I know what a pain it is finding a bathroom remodeling contractor. As a matter of fact, I talked to a homeowner this week who said the wait time for a reputable contractor in her town was 2 years! Wow – 2 years, that’s crazy!
However, whether you’re doing a complete gut and bathroom redo or a makeover of your alcove with a bath to shower conversion, you’re investing a lot of money (likely in the range of $6,000 to $60,000). The stakes are high. If you hire an idiot, you could end up stranded with a job half-done trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces.
You need a smart bathroom contractor. Not necessarily one with the cheapest price, but one who knows their stuff and delivers value. You need a professional who knows how to run a project, work with you and is an expert in products and processes to get your job done efficiently and effectively.
So, in this tight labor market where do you find a needle-in-a-haystack contractor? During the quoting process how can you know if they’re someone you should work with, or can turn into the contractor from H-E-double-hockey sticks as your kids used to say?
Read 15 things smart bathroom remodelers never do so your money won’t go down the drain (OK – bad bathroom remodeling pun, but I’m sticking with it).
Imagine you go into Dillard’s. You find a Fendi, Gucci or Louis Vuitton handbag on Super Sale. You snatch it off the shelf. The exhilaration of pure fashion joy overcomes you. You bring your new-found prize possession home. You joyously pull it out of the bag in your closet. You try matching it with your existing wardrobe and nothing (and I do mean none of your pants, dresses, blouses or shoes) looks good with the new purse. The new bag is waaaaaay too nice to be ‘mixed up’ with your tired wardrobe. Now what do you do? You head back to the mall in search of a sharp outfit to go with your stylish handbag.
You may be asking, Mike, “what the heck does fancy handbags have to do with bathroom remodeling?” That is a darn good question.
Well – Deborah of Cleveland Ohio can tell you. You see while Deborah was upgrading her kitchen floors and countertops she also made a fateful decision to blow up her 30-year-old ‘Back to the Future’ (circa 1987) chipped and butt-ugly Formica countertops in her bathrooms. She replaced them with luxurious 1 ¼” thick Quartz surfaces. It sounded like a good idea…at the time.
The problem Deborah ran into is directly related to the handbag challenge above. The new countertops put her old showers to shame! Her contemporary and stylish vanity tops now lived side by side with a poorly functioning, builders grade faded and dingy fiberglass showers. ‘A’ and ‘B’ (the countertops and the showers) didn’t work together.
As Deborah told me, “Mike – the Quartz countertops made my existing dirty and yellowed fiberglass original shower look ridiculous!” Something had to be done.
While this fashion faux-pas was prompting Deborah to remodel her showers, this project HAD TO BE about more than fashion. The new showers needed to address function. Since Deborah and her husband are both in their 60’s (although she doesn’t look at day over 39! – my wife has taught me well), and they have no intentions of leaving this home (EVER), they wanted a shower which would not need to be replaced as they get older.
This new design had to address fashion and function. In this article we’ll look at the problems of Deborah’s existing showers. We’ll also see how fashionable product selections and a functional shower design were used to make everything work. Lastly – we’ll get Deborah’s input on a on how she came to appreciate her ‘no frustration’ bathroom remodeling contractor – Cleveland Design and Remodeling. (Note – I’ll have to fess up. This is a shameless plug here since I’m a member of the Cleveland Design and Remodeling and Bath Doctor team). However, I think our guys listened to, connected with and delivered a nice job for Deborah – but I’ll let her tell you why. Let’s dig in.
You’ve decided to venture out into the harsh-cruel world of bathroom remodeling for your own home or one of your rentals. You’re no longer willing to be a slave to an outdated, unsafe and flat-out ugly shower, tub, vanity, toilet – you name it. You desire the promised land of a Pinterest and Houzz-inspired bathroom. A space which is relaxing, well-light, safe for your family, with plenty of storage. This bathroom won’t have you on your hands and knees praying for a savior to liberate your hand from your scrub brush.
Making the decision to remodel is easy. Planning and doing the job -whether you hire a ‘professional contractor’ (you may debate if there is such a thing) or rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself – is another thing.
You need guidance and support.
At times you need a savior to bail your butt out. Ouch!
How can you move from the vision of a beautiful spa-inspired bathroom, minimize the trials and tribulations of the construction process and be ‘saved’ from the nastiness which is your current space?
