Remodeling your bathroom is a rewarding experience. You’ll get to start from scratch and build a relaxing retreat that is custom-tailored to your needs and taste.
It can also be an expensive, endless disaster — unless you learn to avoid some pretty common mistakes.
Not Having a Clear Vision for What You Want
A haphazard bathroom doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing and almost always falls way short of your expectations. That’s what happens when you don’t begin your project with a clear vision for your desired outcome.
Don’t start your renovation without a vision and a wish list for your new bathroom. A clear vision helps you understand in detail what you desire in your future bathroom. That way, you can communicate with contractors on precisely what you want. You don’t want any misunderstanding throughout the process. So, a detailed plan is critical.
When putting together your vision, be sure to include things such as types of flooring, cabinetry and fixtures you may want. Don’t forget about paint or other finishes that may be important in your renovation. Keep track of your notes, perhaps in a folder or electronically. That way, you can include photos of ideas that you may have gathered. You can get ideas from magazines, online or visiting design centers. It is essential to collect as much information upfront so that you can get your project started on the right foot.
Starting your Project Without a Budget
What happens when you go to the grocery store with no budget? That’s right; you can think of all the million things you just “have to have” when in reality, you probably only need half of what you picked up. The same is true with a bathroom renovation.
Without a budget, you could end up spending a ton of money on things you may not need or may not even want for that matter. What you’ll end up with is an expensive remodel that barely meets your needs or wishes because you overspent on things that didn’t matter or line up with the plan you set for yourself.
So, how do you come up with a budget for your renovation? It all starts with your comfort level. Determine upfront what you can afford to spend and try to work your renovation into that budget. Understand that, depending on your budget, you may not get all the things you desire, and you may have to compromise.
The other approach to developing a budget is to gather high-level estimates for the things you want in your bathroom. You can then use that as a guideline for your budget when working with your contractor.
Hiring the Wrong Plumbing Contractor
Not all contractors are created equal. Some are more experienced than others, some will have better reviews than others, some will have higher quality work than others, and some will play by the rules and have all their legal affairs in order. It’s not always easy to tell if your contractor checks all the boxes.
If not, you could end up with renovations that fail to meet your expectations and a poor job that costs you more money in the long run due to having to fix potential issues the contractor caused.
Hire a Specialist
When you have a heart problem, you go to a specialist, not a general practitioner. The same is true with contractors.
Certainly, most general contractors can handle a bathroom renovation. However, you’ll have higher chances of being happy with the results if you hire someone who specializes in or has an exceptional talent for bathroom remodels. Ask to see their portfolio of past projects to make sure you are pleased with their work.
Make Sure They are Licensed
Contractors must be licensed by the state to perform any sort of construction work legally. Becoming licensed requires them to pass a rigorous test to demonstrate their knowledge. Hiring an unlicensed contractor means you have no way of knowing if the person you are hiring can do the job. Not only that, you may have no recourse should something go wrong, and you need to file a complaint against the contractor.
Quality contractors are proud of their work. They should be happy to share contact information for some of their satisfied customers. Be suspicious of anyone who outright refuses to give you references. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll do a bad job. However, you should question why a contractor would be unwilling to provide a few customers to brag about their work.
Verify Insurance Coverage
What happens if the contractor or one of their subcontractors gets hurt on your property? If you aren’t careful, you could be liable. That is why you want to make sure your contractor has proper insurance. Most contractors understand the importance of insurance coverage. However, maintaining a policy is expensive. Unfortunately, some contractors let their policies lapse. Ask to see the contractor’s insurance certificate and call the insurance company to verify that the plan is still active. Not only that, you want to make sure their insurance covers any subcontractors they may hire for your project.
Get Written Estimate Upfront
Your contractor should be willing to give you a written estimate upfront that outlines your expected costs for the project. There may be things that aren’t exact. However, it should be pretty close to what they anticipate for the renovation. When you don’t get an estimate upfront, you have no way of controlling that budget you set for yourself.
Failing to Secure a Permit
Can you imagine completely renovating your bathroom only to tear it all down and start over? That’s precisely what can happen if you fail to get the necessary permits for your project. A permit helps ensure that all work is completed correctly. Depending on the project, an official from the city must inspect the project regularly to ensure that all work is being completed to code ordinances. The contractor will most likely take care of this for you. But, don’t assume they have. Verify for yourself that they’ve secured the proper permits for the project.
Trashing Your House During Demolition
Demolition is probably the messiest part of your project. If the contractor isn’t careful, this mess could make its way into other areas of your home.
Demolition tends to stir up a good bit of dirt and dust. You wouldn’t want any of that to get into the air, furniture or other surfaces in other parts of the house. If that happens, you’re dealing with a much bigger and more expensive cleanup.
Make sure your contractor protects other parts of the home and makes an effort to contain the demolition dust and debris to one area. One way to accomplish this is to use plastic to seal off doorways to other parts of the home.
It should be worth noting that many homeowners attempt demolition on their own to save money. Unfortunately, this is often to their detriment rather than their benefit.
Demolition is not just swinging a sledgehammer around and sweeping up afterwards. Professionals know how to disassemble a room without causing unnecessary damage. If you attempt this on your own, you could end up damaging the plumbing, electrical or worse, the structural support of the bathroom.
Ignoring Underlying Issues
A bathroom renovation is not only a chance to create a luxury retreat, but it is also a chance to fix any underlying issues. Sometimes these issues are known upfront, and sometimes they don’t pop up until construction is well underway. No matter when they arise, it is vital to address them as a part of the renovation. Common issues might include outdated piping, mold or inadequate ventilation.
You may say that you’ve gotten by this long without fixing things. That may be true. However, the issues are only likely to get worse if you ignore them. Ignoring your plumbing issues could lead to leaks, flooding, low water pressure, etc. A certified/licensed plumber can help you identify these issues.
Making Design Decisions Without the Help of a Professional
Do you remember that vision you created earlier? Well, it is a good idea to get feedback from a professional.
We’re not suggesting that you hire a professional designer, its certainly not a requirement. However, we are suggesting that you at least get feedback to ensure your vision for your bathroom is going to be aesthetically pleasing — and practically possible within budget.
Ideally, your choices for cabinetry, flooring, light fixtures and paint should form a cohesive look in the room. A design professional can advise you on just the right finishes to make your bathroom look its best.
Not Monitoring Progress
It is essential to keep track of how things are going on in your project. Check-in with your contractor regularly to discuss the status of work and any budget concerns. You don’t want to wait until the end of the project to get hit with any surprises.
Don’t Forget: You Can Call Us for an Estimate
Don’t let a few key mistakes ruin your bathroom remodel. With a little planning up front, you can tackle this major project with confidence that you’ll get precisely what you want and more.