Deciding to remodel the bathroom is an exciting choice. You see before you the opportunity to finally make the room what you want it to be, by getting rid of the old shower doors, removing tile that’s become an eyesore, changing outdated fixtures and making the room feel cleaner and brighter.
But how do you get from your ideas to the finished product? Answer: By finding a contractor that’s a perfect fit for you and your project.
The right contractor takes your goals, understands the problems in the space, works within the budget, organizes work crews in the most efficient way possible, and manages materials, permitting and inspections. Without this person at the helm, bathroom renovation can easily exceed both the time allotted and the budget.
Here’s a good checklist of tasks to do that will help you match the right contractor to your project.
- Make a list of the things about the bathroom that need to change. Who uses it? When do they use it? And what issues arise? Are there functional problems that might be related to the plumbing? Do you want the footprint of the bathroom changed? (This can make a huge difference, but increases the cost.)
- Next, create your wishlist. In your dream bathroom, how would it feel? How would it look? Can you visualize the layout, the shower, the tub? Do you want a fresh, bright feeling, or one in cooler, more relaxing tones and textures? Or is this a kids’ bath, meant to help get your children up and off to school in the mornings? If so, what kinds of things will make that happen? Pegs for each child’s towel? More storage space? Whimsical colors?
- Now, interview some contractors for the job. If someone you know has had similar work done in their home recently, ask for their contractor’s name. Ask around at work, or put a note out to friends on your social media feeds. There are also review sites online, where consumers who have used a business enter reviews detailing their experiences.
- Decide how much you want to spend. Keep in mind that you may not have a realistic idea of how much things like materials and labor cost, and let your interviews with potential contractors help you with this. However, your budget shouldn’t be the first thing a contractor asks about. It should be more important for him or her to find out your goals for and problems with the bathroom as it is now.
- Any potential contractors should be able to show you their work– photographs, or an online gallery or portfolio – especially of other bathroom remodels that bear similarities to yours. They should be able to give you a proposed remodeling contract, which will include a work schedule, a site plan, a payment schedule and lien waivers. It’s important to ask for recent references – and then to make a point of calling those references to see how the project went from the homeowner’s point of view.
- Which contractor most understood your goals and worked most clearly with your budget? That’s probably the right person for the job. It’s important to have a good feeling going into the project – stressful situations and surprises do often happen during remodeling projects, and you need a person who can solve problems efficiently and cost-effectively.