Bathroom Remodeling Problems Do Happen — Unfortunately
Bathroom remodeling problems make me sick when I hear about them. Most of the time, problems could have been easily avoided, if homeowners had asked lots of questions, gotten reliable (honest) information, thoroughly checked references and credentials, and trusted their gut feelings. Homeowners are not stupid. Many are very well-educated, but they lack the experience and knowledge to protect their investment. They also tend to be trusting, which makes them easy prey for charlatans.
Have you ever watched “Holmes on Homes”? The program is about a great contractor, Mike Holmes, and his crew, who finish botched home remodeling projects.. He really cares about homeowners, and cares about what he does. I applaud him for getting a great message to a large audience. It’s a message that needs attention, because sooner or later, 95% of all homeowners embark on a major remodeling project.
Dream Project Turns Into A Nightmare
If Mike Holmes could read this, he’d be shaking his head and saying, “Why?” Why did a dream master bathroom renovation become a nightmare? Why, after six months, were the homeowners still having to use the guest bathroom? Why were all of the plumbing fixtures and fittings — including a 36″ by 72″ whirlpool/air tub — taking up an entire corner of the master bedroom? Because the homeowners trusted the designer that they hired.
How do bathroom remodeling problems happen? In this project, the former designer didn’t provide plans, and acted as the general contractor. He hired unlicensed people to do the rough plumbing and electrical. Of course, there weren’t permits, which will affect the homeowners’ ability to sell the home in the future. Here are a few of the project’s scary details:
- Two non-tempered existing windows were four inches above the tub deck. Safety code violation!
- There was an outlet for the whirlpool tub; unknown if the wires “home run” to a dedicated 15-amp circuit, required by code;
- There was a 24-inch square extension of the tub platform that would cover code-required access to the pump. It was built over the only heat register in the bathroom. Another code violation!
- Pipes for all of the shower fittings were installed: A rainhead showerhead, an adjustable personal shower, and three body sprays, all controlled by three separate valves. The only place for the shower door was opposite the body sprays, guaranteeing that there would be a puddle of water on the floor every time homeowners use the body sprays. I doubt if the designer considered the ergonomic placement of the body sprays, because they were very far apart, aimed at the head, the waist, and the groin (ouch!).
- The shower floor sloped to the drain, and the shower curb was sloped to the inside, but there was no way to tell if the membrane under the mortar bed was installed properly, per code. The drain was flush with the mortar, instead of being above it, allowing room for the tile floor. Without permits (and inspections), there was no way to tell if everything meets code for water-tightness.
- The new contractor verified that the existing 50-gallon water heater was close to the end of its life. What do you think the chances are that the former designer didn’t do any calculations about water-flow requirements for the 10″ rainhead showerhead, the body sprays, and the tub filler? Another sure bet is that he didn’t calculate the number of gallons it would take to fill the tub, and how long it would take hot water to reach the master bathroom from the water heater.
- Rough plumbing for the bathroom sinks (lavatories) was installed, but the right-hand lavatory was only 13 inches from the wall, which means that the homeowner would be bumping his/her elbow. He/she would be standing in the doorway, and would have no storage on the right-hand side. Fortunately, the contractor confirmed that it would be easy to move the drain and supply lines, so the lavatory could be more functional and safe.
- The former designer didn’t have a clue about lighting and electrical. He left old recessed fixtures with black baffles above the lavatory area. No provision for sidelights, which is the best kind of lighting for shaving and applying makeup. The designer was actually planning to leave the existing exhaust fan — old, noisy technology, plastic case yellowed with age. $350 or less would buy a great, quiet fan that looks much better.
This is one of the worst bathroom remodeling problems I’ve ever heard in over 33 years! Unfortunately, the homeowners will have to pay a lot to have previous work undone, then done right. It’s going to take about six more weeks to get permits and finish the bathroom (finally!). Mike Holmes’ program is viewed by millions of people, but do they get the message? Unfortunately, most of us believe that we’ll never have bathroom remodeling problems like this one — it’s always someone else. Somehow, we have to get our message to more homeowners. Please follow our advice, because we care. We can’t protect everyone, but if we can help one in 100 to avoid costly problems, it will be worth our effort.
The project was finished, and all of the problems were resolved. Despite having to pay twice as much for their dream bathroom, the Homeowners are very happy with the results.
“See the Possibilities. Create a Positive Difference.”
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