Bathroom renovation hints and tips

Written by
KRYSTAL MCNAUGHTON

Edited by
JENNIFER SALINGA

Bathroom renovations can be a fairly large undertaking. When updating a living room or bedroom, a simple facelift can go a long way. Choosing to update your current furniture or change the colours of your walls can give your home a wow-factor and a whole new life.

When it comes to bathrooms, it can be a bit more complex. This is because you need to keep in mind and consider how your bathroom will be used in the most beneficial way. Are you a shower person or a bathing person? Is your current bathroom layout working for you? Are you looking for more or less storage? Will you be expanding or downsizing your bathroom during a renovation?

Before your head starts spinning, let me give you the good news. We’re here to help!

Starting a bathroom renovation

1. Find a quality contractor for your project

A good general contractor is your best partner for a bathroom renovation. You want to work with an expert. They know what they are dealing with and can handle any hidden surprises that may arise during your renovation. A good contractor will help you plan your renovation stages, as well as assist you on working with a reputable plumber and electrician. They will help you secure products and have quality craftsmanship.

  • Always get 2 or 3 quotes before you select your contractor
  • Some may be less costly than others – but keep in mind that isn’t always the right way to go
  • Always look for detail break down on quotes to understand if their will be added expenses
  • Check references and don’t be afraid to question them about a bad review or other concerns
  • A great place to look is Yelp or Houzz
  • Check out the contractors profile or website to give yourself an idea

2. Working with a designer to assist you on space planning

Once you’ve found your contractor, speak to them about recommending a designer. Check out local directories or do a thorough search on Houzz if they have no recommendations.
A designer can be particularly helpful when you are doing an expansion of your bathroom or changing the layout. Designers can really help you maximize and make full use of your space, as well as assist you on making your bathroom a beautiful extension of your home.

  • Ask your chosen designer for portfolio and references
  • Make sure you and the designer have the same style, it’s hard for designer whom only does contemporary designs to re work a traditional bathroom
  • Make sure you and your chosen designer click. You will be spending a lot of time with them it’s important you get along. Renovations can be stressful enough already, so don’t make it more complicated than it should be

3. Do your preliminary research

Now that you’ve sourced out your contractor and perhaps a designer – you have sufficient help with your overall needs. Your contractor can help guide you through the renovation process, it is always beneficial to understand the stages of renovation yourself. It is a good idea to do some preliminary research. Talk to friends or family who have previously done a renovation or search online for articles regarding renovations, such as Houzz, who have a number or articles and tips for your renovations.

4. Have a visual

Printing off pictures or bringing magazines with like-wise ideas you have in mind can be very beneficial. You should print out pictures of the things that you like because it is important that you and your contractor are envisioning the same end picture. With suggesting this idea, searching through Pinterest is a good idea, you can type in any key word and get hundreds of good visual responses.

Bathroom renovation ideas

5. Shop products

So you’ve gotten this far in your renovation process. What’s next is figuring out your fixtures to go with your new bathroom. Find a plumbing showroom in your area to research the products you are interested in. Having an idea of the style, finish, material and quality you are looking for are an asset. Being able to physically touch the product will help with evaluating the quality. Also, being able to physically have a visual of putting a faucet directly beside a sink will give you a good understanding of how the overall outcome for your project will be.

A good showroom, such as The ENSUITE, is a valuable partner to have while bringing your bathroom renovation alive. Not only do they have knowledge, but showrooms such as The ENSUITE are not based off of commission. With that being said, they are there to help you find the RIGHT product for your dream bathroom, not the most expensive. If you allow the showroom team into your vision they will be there to assist you all the way.

  • Bring your designer
  • Bring your pictures & measurements
  • Know your budget and where you can compromise

6. Establish a budget

Once you have an idea of the products you are looking at you will be in a better position to establish a budget for your complete renovation. Work through a detailed budget with your general contractor so that you understand full scope of work. When trying to establish a budget you should always look into getting 3 quotes on the project cost.

Compromise may have to happen because of your budget, so decide on the fixtures that are most important to the renovation as well as what you are deciding not to budge on. Plumbing fixtures are normally a third of the cost of your overall project. If you’re choosing $5000 worth of plumbing fixtures, expect the total cost of the job to be $15,000 - $17,000.

7. Determine renovation timelines

When it comes to renovations within your home, timelines are a necessity for contractors or builders to be aware of. You contractor will be able to confirm when they are able to get started on your renovation. Depending on the size of the project they will be able to estimate the duration of the project start to finish date. This can be a great time for you and your family to consider how this renovation will impact your day-to-day living.

