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Bathroom Renovation - where do I begin?


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18 replies to this topic

#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted February 12 2007 - 07:42 PM

The time has come to redo my bathroom. Almost everything needs to be replaced. I don't plan on doing any of this myself. If I had an expert over my shoulder like in the TV shows - then yes I would work on it. Otherwise, I would just screw it up.

I had someone from Home Depot services come out to give me a free estimate. I have a good idea of what I want to do structurally, but when he started going on about tile, porcelain, ceramic, travertine, marble, slate, and then the different man made materials - my head was about to explode. Also I just can't "see" the colors properly and cannot decide what colors the floor tile, wall, shower tile, vanity cabinet, and vanity counter top should be.

I went to Home Depo Expo and I started looking at the myriad of products and then I had to leave because I was getting a headache.

I am now in a state of paralysis by analysis. I really don't want to plan this out with an sales expert again because they will be pushy and want me to start on Monday when I don't know exactly what I want.

I wanted to go with a name brand - either Home Depot services or Home Depot Expo - because they have a powerful brand name behind them in case something goes wrong. Previously, they replaced my carpeting, hot water heater, and a sink incinerator - which went fine. The first estimate that I got from HDS seemed high to me. About 18K for the high grade material and the lower grade material was 14K.

To all of those who know my pain, how should I go about accomplishing this bathroom renovation?

#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted February 13 2007 - 09:30 AM

You will pay more money by going through HD than a contractor....broad brush statement, but usually. Take your time.....people usually spend a great deal of time in that room so you want to enjoy it too. Might be worth paying an interior decorator/designer a couple hundred bucks for a look see and suggestions.

Mort

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr

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Posted February 13 2007 - 11:10 AM

I had both my full bath and a basement half bath gutted in November. Because the plumbing in my house was so old (50+ year old galvanized), I decided to have all of my plumbing ripped out and replaced with copper. Also had a new hot water heater put in. All of that was done for less than your Home Depot estimate, so it might pay to solicit a few estimates.

My contractor brought in a plumbing company that he told me upfront was going to cost more, but that they did the best work. Glad I took his advice. They came in on a Thursday afternoon and started draining the old hot water heater and cutting out pipe. By the time I got home from work Friday, the entire house had been re-plumbed and the new hot water heater was operating. I was astonished at the speed. They must have had several guys working simultaneously.

I know the frustration at picking out tiles and colors. It took me three trips to a tile store before a pattern just "clicked" for me. Most places will give you samples you can take home to help you. Take them up on it.

#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Kirk Gunn

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Posted February 13 2007 - 11:37 AM

Funny aside about HD... We re-did our basement and my beloved wiff found the perfect sliding door at HD and they sucked her into having them install it. I expresed concern that a sub could do it cheaper, but wiffy insisted these were "HD Employees".... (that made me SO much more comfortable).

They came, installed and did a decent job. 5 yrs later and we have yet to receive the install bill. I don't complain too much about HD anymore Posted Image

PS - "Kirk Gunn" is my online alias and bears no resemblance to any persons, living or dead. Move along, nothing to see here......

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeff_CusBlues

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Posted February 13 2007 - 11:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_K_Sr
By the time I got home from work Friday, the entire house had been re-plumbed and the new hot water heater was operating. I was astonished at the speed. They must have had several guys working simultaneously.

Or, like you said, they were good. I'm always amazed at how fast good, skilled tradesmen work. The seem to do a great job and in amazing time. I've done a few simple home renovations and it always takes me a long time to do it right. Sorry to veer from the theme.

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted February 13 2007 - 12:48 PM

Jason, try this:

Go to a department store (or Linens & Things, etc.) and pick out a set of really nice, rich, fluffy towels that you'd like to use in your new bathroom. Pick a color you really like.

Now take one of your towels (or just a washcloth) with you to HD and use it as a basis for picking out tile.

The idea is that it's easier to pick out towels than it is to pick out tile, and once you've settled on a color/texture of towel, that automatically eliminates a lot of tile colors and textures that you otherwise might be compelled to consider.

No more headaches.

Worth a shot?
-Brian
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#7 of 19 OFFLINE   mylan

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Posted February 14 2007 - 01:52 AM

We had a house custom built two years ago and the bathroom tile was indeed one of hardest decisions. We went with a slate color on the floor with ivory for the shower walls. This worked well until we decided to change the color pallette from a greyish blue to a goldish brown. It still looks ok but we wish we had went with more neutral tile colors like beiges and taupes, or browns that would "go" with more colors. I would use ceramic tiles, marble will be too slick.
Our cabinents are the same color as the trim, an off white that goes with anything, cultured marble countertops in white or bone blend with that.
If you are on well water, do not use copper pipe. Our well water in our last house was highly acidic and it leeched the copper from the pipe and caused a blue tint to form on faucets and showers and caused the bath water to have a blue tint.
One of the best upgrades we did was have dual showerheads installed, one fixed and one handheld. If we ever build again, we'll do that again. One thing we wished we would have done was put in heated floors, tile can get cold in the winter. Home Depot used to sell, and still might, a rediant heat mat that you put down under the tile for less than a grand unless your bathroom is huge.
Lastly, do not let anyone get pushy with you, it is your project. HD will be a good starting point but interview several contractors and ask to see their work. The painters, tile guy,trim guy, and stacked stone people all had nice photos of past jobs that can help you to decide how your project should look when finished.
Sorry for the long response but I've been there and it is mind-numbing but very rewarding in the end. Good Luck!
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#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted February 14 2007 - 10:49 AM

