I thought it may be helpful and fun to chat a little bit today about how and why we chose a contractor for our bathroom remodel. I wish I could say that I read a few blog posts and felt empowered enough to tackle this on my own. But, truth be told, I have no experience putting up drywall or tiling for real life use (one time I tiled a flip top ottoman top… but that doesn’t have to hold up to the wear a bathroom does).
I first resorted to asking friends and facebook. I received 1 lead. Better than nothing I suppose. I didn’t end up feeling like I jived with the contractor (like, I said I didn’t beadboard but that ended up on our quote anyways).
So I resorted to google and ended up discovering s resource called NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry). It helped me hone in on a few contractors in my area. I vistied the sites of each company to see what services they provide. I found 2 that were in my immediate area (important when you’re paying for travel!) and filled out their contact forms.
Unfortunately I only heard back from one of them. The quote was quite a bit higher than the first contractor I spoke with. But they agreed to materials I wished to have used in the space (the height different between our bathroom floor and hallways was atrocious, so I wanted to use schluter ditra mat because it’s the thinnest material available as an udnerlayment.) So I knew those things would come at a premium and would cost me more money.
I think the biggest stomach ache in this whole process is seeing the estimates. We’re proving lighting, tile for the floors and bathtub surround, keeping our toilet, bought our own tub and providing the vanity. Guys, the estimate for them to put the stuff in and finish everything off is $7-$8 thousand dollars! Pinterest has put pure shock in my soul to see this number.
Initially we settled on doing the work with this company because I hadn’t received a response from the other company and the first it felt like it would be difficult to work with. It was difficult for me though because I really wanted more quotes. Finding a contractor that listened to my ideas and responded to my connect form was harder than I had expected.
I wasn’t settled on the price though. I just wasn’t buying that my two options were thousands of dollars apart so one sleepless night I turned to Google and stumbled across Networx.com. I filled out a questionnaire and it said I’d be contacted the next day. I didn’t hear anything and my heart sank deeper. A few days later though, I received a voicemail. Contractor 3 came through and gave us an estimate much closer to the one I received initially. He wasn’t free to start for a few weeks but that was OK with me. We jived well, he made great points in the initial walk through and I was happy.
With all this going on, my husband traded in his car for a beater truck and got to talking to one of our neighbors. We didn’t chat with them much before but it turns out he’s a contractor. Literally right across the street a contractor had been living this whole time. It’s crazy how God works sometimes. He gave us a quote we were happy with (right on par with #1 and #3) and he was able to start right away.
We’ve had lots of setbacks that weren’t his fault, he’s been doing a good job and I’m happy we’ve been able to employ a neighbor, make a friend, and learn a whole lot about the contractor interview process.
Living in the “Pinterest” age has definitely left my expectations cheap and fast. But I’ll definitely keep documenting the process and sharing how this whole things goes just in case there’s a non bathroom DIYer who could use the experience to help themself.
It turned out all of the quotes were really not far off from what’s average for my area. Through a fit of tears I found a couple of resources that confirmed that like ImproveNet and the widget I’ve included at the end of this post.
Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure (and I’m sure someone will bring it up), we totally tried to facelift the space. We paid a friends husband to tear up our old tile. He literally only pulled up the tiles and left the beat up old cement board, assuring us it was good to tile over. I ended up tearing it up myself because it crumbled beneath our feet and I felt like that was not going to fly to put tile atop. I bought ditra, mortar (thanks Lowe’s guy who sold me the wrong one- gosh that led to a lot of tears at the end of that day!), tiling supplies (again, thanks lowe’s guy who sold me a notched trowel with notches WAY to big for my tiny mosaic tile) and tried to give the space a simple facelift. I lived with mortared over ditra for more than two months. I am not at a place in my life to try tiling again. (I may be the only person to tell you that tiling is hard, but from a complete novice’s experience- I found it hard!)
So a contractor was the only way this is going to get done for us. And it needed to get done. There are a ton of things I have beene doing myself- so don’t fear. I have a lot of cool decor and DIY coming your way so stay tuned (because Macrame and paint I can but Tile I cannot 😉 )