4 Mistakes That Slow Down a Reno—And How to Avoid Them

Because time equals money.
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Kitchen Island in Sheila Bridges's Hudson Valley Home

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Sheila Bridges knows a thing or two about renovations. Not only is she the iconic designer behind countless high-profile projects (hello, Bill Clinton’s Harlem offices), this spring she tackled an ambitious personal one: the guesthouse at her home in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Designer Sheila Bridges stands in the doorway of her Hudson Valley home
Photography by Frank Frances

The entire overhaul—starting with a down-to-the-studs skeleton and ending with a cozy Technicolor living space—took her just four months. It helped that she had a tight deadline (a renter was due to stay there in June), but Bridges also knows how to finish a reno—fast. Here’s exactly how she got the entire home done in time.

Make a Choice…

“The biggest thing that slows down construction is decision-making,”says Bridges. “People get stuck or are unable to move forward at a pace that keeps everything on schedule and hopefully on budget.” When in doubt, hire a project manager or interior designer to weigh in so that you don’t halt progress early on.

….And Stick to It

If you’re in the middle of a job and decide that you want to make a change to the plan—say, add a fireplace or incorporate those oversize windows you saw on Instagram—remember that it will cost you both time and money. “Every change you make is going to be more expensive than had it been part of the original bid,” warns Bridges.

Gather Your Materials ASAP

“Another thing that slows down projects is when the goods aren’t on-site when your contractors are ready to use them,” explains Bridges. To avoid delivery delays, pay attention to where your items are from. That Italian tile you love, for instance, may not be worth the extra weeks you’ll have to wait for it to arrive.“The longer a job takes, the more expensive it becomes,” she adds.

Create a Filing System

“No matter what you’re doing, or how big or small it is, you want to be very, very organized,” says Bridges. For her that means securing building and project permits early and keeping a binder, divided up by room, so she can take a quick look at the products she’s selected for each. That way construction can move as easily as possible.

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.

Julie Vadnal Avatar

Julie Vadnal

Deputy Editor

Julie Vadnal is the deputy editor of Domino. She edits and writes stories about shopping for new and vintage furniture, covers new products (and the tastemakers who love them), and tours the homes of cool creatives. She lives in Brooklyn.