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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

Why should you hire a contractor?

Hiring a general contractor is a good idea for many remodeling projects. Home renovation contractors have a broad range of skills to manage, coordinate and complete a project. They should help make sure your project comes in on time and within your budget as they hire and supervise all the necessary subcontractors, including electricians and plumbers. They also handle procuring all the materials required for your job. Some homeowners look to save money by acting as their own contractor, but an experienced home renovation contractor is worth the cost. They should know local building codes, be able to pull all necessary permits, and work with inspectors to make sure the construction meets local codes. Also, because they get professional discounts, they can typically buy materials at a better price than you can; better prices on materials and labor save you money, and make up for at least a percentage of the cost of the contractor.

Where should I start when remodeling a bathroom?

Bathroom remodeling doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before starting a bathroom remodel it’s crucial to know what you want and have a clear understanding of your maximum budget. If you’d love all marble fixtures but have $3,000 total, you will have to compromise. Being realistic about materials and money before you even contact a contractor will have you on the road to success. Here are some simple steps to follow in the planning stages of bathroom remodeling:

  • List your remodeling priorities in order of importance (e.g., 1. New shower head, 2. Replace flooring, 3. Install recessed lighting, etc.).
  • Calculate what you can realistically afford to spend on your bathroom remodel. Identify an “all in” price — meaning the absolute maximum you’re willing to pay, as well as what you’d prefer to spend.
  • Gather ideas from Pinterest about colors and finishes.
  • Research the costs of the materials and finishes you want and begin making choices about what is and isn’t possible to fit into your budget (once labor is included). If you’d like to stay under $10,000 total, but really love a $2,000 tub, plan to downgrade in other areas.
  • Request quotes from at least three reputable general contractors, share your vision and ideal materials, and work together from there.

How do I plan a bathroom remodeling project?

If you’re stumped on how to plan a bathroom remodeling project, it pays to hire a designer. This is especially important if you’re changing your bathroom layout in any way. Designers create contractor-friendly drawings indicating exactly where each tile and fixture will be installed, down to the light switches. This investment might cost you $300-$500 but save you significant frustration and miscommunication, while ensuring you get precisely what you want.

If you’re going to do your own design, planning a bathroom remodeling project means being organized and planning ahead. Create a general outline of what you want and the budget you have. Identify the specific fixtures, tiles, paint and vanity you prefer. Get all this organized before requesting quotes from two to three reputable general contractors. Once you find the right pro, get a written contract outlining scope of work, materials that will be used, timeframe and payment schedule. Communicate clearly about when to order your materials so they are ready and waiting by the time the contractor gets the permits. Your job from here is to communicate clearly, pay the contractor as the work progresses, and enjoy your remodel when it’s done.

For more on where to start when remodeling a bathroom check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.

How long should a bathroom remodel take?

With proper planning and a good general contractor, your bathroom remodeling project doesn’t have to take forever. The construction phase of the project will always vary based on your scope of work, the square footage and the condition of your bathroom under the surface layer. Inevitably an 80-square-foot master bathroom with major changes will take longer than a 25-square-foot guest bath undergoing a minor renovation. For a smaller bathroom, a facelift — the industry term for sprucing up the surface layer (such as paint, vanity, tiles or light fixtures) but keeping the existing footprint of the space — may take five to eight working days, as long as there are no surprises like mold waiting when the old vanity comes out. A more complex bathroom remodel that revamps the shower area (customizing the plumbing, installing tile and changing the shower door), updates the flooring and cabinetry, and adds new paint and new lighting could take anywhere from one week to three weeks. A full bathroom remodel that guts the room, changing the footprint and moving the electrical wiring and plumbing lines, could take four to eight weeks or more. To keep your bathroom remodel on schedule, have your materials ordered and waiting, and don’t make any change orders once construction begins. Planning is key to keeping a bathroom remodel on schedule.   

For more on how long a bathroom remodel should take check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.

How do I remodel my bathroom?

Bathroom remodeling is made up of three general phases. The first phase is the planning and permitting phase, in which you determine exactly what you want, what materials and finishes will be used, and what the end product will look like. If you’re competent with design you can handle the planning yourself, or you may hire an interior designer to guide you. During this phase you’ll also hire a general contractor who can help execute your remodel vision, coordinating and overseeing all the subcontractors required to do the bathroom remodeling (plumbers, flooring pros, etc.). When your plan is finalized, your contractor should obtain permits for the work you want done. During this time you’ll work together to order all the materials so they’ll be ready and waiting when it’s time to start construction.

