Over the last 20 years of my construction career, there has hardly been a day that’s gone by when a homeowner has told me of a horror story about a past bathroom contractor who has done work that was unsatisfactory, improperly installed or just plain bad. I swear I’ve heard them all, until the next story comes along and it’s something even worse than the ones I’ve heard before. The homeowner can’t be that daft every time. How could they have gone so wrong and picked such a bad contractor to begin with?
It’s not that the homeowner is making a bad choice on purpose; it’s often the contractor whose work seems noble at first, but only to turn out in the long run, they were a crook all along. Tactics like bait and switch, dangling the carrot and material fraud are all too common in the industry and are hard to control. They not only hurt customers on a regular basis, but they also sully the name of the industry and it affects the way customers look at me and my work greatly.
Unfortunately, bathroom contractors are one in a million and it makes it that much harder to weed out the bad individuals from the good. So what do I tell customers looking to have a bathroom remodeling project completed by a bathroom contractor? Do your research!
Licensing, Insurance and Workers Compensation
Always, always, always, check with the local building department, Better Business Bureau and Labor Department to ensure your potential bathroom contractor has the right contractor’s license (usually a state or county license), insurance (builder’s risk) and workers compensation-as well as any past complaints against them. Without these important documents held by professional bathroom contractors, YOU can be held responsible for any accidents, material thefts or damages to property-i.e. you’re going to get stuck with any bills!
Portfolios versus Showrooms
While it takes some serious knowledge and cash to get a bathroom remodeling license and start a company, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good bathroom remodeler-do your research and check references to ensure your potential bathroom contractor has done plenty of good work in the past. It takes years of practice to get good at what you do and an experienced bathroom remodeler is the best person to hire for the job.
But it’s really all about your needs. What type of building experience do you think you’ll like best?
Showrooms- A bathroom remodeling company that offers visitors a vast selection from their showroom is a fast paced environment but has tons of options to choose from. The crews often offer speedy installation, but attention to detail and lack of quality can be an issue for these types of bathroom renovation businesses.
Portfolios- Single owner bathroom renovation companies that carry a picture or website portfolio and offer a more hands on install by a custom crew of individuals who take time and create a well-crafted final product. Materials are typically one brand only and a lack of choices can be an issue for the homeowner who wants a lot of options for their new bathroom.
Combine Forces in your Favor
If you’ve ever seen those TV shows where the homeowner gets help for a bad remodeling project and the whole team confronts the homeowner, then you already know what I’m talking about. Gang up on your contractor with other big-bathroom players and you’ll be sure to get a good job out of everyone. Hire a bathroom designer, your own architect and keep in contact with the building inspector personally. This will allow you to keep everyone on the same page as you are and you’ll have set up enough checks and balances to keep the tides turned in your favor throughout your entire bathroom remodeling project.