Contractor’s Corner: Perfect time of year to remodel your bathroom

Welcome back to Contractor’s Corner. We had such a great response to our kitchen “splurge or save” article, with many people asking for bathroom remodel tips, so this month, we are discussing successful bathroom renovations.

Now is a great time to do a bathroom remodel because you do not have to worry about outdoor temperatures and, as we mentioned last month, contractors often have more time to dedicate helping you pick out tiles and fixtures.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to bathroom renovation is buy what you know. Stick to brands you trust. It will be more of a hassle down the road if you choose cheap plumbing versus investing in plumbing that is known to last. It’s also really helpful to have all your fixtures and large items such as the toilet, shower and vanity on site before the project starts so you can ensure the measurements add up, since bathrooms are often one of the smallest areas you will remodel. On most of our projects, we dry fit the vanity, toilet, shower and tub after the framing is complete so the customer can visually see the space and we can lay out the design elements such as lighting and mirrors before demolition gets under way.

I have heard many friends and family say their bathroom remodel cost twice as much as they had anticipated, and this can certainly be avoided. Below is a guide to help make the process run smoothly:
Assess the space: Are the dimensions of the bathroom large enough to accommodate all the renovations? If not, what additional space could be leveraged to make the bathroom larger?

  • Layout: What do you want to incorporate into the bathroom? Do you need a closet inside the bathroom? If you are tight on space, is there a linen closet just outside the door that could be utilized for bathroom storage? When laying things out, make sure to remember that plumbing should not be installed in an outside wall.
  • Design: Start looking at bathrooms you like online and in magazines. Pick out what you like and don’t like and save the examples for your contractor. This will help ensure the end product is exactly what you want.
  • Budget: Bathroom remodels are often one of the toughest to estimate, so it’s advisable to create a spreadsheet with your contractor that keeps a running tab of all expenses that need to be considered — plumbing, electrical, flooring, tiles and trim for the shower, a shower door, vanity, vanity top, lavatory faucet, toilet, mirror, lighting, etc. Keep updating this throughout the project and it will help you stay on budget.
  • Materials: Ask your contractor for recommendations on materials. Most contractors have accounts at plumbing showrooms, tile suppliers, etc. If you decide to shop online, keep in mind my first tip — only buy brands you trust and make sure to keep your contractor updated so he or she can provide feedback on the product and brand you have chosen. This could save many hassles down the line if the contractor has had a bad experience with a particular product.
  • Lead times: Many bathtubs, vanities and custom tiles have four- to six-week lead times, so make sure to take this into account depending on when you want your project to be complete.
  • Details: You want all of your fixtures to match, but brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze tend to add around 25 percent more to the cost. Factor this into your budget and price out all the items that you want to match including faucets, shower heads, shower door hardware, lighting, vanity pulls and towel rods.
  • Have fun: Once everything has been selected, the remodel can begin. But don’t stop thinking about all the fine details along the way. Do you want side jets in the shower? What color will the grout be? If you stay a few steps ahead of the remodel at all times and work closely with your contractor, you will be amazed at how smoothly the project will go.

Anything else you want to know next month? Just e-mail me at

Patrick Driscoll is owner of Star Island Builders, a building and remodeling company on the Seacoast. For information, visit or on Facebook.

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