A bathroom remodel is one of the most popular home improvement projects. Whether it is as simple as getting a sparkling new bathtub or a complete renovation, seeing your vision come to life is satisfying; and you can immediately experience the results and notice the difference. It is also a major investment that can boost the overall value of your home, making it look more attractive, comfortable, and appealing.
Simple bathroom remodeling projects can be done on your own, but when it comes to more complex tasks, you would need to hire a bathroom remodeling contractor. Hiring the right contractor is not easy, and even after finding one with the qualities you are looking for, the project can still not go as smoothly as you wanted.
One way to achieve a successful bathroom remodel is by communicating with your contractor. You need to be part of the process, so it’s important to ask questions to make sure it will be done correctly.
Here are 7 details you should clarify before proceeding with your bathroom remodel so you and your contractor can see the project through to completion with fewer problems and less stress while avoiding unwanted surprises and costly mistakes.
Verify Credentials and Ensure Property Protection
The first thing you need to clarify with your contractor is if they are licensed and registered properly according to local and state standards. With these credentials, you know they do testing, criminal record checks, continuous training, follow strict standards and guidelines, and have insurance and bonding. With bonding, you’ll be protected if ever the contractor isn’t able to finish the work nor pay their workers and permits. Having insurance will protect your home during construction as well as workers who may get injured on site.
Besides verifying if the contractor is licensed and registered, it is also important to check if their credentials are up to date and specific to their field of expertise. You don’t want to be working with a bathroom contractor whose certifications are in landscaping. It’s not just having a license, but having the right one.
The same goes for insurance. Find out if their insurance covers liabilities and workers’ compensation that is specific to their field of expertise. It is also important to find out how they plan to protect your property. You don’t want to come home and see it covered with dust or damage. Ask your contractor how they plan to keep the area outside of construction clean and nearby furniture and delicate items safe. Will they be covering or moving large furniture, determine items that need to be stored, or use shoe coverings when entering the house?
To make things easier, it would be best if you can stow away anything near the construction zone as well as items on the walls of adjacent rooms. You should remove things on shelves, paintings, and other hanging items on the walls since they can fall from the hammering.
Scope of Work and Permits
You should clarify what the contractor will do and what will be accomplished even before drawing up or finalizing the contract. This varies depending on what type of bathroom remodeling you will have done. It is not just one big remodeling project but different and small projects, which will require specific tasks and materials.
It’s also important to ask the contractor what’s not included in their scope of work or what materials would cost extra. You might think that an upgrade is part of the package, which would lead to extra costs if it isn’t discussed. Communicate this early on to avoid conflicts or sudden changes.
Another thing to ask is what permits your project will need and if the contractor will handle the process of obtaining them. Permits will ensure that the work is up to standards and guidelines and have your insurance cover it after the completion of the project. But not every project requires a permit; most of the time, it’s for those projects that will change the structure of a home. If you do need permits or inspections, ask how to obtain them or if they will get them for you. Don’t forget to also check the permits, if they did obtain them for you, before starting the project.
Reusing or Supplying Your Own Materials
When remodeling your bathroom, you need to talk about items or parts that you want to recycle with your contractor. While some people prefer completely replacing everything for their large bathroom remodeling project, there is an option to reuse materials from your old bathroom. Not only will you be recycling, but you can cut down on expenses. Maybe the old bathtub can be made to look brand new again, some tiles can be reused, or they can use the material of old cabinets for a new one. Let your contractor know which ones you want to keep and make sure to ask if these materials are still safe to reuse. You should also check if it would go well with the new materials so that the results would look seamless.
Another way to make your project less expensive is if they allow you to source your own materials. It’s going to take more of your time and effort but you will have control of the price and quality of the materials, with proper guidance from your contractor. You still need to ask them regarding the quality since they will know which ones would be the best. It would just be better if you can do some research and be part of this process so you can find more affordable materials.
Written Estimates and Payment Schedule
Always get written estimations. Even if you will be working with a reputable contractor or someone referred to you by a family or friend, it’s best to get a written estimate for your project. This would avoid problems if ever you or your contractor misheard or forgot the numbers. You can get verbal estimates if you just want to have an idea, but never use it as a verbal contract.
