Bathroom Remodeling: Telltale Signs & Common Misconceptions
When you begin thinking about remodeling your home, what is the first room that comes to mind? Typically Phoenix homeowners immediately say the kitchen. A kitchen remodel tops the to-do list for many, but so does a bathroom remodel. The kitchen and bathroom are the most used rooms in the home, as well as the primary “luxury” spaces of the house. If you are thinking about remodeling and wondering if your bathroom is deserving of the attention over the other rooms in your home, there are a few telltale signs that can help weigh in on your decision.
How long has it been since you’ve remodeled your bathroom or changed out any outdated features?
This is a great place to start. If you have been in your home for 5, 10 or more years and have never updated your space, chances are it’s in dire need of some love and attention. That can consist of minor updates such as switching out lighting, plumbing fixtures, flooring, and even your shower enclosure for a relatively inexpensive makeover. Larger remodel projects can include new flooring, shower surround or removing a tub to create a walk-in shower, a toilet, vanity, sink and more depending on the current state of your bathroom, and will in turn completely transform your space into one of the most stylish and up-to-date rooms in your home. Here are 6 common signs that your bathroom is outdated and in need of a remodel:
- Unhealthy flooring. Years ago many bathrooms were designed with carpet flooring, which does not stand up to years of repetitive heavy moisture and foot traffic. Carpeting in a wet area such as a bathroom is actually susceptible to moisture damage, mold and collecting bacteria from it’s surroundings (the toilet being one of them).
- “Glamour Bulbs”. You know the lighting fixtures that we are referring to … those enlarged round exposed bulbs that catch dust and never seem to cast the right amount of light in an otherwise dark space.
- Discolored marble or rounded edge laminate countertops. You remember the mauve laminate trend in the early 90’s. Laminate countertops tend to crack, chip and even peel in wet areas due to moisture, while marble easily changes color as the years go by, turning your bright white tops into more of a yellowed or cloudy color.
- Bisque or almond color. Tubs, toilets and sinks alike were all done in almond color scheme, just like washers, dryers and kitchen appliances. Trying to find an almond toilet or dishwasher in todays market is slim pickings. Most manufacturers have done away with these dull colors and moved towards more sleek and clean looking amenities in whites and gray undertones.
- An over-abundance of golden-toned oak. While we must admit that it had a great run of popularity in the home improvement market, there is no denying that those days are over. Chances are, that if you do have this type of oak in your bathroom it’s been in better shape and is showing signs of wear by now.
- It’s not meeting the needs of your family. This can encompass many factors. For example if the layout is no longer working, an inability to use the existing tub safely, tripping hazards, scalding hazards, and access limitations to bathroom features. Over the past few years, you’ve probably heard the terms universal design and aging in place being used. Univeral design is the design practice that focuses on forward thinking and making areas accessible to those of any age with mobility limitations. The last thing that you want is a bathroom that your loved ones cannot use safely or at all.
Taking an otherwise outdated traditional bathroom and turning it into a sleek, modern space with clean minimalistic lines will almost make you forget that you are at home and not at a high-end spa if done properly.
Are features of your bathroom broken or damaged?
This could be due to normal wear and tear over the years. Let’s be honest, your bathroom does take a lot of abuse. Replacing a broken medicine cabinet, cracked tiles, vanity drawer or light fixture, while practical, does tend to stick out like a sore thumb when surrounded by older outdated materials. Especially if the new item carries more of a modern look and the remainder of your bathroom is very traditional for example. Not to mention as time goes on, the features of our bathroom tend to become dingy. A shiny brand new light fixture that sheds light on a discolored vanity top is a disservice to the goal you are trying to accomplish. If your bathroom has seen better days, then it’s definitely time to remodel.
Does your bathroom have the presence of mold or water damage?
This scenario poses a bathroom remodel as a necessity moreso than a want. Mold and/or the signs of water damage are two things that you definitely do not want to hold off repairing. Mold can commonly be found on bathroom tiles, grout, caulking and can even be hidden. Though some types of mold are not as hazardous as others, you do want to remedy the situation appropriately. On occasions though, mold can be your indicator of a more serious hidden leak behind a cabinet, wall, floor or vanity. In these instances there can be rot lerking, insect damage or a much larger mold reservoir, so it’s important to not let this type of indication go unnoticed. You’ll want to make contact with a company that specializes in mold inspection and/or abatement. Problematic mold contamination does require additional procedures and safety measures be taken upon its removal, which can require that various materials in your bathroom be removed and discarded, such as flooring, vanities and tubs/showers thus causing the need for a remodel. Once a licensed abatement company has completed the removal and an air quality test has been performed with passing rates, then your bathroom remodel can be done using an experienced general contractor. This process can leave you and your general contractor with a clean slate to design the bathroom of your dreams.
Are your water bills out of control?
We’re all familiar with rising utility bills and are looking for ways to save. If you are gasping at your monthly water bill everytime it arrives, it may be time to start looking at remodeling your bathroom. Much of the water that we use is in the bathroom. Toilets, faucets and tubs/showers are a big factor in the amount of water you use every day and a remodel is a great way to drastically lower your bill. By installing low-flow toilets and water fixtures it reduces your water consumption. As a quick example, according to Eco Options from Home Depot, “Replacing a standard 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilet with a new WaterSense® labeled high efficiency model can reduce water use by 20% or more. Replacing a pre-1994 model (3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet) can reduce it by 60% or more. That’s more than 4,000 gallons per person per year. That would save enough water to wash 100 loads of laundry.” Kohler claims that their WaterSense® high-efficiency toilets (HET) can save a family household of 4 people up to over 16,500 gallons of water annually. According to the EPA, a standard run of the mill showerhead uses approximately 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm), while water-saving showerheads that earn the WaterSense® label are not allowed to use more than 2.0 gpm. If these stats have caught your attention, then it’s time to start looking into a bathroom remodel.
