Bathroom Basics

You open the bathroom door, walk in, and it hits you… No, not the smell – I mean the tile countertop… the way it looks. It’s old, and the grout is stained and chipped and ugly (or the laminate top is scratched and/or peeling away) – not to mention that the tub is ancient (and not in a cool way) and stained. The faucet leaks, the toilet doesn’t flush right, the place is tiny, and no, there’s no exhaust fan for that odor and that mold issue either… geez, we gotta do something…

complete bathroom renovation

Ah yes, the bathroom re-do. There comes a time when you’ve had enough. After all, this is a place where comfort is a prime consideration. And who wants to be futzing with poor function and hygiene in the very place where you want relax and get clean? So you decide it’s time for a change.

Alright then, let’s get started – here are some things to take into consideration:

• Do you have enough room – is the space at least potentially large enough to be comfortable?

• Do the tub and/or shower operate like you want?

• Are the cabinets sufficient for your needs?

• Are the floors both durable and attractive?

• Is the lighting good enough for those close-up inspections?

• Is this space easy to clean?

Wow… what a list! Nonetheless, if you’re contemplating a remodel, these are questions you should ask yourself, because when it comes to such an undertaking, if you’re in for a penny, you might as well be in for a pound. Be rigorously honest – you’ll thank yourself later. Sure, it’s just a matter of money – and that’s no object, right? Not! But wait… think about it, and realize that there are ways to get what you want without spending a fortune – through good planning and flexibility. First, it’s imperative that you decide what you really want to do – go ahead – plan big… but prioritize, and be prepared to scale back your dreams to a manageable undertaking.

There are three basic approaches to remodeling a bath:

1. Keeping the space as is, and upgrading the interior and fixtures.

2. Moving a wall (or walls) to create additional (or re-arrange existing) space, and upgrading the interior/fixtures.

3. Adding on to the house – either just a bath (new or extending the existing), or as part of a larger renovation.

Whichever path you decide upon, good planning and execution will make your efforts seem like a good idea when you’re finished… and that’s a worthwhile objective.

Suppose you just want to feel better about the look and function. You don’t want a massive re-do, but maybe the tub is old, and so is the shower/faucet set; the cabinets are funky, and you’d like a new countertop and sink(s); the floor is barely tolerable, and the tile needs replacing all around… maybe you’d like a skylight… but the room is big enough with some adjustment.

This is, of course, quite doable, but even so, don’t rush into it. The best way to avoid that is to start by writing down your thoughts when the proposition first enters your mind (the discipline part) – get a notebook (or tablet) and keep a record of your ideas – all of them… carry it around with you for a while if you have to.

OK, let’s consider a bit further:
Now what if the room is just not big enough for you to do what you want? After all, if you’re going to all this effort, shouldn’t you really, really like it when you’re done? Good point. So
maybe you should think about moving a wall (or two), or adding on. This is not always possible, and it would be wise to contact someone who can give you pointers on whether your ideas will float or whether they need some adjustment, but many times one of these choices will give you that extra bump you’re looking for.

So, what we have at this point are two paths: steal space from another room, or create something entirely new. While both are often legit options, some homes might fare better with one than the other. For instance: sometimes there’s not really enough space within the existing structure to move walls – you’ll have to sacrifice too much somewhere else to expand, so consider an addition. Conversely, perhaps the addition you want will put the new structure too close to the lot line (many cities have set-back ordinances), or maybe there are other reasons not to add on – so think about rearranging the existing layout… and be creative.

Give yourself time to do some research before you contact a contractor, and don’t make commitments to anyone before you talk to more than one builder (preferably 3 or more). Mainly, be both patient and firm – don’t let yourself be pressured into acting before you’re ready… but on the other hand, once you have a solid idea of what you want, and when you decide the conditions are right, be prepared to move. It’s about balance – maintaining momentum without being rushed.

There are businesses that specialize in bathrooms, and consulting with such a company might prove valuable, but most reputable and experienced remodeling contractors can handle such a project quite well. Choose carefully, and get references!

Alright then… in summary:

1. Decide that it’s time to make a change.

2. Develop and write down your ideas.

3. Get professional advice, but don’t be pressured.

4. Remain flexible.

5. Maintain balance between momentum and control.

6. Move when it’s the right time.

There are of course many other considerations, but this should give you some information to help get you started. Thanks for stopping by, happy building, and mazal tov!

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