For those who still haven’t decided on a contractor or want to check out how much other contractors would cost, you can head on to Networx and look for bathroom remodel contractors in your area.
CAN'T FIND THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR?
If you’ve found the right contractor, don’t forget to clarify the payment schedule. Normally, you will be asked to place a deposit before they get started, but they shouldn’t ask you to pay the entire cost upfront. Discuss the payment terms before the construction begins so you know how much you should pay for the deposit, the overall cost, and when the rest of the payment is due. The rest of the payment could be paid separately on specific dates or depending on the sub-projects completed.
There could also be additional charges if unforeseen circumstances arise that will change the initial price offer. Ask your contractor whether this could affect the agreed-upon price. This should all be covered in the contract, which will be discussed in the latter part of this guide.
Daily Schedule and Timelines
One of the most important details to discuss is the schedule. This is an aspect that affects both you and the contractor. Some people only focus on the overall duration of the project, but another important schedule to clarify with your contractor is their working day.
The workday schedule will help you know how to fix or adjust your everyday life around the bathroom remodeling project. Discuss the best time for the contractor to work on the project and determine which days they should work, what time should they start, and when they should pack up. You should also ask about the work that will be done so you will know how to move around your home. Find out the noise level so you can schedule your activities accordingly.
If you don’t plan on being home when they are working, let them know who will be home and if you have any pets. It would also be better to find out early on if they will need you to be on-site during certain times or some days. They might ask you to be home when there is an electrical or lighting walk-through or when they are working on the layout of the tiles.
The other schedule you need to discuss is the timeline for completion. Both you and your contractor should agree on when the project will start and end. They should know how much time specific jobs will take and be able to give you an estimate of the overall project duration. But be aware that circumstances beyond their and your control could happen. You should ask about unforeseen events or problems that may delay the completion of the project. It would help to ask about any concerns, necessary changes, or if your contractor is working on other projects that could affect the timeline.
Besides the specific start and end dates, it would be best to outline and schedule tasks so it is easier to track the progress and determine delays. I’ve mentioned that it’s not one big renovation but sub-projects, so you could have deadlines for each small project such as placing tiles or countertops. This would serve as milestones and let you check if the results are slowly matching your vision.
After discussing these details, make sure to include everything in the contract (more on this later).
Workers and their Process
Another important detail to discuss is the people who will be working on the project. Ask about the project manager and workers, and if they will bring the same team every day. You should also find out if there will be specialists or subcontractors, which could be needed depending on the scope of your bathroom remodeling project. Similar to the contractor, you want to check if they are properly licensed, registered, or qualified and if they are covered by insurance.
You should also clarify their process at the end of the day. If no one is home, who will lock your home? Do they have a clean-up process and how do they do it? The best contractors would make sure that the site is clean after working on it. They will dispose of the trash, wipe dusty surfaces, and won’t leave behind stray materials or items such as nails.
They should also put their materials and tools away. Some projects require large equipment to be left on site. Discuss where these materials can be stored, usually the garage, so it’s easier for you and the crew. Let them know how to transport these from the storage area to prevent getting your floors damaged.
Making Sure the Contract Covers Everything (even the changes)
Something you should always do, not just with home improvement projects, is reviewing the contract. Read everything, and if there’s something you don’t understand, clarify it with your contractor. Check if all the information is there: start and end date, cost, payment schedule, property protection, and other important details. After discussing and agreeing on the terms, both parties should sign the contract.
The contract should also contain any changes that are deemed necessary or ones you asked for. Even after discussing the schedule, the scope of work, and finalizing the contract, there might still be some changes. If you have a change of mind and are fortunate enough that the contractor allows it despite the headaches that it would bring, you should still get this in writing.
Update your contract and document the changes, specifying the scope of work, its price, and the cost of suddenly changing the plans. When these are all noted, the contract should be signed and dated by you and the contractor.
This doesn’t only apply to physical changes. If there is a change in schedule or delay, it would be best to have this in the contract, too. Discuss with your contractor how you plan to alter the contract when unexpected and expected changes occur.