Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bathroom Renovating with a Contractor - Part 2 of 2

Hiring a contractor saved us some pain and time.  It also presented us with some pain and time delays.  Overall, our contractor might have been a little sloppy, but he was very nice about coming out to make things right.  We've watched enough Holmes on Homes to know that  it's a pretty big deal in contractor world for a contractor deliver what he says and be nice about fixing any issues.

Then we compounded any time delays brought on by the contractor.  Somehow spring break for Mr. Palindrome came and went (when we honeymooned) and we were well into the last term of the school year before we started our efforts on the bathroom.
 We had previously scraped the ceiling of the popcorn texture that was falling off anyways, so we moved on with painting it.  We used the purple stuff that dries white - which is just a tad scary at first until it's start to actually dry.  I'm also using "we" loosely here.  Mr. Palindrome painted and I supervised/gophered.
Mr. Palindrome did the electrical work of installing the new light while I got an upper body workout holding fixture still.  This picture shows the globes hanging down, but after we hung the new mirror, we had to flip them facing up to make room.
 Then we got to work priming.  Bathrooms are the WORST to paint.  So many corners, so many fixtures, so many headaches..  We were constantly bumping into one another.
 Choosing a color was fairly easy for us though.  I took the swatch from our bedroom and ordered samples in one shade lighter and one shade darker.  We felt the dark was too dark and went with Valspar's Warm Cappuccino.  We're just not that motivated to play with paint chips and fuss with matching Benjamin Moore colors.
We used a drop cloth to host a little staging area in our master bedroom so that we didn't have to keep lugging everything up and down the stairs.  We're all about efficiency.  That reminds me of the mom in Cheaper by the Dozen counting how many steps it took her to bake a cake.  We're Cheaper by the Dozen efficient without the kids.
 In this photo, you can see all the wear and tear that the vanity endured before we painted it.  If we had to do it over again, we'd definitely remove the cupboard doors before the demo and wall painting.  We'd also wait to install the counter top.  This nook for the sink was a very finicky size such that no standard vanity tops would fit.  We ended up hiring Allegheny Granite and had them cut us a custom vanity from a remnant.  Everyone at the shop was super nice and the process couldn't have been easier. The wall paint here looks a little pink which I assure Mr. Palindrome everyday is peach.  Boys have a hard time telling the difference I've learned.
 We tried the tape trick of painting the wall color to seal the tape, then touching up the trim.
And we failed at that trick.  We tried free handing and still had a lot of touch ups.  There's no winning at cutting in for us unless it involves hiring someone who is actually handy at it.
We have 3 rooms left to paint in our house and I'm fairly certain someone off of Craigslist is going to make some movie money soon.
 After we had painted, we were ready to install the toilet.  Since it was Mr. Palindrome's first toilet installation, he read the instructions very carefully and did a dry run.  That's when he discovered that our contractor had left us a present.
That is, if you count a present to be a big gap in the toilet flange seal.   So he came back to properly seal it.  If you're counting, that's comeback #2.
 Once the flange seal had dried, Mr. Palindrome installed the toilet and I documented it.  We are egalitarian that way.  We began to test the seal of the wax ring by flushing the toilet, only to discover we had a leak.  As it turns out, the first wax ring that we used had dried out.  When we bought another, it was very clear that the first one was not sticky enough to create a proper seal.  Lesson learned.

 For several steps of the process, it's definitely helpful to have a third hand, or a fourth if you also want  photographs.  "Less pictures, more help" was Mr. Palindrome's battle cry that day.
The moment of truth!  We turned the water on and no leaks!
 Slowly but surely, we were making progress.  Some of the final touches were hang the hardware, mirror and medicine cabinet.  I just remember Mr. Palindrome being hesitant at first to cut into the wall, then relishing the fact that he was wielding the saw and being master of his domain.  We really lucked out that there was *just* enough room between the studs to tuck in the cabinet.
 We didn't have the proper tool to cut the drywall, but Mr. Palindrome improvised with a saw attachment on his Leatherman.
 Let's just say that he had a little brush with the electrical wiring.
With a little elbow grease the cabinet rested in its new home.

I don't have photographs of our custom semi-frameless shower door being installed.  Had we known that our shower opening had strange dimensions, we would have had the contractor make the opening standard when he re-framed it after the demo.  It was a splurge we didn't set out to make, but in the end, I really like that we can see the tile work (etc. wink, wink) through the door.

With everything completed, we used our new bathroom with abandon.  Showers every day.  Flushing every day.  Brushing every day.  Until one day, we noticed the ceiling in our foyer start to show signs of water damage.

 After some investigating, we discovered that when the contractor had replaced the toilet flange, some of the plastic piping beyond our sight had been broken.  Out came the contractor for the 3rd time to fix the piping and replace the foyer ceiling.

We started to call him Farve because he just kept coming back and never seemed to get the job done.  Thankfully he wasn't sexting me.

While we got a new, popcorn-less foyer ceiling out of the deal, at that point we just really wanted to the renovation to be done.  Knock on wood, but since then, we've completed another bathroom renovation and are working on our third without any more complications!

See our before and after post of the master bath here.  And for those who are interested in the budget breakdown, I've included it below.

Budget Breakdown:

Demo - $425
Tiling - $1600

Supplies for Contractor
Porcelain Tile - $498.08
Grout - $15
Molding - $30

Shower Door (Orange Glass, Recommended) - $398.00
Custom Granite Vanity Sink (Allegheny Granite, Recommended) - $400.27

Plumbing Equipment - $73.11
Exhaust Fan - $35
Toilet - $154
Paint - $179.89 (this included primer, wall paint, ceiling paint and new brushes)
Vanity Paint Supplies - $124.06 (this included primer, paint, and some specialty supplies)
Medicine Cabinet and Mirror - $79.00
Shower Hardware - $34.43
Sink Faucet - $66.00
Bathroom Hardware - $100 (Light, towel holders, cabinet hardware)

Total: $4,211.84

While we didn't do a dirt cheap redo, I think we stretched our budget pretty far considering we had the custom vanity top and shower door done.

What has your experience with contractors been?  Where do you think we could have saved more?


  1. "We started to call him Favre because he just kept coming back and never seemed to get the job done."

    I'm super impressed with your home DIY skills. I have no frame of reference what a bathroom remodel might or should costs, but you made a ton of improvements for the money you spent.

  2. OMG, you guys are making some serious progress, can I hire you when you're done so you can finish my bathroom? Lol

  3. Your Favre comment - hilarious. Hilarious!

    I'm super impressed! We can't even hang curtain rods, so all this way beyond the scope of our expertise or ability! Kudos to you!

  4. Hey Lamb,
    You can buy a painting tool at Home Depot specifically to do straight edges (at the ceiling and around trim and baseboards). I used to freehand it and got pretty good at it too. It's easier to paint the trim first and then paint the wall around the trim with an angled 2" brush. If you pressed down and drag, you'll have yourself a straight line. The ceiling is still tricky though. Before I started using the edging painting tool, taping was the best option.

    Great job!