A great bathroom does not need TV makeover

July 12, 2011

By Laura Geggel

After visiting the bathroom several times a day, 365 days per year, it’s no wonder homeowners decide to fix up or remodel the room.

Before replacing the first tile or installing a new faucet, two Issaquah contractors advised customers to do their bathroom homework.

“One thing I know we run into a lot is preparation in selections,” Bellaren owner Kyle Curtis said. “It seems that a lot of people aren’t selecting the right fixtures and amenities that go in the bathroom and it ends up costing more.”

Homeowners who buy shinier faucets tend to spend less money, while customers who purchase duller, premium-finish gear typically spend more. By Greg Farrar

Homeowners should shop around, not just at the usual retail stores, but also online, at wholesale outlets or at specialty stores, such as lighting companies. Then, they can bargain with several stores and get a better price, saving 15 percent to 20 percent sometimes.

“You can always ask for a better price and the worst thing they can say is no,” Curtis said. “It never hurts to say you’ve found something for a lesser amount.”

Once the supplies are procured, the cheapest way to redo a bathroom is to do it yourself, Bob Cole, owner of Cole NW Construction, said.

“The most economical way to do a bathroom is to do it yourself, but that takes a lot of proper planning and research,” he said.

Instead of buying new fixtures, customers can refurbish what they already own. In lieu of replacing a cabinet, they can repaint it. Or, instead of getting a new toilet, they can repurpose it with a low-flush device to save money on the water bill.

If homeowners are putting in new tiles, or hiring workers to do it for them, they should be aware that size matters. The larger the tile, the less expensive it is, Curtis said, adding that instillation labor for larger tiles costs less because there are fewer tiles to install.

When it comes to faucets, customers can save a bundle if they buy shiny fixtures. The duller, premium finish appliances, such as satin nickel, often cost more, Curtis said. Chrome equipment, which looks shinier, normally costs less.

Knowing the inner workings of a faucet can also save money in the long haul. Some faucets have plastic bushings, a lining that helps the handle move without friction. Plastic bushings tend to wear away over time, leading to stubborn handles and water leaks.

Commercial faucets typically have brass bushings, and “are a lot less likely to develop corrosion or to wear over time,” Curtis said.

If homeowners decide to hire a contractor, they should get several bids and carefully review each one. Some contractors bid low and then charge the customer later with change orders, Cole said.

“I’m very thorough on my bids,” he said. “I don’t feel like I should be doing all those change orders.”

The devil is in the details. The more detailed and researched the bid, the better it usually is.

“I always say the cheapest bid is the cheapest bid,” Cole said. “You got to know what you’re paying for. Once you’re in the ropes with them, you can’t price check those change orders, and that’s how they make all their money.”

Jennifer and Chris Johnston, an Issaquah couple that recently moved to Oregon, had tips for people redoing a bathroom. Before signing a contract, ask the contractor who will be doing the work whether it will be the contractor or a sub-contractor.

It’s good to ask the contractor to look over the sub-contractor’s work, or to review the work with sub-contractors before they leave, as it can be hard to get them to come back once the job is done, Jennifer Johnston said.

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One Response to “A great bathroom does not need TV makeover”

  1. Dan on July 18th, 2011 7:46 pm

    I really like these ideas. I think that it seems more glamorous to buy new everything, but these are all great tips on why economics should exceed glamour. Refurbished items can be just as nice as new.

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