Does Renovating in Phases Make Sense?

Phased Renovations

Phased Construction Project: Advantages & Disadvantages


What is a Phased Construction Project?

A phased construction project is when a large project is divided into smaller projects being completed one at a time, instead of tackling the entire project all at once.

Although it seems logical, more cost-effective, and less stressful to renovate a home in stages, the opposite tends to be true concerning both cost and time.

The Disadvantages of a Phased Renovation Project: 

Estimating the cost of a renovation project is a very difficult task. Estimating the costs of a renovation completed in phases is even more difficult, and the total costs in the end are likely to end up much higher than originally estimated. There is much more room for error and cost creeps during a phased renovation for the following reasons:

Increased Labour Costs: 

When you renovate a home in phases, each phase will require its own planning and coordination amongst the designers, contractors, and workers. This results in more meetings and site visits than a project planned and coordinated in one phase.

Material Costs:

When a project is completed in phases, materials (lumber, fixtures, tiles, appliances etc) are purchased incrementally, at each phase in the renovation. When materials are purchased in bulk, and everything needed for a project is bought at once, many suppliers will offer a discount for bulk purchases that are not offered when materials are bought in smaller quantities. 

  • For Example:  If a masonry specialist sets a quote for $5000 to complete all work for 2 windows, you may think that to complete one window, the cost would be $2,500, which is half the price. This is not the case. It’s not as simple as just dividing the cost in half.  This mason would have to come to the site twice the amount, he may have to set up his scaffold and take it apart and then do it again during the second phase, materials have to be delivered twice, garbage bin delivered twice, debris removed twice, etc. you get the point.  This is what we call the “Costco Effect”. When we break down a bigger job into smaller parts each element becomes more expensive. The more work there is to be done, the less each element of the project costs. 

It’s also common for the costs and demand for materials to increase over time. By completing a project in phases, it’s likely that materials will continue to increase in cost and demand, costing the homeowner in both money and having to settle for a different material than they were originally hoping for.


A project that is completed in phases will take longer to complete than one completed at once. When renovations are done in phases, the disruption caused by the renovation is prolonged, and the overall project timeline is extended. Completing a renovation this way also increases the chances of miscommunication amongst those working on the project, leading to an increased chance of errors and setbacks, as well as overlapping work.

Disruption and delays cost both time and money, keeping a project from completing on time and on budget. 

Decreased Efficiency and Setbacks:

Unexpected discoveries are common during a renovation. When a renovation is completed in phases, it’s more difficult to anticipate or discover things that may change what can be done. This can lead to having to go back to previous phases, and un-doing work to fix a problem discovered in a previous phase. When this happens, it results in delays and possibly having to modify or re-work construction  from previous phases to make the rest of the renovation work.  This results in a renovation not running seamlessly, and can greatly increase costs.

Sometimes work during phase 2 can affect already finished work of phase 1. For instance, you may want to finish the main floor reno first and take on a second floor at a later time.

Imagine you finished the main floor, removed popcorn, installed potlights and painted the ceiling. Now you are ready to install new hardwood flooring on the second floor. Typical installation of 1000 sq. ft. of hardwood would require 6000 nails or staples.  A nail gun would have to produce 6000 shots. The Impact and vibration from nail guns may damage the ceiling below, on the main floor. Now you have a brand new ceiling that you have just skimmed because of removed popcorn, freshly painted and now you have to repair it, reinstall fallen out pot lights  and repaint it again because the nail gun banging above caused cracks and nail pops.

The old saying “things are not always as they seem” rings true for phased renovations. Although on the surface, it seems like a less stressful and easier to digest way of doing things, in reality, it’s likely to end up costing the homeowner in time, money, and mental energy. 

At Sosna, through careful design and planning, we thoroughly plan your renovation from concept to completion, ensuring your project is completed on time and on budget, and getting you back into your home sooner.


If you’re ready to renovate, but unsure of the best way to approach the project, contact us to get started. We’re here to help, because we’re the renovator you can count on.