What Not to Do when Renovating Bathrooms

Bathroom renovation

Attempting Too Much DIY

Everybody loves a DIY project, and with good reason. Completing a home improvement project on your own gives you a wonderful sense of satisfaction, not to mention the money you can save.

However, the smart and savvy DIY enthusiast knows his or her limits. For many, bathroom remodeling work is a big limitation. A bathroom relies on plumbing, which is much more complicated than most homeowners realize. Not to mention the fact that many areas require a licensed plumber to work on plumbing projects. If you live in such an area and you fail to have a licensed plumber do the work, you could face fines, and your insurance may even refuse you coverage. As a more immediate complication, tackling a plumbing job you're not prepared for can leave you with an unusable bathroom, leaks and even flooding, which can damage the rest of your home and cost thousands in repairs! Suddenly, that budget-conscious DIY project is costing you more than the services of a professional remodeling crew.

There's nothing wrong with DIY projects, but be aware of your own limitations and your local laws. If you follow these common-sense guidelines, you can save money and end up with a functional, beautiful bathroom at the same time. When hiring a professional for all or part of your bathroom renovation or remodel, be sure to mention that you're eager to help out. With most contractors, this will lead to lowered costs, since they can bring a smaller crew. A reputable contractor will only let you assist on jobs which can be completed easily and at your own skill level.

Poor Planning

A large number of details need to be planned out before a bathroom remodel takes place, but you'd be amazed at the number of homeowners who ignore these crucial steps. In order for your remodel to run on schedule, on budget and turn out looking the way you want, proper planning is essential.

Budget planning should be your first concern. Come up with a figure that represents how much you can safely spend on the entire renovation, keeping in mind that some delays are unavoidable. Once you have this figure, don't stray from it. If you go over your predetermined budget, you'll end up regretting the decision. If you're having trouble coming up with a realistic budget because you're not sure of the average costs of materials, labor and other aspects, consult with several different contractors and some home improvement store veterans. Having several different opinions will keep your budget estimate unbiased. Once you've decided on a figure, begin to section off spending limits for each aspect of the renovation, such as sinks, tile, and a shower. This will help to keep you within your budget every step of the way, and avoid the urge to splurge on a beautiful solid-marble tub enclosure (or any other over-budget luxury) simply because you see it in a store a fall in love with it.

Spatial Planning is the next step in planning your bathroom remodel, and it's also a very important one. Carefully measure your entire bathroom before purchasing anything. This is important for every remodel, but it's especially crucial for smaller bathrooms where space is at a premium and a few centimeters means the difference between a perfect fit and a returned shower stall. Take into account the space needed for everything, from toilets and showers to smaller elements like tissue holders and wall cabinets.

The shower is one of the most important considerations when it comes to space. Far too many homeowners have mistakenly believed that their household would get along just fine with the smallest shower stall available, in an effort to maximize overall bathroom space. However, a tiny shower stall can be a true annoyance. The freedom to turn around comfortably and avoid smashed elbows is worth a bit of sacrifice in overall bathroom space. There's no need for a huge shower, but you should choose one in which each member of your household can move around comfortably. After all, a shower should be relaxing...not a cramped ordeal.

Improper Materials

One of the most common mistakes during a bathroom remodel is purchasing materials which have not been designed for use in a bathroom. Tile, wallpaper, paint and other decorative elements are available in special moisture-resistant formulations, and these are the products you need for a durable and long-lasting bathroom.

Products which have been designed for a “normal” environment simply can't stand up to the high humidity in a bathroom, and they'll likely begin to fail very quickly. Tiles can literally fall off the wall, paint can bubble and peel, and wallpaper can come down in strips. Take a bit of extra time to ensure the products you're purchasing can take the moisture of a bathroom before you spend your money. In the long run, you'll be saving, since improper materials often lead to costly repairs.

Non-Licensed Workers

In many areas, a permit is required on plumbing, and often an inspection is required after the work is complete. Ignoring these steps could mean fines down the road.

Improperly licensed or unlicensed workers may save you money in the short run, but in the long run they could cost you much more. Insist on workers with experience and the certifications to back up that experience. If your contractor tries to talk you into using unlicensed or inexperienced workers, simply walk away.

Insurance is also very important. Anybody performing work in or on your home should carry insurance, either personally or through the contractor in charge of the crew. Insurance is vital for several reasons. If a worker is injured, insurance will ensure that they receive prompt and proper medical care. It will also take the burden off you, as the homeowner. If an unlicensed worker is hurt and can't pay their medical bills, the hospital has the legal right to come after you, since the injury occurred on your property. For the sake of everybody's safety, and the safety of your bank account, insist on insurance.

Poor Time Planning

A reputable contractor will give you an estimate which includes time and financial bids. These are essential to obtain, but remember that remodeling projects often take longer than expected, for reasons which are often out of the control of anybody involved.

For many homeowners, the full reality of having an out-of-order bathroom doesn't really sink in until a busy weekday morning when the entire family is rushing to get ready in a single, small half-bath. While this inconvenience can't be avoided, it softens the blow a bit if you know it's coming. Have your family get ready in the morning, as much as possible, in their bedrooms instead of in the bathroom; this can cut back significantly on the time crunch.

The Simplest Way to Avoid Most Mistakes

Finding a reputable contractor who will work closely with you is the easiest and most important thing you can do to avoid common (and uncommon) remodeling mistakes. Bathroom remodeling professionals have dealt with all the issues mentioned here, and many more as well. They've seen the consequences of poor spatial planning, and they've seen what excessive humidity can do to tile intended for a dry area.

Putting blind faith in the first contractor you come across would be a big mistake. However, thanks to home-improvement websites, you don't have to worry. These sites allow you to look through the qualifications of many different local contractors. You can use things like licensing, insurance and consumer reviews to narrow your choices, then begin making phone calls.

Once you've talked through your entire project with a few contractors, choose the individual with whom you feel the most comfortable. After all, this person will be in your house until the project is complete; it's more enjoyable for everybody involved if you can get along well together.

The right contractor will help you every step of the way, including (if you like) drawing up a budget. They will also be honest and open regarding time and expenses.

While having your bathroom “off limits” for the duration of your remodel definitely isn't fun, it's necessary. Finding the right contractor and avoiding the most common and costly bathroom remodeling mistakes will go a long way toward making the experience as painless and rewarding as possible.

Posted by: Diane Sheppard
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