Remodels of any variety are usually disruptive to your daily life. Bathroom remodels are especially so. If you are remodeling your Master Bathroom, then you are going to have people working in and out of your bedroom. Or worse, you may only have a single bathroom home. You may have teenage daughters who seem to spend every free moment in the bathroom. Below is a list of what should be your bathroom remodel contractor expectations!
Plan for a Noisy Remodel
The demolition and rough-in portion of the project are typically the loudest. However, all phases of a bathroom remodel have their levels of noise. Any way you cut it, tools are typically loud. We keep waiting for folks like Vaughan to make a silent hammer. It feels like it’s going to be a long wait though…
If you have a home office adjacent to the bathroom remodel, it would best to move shop to another part of the house for the duration of the project. Even the final stages of the remodel can be loud. Screwing in towel racks, drilling through tile to hang shower doors, setting errant nails, even just installing faucets has its own brand of noise. Depending on your Contractor, you may have loud crews throwing around profanity and listening to the latest in heavy-death-metal-gangster-rap-musicals.
The good news is that you can nip all this in the bud. When interviewing your Contractor, ask them about their crews and subcontractors. A good Contractor will have courteous crews, a reasonable music policy, and will have confined the working area to minimize sound travel. Now understand this: any Tradesman worth his salt is going to drop an expletive when they cut/slice/smash/jam a finger or other part. But you should not have to feel like you are watching Goodfellas during your entire remodel.
There Will be Dust. Lots and Lots of Dust.
Remodels mean dust. Dust means cleaning. Endless cleaning, for weeks while your bathroom is being remodeled. Now add to that the hazards of dust. Construction and remodel dust can trigger asthma attacks, allergies, and affect people with COPD. If you chose a Contractor that did not bother to test for asbestos and lead paint, then the demolition phase of your project can be very dangerous indeed. The problem of dust continues all the way through the remodel of your bathroom. So how do you plan for dust during your bathroom remodel?
You really only have 3 options:
1: Choose a Contractor who has a dust control plan in place.
There are Contractors who have extensive countermeasures against dust. From isolating the work area with temporary walls to running filtration systems during the work. Talk with the Contractors you are interviewing and find out how each plans to deal with the inevitable dust. PRO TIP: a stellar Contractor will address HVAC openings in the work area with temporary covers or filters to keep dust and debris out of your HVAC system!
2: Put Your Own Dust Control Measures in Place
If you decide to go with a Contractor who does not have a dust control plan, you can make one yourself. Head out to your local hardware store, buy painters plastic and plenty of tape and get to work! The advantage of this is that you save money by going with a less expensive Contractor. The disadvantage is that you’ll need to continually maintain your barrier system. A Contractor that doesn’t take dust control seriously to begin with probably won’t take your dust countermeasures seriously either.
3: Just Plan on Cleaning. All the time.
The third option is to simply plan on dusting everything all the time. This sounds like a ridiculous option to me. You’re paying tens of thousands of dollars for a professional remodel on one of the most utilized rooms in your house! Why on earth would you spend time dusting daily AND wondering if that dust is hazardous or not? I promise you’ll save some money, but at what cost?
The Path to Your Remodel Will Become a Highway
Obviously your Contractor is going to need to get from the driveway where his work vehicle is parked to the bathroom that you are having him or her remodel. Usually this means going through the front door, down a hallway, through a bedroom, and into the work site. You can plan on having the front door opening and closing dozens of times daily. There will be crews coming and going, tracking dust, dirt, or mud through their little highway they’ve made. If they aren’t careful, they might ding a wall with a 2×4 or scratch a floor when bringing in a tub.
A crew may leave the door open while they carry in a large vanity and then OOPS! Your dog darts out the door. This means you have to go chase them down, and it also causes a potential safety hazard for the crew bringing in material. If little Fluffy causes the crew brining in your marble slab countertop to stumble you will have (best case) a broken slab, and (worst case) a very seriously injured installer.
But there is good news!
A well organized and courteous Contractor would have already put down floor protection in the traffic areas. You will see the use of heavy duty Ramboard for hard surfaces such as tile or hardwood. There will be self-adhering film like CarpetMask for the carpeted areas. They may even have dust collection mats at the entrance of the work area to keep their shoes from tracking dust throughout the house!
As for your pets, your Contractor should have addressed this in their contract. I promise, the Contractor does not want anything to happen to your pet anymore than you do. But it is critical to have an understanding about pets in the house before work starts.
Your Utilities Will Be a Little Funny During the Remodel
When you are remodeling a room like your bathroom, you are going to have utility fluctuations. A bathroom has plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. This means that at a few points during your bathroom remodel process, you will go without electricity to an area of the house. You will also go without water when the plumber is roughing in and trimming out. Both of these processes usually last less than a day. And your bathroom remodel Contractor should keep you up to date on who is doing what and when.
Another thing to consider is that when you have crews working in your bathroom. Most bathrooms are 125 square feet or less. Two or three people running tools and hauling material in and out will get hot — fast. They’ll open a window in the bathroom to keep it cool and workable, even in cold weather. These guys are working hard to keep your project moving on schedule and on budget. It might mean turning up the heat in the rest of the house for a while, but please don’t ask them to close the window. If they are opening every window in the house, obviously say something. But the window directly in their work area should be available to them.
There Could Be (But Shouldn’t Be) a Disaster
Bathroom Remodels are messy. No two ways about it. The thing to consider is how your Contractor deals with the mess. At the end of the day are there tools, dust, debris, and garbage everywhere? Are there open holes in floors, walls, and ceilings? Did they leave lumber stacked in a walkway? Are you finding nails, screws, and blades everywhere you step?
If this is happening, or has happened to you, I would like to apologize. The only reason this happens is pure laziness. Cleaning is not difficult or time consuming and a good bathroom remodel Contractor will make sure that your project is isolated, clean, and above all SAFE. A top-notch Contractor will have a dumpster or dump trailer on-site to keep all garbage contained.
At a minimum, you should expect all garbage, debris, and materials to be removed or stored safely every day before the Contractor leaves.
Small Things to Consider
When nature calls: your Contractor should have a portable bathroom onsite for the duration of the project. You may think that you’ll save a few dollars by offering your (other) bathroom to the crews rather than having a port-a-jon. Trust me, a portable bathroom is the best choice for all parties. Many tradesmen don’t feel comfortable using a customer’s bathroom. Or you may have those teenage daughters mentioned above, providing very limited access to the sole working bathroom. Some subcontractors will just drive off-site to a gas station if there isn’t a portable facility available. The monetary cost is low and the courtesy and convenience to the working crews is high. Just be sure you have a place to drop the port-a-jon near the road for easy maintenance.
Job Signs: good Contractors utilize 2×3 job signs that have the company logo and the project address or name on it. This helps subcontractors and delivery drivers find your project quickly. It also lets your neighbors know who is working on your house! This is great advertising for the Contractor, as long as they don’t take 7 months to wrap up a bathroom remodel…
Parking: make sure you have available parking near the house access for work vehicles to park. There will be 1-3 vehicles onsite at a time, including dump trailers and tool trailers. You don’t have to clear out your garage and driveway for the duration, just be aware that the further away a Carpenter’s rig, the longer the project is going to take.
Materials: There should be a space in the driveway or garage for material deliveries such as lumber or sheetrock. These items are large and heavy, so storing them in the work area is not feasible. A clear, covered 5×10 area is ideal, but the Contractor can provide tarps and canopies in the event that this isn’t possible. Make sure to talk with your Contractor before work starts to make sure you are on the same page!