Learn what a bathroom remodeling contractor can do for you and what to expect when working with one.

By Tim Laehn
Medicine cabinets, storage space

Don't be fooled: Just because a bathroom is typically a relatively small space doesn't necessarily mean remodeling it is an easy, do-it-yourself job. With the complexity of skills involved -- such as plumbing, electrical, and tiling -- you'll likely benefit from the help of a contractor. And a contractor might help you save money in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes.


A contractor manages the construction work required to create your dream bathroom -- reviewing the drawings and specifications and providing a cost estimate to you and your architect or designer. The contractor might do the work or hire subcontractors to handle part or all of the project. With small projects, you might not need professional design services and can work directly with an experienced contractor. Alternatively, a design-build contractor can oversee both the design and construction services, thus simplifying the process and helping you stay on budget.

To find a qualified contractor, ask family and friends for references, visit home shows or neighborhood home tours, or visit the National Kitchen & Bath Association website at nkba.org or the Better Business Bureau website at bbb.org. Look for a firm with an established business history in your area and one familiar with your desired design style and project type. Most importantly, select someone you trust.

Here are some things you can expect from your contractor:

Clear contract

The contract outlines the scope of the project. Make sure it contains:

- Details about the materials being used.

- A clear description of what the contractor will do, such as protect personal property at the job site and clean up daily and upon completion of the job.

- Approximate start date and completion dates.

- The total price, payment schedule, and any cancellation penalties.

- A warranty covering materials and workmanship for at least one year.

Open communication

Discuss worker behavior expectations with your contractor before construction begins. For example, are you OK with smoking on the job site? Can any type of music be played, and what volume is acceptable? Ask about typical work schedules so you'll know when to expect workers at your door. Consider putting up a message board at the job site where you and your contractor can leave questions and comments. Also establish a consistent day and time for project meetings to discuss work progress, schedules, and any unexpected discoveries.

Final walk-through

Before making your final payment, plan to walk through your finished bathroom with your contractor and discuss anything that still needs to be changed or completed.

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