How to estimate construction time

If you are involved in a home remodeling project or a major commercial job, building scheduling is an important tool to keep the purpose in motion. A schedule keeps builders, designers, contractors and project owners accountable and establishes a set of guidelines that help the progress of work.

To develop a construction program, you will first need to estimate the time required for various activities and then determine how they relate to each other.


  1. List all the activities needed to complete the project. For example, if you are remodeling a bathroom, these include demolition, plumbing and electricity, luminaire installation, ceilings, floors, paint and finish. Larger projects may require hundreds of activities.
  2. Add administrative tasks and material delivery times. The first ones you can include are signing the contract, selecting the materials or approving the products. The second are all items that are not readily available, including custom finishes, lamps and equipment.
  3. Connect these activities in terms of relationships. For example, roof work can not start until the demolition is complete, so the start of these jobs must be linked until the last day of the demolition. If you are using programming software like MS Project, these activities are easy to link to. Small jobs can be simple to attach with a pencil and paper. Do not forget to link things like approval and deadlines for materials, at the beginning of the corresponding activity. If the doors will take eight weeks to ship after approvals, your installation can not start until at least that time period after the project starts.
  4. Estimate the duration of each activity, and determine how many work days are required. You may need to consult your subcontractors or other project team members to help with this task. For example, if you can place 100 square feet (3048 cm2) per day in a ceramic tile installation and have 1000 square feet (30480 cm2) with two people, it will take five business days to complete the task. Repeat this process for all activities on your list. Set the durations next to each activity.
  5. Present your program to suppliers and contractors, and ask for their opinion. Confirm delivery times of materials and durations of activities. Ask them how long certain activities will take if their estimates differ from yours, ask for a breakdown in terms of work and productivity if the duration is too long. Adjust the program as necessary to reflect comments received.
  6. It examines the list of activities, duration and manner in which each activity relates to the others. With this list, you can estimate the total construction time from start to finish, as well as a projected end date.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you do not have access to construction programming software, use a general programming program such as MS Project. To perform this task at hand, create a bar chart, with bars representing the duration of specific times. For related activities, one of the bars will have to start after the first one has finished, to illustrate the relation between these activities.