How To – Understanding The Differences in Bathroom Remodeling Estimates

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    One of the most popular home remodeling projects is a makeover of your bathroom however not all of us are up to doing all or any of the work ourselves. If you will need to hire a contractor to perform some or all of the work then we have some guides that will let you understand whether or not you are getting a fair deal with no hidden costs that can make your lowest estimate come out as the highest final price.

    As with any project there are normally some things that you can do yourself. Even if you simply order the materials at your local store on discount or do a little painting and tiling the final burden on your budget can be deeply reduced.

    In addition to performing some of the work yourself is the ability to find a contractor that can complete the parts you can’t on a budget you can afford.

    To understand where a Contractor may over charge you an unreasonable amount you need to understand what is required to complete your project.

    If you have never attempted a job of this size the first thing you want to do is break down all of the different tasks by trade. Some general contractors will have staff that can complete most of the work themselves but often even the most competent trades people need to call in someone with special skills and a special license.

    What are the typical Tasks and Trades needed in a Bathroom Remodel?

    The following tasks are the minimal need of most bathroom remodels. If your home is under 10 years old and functioning in good order then most of the time you may not need all of the services that a home that is 30 years old requires. On the other hand if your bathroom needs to be enlarged or redesigned and fixtures moved you may need more work.

    Demolition and Install – Demo is the first part of remodeling it includes removing all of the pieces that will not be reused and looking for any additional problems that may have been hidden at first estimate. If a contractor will be replacing your floor the demolition may expose structural problems in walls and floors. Installing the materials that are not special trade can be performed by any qualified craftsman.

    Plumbing – If your fixtures need to be moved or if you have leaks and for any reason that pipes within your walls and floors need to be replaced then most likely you will be required to hire a Licensed Plumber. If you were completing the work yourself and simply repairing but not moving the positions of pipes then you may not need a plumber but if a contractor does the same work they will need a licensed plumber.. the exception is given when the home owner actually does the work.. to reduce the cost of home ownership.. General Contractors can replace Fixtures if the pipes in the wall do not need to be moved or replaced.

    Electrical – Electrical work is often much like Plumbing. If your remodel requires outlets to be moved or added then an electrician is needed. If you are simply replacing a light fixture, outlet or a vent that is in the same location then a general contractor or the home owner is normally allowed to do the work if it is inspected.

    Carpentry – If framing is needed to repair a rotted floor or if you are adding on to your home then a licensed contractor needs to be hired and a permit paid for.

    Tile – Most tile work can be performed by a general contractor however some contractors like to farm the work out to a specialist that only works with tile because the job can often be completed faster.

    Painting – Painting like tile can be performed by any contractor but licensed painters often complete work faster because they do the work every day.

    Evaluating Bathroom Remodeling Estimates

    With this knowledge lets move on to the actual estimates that your contractor will provide.

    The first thing you have to commit to is that you will never hide problems from contractors when you are requesting estimates.

    If the first contractor gives you an estimate of $15,000 because your floor joists need to be replaced and they actually went into your basement and showed you the rotting wood then you can’t expect subsequent estimates that omit that part of the repair to be anywhere close to the first guy … AND you will end up paying a higher cost after the demolition is performed .. you are locked into your contract and the second guy wants to charge you a premium to bring in a framing contractor.

    In all honesty missing something large like that can happen for many reasons including having a unqualified estimator. Although it is not always an indicator of overall poor quality in the company you may want to keep it in mind as you evaluate everything else. However if they do miss it.. it is up to you to inform them and have them resubmit the price.

    Have Licensed Contractor Costs been included in the estimate if necessary or are some of the general contractors completing the same tasks without inspection or license? This is a very important question because some contractors do not follow proper procedures when completing their projects. They know that hiring an electrician or plumber for half a day will cost them $500 more so they do the work themselves and don’t tell the home owner or the building official.

    If you get a contractor that tells you … yea sure we do it all the time.. remember that if something goes wrong you could end up with problems later that your insurance will not cover.

    Are all the Materials the Same?

    Some contractors get special discounts from suppliers up to 50% off the cost so that a portion of the material cost can be factored into the final profit. This is not always a bad thing especially if the products are EXACTLY the same.. from the same manufacturer and with the same model number .. however most manufacturers sell both a contractor grade and a retail or professional grade product.

    Contractor grade products are often of lower quality because they are used by new home builders to complete the project with the knowledge that the home owner will more then likely replace the item within 10 years.


    Final Note

    When receiving estimates for any project you must fully understand what you are getting in return for your money.

    The more details that a contractor can provide you the closer you can get to a final cost.

    You should also factor in the time consumed on a project. If additional contractors need to be hired then there could be delays. If you need to special order items through his supplier that you can purchase yourself for less then add that into the cost and see if you can reduce it.

    Remember any work you can do yourself will reduce your costs.





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