Remodeling a bathroom can be one of the most satisfying home improvement projects of all. Results are immediate and personal—a sparkling new shower or bathtub, a cheerful paint scheme, a bathroom vanity with a beautiful countertop, and more storage than ever. A high-quality bathroom remodel can also pay you back by boosting resale value. One way to ensure the best bathroom remodel is to hire a bathroom contractor with experience who can see your project through to its successful completion.
Interview Three or More Bathroom Contractors
When you speak to just one or two bathroom contractors, you gain only a limited set of viewpoints. If you go ahead and solicit bids from these contractors, the bids might be higher than expected. By increasing the number of contractors that you interview, it is easier to find the contractor who is the perfect fit for your job. Plus, you'll have a greater range of bids to choose from.
Review the Contractor's Previous Work
Bathroom contractors typically show up for the interview with a picture gallery of the previous bathroom remodels, either in a picture book or on a screen. You can also view the contractor's portfolio on their website or on contractor-matching sites that they belong to. Aim to look past the pretty pictures and decide if this bathroom contractor does the type of work that is right for you.
Get Estimates in Writing
Verbal estimates are worth little—for either the homeowner or the bathroom contractor. Numbers get forgotten or misinterpreted or misheard, even if everyone has good intentions. Well-written estimates are understood by all. It is perfectly fine to ask a bathroom contractor for a verbal ballpark figure. Just understand that no one is being held to that figure, and that you should follow up with a written estimate of costs.
Pin Down the Schedule
Before signing the contract, be sure to clarify with the bathroom contractor the date that the remodel can start and the overall duration of the project. Scheduling matters both to you and to the contractor. When both of you are in agreement, then you can proceed with the contract. "Time is of the essence" is a familiar contract clause that defines the amount of time the contractor has to work on the project, along with a payment schedule by the homeowner.
Clarify What the Contractor Will Do
Even before the contract is drawn up, speak with the bathroom contractor for details about what will be accomplished during the project. Bathroom remodel contractors perform a specific roster of activities, along with required materials. Never will the contractor simply state that the bathroom will be remodeled. Instead, this larger bathroom remodel project is comprised of a range of defined, smaller sub-projects.
Discuss Supplying Your Own or Reusing Items
When remodeling your bathroom with a contractor, besides using new building materials you also have the option of recycling usable materials from your existing bathroom. Discuss with the contractor in advance the materials that you wish to reuse. Also be sure to follow the contractor's guidance about the viability of these materials.
Discuss the Peripherals
It is the mark of a good contractor if they are proactive about bringing up peripheral issues that affect your life during the bathroom remodel. If the bathroom being worked on is your only bathroom, what will you use during this time? What time of day will the sub-contractors arrive and when will they leave? Will they work on weekends? All of these issues and more affect your life during the process of bathroom remodeling.
Verify Licenses and Credentials
Bathroom contractors are licensed and registered, and attendant to licensure or registration is a wide variety of requirements such as insurance, bonding, criminal record checks, testing, continued education, and more. Online contractor-matching services typically require that licenses and registrations be up to date as a condition of membership.
Choose the Contractor Who Is the Best Fit
Your final choice of a contractor for your bathroom remodel is a fine balance of several factors, not just the one factor that most of us tend to fixate on—a low estimate. An inexpensive bathroom remodel is hardly worth the price if the workmanship or materials barely last a few years. Instead, factor in the price along with:
- How well you and the contractor can work together
- Whether the contractor's previous projects are in line with your project
- Scheduling, both yours and the contractor's
- The contractor's professionalism
- Testimonials from other clients
Sign a Legal Contract
When you have decided on the bathroom contractor, be sure to sign a contract. This contract should be signed and dated by both parties, and it should include the particulars of the remodel project, cost, payment schedule, work site address, start and end dates, along with other details that both parties agree upon.