For those of you who have revamped a space in your home, you know it’s never fun living through a renovation – so talk through the timeframe with your contractor to ensure a smooth transition. For instance, if you’re choosing tile for your bathroom, that can take up to 6 weeks to come in – so you should not be expecting the job to be done in 6 weeks. Have a contract that has clear timelines, delayed costs and hold back contingency. Think about any family engagements or holidays that may fall during the renovation. No one wants to live through a renovation during a major celebration!

8. Finalize your materials

Once you’ve picked out your statement pieces for your new bathroom there will be things to consider. Do you have the right lead time? If you are unsure of some of the questions you should be asking, do not hesitate to get in contact with your plumbing showroom and speak to a consultant. They are there to help guide you through the renovating process as well as assist you with your choice of fixtures and their availability. Knowing your timeline for your renovation is important in this process. It’s always a good idea to include them in this process early so they can communicate with your general contractor or plumber.

Tara Hotson

TARA HOTSON

Tara Hotson is the Special Projects Manager for EMCO/The Ensuite Ontario in Ontario, Canada.

Part of my job is helping customers find the right product for their kitchen or bath renovation and often the question comes up "Should I hire a designer?"

My answer is always yes! I think there is a large misconception that designers are an expensive luxury. They are actually your best friend when it comes to building that dream room and can often save you money when it comes to finding most cost effective options while still giving you the same look and feel.

There is a large misconception that designers are an expensive luxury

The average designer will charge anywhere from $75-150 an hour.( I have seen them as high as $500 an hour…but you are probably just paying for bragging rights at that point). You might be saying "ouch" at that price… but I want you to think of it a different way. When your furnace breaks down, you call a repair man. What about when your car breaks down? You take it to a mechanic. You will normally walk away with the problem solved and a sense of security that goes along with using a trade professional. Sure you can do it yourself but it may take 10 times longer to accomplish it as well as two times the money. Designers are no different, they are trade professionals.

Complete Transformation

They can help you with a complete transformation of the space and layout.

Transform your space

Or they can transform the space you have by just using colour and changing accessories.

It all has to do with your budget and the space you have to work with. When trying to decide how to pick a designer these are some key things to look for.

Credentials

Most Interior Designers have a Diploma or degree or most have apprenticed under someone for a period of time before branching out on their own. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials. There are also diffent associations that they will belong to that require then to be up to date on training of diffent trends, building code or best practices.

References

Word of mouth is how a lot of Designers get their referrals. I know one designer that has not advertised in 10 years as she is booked a year in advance all from referrals. A great website to check out a variety of designers work is Houzz, or view the designer's own website. Don't be afraid to ask for references.

Personality

You need to make sure that you “click” with your designer. If you are going to spend a bunch of time with them you need to make sure you get along and that they can understand what you are looking for. They need to be able to work at the same pace as you. If you need time to analyze and make decisions they should have the patients to do that.

Style

Make sure you pick a designer that has the same sense of style as you or who has a large repertoire of design abilities. You shouldn’t hire a designer to restore a century farmhouse if all they do is contemporary designs. It’s important to know that not all designers can do all style, some will migrate to one genre or specialize in a specific era.

Be Prepared

It is important to go in prepared. Take pictures of thinks you like to your first meeting. Art, tile, furniture anything that will help the designer better understand what you are looking for. You may spend a lot of money and time having them try and figure out what you like if you don’t know yourself.

Go In With An Open Mind

The most common reason why most people hire a designer is they can’t envision the end picture. The best thing you can do is go in with an open mind. Don’t be afraid to try new things or colours out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to be wild just adventurous.

I think the number one reason why I would recommend using a designer is how easy they make doing a renovation or a new build. They help with all those stressful decisions and can often be a referee when it comes to making choices between anyone involved and help blend different styles together for a more cohesive flow. That way, everyone feels like they got their dream room!

Before You Sell

Eve Claxton

EVE CLAXTON

For nearly a decade, Eve Claxton has been selling high-end properties and transforming homes for resale in the Guelph area. Consulting on the design and construction of custom homes is also a specialty of hers. She dedicates herself to a small selection of clients at a time, allowing her to focus on providing personalized service and delivering the highest returns.

Most people are acutely aware that the best return on their investment in terms of renovations and or updates are best reflected in kitchens and bathrooms. These are the spaces that somehow are the most personal to a buyer. It is my experience that these rooms can sell the home and if done right they can not only increase the selling price but can make some less desirable aspects of the home easier for a buyer to overlook. CHBA ranks Kitchens and Bathrooms to be the number one investment and value the expected return to be 75-100 percent of the investment on resale.

