My Long Journey to Picking a Bathroom Contractor - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

My bathroom under construction.

I’m redoing my bathroom. I mean, really redoing it, down to the posts, studs and subfloor.

Here’s how it looked after they started tearing the thing apart.

This all started months ago when my shower floor started leaking and we noticed water stains on the kitchen ceiling below it. I assumed it was a leaky drainpipe and called a plumber. He took one look and told me it wasn’t a leaky drainpipe; he could tell because there was standing water in the pipe curve beneath the drain. If it was leaky, there wouldn’t be any water. He shook his head and told me it was probably a leak in the floor or walls. Not good. “Do you have homeowner’s insurance?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied.

He confirmed it was the floor and not the drain by taping over my drain so it was sealed. Then he ran the shower until an inch or so of water was on the floor and said, “Give this an hour or so. If there’s a leak, you’ll see it in the ceiling downstairs. If that’s the case, we’re going to have to tear up the floor, fix the leak, and redo the floor. My guess is that it’s a three grand job.” He shook my hand, happily accepted the check for $100 for 20 minutes of work and went on his merry way.

I went to work and when I came home, my kitchen ceiling was full of water spots and leaks. I was in trouble.

I called my insurance and they informed me that damages from the leak would be covered but not fixing the leak itself. The damage from water appeared to be very little, a few water spots that would probably be covered over with a coat of paint, and mold in the ceiling was very unlikely. Basically, help from insurance was out.

To make a long story short, I was stuck with a $3,000 repair for an old shower I didn’t really like. The vanity wasn’t much to brag about either, nor were the toilet and linen cabinet. The floor was okay, but not great. I’d spend $3,000 and I’d still have the same old bathroom. Hmm. So, I did the right thing. I decided on a total redo.

At that point I needed a contractor. I started with the plumber who verified the leak. He actually did bathroom renovations at my parents’ house and did a great job (20 years later, it still looks like new). Unfortunately, he didn’t reply to my request for a quote. I think I’m too far from his base of operations for such a large job. Too bad.

Next, I did what everyone should do. I asked family and friends who’ve they’ve used for kitchen/bath stuff and who they like. My brother, sister and mother all told me the same contractor – DG Installations  of Warren, MI (my mother had actually recommended the plumber and DG Installations). He had done some work for them and they were all extremely happy. I got in touch with him and he gave me a quote. It seemed reasonable but a little high, so I went to a large firm that does a lot of local advertising for another quote. At that point, I knew what a high quote was. They were about $5 – 10,000 higher, depending on what I wanted. My choice was made.

 Well, not so fast. I did one more thing. I researched the contractor online and found his Better Business Bureau score, read reviews of his company and tried to find anything that would show he wasn’t that good. Once I was assured he was totally legit with no skeletons in his closet, I gave him a $600 deposit and the rest is history.

If you’re embarking on a similar project, here are the three big things I recommend when picking a bathroom contractor:

  • Get referrals from family or friends.
  • Get quotes from your referrals and maybe pick one more company you’re familiar with.
  • Read online reviews on Google, Angie’s List, Yellow Pages, etc. Check the BBB’s site for a letter grade (A – F) and complaints. Search Google or Bing/Yahoo! for your contractor’s name and see what comes up.

Coming up in the next installment – What I learned during the first fews days of the bathroom makeover. (Have you ever seen a bathroom stripped down to the studs? You’re about to.)


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