It’s time for a makeover! Whether you’re buying, selling, or just want to update that late ‘80s powder room—a bathroom remodel provides great return on investment. Remodeling’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report shows a nation-wide 65.7 percent ROI for bathroom remodels, while areas like the Pacific region, bring back 76.2 percent. The numbers are on your side, it’s time to stop the bathroom suffering.
Ken Burkhardt of Homestead Remodeling & Consulting, Nathan Loveridge of Loveridge Remodeling, and Jordan Kohn of All Around Builder share their remodeling expertise to prep you for your bathroom redo. Because you might as well love your loo.
What are the financial benefits of a bathroom remodel?
The bathrooms and kitchen are the primary rooms a prospective buyer looks at when purchasing a home, explains Jordan. Remodeling a bathroom, updating its features, and even reconfiguring the floor plan can greatly increase the return on investment of your real estate investment. Besides improving the appearance of the room, shares Nathan, you improve the functionality of the room. In addition to the value it adds to the home, a space that accommodates you and your family is important for daily life.
How long does the average job take and what are the most common remodels?
There are typically 3 phases to any remodeling and construction project, shares Jordan. The planning and permitting phase, the construction phase, and the punch list finalization phase. The planning and permitting phase varies from city to city due to different procedures in each building department—however, the average time for this phase is 3-4 weeks, he explains.
The construction phase can also vary depending on if the remodel is a straight same-for-same replacement, or if plumbing fixtures and electrical devices are being added or relocated. The average length of a full bathroom remodel—taking into consideration inspections—could take anywhere from 4-6 weeks, Jordan shares, citing that the most common updates for a bathroom remodel are tile flooring, tub/shower wall tiles, vanity, counter top, and lighting.
Homestead Remodeling does a lot of what they call “facelifts.” These jobs are typically completed in five to eight working days, shares Ken, while more extensive bathroom overhauls take longer.
One to three weeks is common depending on the amount of work, says Nathan. His clients often start with the shower area, he says, by customizing the plumbing, tile size, setting, and design. New paint is always in order after the shower is done, he says. Next, flooring and cabinetry can be modernized with updated materials. Last but not least, the lighting in a bathroom is very important, says Nathan.
How much does the average job cost?
Wouldn’t you know, there is no average job! The remodelers share the ranges of what can commonly be expected.
Most jobs we handle cost between $10,000 and $15,000, shares Ken.
The baseline for a bathroom remodel averages around $3,500, according to Nathan. More frequently, a bathroom remodel can cost between $5,000 and $10,000. I personally have been involved in bathroom remodels that have cost $22,000, says Nathan.
The average bathroom remodel could cost anywhere from $6,500 – $12,250, depending on size, scope, and materials used, says Jordan.
The moral here? Be upfront in your Thumbtack requests about budget and desired outcomes.
First, we schedule an onsite visit to make sketches, take photos, discuss scope of work, and materials, explains Jordan. Then we prepare floor plans, permit applications, notice of commencement and supporting documents for the building department. We then record the NOC and submit the application package to the building department. Once the permit is issued, we perform the demolition. After the demolition we do the rough plumbing, then rough electrical, followed by framing, drywall, plaster, paint & flooring. All in that order. There are several rough inspections that occur in that sequence as well, to make sure things are going as planned. After the walls, floors, and ceilings are finished, we install the vanity, plumbing fixtures, electrical devices, and trim out all of the accessories. From there we schedule final inspections and perform a walk through to address punch list items to complete, shares Jordan. When the client is 100% satisfied, the project will be officially completed.
Bathroom remodels can be an enjoyable experience, says Nathan. I speak with clients one-on-one by phone before a site visit to prepare myself for what they might need. After inspecting the site, I go over design options with the homeowner, then write out a specific and detailed estimate, explains Nathan. Once the estimate is accepted, I send a written contract and we sign. At this point, a collection of 10% of the job’s estimated total is legal and common for a contractor to do. I find jobs go well when a client has done their homework and identifies the materials they want used. This process of material selections by the owner can take some time but is well worth the diligence, according to Nathan.
Homestead Remodeling reviews the request and follows up with a phone call/ email to introduce themselves and set an appointment to meet and discuss a proposal for the requested work, says Ken. The proposal is written and presented to the homeowner during a secondary meeting, and if all is agreed upon, a contract is signed. From there, work is scheduled by the production manager to be completed.
What questions should someone ask before hiring a bathroom remodeler?
Do you plan on applying for any permits? Do you have the proper insurance and licenses? Do you have before and after pictures of previous projects to preview? You want to make sure they are going by proper procedure, recommends Ken.
How long have you been doing this type of work? May I speak with past clients of yours? Who will be performing the work? How long will the process take? Will you be servicing other jobs at the time as my home? What can I do to make the process easier on you as the contractor? Get all the information you need upfront, suggests Nathan, so there are no surprises later on down the line.
What do you wish new clients knew about the process?
I wish more clients knew how long some building departments take to approve a permit. Many people are surprised by the time it takes, although we do our best to communicate the timeline before any contracts are signed, says Jordan.
That you get what you pay for, says Ken. And that it’s always best to have a General Contractor handle the management of the job.
Not everything goes as planned, states Nathan. For example, after demolition problems like bad framing by the original home builder might be revealed. That needs to be dealt with before contractors can move forward. Another example of the unexpected could be structural water damage from previously undetectable or unnoticeable leaks. A homeowner should be prepared for these possible problems, because the total cost of the remodel will increase due to the additional work that was unforeseeable but is necessary to do a good job.
Any advice about choosing a contractor?
Unfortunately, in South Florida, licensed people will often illegally “rent” their licenses to unlicensed companies, says Jordan. Look out for companies where the licensed qualifiers are not present. A second warning sign is a company asking for a large deposit up front. We only require a 10 percent deposit up front; followed by progress payments as work progresses. The key is not to overpay up front so the contractor owes you a substantial amount of work to get caught up, explains Jordan. Keep pace with the work as far as payments go and request partial lien releases with each payment to be released from liability for materials or to subcontractors.
Homeowners should always check out the contractor’s insurance policies and their accreditations, suggests Ken.
Investigate the contractor’s past work and clients, recommends Nathan. Good, clear communication is very important. If you can’t communicate with the contractor, look for someone else. Also, a contractor that asks for too much money up front is someone you want to stay away from.
Where can clients save money on a bathroom remodel?
Find a contractor that does most of the trades himself, recommends Nathan. Although it’s not easily accomplished—because it is difficult to be good at more than one trade—it will reduce the cost of having a general contractor subcontract out to multiple companies to tackle various parts of the project. Price shopping is very important when it comes to the materials. Local retailers are the best places to buy your materials, opines Nathan, because you don’t have to pay for shipping costs and there are fewer problems if a return needs to occur.
Select materials that are within a budget you can afford, suggests Jordan. The actual rough work and labor will always be more or less a fixed price, but the costs can jump substantially if you select really expensive tiles, vanities, and fixtures are selected.
Ken agrees that when the client purchases their own materials it’s a cost-saver, but warns against doing so without the guidance of a professional contractor.
Where should someone absolutely not cut financial corners in their remodel?
All three resoundingly agree that you should never cut financial corners when hiring a reputable, licensed contractor. Someone who is not skilled can damage your home or your materials, costing you more money in the long run. Do your research to avoid sorrow later.
You’re all set with the questions to ask, are you ready to redo your bathroom?