If your project will involve a number of sub contractors such
as plumbers, carpenters, electricians, tilers it
might be to your advantage to use a reliable licensed
general contractor. Contractors who do a large volume
of work can buy materials for you at low wholesale
prices. However, if the job is small, you may have difficulty
finding a contractor willing to take it on because
larger projects are more profitable for him.
In much of the bathroom remodeling being done,
though, almost all of the work is handled by a single
contractor I carpenter-a jack-of-all-trades who can
carry out some plumbing tasks as well as carpentry.
Although doing your own contracting will certainly
save you money, it will also eat up a lot of your time.
You’ll have to get in touch with, choose, and supervise
the skilled workmen and cope with the fact that they
often have strict union rules, such as a set working
To find a contractor or other skilled workers, talk with
homeowners who have had work done. You can also
check with subcontractors and material suppliers or a
bank or local credit bureau.
When selecting a contractor, keep in mind that the one
with the lowest bid is not necessarily the one who will
do the job best. You should base your choice on his
reputation in home building-he should be cooperative,
competent, and financially solvent. He is the one who
orders the materials and hires, supervises, and coordinates
the work of the various subcontractors.
You should get in touch with at least two (and preferably
three) contractors for a preliminary cost estimate
on a major project. Though there is no fee or obligation
of any kind on your part and no firm commitment on
theirs, you’ll have a basis for further planning.
After all major and minor decisions have been made,
the contractor can give you a firm bid. Then a complete,
legal, written contract should be prepared. The contract
should include dimensions, specifications, and type and
quality of all materials, as well as a time schedule,
cleanup agreement, bankruptcy release, and payment
agreement. Usually a contractor is paid either on
the installment plan, voucher system, or in one lump
sum upon completion . After you’ve made a thorough
inspection, you acknowledge completion of the job in
Subcontractors: plumbers, tile setters, electricians
Whether or not to hire skilled workmen for all or part of
the work is a decision that should be made early to avoid
scheduling problems. If you plan to hire out most of the
work, be sure you have the time and determination to act
as your own general contractor ; if not, hire a licensed
one. The services of a plumbing contractor or other subcontractor
include supplying current product information,
selling fixtures and supplies, advising you, and
doing work in accordance with technical drawings and
specifications that comply with local codes.
At first glance the services of skilled workmen may
seem expensive. Yet they have the specialized tools,
training, and experience to finish the job much faster
than you could, and you can expect a professionally
finished job from them. Using skilled workmen can even
save you money if you weigh it against the cost of
your own time.
If you’re acting as your own general contractor, you
must know how to get the most from the people you
hire. Often they’re accustomed to the routine of doing a
job in one particular way and do not welcome changes.
For example, if you want the niche for the soap dish inset
high in the shower wall to keep spray from the shower
head from reaching it, you’ll probably encounter resistance
from the tile setter who wants to position the niche
where he’s used to putting it.
Trade associations can recommend licensed subcontractors
on the basis of your location and the type and
extent of work involved. Check the Yellow Pages under
“Plumbing Contractors,” “Electric Contractors,” and
“Tile-Ceramic, Contractors” for the address and tele-
phone number of the local branch of the trade association.
Recommendations from other homeowners will also
help you to locate subcontractors.
When dealing with subcontractors, make sure you
supply clear instructions, have all firm agreements in
writing, know what’s realistic to expect, and provide as
much direct supervision as you can.
An interior decorator or designer
These specialists in the decorating and furnishing of
interiors offer professional skill in making the most of
what you have. Beyond that, they supply fresh, innovative
ideas and interpretations and provide access to
unique materials and products.
Usually, homeowners contact a particular interior
designer on the basis of personal recommendations or
because they’ve seen and liked work by the designer in
magazines, books, or at a show house. Membership in a
professional organization called the American SOCiety
of Interior DeSigners (ASID) is one assurance that a
designer is well qualifed. Check the Yellow Pages under
“Interior Decorators & DeSigners” for the telephone
number and address of the ASID chapter in your area.
Interior deSigners work on a very individual basis;
their approaches often differ, too, according to the type
and size of a specific job. A preliminary interview
is customary to see whether the homeowner and the
designer can work together effectively, communicating
about each other’s taste and ideas. Interior designers
usually either charge a professional fee (hourly rate) or
take a percentage of the cost of the merchandise used.