift the arrangement for the loo, sink and bath around, your renovation is going to take longer.

A bathroom layout is largely dictated by the location of the soil pipe. So unless you want things to become very costly, try and keep your toilet close to where it was before.

You’ll need to allow extra time to move pipes and to deal with any surprises which might occur when everything has been ripped out.

Installing a bathroom into a new room – 6 weeks

It can be time-consuming and costly to add a bathroom into an environment not previously known to plumbing and soil pipes.

Installing a loo in a new location usually means some external digging and the laying of a new soil pipe, which will add a good couple of weeks onto your renovations.

Building regs approval will also be needed for any bathroom work that involves:

  • installing a completely new bathroom, en-suite or cloakroom (for example if you're transforming a cupboard under the stairs into a WC - as new drainage is involved)

  • relocating existing bathroom appliances by more than a few centimetres

  • installing a new soil and vent pipe (the vertical pipe connecting the new bathroom fittings to the drains) or new connections to it

  • installing a new electrical circuit

And regarding draining, if you're planning to build a wet room, the gradient/fall of the floor will need to be steep enough so that the water drains away, and the pipes will need to work correctly to stop water pooling.

If you use a Competent Person, they can self-certify the work that comes under the scope of the building regulations.

Otherwise you'll need to make a building regulations application to your local authority.

3: How long does it take to renovate a bedroom?

Light refresh: filling and painting walls - 1-2 weeks

The great news about bedroom renovations is that they can be as fast as those shows on television where they transform an interior over a weekend.

If you don't need to steam off layers of old wallpaper and you’re happy to keep your existing plaster, then a light sand, some fast-drying filler for any cracks and then the application of a good quality paint should work wonders.

If some hard-graft wallpaper scraping is needed, allow an extra couple of days.

Here's what's involved:

  • Removing old wallpaper - 2-3 days

  • Sanding down skirting boards and door frames - 2-3 days

  • Filling and sanding walls and ceiling - 3-4 days

  • Painting - 2-3 days

  • Installing new carpet - 0.5 days

If your ceilings don’t pass muster, remember to sort those out first. This will add an extra day or so because, let’s face it, our arms get tired painting and sanding ceilings. 

A new carpet or pulling up fitted carpets and sanding down floors can also provide relatively quick wins when it comes to creating your perfect sleeping space.

Add some fantastic pictures, replace your bedding, source a vintage mirror and a gorgeous rug and it’s time to get a good night’s sleep in your new haven.

Major overhaul – 2-3 weeks

If you’re taking things to another level then allow an extra week or so for re-wiring and pipework for new radiators.

  • Removing old wallpaper - 2-3 days

  • Sanding down skirting boards and door frames - 2-3 days

  • First-fix electrics - 1-2 days

  • Installation of a new radiator - 1 day

  • Replastering walls and ceiling - 1-2 days

  • Second-fix electrics - 1 day

  • Painting - 2-3 days

  • Bespoke fitted wardrobes (3 weeks to build, 1-2 days to install)

  • Installation of new carpet - 0.5 days

Once your newly plastered walls are done you can start thinking about painting. Remember you’ll need a mist coat and then a couple of layers of primer before you can paint it a fab colour.

Think about the windows and what will keep the room dark at night and make it feel romantic and sumptuous in the daytime.

Will the style of the room suit fitted shutters, custom made Roman blinds or lovely drapes?

4: How long does it take to renovate a living room?

Light refresh – 1-2 weeks

Any room can be made over in just a matter of days if you roll up your sleeves. Living rooms are usually on the larger side, so painting or wallpapering them can take longer.

But it’s possible to renovate a lounge over a couple of weekends. And, the chaos of sitting in half-done living room in the intervening week, will definitely spur you on to finish.

As with the bedroom, it’s about preparing the walls and then applying a new colour, getting the flooring right (carpets or bare wood with lovely rugs), and adding the right furniture.

Sit down and think about how you use your living room, draw out the position of furniture and consider any problems you might want to solve with your current lounge.

Major lounge overhaul - 3 weeks

Getting new lighting, replastering the walls, replacing radiators, windows and flooring in your lounge will take a good two to three weeks.

Again, the key to a speedy build is lining up all of the different specialists up to arrive at the right moment.

Once all the components are in you can start decorating and dressing the space.

5: How long does it take to do a garden makeover?

1: Garden spruce up - 1 week

If you’re broadly happy with the layout of your garden but want to liven things up, you can do a lot in just seven days.

With the help of pre-grown turf and a garden centre full of mature shrubs and trees to plant, you can roll out a brand new lawn and create lively borders in no time.

Just make sure you do your homework to work out your shady and sunny spots first. Test your soil for acidity too. This will help you plant things in the right place without them dying.

2: Major garden overhaul – 6-16+ weeks 

Getting a garden designer, landscapers and builders in could totally transform your outside space. It will be wonderful, but it will also take a long time.

From initial drawings and consultation to the start of construction, landscaping, building and then planting, allow 2-4 months.

Most garden projects tend to happen in the warmer months, so start as soon as spring hits if you want to enjoy your new space before the end of summer.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.