Okay, so you have decided to tackle your bathroom project as the next item on the list. Now what? Well, let me tell ya… I’ve been there! A little over a year ago, we decided to do just that. In our case, our bathroom remodel was actually going to be creating a bathroom in our basement that had nothing in it, but the holes in the ground. When it came to picking the layout and finishes, deciding between the thousands of items in the store was quite daunting. Hopefully, in today’s post, I can save you some time and effort for your bathroom remodeling project. On to the tips…
1. Find your contractor by word of mouth, if possible.
When you decide to build something out of nothing, as we did with our basement bathroom project, finding someone you can trust and rely on is an important piece of the puzzle. Not only will this person be your expert opinion, but they will also most likely be responsible for completing the job while you are at work.
We started by putting a post on our neighborhood Facebook page asking if anyone had any recommendations for a contractor who was versed in basement bathrooms. As it turns out, our neighbor three doors down had just done the exact same thing. Not only were we able to see an example of his work, but we were able to get a firsthand account of how he was to work with.
If this isn’t possible in your area, I would recommend checking home advisor and/or just doing a google search of contractors in your area. I like to pick 2 or 3 options and see which person/company strikes me as the best one before deciding. Once you land on a contractor, ask if they would provide you some references from clients they have worked with in the past. Usually an email or a phone number of the reference is sufficient in order to ask them how they liked the end result as well as the process of working with the contractor. Remember, finding a reliable contractor is key to having a smooth experience when it comes to big remodeling projects.
2. Explore the different floor plans.
As I’m sure most contractors do, our contractor came in, measured, and explained a few possibilities that he could foresee happening in this space. Our space for the bathroom was a blank canvas, so a lot of possibilities were running through my mind. Our contractor was able to work through different scenarios with me and also discuss what he could see as an issue with any of the options I was considering in my head.
Once we discussed all that I wanted and needed to have, he left. Within two days, he had emailed me a few possible floor plans of which I could choose. The hardest part of the remodeling process, especially when it is a blank canvas, is being able to visualize the outcome.
To help facilitate the visual, I recommend printing out each option and bringing them with you into the space. Stand there with paper in hand and try to step into the floor plan (this is where your great imagination you cultivated when you were a kid will come in handy). As you do this visualization exercise, write down any issues you could perceive and also what you really liked about the layout. Therefore, when you are asked to make a final decision on layout, you can address some of your concerns with your contractor, make some tweaks, and get it right the first time.
3. Create a mood board for the bathroom.
The first time my husband and I went into Home Depot to make some decisions for the bathroom, to say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement. Our contractor had given us a list of what we needed to decide on… shower tile, floor tile, vanity, mirror, faucet finishes, light fixtures, toilet brand, bath tub, and the all important paint color.
The only problem is that he wanted to know our decisions on all of this ASAP in order to place the orders and keep everything running on time. This was wonderful for our deadline to be reached, but if you are not ready for this to be asked so soon, as we weren’t, this can be a whirlwind of overwhelm.
Creating a mood board early in the process will help you narrow down options quickly. To start your mood board, go into the stores you like, such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, and/or specialty stores, and take well-lit pictures of everything that catches your eye. You can see my initial mood board above.
While you are there, grab a cart for the portable things, such as floor and wall tile, and take pictures of some of the samples you like next to each other to see how they will look together in person. I always recommend holding the samples the way they will show up (for instance, shower tile should be vertical while floor tile is laid horizontal). Also, bringing home paint chips is also a good idea at this time to see how they will work in your room’s lighting. You can find the best ways to create a mood board in this post, too.
If you don’t have time right away to get into the store, look through the online inventory and cut and paste the items you like. Sometimes you can get a good idea of how paint color will look by researching online, but the best way is to bring the color into your home either with paint chips or, better yet, actual paint samples… I talk more about mood boards in relation to kitchen remodels in this post, too.
4. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.
Sometimes you will need to ask for more time once your contractor gets rolling because you have a gut feeling a decision you made is not going to turn out right. For instance, I had spent a lot of time researching paint colors for my basement bathroom, but when it came time to pick one I could not decide. Feeling the pressure, I chose a color, but I knew I really just needed more time to research and explore.
Knowing what I had chosen wasn’t right, I woke up the next morning and asked to have an extra weekend to be sure. I did end up changing my mind and, now that it is all done, I am so glad I took a second look because the paint color is absolutely perfect.
Not being prepared with your decisions on time is not ideal for your contractor, especially if they have purchased everything already or have another job lined up after yours. However, it is important to be assertive in making sure you get the results you want. Remember, this is your money and you want to be happy with it when its finished… because bathrooms are expensive!
Sometimes the changes can be made quite easily, but be prepared that if you are too late, it may cost you. This is why steps 2 and 3 above are so important to complete before the contractor starts.
5. Enjoy the process.
This may seem like a given, but the process can be very stressful because you don’t want to make a wrong decision that you’ll have to live with forever and/or that will cost you more money. However, keep reminding yourself… this is supposed to be fun, not stressful. You are creating something that is of your own design and you get to reap the benefits of its glory when it is all said and done.
As hard as it may be, try to roll with the punches, and, as we discussed in step 4, if you need more time, ask for more time. Of course, the best way to avoid undue stress is to make sure you are prepared as I mentioned in steps 1, 2, and 3, but things will spontaneously pop up in a project that are unforeseen. If you did your due diligence with finding a contractor, they should be able to keep the project level and relieve some stress for you in the process.