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How long will my project take?

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

How long will my project take?

Whenever you embark on a construction project, you really want to know how long it’s going to take. If you’re making alterations to the building you’re currently occupying, you want to know how long the disruption is going to last. If you’re planning a new build, you want to know how long before you can move in.

Planning with clarity and confidence

You may be tempted to hand your construction project over to whoever says they can deliver it the quickest. This article will guide you through the factors that affect the time it takes to deliver a construction project. Hopefully, you will then be able to judge if the timescales being quoted by your project manager or contractor seem plausible and allow you to plan your build with confidence.

The easiest way for you to keep the time it takes to deliver your project under control is to be very, very clear what you are trying to achieve. Every single change of mind will cause a delay and, therefore, cost you money. We recommend you take your time over developing your brief, considering all the variables, before engaging your architect.

Choosing your design

Once you’re ready to take your brief to the architect, they will be able to talk you through it and advise on the best design to achieve your goals. Depending on the size and complexity of your project, you can expect your design to take anywhere from two weeks to two months. It’s worth making sure you’re completely happy with the design before taking any further steps; it is very much quicker and cheaper to change your build whilst it only exists on paper than it is to move walls once boots are on the ground.

What can you afford to pay?

As a client, your willingness to spend money can greatly influence the speed of the build. If you want a speedy delivery then you may wish to consider employing more resources; it stands to reason that ten bricklayers will build quicker than two, but will probably cost more.

Depending on the bylaws of your location, you may be able to hasten your build by having your contractor work through the night. Again, this will have an additional cost as your trades will charge a higher rate for working anti-social hours.

If you are refurbishing the building you currently occupy, vacating is an option; although you will have the expense of renting other premises, your build will be delivered quicker and you will have less disruption to your business.

Planning applications

Your statutory obligations, such as planning applications and utilities, will each have their own timeframes to take into consideration. However, these should all be knowable with a little research.

Local planning authorities are required by the government to give a decision on planning applications within eight weeks, or thirteen weeks for a large development of ten or more houses, for example. In our experience, councils often extend this period by adding other requirements, such as bat surveys. We feel that allowing twelve weeks for most projects is sensible. You should expect complex developments to take even longer.

Allow time for utilities

Installation of utilities can take a surprisingly long time. As an example, to have a new water supply connected you should allow 28 days for your application to be processed and a quote created. The utility company will then have to survey the installation of the supply pipe. It will take a further twenty-one days after the survey to connect you.

How long will my project take? Avoid utility horrors

No surprises

We have all heard horror stories of builds being seriously delayed because of unforeseen disasters.

The reality is that the vast majority of surprises can, and should, be avoided by carrying out all the necessary surveys. Depending on your particular project, you should consider carrying out some, or all, of the following surveys:

  • Geo-technical survey

  • Sub-scans of utilities

  • Structural survey of existing building

  • Arbo-cultural

  • Acoustics

  • Flood and environmental concerns

  • Transport

An experienced project manager will be able to advise which surveys are appropriate for your particular build and will use the information gained to draw up an accurate timeline for delivering your project.


As you can see, there many factors that will affect the length of time it will take to deliver your project but, with the right preparation, there should be no surprises.

At Iconic Project Management, our many years of experience mean that we can accurately advise on how long a particular project should take to deliver. We want to empower you to make the best choices for your project so, if you would like the benefit of our advice with no obligation, please contact us.


Elizabeth Hewitt Director of Marketing at Iconic Project Management Limited. We specialise in retail, leisure and commercial construction.

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