I’m in the middle of the neverending bathroom reno. And if there is one thing I’ve learned about home renovations — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — it’s that they never go according to plan.
We decided to give our smallish master ensuite bathroom a facelift after a leaky faucet turned into a torrential downpour through the kitchen ceiling last spring. The repair required breaking through the tiled wall which resulted in a gaping hole that stared back at us for months until we finally decided to do something about it.
In true form we jumped right in. We could have spent those months and months researching, Pinterest-ing and price-checking. Instead, we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants. I feel like we are turning into the clients-from-Hell, adding things as we go. Thankfully, our contractor has rolled with it, though I would not recommend this approach.
The Top 10 Dos and Don’ts (I wish I had followed) for a fairly seamless, on-budget and stress-free bathroom reno:
DO your homework. Check out design magazines and Pinterest, visit home-improvement stores and home shows to see what catches your eye. Then bookmark or create a file of your inspirations for easy reference. We failed miserably at this.
DO establish a budget. Include a safety cushion for unexpected expenses or must-have items you may not anticipate. I’ve discovered I have expensive tastes.
DO get a minimum of three quotes. Word-of-mouth is key, here. Hit up friends and family for their reco’s as you will feel more confident choosing a trusted referral. Determining flexibility in a contractor is important here, especially if you encounter delays.
DO establish a clear timeline. Knowing exactly what you need ahead of time will help keep the reno on-track. Remember, many items such as tile, fixtures and 60-inch, single-sink vanities need to be custom-ordered and can take from two days to two or more weeks to arrive. Again, we were unprepared; but, admittedly, our contractor should have better communicated these needs with us newbies.
DO ask a lot of questions from the get-go. Different contractors generate different ideas. There’s no harm in forwarding a quick email with all your questions before getting a final estimate. Wish we had done this.
DO keep a record of all your expenditures, brochures, paint samples in one place. This helps keep you organized and is a great one-stop reference. Totally acing this part.
DO communicate updates with your partner. Unless this is a solo project, ensure you are both on-board with any and all changes and purchases. It could save your relationship.
DO respect your contractor’s time. No renovation goes perfectly. However, even with a little wiggle room, be mindful your contractor has other projects and timelines to fulfill. You are not their only client.
DO shop locally. We shopped around online, at big reno stores and at local businesses. Service and quality when you shop locally can go a long way to improving your renovation experience. Local all the way, baby.
DON’T be a dick. Make sure you and your contractor are on the same page at all times and that you are respectful with any additional requests.
Bathroom reno update Nov 7, 2017:
Our bathroom reno was estimated to take two weeks and we have just entered Week 4. Here’s what’s been happening.
Week 1: After two days of demo, we had to halt work for three days. Why? Because we needed the shower head system in order for the plumber to do the install. We didn’t know. Instead we had been wasting our time looking at tile. Naturally, the Riobel shower head system we selected would take 48 hours to order in. Thankfully our contractor was able to squeeze in an emergency job during that down time.
Week 2: Work resumed. We had discussed adding some contractor-approved features. So this week included building a custom bench and wall recess in the shower and then installing the Wedi system. The pot light wiring for the shower and switch were installed. The tiles were ordered. We began to notice water pressure problems.
Week 3: The plumber had to return to move the toilet plumbing for our (of course) fancy one-piece Toto toilet. Water pressure continued to decline but they couldn’t detect the issue immediately. The in-floor heating was installed and cement-covered. Walls and ceiling (where the bulkhead was removed) were sanded and primed. Shower floor tile was laid followed by the majority of the bathroom floor tile by Friday. Our weekend homework was to buy a bathroom vanity and settle on a paint colour. We did both and then I had a major bout of anxiety when I couldn’t visualize all the elements coming together.
Week 4: This week began with a trip from the Town to shut off our water supply so we could replace a valve. In the end the water pressure problem (which was at this point leaving us with no water coming to the top floor if the basement shower or washer/dishwasher was operating) turned out to be our dying water softener. Woo. Freaking. Hoo. More tiling. We also found out the vanity we ordered is on backorder, so instead of two weeks, it will be mid-December. Uh, nope. So we are back to picking out a vanity.
This had better be awesome AF.