Author Topic: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation  (Read 4360 times)

jennipurrr

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How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« on: August 27, 2013, 08:14:20 AM »
DH and I recently bought a 60 year old foreclosed home in disrepair.  It is (well, soon to be was) unlivable due to water damage and other various issues.  We're living in our current home (paid off the mortgage, so we have flexibility here) and we've been doing a combo of DIY and hiring out the work on the new house.  DH and I are reasonably handy, but definitely weekend warriors.  The other bathrooms are functional and in decent shape, so we are going to paint, new fixtures and be done with those, but the master bath is another story.

We're planning to gut it and basically start from scratch with the space.  It has a horrible tub that is totally enclosed (you think you're going into a stall shower), fully carpeted, a vanity that is really low for some reason, and two long small closets - one inside the bath and one out.

I got a drawing from a draftsman, and with a little reconfiguring we can make the space into a nice bathroom with a good size closet and a large shower.  One closet will be removed and the vanity pushed back into that space.  The other closet will be removed also, and a larger closet created.  Most of the plumbing is staying in its general vicinity, but there may be some small changes there.

We initially contacted a contractor who came recommended.  I thought it would be nice to have someone "in charge" of the bathroom.  Now he isn't even returning our calls.  I think he was hoping to get more of the other work in the house, but we were upfront and told him we are doing a lot ourselves.  We don't have the time or the skills for the carpentry work in the bathroom, but I do feel like we can manage the project.

I also really need some inspiration from someone with an eye for design.  Not sure if this is the place for recommendations on asthetics, lol.  The house is very unique and was featured in several magazines back in its glory days.  It is midcentury modern style, so I would like to update, but stay true to the modern feel.  The draftsman loved my general ideas for finishes, thought they were great for the house, but I don't know how how to roll that into a design.

So...first question is, would you all piecemeal the work here?  How does one go about finding someone who would rebuild a bathroom?  Would we just line up a carpenter, plumber, tiler, and electrician?  We know people except for the carpenter part.

Any ideas on finding a desgner who isn't $$$$ and maybe just do some sketches or something?  I'm just not sure about vanity style, tile, and colors.

Thanks for any words of wisdom!

Spork

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 08:30:08 AM »
We initially contacted a contractor who came recommended.  I thought it would be nice to have someone "in charge" of the bathroom.  Now he isn't even returning our calls.  I think he was hoping to get more of the other work in the house, but we were upfront and told him we are doing a lot ourselves.  We don't have the time or the skills for the carpentry work in the bathroom, but I do feel like we can manage the project.

I had the exact same, irritating result with a builder (when bidding my house).  He came highly recommended.  He is a well, known builder in the community.  We were very up front with him on wanting to do parts of the work.  After dragging it out a month in the bidding process and me saying "can you edit the bid to show the cost if I do X, Y, Z".... he absolutely stopped taking/returning my calls. 


I also really need some inspiration from someone with an eye for design.  Not sure if this is the place for recommendations on asthetics, lol.  The house is very unique and was featured in several magazines back in its glory days.  It is midcentury modern style, so I would like to update, but stay true to the modern feel.  The draftsman loved my general ideas for finishes, thought they were great for the house, but I don't know how how to roll that into a design.

Just my opinion here...  take this with a grain of salt.  My experience in seeing people hire designers is (1) they up the price.  I don't mean "you have to pay them."  I mean they'll tend to select things that are more expensive.  (2) They tend to follow trends instead of going with classical styles.  This just means in 10 years it is likely to be "out of style."   And (3) -- my pet peeve -- they tend to pick out things that are "just not you".  My sister's house is so nicely refinished.  And none of those finishes seem like her.   While it looks like it might make a nice magazine layout, it's still kind of cold and unhomey.

So...first question is, would you all piecemeal the work here?  How does one go about finding someone who would rebuild a bathroom?  Would we just line up a carpenter, plumber, tiler, and electrician?  We know people except for the carpenter part.

This depends on you.  If it were me: I'd want to do it myself -- all of it.  If that's going to drag it out 6 years and get you a divorce, well, then, maybe don't follow my advice.  ;)

Greg

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2013, 10:15:53 AM »
While I can't excuse the lack of return calls, as a design/build professional I can help explain why this "owner as General" approach often doesn't work.  It's more work for the contractor to join this approach than if they took it on as a General.  The number of questions and calls goes up exponentially, and many decisions are seen as fluid rather than hard specifications.  It's hard to end up making money this way.

Jennipurr, you may want to find a handyman type or retired carpenter to help you.  It sounds like you want to do as much yourself as possible but need the eye and physical help of someone with experience. 

A cabinet or tile/counter shop might be a good place to get help with the vanity and other interior design.

kendallf

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2013, 01:08:50 PM »
I just gutted the bathroom and plumbing in my own 65 year old house, so my experience may be useful.  :-)

I did all of the work myself, with the minor exception of hiring a friend who's a professional tile installer to come over on three afternoons and help me lay out and start the tile.  It wasn't that hard, and you might want to at least do the demolition work yourself so you can better tell what's behind that ugly tub and walls. 

