Stick to the Plan
Poor planning leads to unexpected cost overruns, often in the form of change orders. When you change your mind midstream, contractors add fees for material changes, scheduling adjustments, and labor. Even if you're doing the work yourself, you'll likely run into extra costs for materials and other additions. Before you start a bathroom remodel, create a plan that includes the planned layout, materials, fixtures, finishes, labor, remodeling time frame, and budget. Do your best to stick to the original remodeling plan to control costs.
See the Unseen
If possible, get a blueprint of your home to determine the current plumbing and electrical layouts. Rerouting plumbing and electrical lines is expensive; you'll save time and money if you can work with the existing line locations.
Investigate the Scene
Hidden rot, rusty pipes, and frayed wiring can quickly increase costs. Ask potential contractors to do a little exploratory work before submitting their final bids. Taking a proactive approach will provide you with a more accurate bid.
Decide If You Can Do It Yourself
If you have the skills and patience, do some of the remodeling work on your own. Check out workshops at local home improvement stores before you begin. Plumbing and electrical work are often best left to the remodeling professionals, though.
"Given the opportunity, I would send a customer on vacation for a week," says Robert Lahr of Lahr Custom Woodworks in Concrete, Washington. "The tear-out phase is quite a shock, and people aren't prepared for what their bathroom will look like at first. It will look horrible for a while. Then it will come back around and be beautiful."
Choose the Right Products
Bathroom products are susceptible to many challenges, most of them related to moisture. Carpet, for example, is a bad idea in baths; go with tile or stone -- something that will stand up to water. And choose a low-volume, high-pressure toilet, Lahr advises, "so you don't have to plunge when your kid puts 6 miles of tissue in the toilet."
Size Things Up
In addition to making sure new bathroom fixtures fit in the new space, make sure the new tub fits you and the new fixtures are user-friendly. Don't be shy -- climb into the showroom tub or shower to try them out for size. Fiddle with knobs, levers, and switches before you buy fixtures and mount them in place.
Don't Be Too Frugal
Think through your decisions up front to determine where your money is best spent. Don't skimp on adhesives and caulking, for example. Doing things right the first time ensures you won't be back at it in a year or two.
Pick the Right Partner
If you use a contractor, choose one who specializes in bathroom remodels. Make sure the remodeler has a current license and insurance, including workers' compensation, and ask for references. Also, carefully study any proposed contracts. Look for clauses that address unforeseen conditions, debris removal, and delivery charges.
Learn what you need to know about bathroom remodeling before you start. Our Ultimate Bathroom Planning Guide walks you through the entire process.
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