Brownstone Boys: Managing Lead Times in a Renovation

You will want to make sure all plumbing fixtures are on site right after demolition

Editor’s note: Welcome to the Brownstone Boys Reno, a reader renovation diary about renovating a brownstone in Bed Stuy. See the first one here. They also blog at

Lead times are one of the most important things to manage in your renovation. It’s one of the things that can affect your timeline the most that you also have the most control over. If the materials are not on site on time for installation, it can create a delay. That delay can create delays in the installation of other items as well. Over the course of a months-long renovation, repeatedly losing time on things like this can drastically affect your timeline.

Fortunately, with a little planning you can avoid costly and frustrating delays. You can also avoid having to choose your finishes based on what you can get in time and not what you might really want. If you are starting your bathroom renovation in two weeks and you expect construction to take three weeks, the custom tile that takes six weeks to arrive isn’t going to work! In a major renovation, this can be compounded many times over. With every material choice you make, the lead time is just as important as the price and other specifications you’ll be looking for.

brownstone boys reno

Lead times for items such as custom tiles and appliances have increased during the pandemic

Give yourself enough time before your renovation starts to choose the majority of your finish items, noting the lead time of each. Create a schedule for your project so that you have a general idea of when different kinds of work will happen. That way you can order items to arrive ahead of when that work will start. Give yourself enough time to receive the materials and ensure the delivery is accurate and the items arrived undamaged.

The opposite problem of having some items arrive too soon can also affect the speed of your project. You don’t want big bulky appliances sitting around on your job site before hardwood floors are installed. The construction crew will spend valuable time moving appliances around from room to room to get them out of the way.

interior reno

You may find yourself needing to order many items at the last minute. It’s always best to source as many items in advance as you can

Finally, for anything that has a long lead time, buy extra! If you run out of the custom tile that took six weeks to arrive because you ordered 10 square feet less than you were supposed to, guess how long your tile job will sit unfinished while you wait for six more weeks!

COVID-19 has been having a severe effect on lead times and the availability of materials. Manufacturing has been affected, supply has been affected, and the situation has been changing rapidly. Even if you thought you knew the lead time for some materials, it’s worth checking again. We have seen things go from days to weeks, and weeks to months-long waits. We have had to pivot to alternative materials or pay more for items that cost less only weeks ago. Plumbing fixtures, hardwood floors and appliances have been severely affected. Double check and keep an eye on how things are evolving to avoid delays.

[Photos by Brownstone Boys unless noted otherwise]

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