The first thing to do when considering bathroom remodeling, like any other home improvement project, is to compare your allotted budget with the cost of your wants and needs. Is installing a sunken bathtub with a whirlpool your bathroom remodeling dream? If you want your space to have the look and feel of a spa, can you afford it? Something more utilitarian and eco-minded like a mini-tiled, corner shower with glass doors may be what you have in mind. In that case, you should factor in the additional cost of energy saving devices such as a water-efficient showerhead and commode in your bathroom remodeling plan. And don’t forget to compare your projected energy savings to the additional cost of ecologically friendly installations. Ethical choices may not be always realistic if you’re pinching pennies.
Now to an important decision: Will your bathroom remodeling project be “do-it-yourself,” or will you hire a contractor? Consider the pros and cons of these options.
If you’re all thumbs and if unclogging drains makes you recoil in horror, the choice is obvious: Have your bathroom remodeling done by a pro. You’ll want to be very careful, though, if you take this route. Contractors are notorious for establishing unrealistic deadlines, so you may have to prepare for the eventuality of washing your hair and bathing in the kitchen sink. Your best bet when hiring a contractor is to ask your neighbors and friends for dependable references. Also, many real estate offices will make available to you lists of local, reputable contractors to call for quotes. Be sure to consider your bathroom remodeling project just as you would any other commercial transaction: Get three quotes on fixtures and labor, and remember that the lowest price may not always be the best choice. In the meantime, visit several home improvement superstores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot to price fixtures, hardware and tile, so that when the contractors return with their estimates, you’ll know if you’re being overcharged for the tangible purchases of your bathroom remodeling project.
Now, if you happen to be the handy sort of person or a person who’s enthusiastic about learning to do something new, you can save quite a bit of money that could then be allocated to purchasing upgraded or higher quality fixtures. Some individuals will be able to get the job done with reference books on bathroom remodeling, which are usually visible and within arms’ reach just beyond the store’s entrance. Others simply march bravely into the local Home Depot with a list of supplies and fixtures in hand. Another plus for do-it-yourself bathroom remodeling is the expert, detailed advice of the store’s employees. It doesn’t hurt to trail along behind the most seasoned-looking plumbing department employee and listen in discretely as he gives instructions to other do-it-yourselfers. When your turn comes, take notes and don’t be shy about taking too much of the employee’s time: That’s how a sales associate earns her keep. Be aware that home and bathroom remodeling centers give hands-on lessons free to the public. In most cases there is no fee for these lessons, but registration is required. Check with your local store for a schedule of hands-on classes.
Lastly, when, you’re knee-deep in plaster dust, your hair is a tangle of unclogged drain-goo, and you’ve strained your back from wielding that sledgehammer, think about the Jacuzzi you’re about to install, right next to the mini-fridge and the wet bar.