You could go into the Mojave Desert looking for a stone tablet with words of bathroom remodeling wisdom. I doubt you’ll find anything useful. You will locate funky lizards, cougars and tasty prickly pears (if you haven’t tried this fruit, you should – but I digress). Bathroom remodeling inspiration will be in short supply.
A better strategy – crank up your electronic tablet and put into practice the 10 Commandments of bathroom remodeling success below. Will they save you from all trials and tribulations along the way? I doubt it. They will get you a more inspired bathroom with less hassle along the way. Your friends and family may exalt you and your bathroom transformation – and even want to check out your ‘throne’ (I’m getting too flowery here). Let’s check out the 10 Commandments.
Shower remodeling can be a pain. There are so many decisions to make and the cost of mistakes can be high. Here’s just a few decisions you’ll have to wrap your head around:
What type of shower base (or floor pan) is best?
Should you tile the walls or use a shower wall panel system?
Where is the best location for the drain? What is the optimal spot to put the shower valve to turn on the water?
Should you DIY all, some or contract out this project?
Since shower remodeling is not your ‘day job’ (and it’s a project you may do every 10 to 20 years) it can be tough to get it right the first time. How do you make sure you don’t make errors which haunt you down the road?
One way to make sure you’re on the right path is to read these top 5 shower remodeling mistakes and the strategies to not repeat them on your job. I’ve seen them way too frequently and don’t want you to fall into the same trap.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to “age in place.” I want to keep moving. Be active, vibrant – no matter what my age is. If you’re unfamiliar with the term aging in place it refers to someone who wants to stay in their home as long as possible (usually this is an “older” person – and I don’t want to include myself in this category).
When I think of the term “age in place” it feels like some dude getting old in one place. Aging… kind of like a stone. That is not my plan – even though I’m 57 with more than a few gray hairs. I’m looking to be active and enjoy my kids (and somewhere down the road – although not too soon – the grandkids). I plan to continue to beat my 22- year-old son in 5K races (my competitive streak still runs strong). I’m looking to have fun – laugh more and be serious less. More wackiness is a good thing in my book.
I want my home to work for Rose (my wife) and I today, and live well for us tomorrow. I know I could “end up” in an assisted living or even nursing care facility (and there could be a time where this is the best place for me to live).
Still I don’t want to age in place. I want to thrive in the place of MY choosing! I want to not only “control” (whatever that means) my destiny, but enjoy a home which is sleeker, cooler, better thought out – and fun to live in. Yes – I guess I want it all (ha! ha!).
The challenge becomes as an almost empty nester, and baby boomer (or just call me a dude who is 57 but can look 37 after my $9.99 bottle of hair coloring), how can I design my home (and master suite area) to work for Rose and me for a long time?
In this article I’ll look at 5 simple strategies to design a master suite area to go beyond aging in place to thriving in place. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your thoughts (and ideas) on how to thrive in place.
Lynda and Tom – a super nice couple in their 50’s living in the Columbus Ohio burbs (can you say O-H-I-O – yes I’m a OSU Buckeye fan) – came into my showroom with their floor plan for a bathroom remodeling project. They want to make the bathroom larger and have a double bowl vanity top. They are going to increase the size of the window for improved natural light. They plan to move the tub from one side of the room to another to improve the layout. They came to see us to look at grout free tub wall panel options.
They told me they decided on a bathtub again because (as everyone knows) you have to have at least one tub in the home (all realtors and many family members backed up the need for at least one tub). Given this “commonly held truth” they planned to keep the tub in the newly remodeled 1st floor bathroom.
As a nationwide supplier of shower and tub wall panels (and local Cleveland bathroom remodeler) who has worked with countless tub to shower conversions I can’t even think of one time I’ve worked with someone on changing a shower into a tub. “Why the heck is that?” Why are people overwhelmingly getting rid of bathtubs and dusty useless “soaking tubs” home builders insisted on putting in homes in the late 90’s and early 2000’s? Do you really have to have a tub in a home for resale? Conversely, should you even give a hoot about resale?
In this article, I’m going to do two things. First, I’ll give you 4 good reasons a shower is a better option than a tub. Second, I’ll offer up 7 practical advantages of a shower over a tub. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your arguments and if you think I’m a bit nuts (yes – even my wife, kids and fellow co-workers would say I resemble this remark from time to time!).
Figuring out the right shower pan to use can be a pain. Do you get a traditional shower base with a 4 to 5” step over curb? Would a low-profile curb (which is 1 ½” tall) be the ticket or would it allow water to spill out onto the bathroom floor? Could you ditch the shower curb entirely and choose a ramped entry or one level wet room?
