The clock is ticking for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle! Their baby is due to make his (or her) royal debut in late April to early May … but will the new parents be settled in their new home before the birth? Suddenly, we’re not too sure.
News has surfaced that although the royal couple had planned to move into Frogmore Cottage this week, that probably won’t happen. Their extensive renovation project has hit some snags, delaying their move-in date by as much as four weeks.
So what’s taking so long? The slowdown is apparently due to the fact that the royal couple made some last-minute changes to their floor plan. They now hope to expand the kitchen/dining space and knock down even more interior walls to make room for five bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
Granted, we understand why Meghan and Harry might want their family home to feel just right before they move in … but isn’t this pushing it a bit, with a newborn knocking on their door?
What’s taking the royal renovations so long?
Anyone who’s ever renovated knows that it almost always takes longer than planned. But making last-minute changes to that plan just drags out the timeline even further.
“When you make changes mid-renovation, it has a cascading effect,” explains Jeff Checko, a real estate agent with Ashton Real Estate Group in Nashville, TN, who often guides his clients through home makeovers. “If the homeowner decides they want a doorway moved a little to the right, it causes a chain reaction. We have to tear down the drywall and trim, possibly redo the flooring and deal with everything that’s behind the wall, which could include electrical work.”
A simple change like paint is no big deal, Checko adds, but changing floor plans is a different story.
“The homeowner may only be considering the surface, but there are many things going on under the drywall or the floor and cabinets,” he says.
Checko says homeowner changes are one of the top four reasons renovations are delayed (rounding out that list are delays in materials or supplies, inspection delays, and weather). The founder and CEO of Chicago-based Integro Rehab Allyson Case Anderson agrees, adding that it’s not uncommon for a project to extend beyond its scheduled date of completion once homeowners and contractors spot an opportunity to improve the design.
“It’s not that we open things up and see a disaster; it’s that we open things up and homeowners say, ‘Imagine what we could do with this!'” Case Anderson explains.
Here come those inspection delays
Once you begin making layout modifications or revisions to utilities, significant delays must be expected, says Case Anderson.
“It’s not physically possible to maintain the initial schedule,” she says. “First, the architect needs to revise the drawings. Then, the homeowners need to approve the revised drawings. Then, the municipality needs to issue a new permit based on the revised drawings. Then, construction starts and we’ll have to do municipal inspections. All of this takes time, and in construction, we all know what time equals.”
While construction costs most likely aren’t an issue for Meghan and Harry, throwing money at the problem may not make the work go any faster. As Case Anderson puts it, there are only so many swings in an arm and hours in a day.
“We can be efficient, but we are not magicians,” she notes. “We can only do so much within an allotted time, before quality of craftsmanship starts getting compromised.”
Checko says builders and renovators should provide homeowners with an estimate of just how long the change will take and how it will impact other projects within the home, while the adjustment is made.
Ways to minimize the delays
While a sudden burst of home renovation inspiration will most certainly cause delays, there are ways to minimize other potential slowdowns.
Case Anderson recommends working with a designer who can help hesitant homeowners make tricky decisions on finishes and decor. That might include intel on the delivery times for certain items that are in demand. For example, they’ll be able to tell a homeowner, “That tile is lovely—and it takes eight to12 weeks to deliver!” Case Anderson notes.
“Do you know what we can do in the bathroom while we wait for the tile?” she posits. “Not much. Specify your finishes early, ideally before any hammers are thrown.”
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