A bathroom with vanity, sink, tub, and open window

Questions to ask when you interview a remodeler

When you interview contractors for a bathroom project, use these qualifying questions suggested by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) to find out more about their business:

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remodelers with color swatches and floor plans

Finding your professionals

Some people brag about their fancy car, and others praise the expertise of their wine merchant. Most of our friends brag about having the best and the brightest contractor, and they won't tell you his name because they want to keep him to themselves.

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A painting brush with blue paint swirls

Subcontractors and specialists

Knowing exactly who does what in a remodeling project gives you an idea of what to expect. Here's an A to Z rundown of subcontractors and specialists involved in a bathroom-remodeling project. Not all of them may be involved in your bathroom remodeling, but we're sure you'll meet some of them.

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Contract for Bathroom remodel

Kicking Back While the Pros Do the Work

If you decide to hire professionals for your remodeling project, they’ll take care of it all- from the designer who plans the layout of the room and all its fixtures, to the plumber who runs the pipes and sets the fixtures, to the electrician who installs the wires, outlets, switches, and lights. In addition, many specialty contractors lend their talents, including workers who install ceramic tile, cabinets, countertops, windows, doors, wallboard, and flooring; the painters; and the wallpaper hangers. Considering that bathrooms have a relatively small square footage, a disproportionately large number of specialty workers and skill sets are involved.

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Know When To Call A Pro

February 1, 2012
A contractor heading toward a ladder

Doing It Yourself of Hiring A Pro

 Remodeling can consume your life from the very beginning. It can easily become the most important thing in your life from the second the thought of remodeling creeps into your mind to the time when you actually say, “Honey, let's redo the bathroom,” to the point where you think, “Whose idea was this?” to the day when you finally say, “Glory be to God, it's finished.” Everyone is affected by remodeling, even in a house with multiple bathrooms. That's why in most cases the faster the bathroom remodel, the better. To achieve that goal means putting in the time before the tear-down so that the redesign and rebuilding process can take place on time and on budget. This can mean hiring professionals for all or some or none of the job. Your participation can range from managing the work of others to doing all or some of the work yourself.

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miniature faucet on top of a budget

Remodeling your bathroom on a budget

Remodeling can put a big dent in anyone's budget, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Try these ideas to trim down the cost:

  • Plan! Plan! Plan! Don't rush the process and allow yourself the time to fully work through all aspects of the project.
  • Avoid cutting up your house. Try to be as creative with the space you have and avoid structural changes.
  • Curves are in, but costly. Curved walls and other difficult-to-build features can add up quickly. Simple straightforward designs are the least expensive to build.
  • Concentrate the plumbing in one location. Place new bathroom additions adjacent to or above existing facilities to reduce rough-in plumbing costs.
  • Use professionals. Architects and kitchen and bath planners can actually save you money because their designs are efficient. They’re familiar with working with contractors and giving advice to their clients.
  • Stick with standard finishes and items. Bath fixtures in custom colors or high-end finishes cost several times what standard fixtures cost. Check the price of any nonstandard fixture in your plan and compare its price against the standard version. Standard may seem boring, but the savings are sure to get your attention.
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Small bathroom with large tub and a lot of bathroom furniture

Completing Your Project in Stages

Another strategy that allows you to afford a complete bathroom makeover is to break the project up into stages, and fund each stage through your cash flow or financing. For example, break the total job into several smaller projects. Make the first phase a face-lift of new paint and or wallpaper. Later replace the vanity and countertop. In the third phase, replace the toilet and install tile on the walls and floor. In between the major phases, replace the accessories such as towel bars and soap trays. Keep in mind, however, that although this approach makes the project easier to afford, the downside is that it keeps the bathroom in a state of limbo for a long time.

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A remodeled bathroom

Exploring Some Financing Options

Funding a remodeling project is usually easier than other projects because you own a valuable asset, your home. The bathroom remodeling you’re looking to fund adds value to this asset, so it’s the type of loan lenders like to make. But keep in mind that you can choose from many ways to finance a remodeling project, and some are more expensive than others. If you’re planning to undertake a major bathroom remodeling project, you probably want to at least consult with your local banker or financial advisor. They just so happen to already have several types of loans designed for exactly this expenditure. While you’re talking to the professionals, don't forget to get the input of a realtor. These professionals can give you some guidance to use the right financing tools and give you some assurance that the improvements you plan to make are financially sound.

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Shaking hands with a contractor over some bathroom floor plans

Creating A budget- When you hire a general contractor

The best method to approach a major project is to work up a plan; decide on the type of fixtures, wall, and floor treatments you want; and get several contractors to bid on the project. Discuss the options with the contractors and how each decision affects the bottom line, but be sure all the contractors end up bidding on the same project.

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Three contractors with hard hats

Creating A budget- When you plan to work with subcontractors

If you’re going to act as the general contractor on the project and hire subcontractors to do most, if not all, of the work, use the worksheet in Creating Your bathroom Budget to track their bids. Gather up your preferences for the materials and then enter the specifications, including such things as tile size, color, and brand.

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