I’ve talked to thousands of homeowners over the last 20 years (wow – has it been that long?) about shower pan options, and I’ll tell you the case for blowing up the shower curb (having no threshold at all) has never been stronger! In this article I’m determined to lay out 5 compelling reasons you should seriously consider going with a curbless shower for your next bathroom remodeling project. Let me know at the end of the article whether you agree with these reasons or whether I’m all wet (OK – that’s a bad attempt at bathroom humor).
You might have heard the saying “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.” Sometimes a challenge can happen in our lives which not only affects us physically, but also emotionally. The key is to fight through life’s “lemons” (challenges) and to make some “lemonade” (personal victories).
An excellent example of making some “lemonade” is the story of Karen Lee Gast who suffered a stroke in November 2014. Not only was her physical mobility reduced (she now uses the assistance of a wheelchair) but she endured the mental challenge of seeing her independence reduced as a result of the stroke. Simple daily tasks (like showering on her own) – were no longer simple….and required the assistance of her daughter Julie (Morgan) who is of constant support to Karen.
While Karen is grateful for her daughter’s help (although Karen says she can be a wee-bit overprotective at times!) she wanted to regain more independence in her home and control over her life. This desire for independence led Karen to do an extensive bathroom remodeling in her home in Akron Ohio. Let’s take a look at why this remodel was necessary.
The old bathroom
After Karen’s stroke the existing master bathroom just didn’t work. Here were some of the problems with the old space:
The doorway was too small to comfortably roll the wheelchair in.
There were no grab bars to safely transfer from the chair into the shower.
The old stand up 3’ x 3’ fiberglass shower with a framed metal pivoting door was way too small and difficult to get into.
With these challenges Karen was not only not able to use the master bathroom (which is conveniently located right off her bedroom). She had to use a smaller bathroom in the home and could only shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when her daughter Julie could come over to help her. This showering process in this old bathroom took one hour of each of their time. The bottom line was there was no way to make the convenient master bathroom an accessible space without extensive modifications and a full remodel.
In the article below learn 3 critical steps which transformed Karen’s bathroom into an accessible, low maintenance, safe and stylish room she can use without being dependent on others. This now allows her and Julie to do other things (or just spend quality Mom and daughter time together).
I’m sure you’ve heard terms like kid-proofing, soundproofing, and waterproofing but you might be asking what the heck is “future-proofing” and why do I need to do it for my bathroom? When I had a recent conversation with the Operations Manager of Cleveland Design and Remodeling he said to me, “Mike – the key to a bathroom remodel which is built not only to last, but to work for its owners in the long run, is to future-proof the space.” I wasn’t 100% sure what John meant by “future-proofing” so I looked it up. Here’s the Wikipedia definition.
Futureproofing is the process of anticipating the future and developing methods of minimizing the effects and shocks and stresses of future events.
OK – you might say – while I’d like to anticipate the future most of us would admit we’re no Nostradamus and we don’t work for the Psychic Friends Hotline either! So how can you and I anticipate the future (and the “shocks” which come from it) to design a bathroom today we don’t have to re-remodel (is that even a word?) tomorrow? The key according to John is to focus on 2 ideas:
1) Learn to use specific construction techniques and products to win the battle vs. the elements (things like water penetration, air infiltration and home movement)
2) Either learn how to reverse the effects of aging (not sure we’re up to tackling the steps to do this) or use ideas to design a bathroom which allows you to stay in your home as you get older.
Let’s take a look at these two areas in more detail below.
When I told my potential customer Anne I was a “Certified Aging in Place Specialist” (this is an earned certification through the National Association of Home Builders to learn techniques and products to help people stay in their homes longer) she said to me, “Who the heck (I’ve changed the word here to keep it clean) wants to age in place? What do I look like some kind of rock?” I had to laugh and completely agree with Anne. She went on to say, “Mike I want a stylish bathroom which not only works for me today…..but for a good many tomorrows as well!”
I could not have said it better. Whether the aging process causes your abilities (the ability to move, ability to see and ability to sense) to not be what they used to be or a family member has had a challenging life event which has impacted them – everyone should be able to enjoy a luxury bathroom (assuming their budget allows).
The practical question is, how do you make this happen? What product and design considerations are important? In the article below I’ll give you 5 essential tips to get rid of common bathroom product and design barriers so you can get the luxury bathroom you deserve – even if you have more gray hairs than you wish!