How to Avoid Becoming a Bathroom Remodel Horror Story

We’ve all had unpleasant customer service experiences that leave us frustrated. It’s simply a normal part of life. However, these experiences can rapidly turn to horror stories when they involve home improvement. After all, a meal made incorrectly is a minor inconvenience while a home remodel done incorrectly can haunt you for months. Let’s take a look at some horror stories and what could have been done differently to avoid them.

One Project, Two Thieves

One such horror was shared that involved someone simply selecting a contractor without doing research to save time. After completing the demolition phase of the bathroom remodel, the contractor simply disappeared – taking half the project funds that had been pre-paid with him. Another contractor was hired to finish the job. The homeowner found the job dragging on and on and ultimately started stealing. While nothing could be proved, money and valuables started going missing from drawers and other places.

The secret to avoiding these types of situations is quite simple: it is important to do your due diligence. Interview several contractors. Ask about their experience doing jobs of this type. Ask for references and follow up on them. A great place to start to find a contractor is asking friends for recommendations. Additionally, spending time checking online reviews can yield some very important information that can help prevent situations where you end up unhappy with the quality or professionalism of your contractor.

Unshared Expectations

An article by Yahoo highlighted a number of home renovation horror stories. Among these were a bathroom project where the contractor quoted a time of completion of four weeks but had barley made a dent in the job after two months, causing the owner a loss of rent as he had to keep his property off the market until the job was done. It turned out that the contractor had been spending his time on side jobs from neighbors and there was no recourse from the property owner.

Another story told of a bathroom model that was completed but left in an incredibly messy condition and not fully in compliance with local building codes. This left the owner to contend with an unexpected array of tasks to finish up the job.

These problems can be prevented with clear communication. First, it is important to communicate expectations and ensure that the contractor agrees to them. Secondly, it is important that they be written into the contract. In these situations, the contract should have specified financial penalties for failing to complete the job on time as well as the specific condition that the bathroom should be in upon job completion including a specification that all local building codes must be followed. Having these things in writing gives you leverage to ensure that the job gets done correctly.

Job Done Wrong

This situation started off in a similar refrain, with a busy homeowner who did not have time to do a project themselves. They mentioned to their painter that they were going to remodel their bathroom, only to have him pitch the idea of having him do it. Despite not liking the pictures he showed them of past jobs, they hired him.

He went to work retiling their bathroom. The homeowner was actually quite pleased with the work until a friend came over and pointed out that there were cracks in the wall, the tile wasn’t straight, and the tiles were placed in an incorrect order. Even worse, when the plumber came over to do plumbing work, the installation of the tile created problems. Ultimately, the project had to be fixed, running the cost up to $25,000.

Here, the situation could have been fixed if the person had made effective decisions. A good painter may not be able to successfully remodel a bathroom. It is important to evaluate credentials for individual projects. The fact that the homeowner did not like the example photos shown should have given them pause. Ultimately, this highlights the importance of trusting your gut. If a person does not seem like a good hire for a job, they very well may not be. Finding a general contractor with experience in bathroom remodels would have been a far better option.

Time Runs Out

One of the stories highlighted in a Bankrate article was of a couple who decided to remodel their bathroom when they got pregnant. The demolition was taken care of in a short weekend, and they budgeted three months for the project. However, the project simply went on and on, with one delay followed by another. When it came time for the baby to arrive, the bathroom still was not complete.

A good example of the problems faced in this job came from installing the drywall. The homeowner and his father budgeted a long three-day weekend to get the job done. However, at the end of that weekend, they had only successfully hung three sheets of drywall. Ultimately, they hired handymen to help finish the job. The drywall was hung in an hour.

The biggest takeaway here is not to bit off more than you can chew. Bathroom renovations can definitely be made more affordable by doing some of the work yourself; however, it is important to ensure that you are capable of doing the work and doing it well. Additionally, it is important to have reasonable timelines when setting out projects. Do research to determine how long something will take, whether you are doing it yourself or working with a contractor. This will help ensure that you don’t find yourself with a renovation that goes on and on.

Final Thoughts

There are many bathroom remodel horror stories out there and many come down to overlooking small details or skipping important steps. When working on your own bathroom remodel, ensure that you follow these recommendations:

  • Interview contractors and ask for references
  • Make sure you and your contractor are on the same page
  • Put everything in writing in the contract
  • Trust your gut instinct
  • Use realistic time frames for projects
 If you go the DIY route, ensure you are capable of the work


Kenneth Wilson
April 22, 2021
Bathroom Remodeling

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done.