Spending a bit of time and money on your kitchen or bath yields the best return when considering updates before selling your home.

Depending on the kitchen’s current design some improvements can be as simple as repainting the cabinets, updating hardware, faucet, sink and adding a new countertop. If your budget will allow I would recommend the addition of soft close drawers and doors. In almost all cases a buyer will test the drawers to see if they have this feature and they typically assess the value of the kitchen based on that seemingly minor detail.

Clear the clutter!

Staging the kitchens and bathrooms for sale is a simple as removing clutter from the counters. Make sure there are no small appliances that prevent a buyer from seeing the actual space or work surfaces available. Keep cupboards and drawers clean and organized and never have dishes in the sink, clear any garbage containers and remove the collection of shampoos or soap bottles in the shower or tub areas. This sounds obvious but as we live in our homes we become less aware of the obvious and assume others can see past the obvious. However, Buyers will be looking in these spaces and anything that appears overrun with stuff will trigger an alert that there is not enough storage in the kitchen and bathrooms. It’s important to remember that a staged home is not necessarily a lived in home. Providing the illusion that the home is not lived in will allow them to picture themselves there and not you the seller. A little bit of daily effort will not only help your home sell faster but will likely get you closer to the asking price.

The question is which modifications will have the biggest impact on your home and make it stand out amongst the others. A professional realtor should be able to provide you with the costs and returns based on your home so you can make an informed decision before you list.

Big Box Stores are Not Always Better

REBECCA L. RENNICH

Rebecca is a design consultant in Ottawa, Ontario.

Big box stores offer a variety of products on a grand scale. That’s usually how we identify a Big Box Store, they take up a lot of space. They’re BIG. But does it really give you all you need for your renovation project? And if it does, it is really where you should be guiding your shopping cart? Let’s look at four things that might lead you to consider a small store retailer instead.

Pick your Crowd

Big Box Stores are mainly defined by the physical space they take up and the variety of items inside that space. They supply a lot of stuff so that they can increase their chances that you will buy a lot of stuff. That variety draws in buyers looking for anything from groceries to car parts. That’s a lot of people!

Between the massive parking lot, long lines and crowded isles, it’s hard to ask the right questions with all the hustle.

Do you have all the parts your contractor will need? Does your sink come with strainers or will you have to buy them separately? What’s the Warranty like on your purchases?

When renovating your bathroom, smart and detailed decisions need to be made. It can be hard to figure out all the answers when someone else is trying to get around your shopping cart. Allow for time to work through all your options so you don’t feel rushed.

Small specialty retailers can help provide you with that time and can guide you to the product you need. Making the right selections the first time allows your construction project to get off on the right foot. It also might prevent costly delays on site once the project starts. And you avoid the long lineup!

Find What Is Outside That Box

Big Box Stores supply products in bulk. As a result, they only have products that they can sell a lot of. Unique styles and selections may be limited because they are not “Trending”, which may be a problem if you are looking for something different.

Small Retailers can help you find your unique style because they have access to more than what other people like right now. They also have the tools to make unique fixtures work in their bathroom or kitchen spaces. Working with specialty retailers allows you access to a whole world of product outside of Aisles 1-30!

The Product is Not the Same

Most products in Big Box Stores are manufactured in large factories overseas. The factories supply massive quantities of product to each individual chain. In order to keep up with that demand and keep production costs low, factories that supply big box stores will cut corners. Essentially, plumbing fixtures manufactured for a big box store may look the same as fixtures made for wholesalers but are made very differently. The quality simply is not the same for some products.

Consult a Showroom Consultant and have them read the specifications of any product you are looking to buy. They will know what to look for and what the differences really mean.

Will You Really Save Money?

So we have determined that the quality may not be quite the same. But it is CHEAPER you might say! But is it really? Let’s think it through. You buy a faucet at $150. It does the job for a few years, and just by Murphy’s law breaks on you just after the limited one year warranty is up. Another faucet then has to be purchased at an additional $150. You have now invested a total of $300 into one part of your bathroom, when you could have spent $250 initially. Not to mention all the time you spent waiting in the line to purchase the replacement faucet in the first place.

In the long run, buying a quality product allows you to save money and time. Consulting with a specialist can help you figure out where you can pinch your pennies without having it hurt you down the line.

Big Box stores are a lot of things to a lot of people. Your renovation project is for you. Working with the Ensuite and its expert consultants allows you to focus on the important details, on your personal vision and on quality fixtures. This all in a relaxed, beautiful and welcoming setting making for a wonderful shopping experience.

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