Sunday, April 7, 2013

5 common bathroom remodeling mistakes to avoid

by Michael Franco, Angie's List Contributor

When it comes to home improvement projects, taking an old bathroom from dingy to dazzling can add significant value to your home — especially if you do it correctly.
It's all too easy however, to get sidetracked during a bathroom revamp and find yourself drowning in unexpected costs and unanticipated problems. That's why it's critical to avoid these common bathroom remodeling mistakes.

Budgeting too little

According to Remodeling Magazine, the average cost of remodeling a bathroom is $16,634. You'd be wise to budget more than this though, especially if you're doing your remodel in an older home. In fact, if your home is more than 50 years old, you're likely to find galvanized steel pipes in the walls. You're probably going to want to replace them with more durable PVC or copper plumbing, which will reduce problems that can come when the steel pipe corrodes. Also, because bathrooms are wet areas of the home, be prepared to encounter water damage and possibly even mold, which can increase the price of the project exponentially.

Being trendy

If you've ever shopped for a new home, you've come across once-trendy bathroom nightmares everywhere: pink tile that was in vogue in the '50s, avocado green sinks and toilets that were popular in the '70s and Jacuzzi tubs that were all the rage in the '80s. Instead of going with the latest design fad in your bathroom, consider designing in a more classic, timeless way. You can never go wrong with neutral colors, simple tiles and a fresh, clean look. You might not get a shocking contemporary design now, but you also won't shock future buyers with a style that's gone the way of the shag carpet.

Cheaping out

While it's important not to overspend on your bathroom remodel and to shop for the best deal on fixtures and materials, it's equally critical not to try to save money in areas of the project that will only cause you more trouble later. Shoddy sink and shower fixtures will only need to be replaced in a few years. Cheap cabinets will have doors that don't fit properly and will always be a source of frustration. Using substandard underlayment on your subfloor can lead to water damage. And installing an inexpensive diverter valve in the shower means that you might never stop fighting a hot-and-cold water war with the other people in your home.

It's equally important not to skimp on paying for a quality contractor and to remember that the person who gives you the cheapest quote might not be the best person for the job. You'll want to hire someone who actually specializes in bathroom remodels because particular challenges exist with this kind of work that you don't find in general carpentry projects. You'll also want to make sure your remodeler works with a licensed and insured plumber.

Ignoring clearance distances

When remodeling a bathroom, it's so easy to get swept up in the fun stuff — colors, tiles, fixtures — that you actually forget that the space is about function first, then form. So before you begin breaking down walls and moving plumbing around, be sure that the bathroom will work in a logical manner. You don't want your knees pressed up against the side of the shower when you're using the toilet or to have shower or cabinet doors that bang against other surfaces or a bathroom door that can't open all the way because it's blocked by something else. Lay everything out on paper before beginning, making sure to accurately measure distances and clearances.

Doing it yourself

Unless you're a contractor yourself, chances are good that you'll want to hire a professional to oversee your bathroom remodel. While you might be able to work with him or her to save some money by doing small parts of the project yourself (like removal of old tile or painting), you could create huge expense either now or in the future if you botch the plumbing or rewire the room incorrectly.

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