So you’re looking at updating your bathroom? That’s so exciting! But once that excitement settles, you may be left feeling overwhelmed. Starting the process of updating any part of your home can seem daunting, especially if you need different trades, like for a bathroom.
Having worked in the design industry for over 20 years, we have designed countless bathrooms and assisted our clients throughout the process. Often we will recommend a contractor to oversee all the work, however, it’s not necessarily imperative that you hire a bathroom-specific company. It’s important that you hire someone who is qualified and has experience though.
With a huge amount of people claiming to be contractors or installers, how can you possibly choose?
We have been called in when clients have hired a “contractor” who made a mess of things. They usually cost the client more than double what they thought they were going to pay.
That’s exactly why we are writing this article! Read on to learn how to select a bathroom contractor that is qualified and has the relevant insurance in place.
When hiring a contractor for a bathroom remodel, look at photos of their past work to start. You should see before, in progress, and after photos.
A good contractor should be able to show you lots of photographs of previous projects so you can see their experience, and the type of projects they have previously worked on. You may see similar spaces to yours that should give you confidence in them.
In their progress photos, try to see how the contractor has waterproofed the shower. This is critical.
If you can’t see this in the photos they show you, ask them about their waterproofing method. Here are some examples of waterproofing:
Kerdi System by Schleuter – ask if they are certified installers. If so, verify this with Schleuter. If they are not certified, then the warranty is not valid.
Wedi Board – look for how the joints are sealed to prevent water seepage.
Red Guard – ask how many coats they use and see photos of this in their progress photos.
Without sufficient waterproofing, you open yourself up to leaks and a poor result.
Next up is insurance.
Ask the contractor if they are insured.
When they say yes, ask for a copy of their Certificate of Insurance (COI). Check to be sure the COI is valid and call to be sure they are still represented by the insurance company. (A client of mine once received a fraudulent COI from a contractor and she couldn’t file an insurance claim when he walked off the job site).
Call the building department of your city to confirm they are licensed and approved to do work in your city. If the contractor presses to do the work without a permit, this is a red flag.
Red Flags To Be Aware Of
We have seen it ALL over the years, and there are some other red flags that you should be on the lookout for when looking for a bathroom contractor.
When looking at progress and after photos, you shouldn’t see tub fillers in showers (yes, I’ve really seen this), and lights shouldn’t be hanging over bathtubs (National Electrical Code mandates that there must be 8′ between the top ledge of the tub and the bottom of the light fixture), shower niches should never be on an exterior wall (obvious in photos if there’s a window on the wall), grout lines should be straight, shower niches should be straight and square, Luxury vinyl tile shouldn’t be used in bathroom (this is controversial, but I haven’t met a reputable contractor who will do it in a heavily used bathroom without a client signing off on liability).
These are huge red flags and demonstrate that they don’t know what they are doing.
RedGuard is another waterproofing brand that can be used in bathrooms. Make sure to consult a professional on the number of coats needed to waterproof the area properly.
Another way to vet a contractor is to check the BBB to see if they have any complaints. This is rare, but it’s worth checking for peace of mind.
Also, look to make sure their company is in good standing with your state and see how long they have been in business. If they have closed and reopened, find out why. If there were credit issues, they could have filed for bankruptcy and opened a new company with a new name (I’ve seen this too).
It can be difficult to find a reputable contractor, but there are some really great ones out there! Make sure to contact three or four contractors, meet with them, and go through the questions we have set out above. That way, you can be assured that whoever you choose is right for the job, and knows what they’re doing!
Finding someone who mostly gets their work from referrals is perfect. I work with a handful of contractors on a regular basis. We refer each other all the time and they don’t advertise because they have a steady stream of work. I’ve been working with one of them since 2011! When you find a good contractor, they are worth their weight in gold!