You know that you need to do a bathroom remodel now. Let’s take this a step further. Here are some common “busted” misconceptions that you do not want to fall victim to believing as you start the design and planning process.
MYTH #1 Purchase Before You Have Planned Out Your Entire Project
You may think that starting your shopping prior to having a full plan in place will give you a heads start on your project, that is actually not the case. Although it may seem logical to start picking stuff up, it’s best to first meet with your general contractor to ensure the materials that you are purchasing will work with how the project is designed, that those items are not already included in your contract price and most importantly that they are to the specifications needed for the design. They are the experts and the last thing that you want to do is go buy something that is not at the correct height, width or volume, etc needed. In some instances suppliers will charge a restocking fee on items returned (even up to 25% of the product price), thus costing you more in the long run as well. Whilst you may be tempted, it’s a good idea just to window shop and browse until a clear and precise plan is in place outlining the materials that you and that your general contractor will each be providing.
MYTH #2 DIY Can Save You Money
Doing part of your project yourself can save you money IF you have the experience and skillset when it comes to such things as plumbing, flooring, cabinetry, etc. These are highly specialized trades, so without the proper experience it can get a bit tricky. When it comes to wiring and plumbing, any slips, drips or mishaps can be quite dangerous. Worse yet, if they are covered up within the walls of your bathroom they could lead to problems down the road, such as risk of fire, water damage or mold if leak(s) are gone unnoticed. It is always recommended that licensed contractors and/or a general contractor perform these crucial tasks to ensure your project is built properly, to current building codes and most of all done safely. If you are considering any DIY projects, we suggest some of the more forgiving tasks such as the painting.
MYTH #3 Choose the Least Expensive Materials
Remodeling is an expensive undertaking, though the final product will be worth it in the long run. Naturally, homeowners try to be cost conscious when planning out their bathroom remodel. There is an old saying to be mindful of, “Cheap ain’t good and good ain’t cheap.” While there are typically product or material alternatives that may help save in your budget, it is not recommended to simply choose close out or clearance items in order to save. There are a few things to keep in mind if you run across a hot buy that you cannot resist. Will the money that you are saving now, in turn cost you more in the future? Many instances, close out items are being pulled off the shelf for good reasons. Whether that be that the product didn’t perform as expected, there is a newer and better model coming out or other circumstances that could leave you regretting your purchase just months down the road. These “great buys” can also be deemed “final sale” as well meaning you could end up being stuck with the product even if you change your mind and decide not to use it in your bathroom or if it turns out not to fit. Not to mention, the quantity on the shelf could be all that is left of the particular product causing implications if anything happens. This is especially important with such materials as tile when you have to account for overages. Running out of a close-out tile with just two square feet left will leave you resenting your purchase. That is why we recommend that you stay clear of close out and limited stock items, and instead focus on items and materials that come with a warranty, as well as a return policy.
MYTH #4 A Hand Shake is Binding
Years ago, many in the construction industry worked off of yellow note pads and their word was as good and binding as their handshake. Nowadays, it’s better to be safe and have any type of service or remodeling work done on your home detailed out in writing. Though there are many honest and reliable contractors out there, there are a few bad apples that have contaminated the industry with broken promises. You want to make sure that you enter into a detailed and written out contract outlining the entire scope of the project, including material and color specifications, payment schedules (deposit, any necessary progress payments, final payment amounts and due dates), as well as qualifications and exclusions. Qualifications can include the company’s business days and hours of operation, the process for any alterations or deviations from what is outlined in the scope of the contract, cancellation policy procedures, expiration date, jobsite conditions (ie. access to work areas/jobsite or dealings on moving furniture and personal items) and most importantly the contractors provided warranty terms and conditions. This will ensure that all parties are on the same page and have agreed upon the work that is to be done.
MYTH #5 Basing Your Decision Solely From a Recommendation
Let’s face it, these days you can get referrals and recommendations from practically anywhere. Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, Rosie on the House, friends and family are just the tip of the ice burg for finding a good referral. While a great place to start, basing your decision on which general contractor to use solely off of this feedback is risky. Further investigation and due diligence should still be done because not everyone’s idea of “good” or “quality work” is equal (unfortunately). We encourage homeowners to do further research by visiting the Registrar of Contractor’s website to determine that the contractor is licensed and their license is in good standing. The Better Business Bureau is another great resource to determine if the company is accredited and/or has any claims against them. We also recommend talking to the contractor about customers they have recently worked with and reviewing photos of the work that was done that may be similar in comparison to your bathroom remodel project. Lastly, ask for proof of their insurance to be sure that their workers will be properly covered under their policy while working in your home.It’s a good idea to cover all of your bases giving you peace of mind during your remodel project.
In short, the bottom line is this: If you are in need of a bathroom remodel or any other remodeling project for any reason, take the time to do your homework. By avoiding some of these costly misconceptions, it will save you headaches and unnecessary money in your pocket. Remodeling does not have to be stressful. Hiring an experienced (and licensed) general contractor is key to getting your project started off on the right foot. At TWD, our team of construction experts care about every project that we do and the homeowners that live there. When you work with our company, you become a member of our family. For over 20 years we have been in your neighborhood designing beautiful kitchen and bathroom remodels in the Greater Phoenix area, and we gladly encourage you to research our company. You can find us online at www.twdaz.com. There you will be able to see photos of our recently completed projects, our awards and accreditation's, license information and our full list of services that we offer. A bathroom remodel can seem overwhelming at first, but with the help of the right general contractor, you can focus on the end result … having an up to date functional and stunning luxury bathroom.