Just for clarification (in case you're not aware) HD contractors are self employed and sub contracted by HD. They aren't really employed by the company. They're screened to some extent and have to carry their own liability insurance but likely as not, should something bad happen, it'll be the contractors insurance carrier that you'll be dealing with.

Mort

#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted June 03 2007 - 07:53 PM

I think I have a better idea of what I would like to do now:

1. Porcelain Tile - better than Ceramic and it is a lot cheaper than natural stone - plus I won't have to seal it. I don't want to "maintain" it after it is installed.
2. Grout that isn't white - more like a sandy color.
3. Big tiles on the shower wall [probably 12"] and the bathroom floor, small tiles [2"] on the shower floor.
4. Install those glass translucent blocks on part of a shower wall to let in more light.
5. I like those half/full flush toilets that I saw all over Europe. It doesn't waste as much water.
6. Rip out the bathtub, make it a big shower. I don't know if I want a sliding glass door or one that swings out. Tile the shower walls all the way up to the ceiling. I hate when they don't tile it up all the way. That looks cheap and the wall gets water logged.
7. I would like a pair of "indented niches" between the shower faucet and the shower head to hold shampoo bottles and other things. I hate when people just leave their shampoo bottles and such on the shower floor because there is no where to put them.
8. New shower fixtures, new vanity.
9. Concrete Backer Board/Hardy Board in the shower. I don't want to settle for Green Board.

The problem I face now is finding a good contractor - one who specializes in bathroom renovations and can handle any problems that may arise.

I don't have anyone who can refer a good contractor to me. There are plenty of horror stories about shady contractors. My sister had to sue one to get her money back after he just stopped showing up. I'll have to just pick one and hope for the best. I heard that angieslist.com and servicemagic.com aren't that great. I know to look at the BBB site, but most contractors that I looked up don't have any feedback at all.

That is why I originally wanted to go with a reputable name like Home Depot. Perhaps I should check out Home Depot Expo or Lowe's.

Aside from looking through the phone book and hoping for the best - how do I find a good contractor?

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   JonZ

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Posted June 04 2007 - 12:17 AM

It helps to have a girlfried who watches all those home improvement/design shows

2 years ago I bought a house and gutted the entire thing. Redid the upstairs bathroom as well as completing the downstairs basement with a bathroom. Design=G/F, Labor=me.


Id try a tile/flooring store. They should also have a list of contractors they trust for installations.

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted June 04 2007 - 03:33 AM

Basically Home Despot or Lowes will just hire local contractors and then take their cut.....you might as well deal direct.

What's the raw plumbing like in your house? 50 year old galvanized? A remodel job should be approached in stages. If the raw plumbing needs upgrading, by all means do it before proceeding with a bath remodel job, otherwise you will be tearing out that new bathroom to install pipe in a few years.

I typed up a written request-for-proposal when I solicited bids for my bath remodel. I went with the middle bid since that contractor noticed little potential problems and put fixes for them into his bid. He thereby demonstrated to me that he knew what he was doing.

Jason, where do you live? We can't suggest contractors without knowing that.
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#12 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted June 04 2007 - 05:13 AM

The plumbing in the condo is PVC for the drain pipes and copper for everything else I think. It was built in 1984. I also have a small leak somewhere because after I take a shower I can see that the grout between the bathroom floor and the bottom of the tub is wet in two spots. I tried putting caulk everywhere but it didn't help. It has been like that for years.

I live in Dallas, TX.

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted June 04 2007 - 08:49 AM

If there has been a leak for a long time, you may have mold issues to deal with which could require ripping out plywood or framing to fix properly. As for the indents for shampoo etc, these need to be built so that they fully drain or you'll have problems.

Although ripping out the tub may sound like a good idea, they have more resale value than a shower alone unless you have another bath/tub. If going the shower route, I would consider a bench of some kind (again installed to fully drain). Handy for the shampoo and washing feet. I'd be sure whoever is doing the install quote is using cement board and the Schutler system - more expensive, but it won't leak (if installed properly), meaning you won't be redoing this again because it failed on you.

Do yourself a favor and buy the Holmes on Homes series on DVD, you'll at least have a far better idea of how the work should look (and more importantly, how it shouldn't look) after viewing.

