Considering a bathroom renovation? An exciting idea at first but, once the renovations are in full swing, the reality of it is often less so. In fact, for many people remodeling becomes nothing but frustration.Even the most careful planning doesn’t guarantee perfection, but it will certainly limit the frustration and unpleasant surprises along the way.
Here are 9 things you need to know before you take on the remodeling challenge.
1. Know what you want to do before you begin
It sounds obvious but, having a good, clear idea from the start as to what you want to get out of this renovation can take a lot of the stress out. Start with a wish list. Do a serious evaluation of your existing bathroom. Consider what you like and what you want or need to change. List features you've always wanted and group them according to must-haves and nice-to-haves, and number them by importance.
2. Be realistic
Although a renovation will undoubtedly change the look and feel of your bathroom, a tiny master bathroom in a small home will never become the home spa style retreat you have always dreamed of. Always work with what you have and what your budget allows. If you are uncertain about what style you like or what features you want to include, tour showrooms, and scan magazines and websites for attractive similarly sized bathrooms to gather inspiration. If you are still unsure or confused, consider consulting with an interior decorator or designer. They have valuable knowledge of space planning, complementing color schemes and in addition, can suggest a good mix of quality and durable materials that will save you costly errors or omissions.
3. Establish a budget
Whether you want to gut your bathroom and start from scratch or just make aesthetic changes, it's important to know how much you want to spend before you start. Again, be realistic. Do your research and go to showrooms to see what your money can buy. Also set extra money and extra time aside for the unexpected, such as water or mold problems. Yes, during remodeling it is not uncommon to discover something extra that needs to be done so allow for an additional 10% for any surprises along the way.
4. Find a VERY good contractor
Call an expert. Even if you're planning a small-scale makeover or tackling some of the remodel yourself, consult a professional. Take the time to hire good people and listen to them. Pros know what your budget can buy, and they provide solid advice on how to save and where to splurge. They can also help you avoid costly mistakes and are the best equipped to handle any wiring, plumbing and water damage issues. If the job isn’t done correctly, it will cause a lot more headaches than it’s worth. Always check their credentials, see examples of their work and talk with other homeowners who have used their services. Aim to get more than one estimate for a job and remember the lowest price is not always the best offer.
5. Negotiate a contract
Even if the work is being done by someone you know well, make sure you have a written contract. This will ensure everyone is clear on what is to be done, how much it will cost, and a proposed schedule for completion. The negotiating process also helps homeowners get more comfortable asking questions and talking about the process with the contractor and or designer, making ongoing communication much easier.
Once a contract is written, don’t add new ideas just on a whim unless absolutely necessary. Make sure you have the parameters of the project clearly defined. Last minute additions and changes inevitably lead to delays, frustration and disappointments.
6. Be realistic about waiting times
Stock cabinetry can take more than a month or two to arrive; custom cabinetry takes even longer. That perfect granite for your counter top or tile for your floor may just be out of stock (or worse; discontinued) when you need it. Yes, you may also get your shower tiles arriving in green instead of that perfect shade of gray. When doing any kind of renovation, always remember you are on the suppliers time line, they are not on yours. Try to get all your orders in with accurate estimated quantities or measurements as soon as possible and, ask for the ETA of your product. Delays in ordering and decision making often always cause delays in the completion of the project. In addition,
make sure your calendar is wide open. Don’t plan a major bathroom remodeling project to finish just before some major family event takes place in your home. It is a recipe for disaster.
7. Get the biggest bang for your buck. Know who you are remodeling for.
If you love your house, and plan to stay for more than 7 years, then you’re remodeling for yourself. If you’re planning to move in 5 years or less, design with resale in mind. In this case, become aware of the current value of your home and the general value of homes in your neighborhood. Whatever the size of your bathroom, keep in mind that the more changes you make concerning plumbing, the higher the price tag. Working within an existing footprint might not offer the ideal design solution, but it almost always saves money. If electrical or plumbing systems are outdated however, it can be cheaper in the long run to gut the room and start from scratch. Make smart choices and don't take shortcuts. Shortcuts in remodeling usually lead to costly troubles down the road. Do it once, do it right. Many designers always recommend spending more on installation than on products. In addition, investing in items that can't be changed easily, such as flooring, the shower, and good lighting always saves you more money in the future.
8. If at all possible, leave
Again, hire good people, listen to them and then get out of the house when you can. Remodeling is dusty, messy, noisy work. It is difficult and stressful to live in a home that is undergoing a major bathroom remodeling project.
9. Finish it
Again, sounds obvious but all too often homeowners get the major work done but then run out of steam and not get around to the finishing details. If it’s been negotiated in the contract then it will get done, but if you opted to do those final details yourself to save money, make sure you actually do them.