Five Things I’ve Learned So Far About Renovating a Bathroom

bathroom

I’m getting a new bathroom. Well, actually my kids are getting a new bathroom. (Not the bathroom above, that is way too fancy for them) Our house is over thirty years old and I’m guessing that the second bathroom upstairs has never been renovated. While the lovely yellowish linoleum has been easy to care for through two young kids, it is time for a fresh new look.

The problem is that I know zero about renovations and my husband is knee-deep in organizing an international sporting event, so he is no help. This is just one of the many times that I am grateful to know somebody. When I talked in my first blog post about knowing so many passionate and talented people, I didn’t realize how handy it might be.

My friend is an interior designer. She and her husband designed and built the house they now live in. My project isn’t quite as involved or expensive as that. It’s only a small bathroom. Basic vanity, toilet and tub. How hard could it be? Apparently pretty hard because I didn’t seem to be able to get it done on my own. We are still in the early stages of planning and ordering but here is what I have learned so far:

1.  If they tell you it’s going to cost x amount of dollars, you can pretty much add 20%-30% on top of that when all is said and done. Not because they don’t know what they are doing or are trying to rip you off. It just happens. You suddenly realize that your 30-year-old window will look like crap with your new bathroom. Add $. If you are ripping up the floor anyway shouldn’t you put in radiant heating now? Add $. Yes, the cheaper vanity is okay but the more expensive one will last longer. Add lots of $$.

2.  There are a LOT of different toilets to choose from. “I just want it to flush” I naively said. I didn’t know how many different types of toilets there are. Floating toilets are very popular right now for example. Somehow I narrowed it down to two or three and then I was stumped. I had already picked a rectangular sink so my friend pointed out that two of the toilets had rounder tanks. I should choose the one with the more square-shaped tank so that it continued the shape of the sink. That is the kind of thing I am paying her for.

3.  Colours come in many colours. White tile is never just “white”. It’s cloud or ecru or steel or egg. Grey slate flooring comes in many shades and can range in price from reasonable to ridiculous. Of course the one that is exactly what you want is always the ridiculously priced one. And the colour you choose is usually the one that was discontinued last year.   There may come a point where I just close my eyes and point.

4.  Interior designers are not all created equally. One of the many advantages of using a designer is that they receive discounts from the suppliers you will be using. The discounts can range from 25-60%. Some designers keep that discount quiet and you pay the full price while they keep the difference. Think of it as their insurance in case anything goes wrong. Others take a portion of it. Others (like mine) pass the entire discount on to you.  Love that.

5.  Contractors don’t have to be crooks. Contractors scare me. I will admit that right from the start. You hear so many horror stories about contractors that seem legit or even are legit and then totally screw you. And there you are stuck with a half done project and a huge bill. Knowing that my friend has used this contractor before to build two houses is a huge relief. They actually went to high school together so they have a history and a trust that I would never be able to reproduce with a complete stranger.

I’m sure that there will be more to learn in the month ahead as we rip everything out and see what is underneath. The whole process is a bit of an experiment for me really. A testing ground, if you will, for the rest of the house that is also stuck in the ’80s. The Best Thing in Life is learning from a pro….who is also a friend.

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5 thoughts on “Five Things I’ve Learned So Far About Renovating a Bathroom

  1. lovetotrav May 19, 2015 / 2:39 pm

    It sounds like you are in good hands. Who would have known about the interior decorator discount thingy unless you were great friends with one and they let the cat out of the bag? Good for you to have friends in the right places! You will have to post the final results when and if 🙂 they happen. Cheryl

  2. George May 19, 2015 / 8:25 pm

    Most renovations have their problems but bathrooms and kitchens top the list. If that’s your finished product it came out very well.

  3. mariner2mother May 19, 2015 / 11:08 pm

    I am envious of your connections. I have 2 bathrooms with mustard yellow fixtures from 1978 when they were installed (except for one toilet that was replaced before we bought the house). I hope we get to renovate and actually enjoy them before we (one day) sell this house. Best of luck with your project.

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