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted June 04 2007 - 02:20 PM

What kind of size room are you dealing with?

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeremiah

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Posted June 05 2007 - 12:52 PM

If you can afford a little more, I would ditch the hardy backer and go with wire and concrete, a much better quality. Bigger tiles make the bathroom look smaller so don't go too big.

I would rip out the tub and put a shower, if you are able to move the wall alittle more to get a bigger shower that would be ideal, if the toilet is in the same room as the shower than you would have to move that as well(would be much easier if it is on the second floor, or you have a sub-floor). You could fix whatever leak you do have which needs to be taken care of.

Have a small bench built into the corner if you can, so you can put your leg up on it.

Build a inlet for your soap and shampoo(as others said).

If you can afford, get a thermastaic valve, and a diverter valve for a hand held shower. If you go this route get a hook for your hand held instead of the sliding pole. Not a big fan of body sprays(never used one so..) they are nice to see in the tile. Also, usually shower heads are too low so ask your plumber to raise it up

Shower door, I would get a swinging door.

I would get a new vanity as you said you want to do, try and get a granite top and a large beveled mirror if your layout will allow.
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#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted June 05 2007 - 06:52 PM

And if you have room, get a bidet.
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#17 of 19 OFFLINE   PatrickM

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Posted June 06 2007 - 04:31 PM

If you are going to the trouble of a big reno, don't forget to get electric radiant heat in your tiles. Your significant other will love it and it allows you to leave out the little mats because the tile is cold.

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Jason L.

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Posted June 11 2007 - 06:41 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Ulmer
Do yourself a favor and buy the Holmes on Homes series on DVD, you'll at least have a far better idea of how the work should look (and more importantly, how it shouldn't look) after viewing.
I watched 4 episodes on the Discovery Home channel. Scary stuff. This is exactly what is sending me into the arms of HD/HD Expo/Lowe's. Like I wrote earlier, my sister got screwed over by a contractor friend of hers. Two things I learned from watching is to make sure that I get permits for the work [a contractor that doesn't want you to get permits is a bad sign] and the more complex the job is, the more likely that the contractor will get in over his head and leave you hanging. I don't think I have to worry too much as a bathroom project isn't too big.

The show I watch a lot of is Bathroom Renovations on the DIY channel. I have learned a lot watching it. It helps that the host, Amy Matthews, is hot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremiah
Have a small bench built into the corner if you can, so you can put your leg up on it.
I thought about this but someone who has a bench in the shower said they never used it. I would also like to maximize the space so that two people can fit in the shower :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Ulmer
Although ripping out the tub may sound like a good idea, they have more resale value than a shower alone unless you have another bath/tub.
My condo is in downtown Dallas. You never see any kids here because parents don't want their kids to be part of this school district. So, it is all adults here. I am 6' 2" and unless I had a really long tub [not possible here] a tub is useless unless I want to kiss my kneecaps when I take a bath.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickM
If you are going to the trouble of a big reno, don't forget to get electric radiant heat in your tiles. Your significant other will love it and it allows you to leave out the little mats because the tile is cold.
I was thinking about this, but I am considering selling the place after I am done with the project. This is the low end of the condo market, and I believe that price is paramount for people who want to buy in this complex. People who want that feature will probably be looking at a higher end place. If it makes financial sense I will consider it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will_B
And if you have room, get a bidet.

I am a man, damn it! It wouldn't make financial sense, and I don't have the room. I still wouldn't get one anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremiah
If you can afford a little more, I would ditch the hardy backer and go with wire and concrete, a much better quality. Bigger tiles make the bathroom look smaller so don't go too big.
What is the difference between hardy board, green board, concrete board, and backer board?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mort Corey
Just for clarification (in case you're not aware) HD contractors are self employed and sub contracted by HD. They aren't really employed by the company. They're screened to some extent and have to carry their own liability insurance but likely as not, should something bad happen, it'll be the contractors insurance carrier that you'll be dealing with.
They way that I think things used to be was this:
HD - had subcontractors do the work
HD Expo - had their own people do the work
The two were separate entities.

I believe that now HD is now HD Services and they are changing so that their own people are doing the work like HD Expo. The two will have the same group of people doing installations.

Regardless, I heard that the subs would do a good job because HD brought them so much business that they didn't want to lose it by having the customers complain about them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonZ
Id try a tile/flooring store. They should also have a list of contractors they trust for installations.
I tried getting recommendations like this but they give me a tile guy when I want someone to oversee the whole project and can handle anything - like Mike Holmes!

Next, I am going to try places that sell bathroom fixtures and ask them for a good contractor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Lenhardt
What kind of size room are you dealing with?
Roughly 5.83 ft. wide x 12.5 ft. long

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   PatrickM

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Posted June 12 2007 - 02:56 AM

Jason, for reference since I'm in that business, if your condo is worth at least $250 per square foot, it typically is high enough to warrant electric radiant heat.


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