Then if you need to, you can certainly hire carpenters, a plumber, etc. in sequence.  I warn you, it may not save you much time over DIY as at least in my area, you're going to be lower priority to these guys than any contractors they work for who will mean repeat business.

I'd try to match the trim, wall treatments, and any other "theme" elements to the rest of the house, and remember it's your house.  If you like it, nobody else's opinion matters, at least until you sell. 

Dynasty

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2013, 11:36:48 PM »
The house is very unique and was featured in several magazines back in its glory days.  It is midcentury modern style, so I would like to update, but stay true to the modern feel.  The draftsman loved my general ideas for finishes, thought they were great for the house, but I don't know how how to roll that into a design.

Thanks for any words of wisdom!

Since the other bathrooms in the house are functional, I think you need to live in the house for awhile and get to know it... as strange as that sounds.

Right now, it would be too easy to "wreck" it and not stay true to the mid century modern feel. However, I feel your pain with wanting to have a nice master bath.

Hiring a designer won't really net you much. As someone else said, they're going to push the year 2013 modern finishes and designs on you, not the mid century modern. And in ten years, it's going to look dated.

Since the house has been in magazines, is there anyway to get those old articles and pictures and use that as your design template? I imagine over the past 50 or 60 years, the house has probably been molested to some degree.

I really like mid century, its just really hard to get right I think.  Then again, any era of architecture is hard to get right. Most people do not have the eye for it. They know what looks good, but don't know how to create it.

Another thought is, there has to be a way to find old copies of Better Homes and Gardens Magazines from the time your house was built. You should be able to find lots and lots of ideas in there that would keep with the spirit of your home.

Depending on the area of the country you live in, there might just happen to be a mid century antique store with furniture and other home finishings from the era. There is one where I live.

The only other piece of advice I have is to not rush. Other than the getting the water damage repaired, I'd tread really cautiously even with repainting and updating fixtures now. 

One thing to keep in mind is if the interior of the house has been painted with latex paint, and a primer was not used on top of the 1950s oil enamel paints, the latex is pretty easy to remove with a vinegar poultice. Then you could easily restore it to the original color scheme.

I've removed two layers of latex paint in my upstairs bathroom recently and very easily. Ugly white on top, then a seafoam green which was covering a beautiful gold colored oil enamel paint. Matches really well with the varnished woodwork I have throughout the house. The paint is still in pretty good shape. And saves me the hassle and expense of having to repaint.


Sweet Betsy

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2013, 10:36:43 AM »
Have you seen www.retrorenovation.com?  It's all about midcentury renovation while staying true to the era of your house.  This may help with design ideas. 


jennipurrr

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2013, 06:39:40 PM »
Thank you all so much for the replies!!!  Lots of good things I haven't thought about.  I had not seen that website and am loving it!

The same time I posted this, I posted a status on FB asking for recommendations for someone to help w the carpentry work.  I got a couple of good leads and one friend took some pics of great work someone has done for them.  We are definitely not up for all of the work ourselves...as we are working on the other areas of the house right now too.  However, with the long weekend DH and a high school kid got in there, demo-ed and got the space ready to start.

I probably need to sit down and really decide what I want the bathroom to look like, and go with my gut regarding colors and finishes.  I had printed out some bathrooms I really liked as inspiration to the draftsman who drew out the sketch and he said my ideas are on target.  He was saying a lot of people would try to fight the design of the house, but I was embracing it.  I just don't feel strong enough design wise to say yes, this is a great decision, but maybe if I can go off of a really good renovation as inspiration it will work out.

I did ask a co-worker (I work at a university) who works with design students and she is going to see if any of them are interested in helping with color scheme, design, etc.  I did not know that about the paint!  I am going to have to see if I can get some of the paint off and see what is underneath.  I do not know what to do with the color scheme at all, ugh.  Fortunately, the wood trim has never been painted!!! 

Also, I have been investigating to find the magazines the house was in.  I also know the original owner's nephew and am going to see if he knows anything or if he can ask the family.

We have done some "minor" redos (bought a foreclosed prop we rent out) but this one is kicking my butt!  Between the house, work, and classes (part time, working on a doctorate) and I have been pretty much exhausted for the past month.  I think it will be worth it when we are done though.  We will have a ton of equity and a great house we lovvvve, and can rent out the bottom floor.

JoshuaMoore

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2013, 03:59:17 AM »
Wow, that's really cool to hear that you are on the right track of bathroom renovation. Thanks guys for such detailed posts, even I am also in middle of my home renovation getting confused in middle of some old stuffs(replacement windows and doors, few tables). How about replacing the garage doors in Ottawa? what kind of doors will suit this climate?

Daleth

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Re: How Much Help? Bathroom Renovation
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2013, 06:44:46 AM »
Have you seen www.retrorenovation.com?  It's all about midcentury renovation while staying true to the era of your house.  This may help with design ideas.

I second that! It's a great site, great forum (lots of DIY-ers) and a great source of not only tips, but materials (links to places that still sell "new old" tile and fixtures--that is, ones that were made in the 50s and never used--or used fixtures, or modern reproductions of vintage tile and fixtures).