The second phase is construction. Bathroom remodeling typically starts with demolition, removing the old floors, shower and vanity to make way for the new. Delays in delivery of materials, or changing your mind and ordering different materials halfway into the project, will mean that construction has to pause until the new materials arrive. Each subcontractor is dependent on the next to do their work, and the general contractor should keep things moving along at the proper timeline, ensuring that the right materials are available and dealing promptly with any unexpected repairs, such as damage discovered behind the walls or under the floor. The general contractor will also coordinate inspections from the necessary officials if you’ve moved load-bearing walls or done electrical or plumbing work. After construction is complete, the final phase of bathroom remodeling is addressing your punch list. These are all the items that need to be corrected before final payment is handed over to the contractor.

For more on how to remodel a bathroom check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.

How much does it cost to remodel a bathroom?

Nationally, the average cost of bathroom remodeling is $14,000. Bathroom remodels can vary widely, from standard makeovers to luxurious master bathroom revamps. The factors that affect your bathroom remodeling cost are the finishes you choose (marble tiles can cost 20 times as much as standard subway tiles), the square footage of the project, regional labor rates in your area and the scope of work. Changing the layout or size of the bathroom will also raise costs. Moving electrical wiring and plumbing lines will also dramatically increase costs, as you’ll need to hire plumbers and electricians to handle the work. What’s happening behind your walls and under your floor will also affect bathroom remodeling cost: Rot, damage or mold can lead to additional work and charges. Overall, bathroom remodeling may offer great return on investment and also improve your daily life. Here are some examples of average bathroom remodeling costs:

  • 6-foot by 6-foot bathroom remodel: $3,500, including labor and materials.
  • Standard renovation: $6,500-$10,000. Price includes labor and materials the customer has purchased. Labor may include taking out the shower and shower pan, installing new shower pan and shower, and installing new door, new vanity, new mirror, new bathroom fan, and all new fixtures.
    • Price variation depends on the quality of the finishes.
  • 10-foot by 6-foot bathroom remodel: $7,200, including labor and materials.
  • Mid-range renovation: $12,000-$15,000. Price includes labor and materials the customer has purchased.
  • Upscale renovation: $35,000 and up. Price includes labor and materials. Items might include digital displays for fixtures, multiple shower heads and custom showers.

For more on how to remodel a bathroom, what it costs to remodel a bathroom, what bathroom brands to consider and more check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.

Who remodels bathrooms?

The professional best equipped to handle bathroom remodeling is a general contractor. A general contractor is typically licensed by the state or region in which they work to carry out home remodeling projects. To receive licensing, they must generally demonstrate their knowledge of construction and building and safety codes. General contractors act as the organizer for the entire bathroom remodeling project, ensuring that each element (new tile, shower pan replacement, lighting installation, etc.) is completed at the appropriate time by the proper contractor. Before hiring a general contractor, it’s wise to do your research. In addition to getting several competitive bids, here are questions to ask:

  • May I see before-and-after photos of some of your recent bathroom remodels?
  • Will I need permits for this project? Do you apply for those?
  • May I see proof of insurance and licenses?  
  • Can we have a written contract outlining scope of work, budget and timeline?
  • Will you be here each day overseeing the work?

For more on who remodels bathrooms and how long it takes check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.

When should you hire a contractor?

A few home remodeling projects can be done by an ambitious DIY-minded homeowner or local handyman, but many are best completed by a professional home renovation contractor. You should hire a contractor when you’re planning a large project that takes time, machinery or large tools, and several workers; a kitchen remodel, new bathroom or home addition will be most successful with a licensed, expert contractor at the helm. It’s particularly important to have a professional contractor on board for construction, electrical, plumbing and HVAC projects that require inspections to meet local building codes. Of course, you can hire a contractor for smaller projects, too, if you prefer to let an expert handle things like addition or removal of a wall, small framing projects, or anything that requires a permit.  

You should hire a contractor when you’re ready to start a remodeling project and you have plans, a budget and a timeline for the work in hand, but before any remodeling work begins.

How much will it cost to remodel my house?

The cost to remodel a home is highly variable — size and scope of the project, quality of materials, and the number of subcontractors required to complete the job all affect the total cost. The average national cost of a home renovation project is $13,500. The national average per-square-foot cost of a remodel ranges from $25 to $100. Nationally, kitchen and bathroom remodels are the most popular types of projects, in part because they typically have the highest return on investment when the home is sold. The national average cost of a major kitchen remodel ranges from $25,000 to $62,000, while the average bathroom remodel tends to cost $6,000 to $18,000. In addition to materials and labor costs, many remodeling project costs include permit fees, which, average $900 or more, depending on your location.

Do I need a contractor for a kitchen remodel?

A kitchen remodel is one of the most important investments you can make in your home, and it’s critical to get the details right; that’s where a home renovation contractor comes in. A minor remodel usually includes new cabinet faces and hardware, replacement appliances, and paint, while an extensive job may enlarge the kitchen’s square footage, install new cabinets or an island, change the layout, and lay new tile or hardwood floors. Any renovation that includes filing permits, construction, or electrical or plumbing work is best completed by an experienced contractor who knows local codes.

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