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drew2000 01-21-2013 05:18 AM

Bathroom remodel: Should a contractor go down to studs?
Hey All,
My wife and I are interviewing contractors to handle a master bath remodel in our town home (approximately 110 sq ft bathroom, townhouse was built in 1993). We are not changing the footprint, but are installing a shower where a tub used to be. The project will involve a new vanity, sinks, shower, flooring, lighting, etc. We have not asked for any extensive fancy stuff (top of the line cabinets, tile, etc.).

We have met with several quality contractors via Angieslist, each estimating a hefty $22-25,000 for the job. I have asked each contractor if this price includes a "down to the studs" gut and rebuild of the dry wall.

Each contractor has said "we only go down to the studs if we have to."

I have read several articles that state that a quality bathroom remodel should include going all the way back to the studs and rebuilding out the dry wall. Our drywall is kind of ratty and the seams are in bad shape.

My question: Are these contractors trying to get away with less work by not doing a full demo? (Keep in mind the price range and relatively small bathroom size).

For this much money, should I keep looking for a contractor who is eager to gut the whole thing?

Thank you!!!


inspectorD 01-21-2013 06:49 AM

It all depends on Market value. A price in NYC is diffent from one in the backwoods. Same goes for on the shore, raise the price by 30 %. Did I mention every contractor is different in skill levels? Keep looking if you are not comfortable with who you have met with.

Nobody can give you a price over the web, and you should be doing plenty of local homework to get an Idea of what your ##'s should be.
Hope this helps you to get a start.

JoeD 01-21-2013 08:41 AM

The only reason to go down to studs is if work needs to be done behind the drywall or the drywall is damaged. If the drywall is in good shape and nothing needs to be done behind it like plumbing or electrical then why would you tear it out.

nealtw 01-21-2013 08:42 AM

The question is how much more will they charge to take it down to the studs.
It is the only way you can see the framing, the plumbing and wiring and repair as needed. But alot of times there is nothing to fix so it is your call.

drew2000 01-21-2013 08:59 AM

@inspectorD - Thanks for the input, I'll try a few more contractors and try to find someone who I am comfortable with. I'm not looking for pricing so much, I am just trying to figure out if these guys are trying to take shortcuts with the job.

@JoeD - The main reason for tearing it out is to replace it with nice, straight dry wall with expertly-taped seams. As it sits, a lot of the seams are peeling and there are dents and stains in the dry wall. Everyone says they can "fix it" but I guess I am concerned about paying top dollar for a band-aid fix when another contractor may rip out the whole thing.

@nealtw - Thanks, that is a much BETTER way to look at it: How much will they charge for ripping out the dry wall on top of the rest of the job. That is good perspective.

Thanks all!


Wuzzat? 01-21-2013 06:40 PM

Centreville might be within the range of the Washington Consumer's Checkbook, a good resource for checking price and quality. Some libraries allow you in-library free access.

Twenty two to 25 is not a very wide range, +/- 6%.
Prices that are very close may indicate price fixing, not that you can do anything about it. People who say, "We can beat any price." are doing an informal version of price fixing.
Typically I get a low outlier, a high outlier, and a cluster of bids in the middle. Low:high ratio may be 1:2 or 1:3.

drew2000 01-22-2013 08:29 AM

That's an awesome idea, I will be sure to check that. I did check the BBB also.


nealtw 01-22-2013 03:55 PM

Most people hire a contractor based on how they look and their people skills. And that is the problem most of the time.

drew2000 01-25-2013 08:43 AM

Thanks again to everyone for the top-quality advice! :clap:

I appreciate it!


Wuzzat? 01-25-2013 09:33 AM


Originally Posted by nealtw (Post 82533)
Most people hire a contractor based on how they look and their people skills. And that is the problem most of the time.

For installing vented gas fireplaces we were very impressed with one firm but an independent rating company gave him 45%. In this list half are between 51 and 72 so he is in the lower 1/4th. This is very disappointing.
We didn't like the 39% guy much, though.

rating in %

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