Friday, 24 October 2014

Remodeling the Family Bathroom

Every home has a family bathroom. It may be called the hallway bathroom, the main bathroom or something else. But it is the one place that is put to the most use and so it is the one that sees the most wear and tear. That means that it ages faster than the other bathrooms. Bathrooms are places we take for granted and since we use them so often, the signs of wear and aging are often not noticed until one day the depressing nature of the room becomes inescapable. That’s when you realize that it’s time to remodel the bathroom.

Bathroom remodeling is not cheap and because of the plumbing and electrical connections, any mistakes in the remodeling process will be hard and expensive to fix. To be sure of getting the best results from the remodel, you should plan it down to the last detail, keeping in mind the needs of all those who will be using it.

Questions to Ask Yourself

How many people will be using the bathroom? Are there any elderly folks with special needs? What about kids – can they reach everything they need to? These are the kinds of things that can derail a bathroom remodeling project. It’s good to look at home d├ęcor magazines and note down the features you like. And then to work with your contractor to create a stunning design. But the bathroom is, first and foremost, a functional room. Once those requirements have been met, all the other features can be layered on top. Do it the other way around and you will end up with a beautiful bathroom that no one wants to use because it’s way too uncomfortable.

Do you need to change the flooring? This one item can change the way a bathroom looks. Keep in mind the needs of the users when deciding on what type of flooring to put in – porcelain is the least slippery. The lack of adequate storage space is a common issue with most bathrooms. Plan to maximize the storage as far as possible. With a little careful planning, you will be surprised at the amount of extra cabinets, drawers and shelves that can be put in. It’s easy to underestimate how much storage you will really need so whatever you think of, increase it by 50%. If possible, double it.

If young children will be using the bathroom, check to see if the fittings are the right height for them. Make sure the sliding shower doors do not catch and badly pinch small fingers. You can also do something to minimize water splashing out of the tub.

One important feature is to check the condition of your plumbing system. There is no point in spending money on remodeling a bathroom only to have all the old pipes leak in a year or two. If there is any doubt about the condition of the plumbing, especially if the house is an old one, it makes sense to do the changes at the time of the remodel. Otherwise you may find yourself breaking up the bathroom after a year or spending a fortune on repairs.

Ask yourself questions like: Is more than one person going to be using the bathroom at a time? If so, do you need a double sink? What about a privacy wall for the toilet area? And is frosted glass for the shower stall a good idea?

The more you think about the family bathroom and the people who will be using it, the more questions there are to ask yourself. Keep noting everything down and talk to all those who will be using the room to get their answers and inputs. It may take time and involve a lot of discussions and even arguments. But in the end, you will have a bathroom that the whole family can use.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Remodeling Precautions or Mistakes?

With all the remodeling horror stories going around, it’s natural that when you plan your remodel, taking precautions to protect yourself and your family from contractors who let you down and work that is substandard is probably the uppermost thing floating in your mind. Being careful and taking steps to protect your family, your home and your money makes a lot of sense. But there are times when the precautions you take could backfire on you and turn a smoothly progressing home remodel into a maze where you, the contractor and your money can get lost.

What You Should Not Do

What follows are the kind of things that magazines and online articles tell you are the things you “should” do to stay in control of the project. As the client, what you want should be what you get and ensuring that you are getting what you are paying for is the right thing to do. But often the unintended consequences of these actions can face far reaching negative implications. Here are some things, relating to the contractor, you should think twice about before diving straight in:
  • Limiting cash flow - Keeping a tight rein on the money may seem like a good idea. You know where every cent is going. But do you need to know? Unless you are a remodeling professional, there are materials to be bought and actions to be taken that you will not fully understand. Asking questions at every step of the way will get on everyone’s nerves and slow down the progress. As long as you know if your money is being used as it should be, you’re okay and you will not be getting in everyone’s way. Also, it may seem like a good idea to withhold the contractor’s funds. That way you can be sure that the job will be finished as it should be and the contractor will rectify any mistakes he has made. This is okay, but the amount needs to be reasonable. If you have a professional remodeling contractor, any errors will be fixed because he cares for his reputation. And if you hold back too much, he will not be able to meet his overheads so the quality of the work and the progress may suffer.
  • Buying materials yourself - Maybe you think you can shop around and get the best prices for all the materials needed. And you can also be sure that you are not getting ripped off. Fine. But what happens down the road when the materials you bought doesn’t meet the specs or are just plain not usable? The loss is yours. Also, the contractor will probably be able to get trade discounts on the purchases he makes for your project. This is something that will not be available for you.
  • Nailing down the contractor - It is people who let you down or scam you. So you must go to extra lengths to detail everything that the contractor has to do, when it must be done and at what cost. You ask about his staff, subcontractors and everything else. Sure, you need to know these things. But do not let nailing down the contractor take your attention away from nailing down the project. What is important is the kind of home you get at the end of it all. That is what you have to nail down.
  • Thinking your project is like your friend’s - You have seen friends and neighbors go through home remodeling. You know what they went through and are prepared for the same. But no two projects are identical. Finding that things are not being done the same way next door and demanding that the contractor does exactly what was done for your neighbor will cause chaos. As long as the work is being done on schedule, on budget and is producing the results you want, let the contractor do things his way. He’s the expert.