Every week, the ABC TV show Extreme Home Makeover entertains viewers with a remodel for a needy family completed in seven days. I'm sure many of your clients question why their projects can't be done in that short span.

A few years ago, I spent some time at an Extreme project and witnessed the coordinated army that it took to complete the second-story addition and whole-house renovation in a week.

The remodeler had five superintendents on site and five runners for odd jobs. The framing sub pre-built the exterior shell and trusses, transported them to the site on flatbeds, and craned them into place. The production company closed the block to traffic and booked hotel rooms for the neighbors so they would not be disturbed by the work going on 24 hours a day. The production staff worked with manufacturers to ensure products were correctly specified and arrived on time. The city provided an on-site inspector for several days to accelerate the process.

The remodeler estimated that with a standard schedule, the project would have taken six months.

A full-scale project like this might not be possible for your company, but you can apply some lessons from these jobs to projects with special-occasion deadlines. Columnist Andy Poticha's firm tackled this very issue in a recent remodel for clients who were to host Thanksgiving dinner. He says a commitment from his trades and suppliers and a client budget that could support the extra time and effort made the deadline attainable. In her story “A Very Important Date,” staff writer Leah Thayer offers additional tips for meeting set deadlines.

Before a client asks you to meet a tight deadline, you may want to test your company's limits with a slightly accelerated schedule on an existing project. The test could also expose weak points in your firm's process that you can fix now instead of when you're in the midst of a fast-track project.

Nina Patel, Editor