How long does it take to plan and remodel a kitchen?

Estimating the time from start to finish is dependent on the overall scope of work requested, most kitchens follows one of three tracks for their scope of work; minor updates 2-4weeks, pull and replace 3-4weeks, and design build remodeling 11 weeks or longer. Since the scope of work for a kitchen remodel varies greatly from one homeowner to another identifying which improvement track your project will fit is the first step. The best decision a homeowner can make is deciding which track they want to follow and then focusing on the process, cost and execution of that track. The three tracks will be broken down and covered in my article; “How to get accurate cost information so you can hire the right contractor.”

But this article is about time, so below is the timeline for each of the three tracks in a kitchen remodel:

Track 1. Minor Updates: If you are planning to keep your cabinets as is or paint your existing cabinets then this is the category you fall into. This is the quickest of projects and also the easiest on you and your family (pets included). Because the cabinets are not being removed you can expect to make all your decisions regarding new countertops, appliances, cabinet hardware, lighting, tile and paint with only 1 to 2 weeks of planning. Once these selections/ decisions are complete the work can be scheduled and should take 5-14 days to execute the updates. Estimated time from start to finish 2-4 weeks.

Track 2. Pull and Replace: Pulling out your existing kitchen and replacing it with new cabinets, countertops, and potentially updated flooring makes this project a big impact but reasonable cost option. (More on that in the article; “How much does it cost to pull and replace my kitchen”.) The pull and replace kitchen requires more time upfront in the selection /decision phase. You will need to select the new cabinet style, pick the countertop and tile backsplash if applicable and address the flooring. In addition, cabinet hardware, sink, faucet, appliance changes, paint, and lighting is usually addressed. These decision can be made within 2-3 weeks in the planning stage. Once the planning stage is complete there is typically a wait time of 2-6 weeks until the cabinets become available and delivered to your home. These changes will be more disruptive then a minor update but can still be quickly executed if all decisions/selections have been made and products are on site ready for installation. Most of the work can be completed in 14-21 days and your kitchen is back up and running. This also depends on if there is a floor change to raw wood sand and stained in place which adds an additional week. In our jurisdiction a pull and replace Kitchen does not require permitting as long as you stay within the existing footprint and mechanical locations. Check with your local jurisdiction for more information. Estimated time from start to finish 7-12 weeks.

Design Build Kitchen Remodel:

Because the very nature of this type kitchen remodeling is to personalize the room just for you it can be difficult to provide a generic timeline. Structural changes, wall removals, additional framing all make both the design and execution of this remodel more time intensive. The following guide will help you get started and then adjusts based on your needs as they come up. A quick note, the Design Build Kitchen Remodel can be executed by either a General Contractor or a Design Build Remodeling firm. There is a difference in time and process between the two so check out the article; “How do I select the right Company for my Kitchen Remodel?”. Here’s what you can expect as an overview:

There are three phases to a Design Build Kitchen Remodel;

1. Design

2. Pre-Construction

3. Build Out / Installation.

Design (4-10weeks)

The very first allocation of time goes to the design of your new space. This includes the wants and needs analysis and scope of work outline. Since most homeowners lead busy lives I would allow for no more than 2 appointments per week to tackle the decisions, meeting twice per week is an aggressive schedule and not all homeowners have that time available. We have lots of local showroom options here in Fairfax, Virginia, so each client gets to decide if they want to meet at the local showrooms or if they want me to pull samples on their behalf and present the options in their home. Check with your contractor on how and where the selection meetings will take place. All told the Design Phase can be completed in 4-8 weeks. Smaller projects with less decisions can be done more quickly.  Larger projects can spend 6-10 weeks in design. Maintaining a consistent meeting schedule keeps the decisions on track and following a selection process that is structured to make the decisions easier for you is key to getting through the decisions and getting the kitchen you want. (The article “Why do I need a Kitchen Designer?” goes into the selection process in more detail.

Having samples of selections as we make additional decisions is a good practice and insures that everything works well together.

Having samples of selections as we make additional decisions is a good practice and insures that everything works well together.


How long between the design selections and starting the work? (2-8 weeks

The time between finishing the design selections and starting the work is called Pre-construction.

Remodeling your kitchen is similar to executing a favorite dinner recipe. When preparing a recipe you have active prep time, inactive time and cooking time. The Pre-Construction phase is like the inactive time, you are no longer actively doing any work but behind the scenes there is a lot happening. This time frame is completely dependent on the policies of your contracting firm. It’s standard practice that the Pre-Construction phase lasts until all the products have been confirmed for delivery. The cabinet’s are typically the longest lead time item so they can control your official start date. The schedule is also determined by the number of jobs ahead of yours and this determines the length of time a client will spend in this phase. On the short side of things you can expect 3 weeks, on the longer side of things you can expect 6-10 weeks. Most Contracting Firms work hard to keep projects starting within 4-6 weeks of material being available unless the client has requested special scheduling considerations.

How long will Construction take?(5-12 weeks)

The time it takes to Build out your project is usually the most concerning for you. The best practice is for the Contracting firm to work on your project from start to finish with a lead carpenter assigned to your project. What that means is that other than waiting for an electrician, plumber or other specialty trade to make an appearance on site you can look for progress each day. The goal is always to finish one task and immediately be able to move into the next. On the average, a major kitchen remodel will take 22-28 working days, or 4-6 weeks. If the project has a large structural or weather related component you should add a minimum 10 working days to this estimate. It’s important in these projects to follow all building codes and local jurisdictional procedures, inspections can slow down the process but is necessary to provide the removal of walls, relocation of appliances, additional electrical or mechanical changes that these projects require. Sitting down and communicating the schedule with you helps to ease the stress of major remodeling. You can expect the Contractor to use the scope of work and build out a calendar before starting demo. Then the calendar helps to keep you informed so that you have a guide on what to expect when.

Murphy’s Design working on the roughing in stage.

Murphy’s Design working on the roughing in stage.

John Murphy finishing up detailed work on a Fairfax Virginia kitchen.

John Murphy finishing up detailed work on a Fairfax Virginia kitchen.


Working in your home for long periods of time requires daily consideration. The entire household’s schedule(pets included) is one of the keys to making the remodel go smoothly. This can be done be communicating the timing of electrical and plumbing disruptions in advance.

Closing Thoughts

In summary, you can see how easy it is for your expectations to be misguided for how quickly your project can be completed. The time it will take will be completely dependent on the work that you decide to do. Start the process earlier than you think and allow yourself time to enjoy making the decisions that will impact your daily life. If you can do that you will be loving your new or new-ish kitchen faster than you thought. One last rule; don’t rush it, starting the build out and Installation before finishing the Design orSelection Phase is always a very bad idea. Decisions that get made that are rushed are often regretted. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed or select placeholders for major items just to get the job started.