Mistakes Homeowners Make When Redesigning a Bathroom

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Redesigning a bathroom can bring comfort and luxury into your home--and could also add considerable value if you decide to sell. But a bathroom redesign can be complicated. If you're considering giving your bathroom a makeover, here are a few pitfalls to avoid.

Choosing a plan that doesn't suit your space. The amount of space you have makes a big difference in your redesign options. If you have a very small space, you'll know you can't add a Jacuzzi tub. If your space is large, you'll know have a little more flexibility. But with a medium-area bathroom, you could assume a certain feature will fit--but you'll never know unless you measure everything carefully and work out a realistic floor plan for your new bathroom.

Choosing a style that doesn't match your home. A sleek, modern bathroom will look a bit out of place in a historic home. A style mismatch might not matter so much to you while you're living in the house, but if you ever try to sell, it could seriously decrease the value of your home. Buyers look for a consistent look throughout a house, and if they're drawn to an older home with a lot of character, chances are they won't appreciate your minimalist bathroom design. Make sure the fixtures you choose don't clash with the rest of your house.

Thinking you can do it yourself--if you don't have the experience. Redesigning a bathroom is a major task--often more complicated than redesigning other sections of the home. To do it right, you need to be a competent plumber, electrician, tile installer, carpenter, and more. Some intrepid homeowners believe they can do it all themselves. But even experienced contractors who don't specialize in bathrooms can make serious missteps. Unless you have experience in bathroom redesign work, save yourself the hassle--hire a pro.

Hiring the wrong person. The success of your redesign project hinges on the contractor you hire. Look for one who specializes in bathrooms. Don't just ask for references--check them. And ask to see an example of finished work. Only hire someone whose work you love, who has a strong list of references, and who has lots of experience. Many homeowners decide to hire a friend or family member, whether to save on cash or to do a favor. But unless your friend or family member is a professional with plenty of experience redesigning bathrooms, this is a bad idea.

Keeping a tight budget. Beware of the assumption that you'll stay within budget. The average redesign project costs about 20% to 30% more than homeowners planned. Work some extra cash into your redesign budget, and you won't get a nasty shock if you find out that your project will cost more than planned.

Not ensuring easy access to piping. If you do find that water leaks out of your newly-tiled walls when you turn on your brand-new shower, the plumber will likely need to break through the walls in order to reach the faulty pipes. This can be costly and time-consuming. To avoid this pitfall, request access panels to be installed so that plumbers can reach the pipes easily and quickly in case of a problem.

Not keeping a close eye on your contractor. If you've gone to a lot of trouble to hire the right contractor, you should be able to trust that the job will get done right--right? In a perfect world, maybe so. But in reality, you often need to hover like a hawk to get the best results. And it's best to know what to look for while you do it.

Water leaks can be a big problem with bathroom redesign projects. To keep an eye on things, check out the new plumbing your contractors are installing. The simpler it is, the better--you'll want the shortest pipe lengths and smallest amount of joints possible, because water leaks are most likely to occur at joints and bends in the piping. Take pictures of the piping as it's being installed, so you can find potential problem areas before they cause trouble.

You'll want your tiling hung the right way, as well. Watch to see that your contractor spreads the adhesive evenly over the wall with a notched spreader, instead of simply putting a blob on the back of each tile. You want your adhesive spread evenly because when it's done right, it acts as a second layer of waterproofing. Over time, movement in your tub can cause cracking in the grout between the tiles. If the adhesive isn't evenly applied, water can seep straight between the tiles.

Redesigning a bathroom can be a big project--but it can be worth it, too. Be prepared, choose the right person, supervise closely, and have a plan that works for your bathroom space and for your home, and you should be delighted with your finished bathroom.
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