How to Find a Bathroom Remodel Contractor (Things To Look Out For)

An average bathroom renovation will cost between $5000.00 and $15,000.00. Over $300.00 per square foot for a 5’ x 8’ room. High-end renovations can quickly go over $30,000.00.

Hiring a good contractor makes sense if you are spending that kind of money. And it will take time. Three weeks is very common for an average bathroom remodel. Complicated major renovations could last for months.

An experienced contractor will be efficient and get you back into your bathroom quickly. With the least amount of household upheaval. A very important consideration if you only have one bathroom.

Hopefully, this article will help you find the best contractor for your project.

Courtesy: Christa Grover –

Make a Bathroom Remodeling Plan

Do your homework before looking for a contractor. Take some pictures. Sketch out a floor plan. And definitely look at some costs–especially for big-ticket items. For instance, a cheap tub can cost as little as $400.00. A real high-end tub/shower that will do everything including tickling your fancy can run around $15,000.00.

Get 3 Quotes For Your Bathroom Renovation Work

Once you have a plan together, invite three contractors to come to the house to see the project, get copies of your plan, and work out a quote. All contractors will make suggestions about the job. Some of these recommendations will be very positive and helpful. Some may get you off your game plan. 

Every competent contractor wants to see the project and home layout before submitting a quote. Not just the room itself, but access. (I once did a bathroom renovation where cutting the end wall out was the only way to install the new tub.)

Have everyone quote on the same specifications and list changes as options–with price differences. Then finalize your choices and pick your contractor.

Note: If none of the quotes is acceptable and you can’t negotiate a compromise–start over. Deciding that “Close enough” is OK will usually produce an unsatisfactory result.

Where To Find Bathroom Contractors

Make a list of 6 or 8 companies or people you may want to consider. These can come from:

  • Family, Friends, Neighbors, Co-Workers. Ask the people you know and trust for recommendations. Especially anyone who has had a bathroom renovated. Most people can’t wait to talk about their experiences–good or bad.
  • Contractors with Different Specialties. All contractors know people in the industry. They also work for many different customers. There is a good chance you can get informed insight into bathroom contractors–even from unconnected trades like roofers.
  • Internet. Going to company websites and checking out the reviews can also provide a good starting point. Followed up by paying a visit to those that interest you.
  • Contractor Listing Companies. Be very careful. Some of these sites like Home Advisor/Angie’s List are becoming untrustworthy.

Note: I am becoming a little skeptical of reviews. The more I hear about companies offering freebies for a good review, the less faith I have. Caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware.”)

Bathroom Contractor References

Most contractors are proud of their past work. They should have a picture gallery for you to look at–either with them when they stop by, or online. Along with a list of suppliers that they use. If you want a certain toilet, make sure that your contractor has access to it.

Ask for names and phone numbers of past customers that you can call. Contractors should be able to provide a few at least. Make sure they inform their customers that you might be calling. A smoother relationship will be had by all.

If a contractor does not have pictures of previous work or customer lists and references, he/she may be a new business just starting out. It does not mean that they are bad. It just means you should do a little more checking. And maybe have a few more stipulations in the contract.

Get Your Bathroom Quote in Writing

There is nothing wrong with asking for a “ballpark” idea of cost. (Many contractors hate that because it can cause misunderstandings even before a job gets started.) But you will need every quote in writing before you make a final decision.

Have as many details as possible included. Most good contractors will not object. In fact, many insist on more details. They have learned that more time and effort spent at the beginning usually makes for a smoother renovation.

Sign a Contract for Your Bathroom Reno

Regardless of who you hire–including your mother or your best friend–get a contract in writing. Among other things, it should specify:

  • Scope of Work. Attach the agreed-upon estimate or write the complete job description into the contract.
  • Start Date. Acceptable to both parties.
  • Substantial Completion Date. As a contractor, I hate having my final payment withheld because we are waiting 6 weeks for a doorknob the customer specified. Specify what “Substantial Completion” encompasses.
  • Subcontractors. If the General Contractor is using someone other than his/her own forces–such as electricians–you should know who they are and how to interact with them.
  • Total Cost. You should know the exact cost up front. Not including unknown surprises, like an entire rotted wall no one could anticipate. Make sure that taxes are included.
  • Payment Schedule. Shorter projects usually work on a deposit up front and balance on completion contract. For longer jobs, the contractor will likely require payments as certain stages are completed. Specify the amounts and the stages of completion.
  • WCB Account/Clearance. Make sure your contractor’s WCB is up to date. Where I live, the homeowner can be held responsible for an injured worker if there is no WCB account.
  • Extras and Change Orders.Things happen during renovations. Make sure you know the costs of changes.

A few other things you need to know about are licenses, bonding, insurance, what you are supplying, and what the contractor is responsible for.

Note: Many contractors prefer to supply and install all products involved with every job. That way they have control of product and timing. Some of us have learned not to depend on customer promises. If you are supplying a product, be sure to specify what and when in the contract.

What Parts of Your Bathroom Remodel Are Your Responsibilities?

If you want a more active part in the job, make sure it is specified in the contract. If you are an electrician, why would you hire someone to rewire the bathroom. (I am a window installer. No one else is changing my bathroom window.) Or you may want to do the demolition. Wrecking things is very good for the soul.

Make sure that you are not holding up the work by not getting your part done on time. Being late is a great way to sour a relationship. It will also cost you money and a missed completion date. There is much value in the old mechanic’s Labor Rate sign:


End Notes

Although cost is usually one of the important deciding factors of your contractor choice, consider all of the following also:

  • Timing. Some of the very best contractors will be booked months–if not years–in advance.
  • Compatibility. Try to choose someone you will get along with. 
  • Project History. If your bathroom reno is worth over $30,000.00 you may not want to pick someone with a history of only $5000.00 jobs.
How to Find a Bathroom Remodel Contractor (Things To Look Out For)
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