Bathroom remodel: Should a contractor go down to studs?

Discussion in 'General Home Improvement Discussion' started by drew2000, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Jan 21, 2013 #1

    drew2000

    drew2000

    drew2000

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    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!!!

    Andrew
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  2. Jan 21, 2013 #2

    inspectorD

    inspectorD

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    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.
     
  3. Jan 21, 2013 #3

    JoeD

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    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.
     
  4. Jan 21, 2013 #4

    nealtw

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    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.
     
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  5. Jan 21, 2013 #5

    drew2000

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    @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!

    Andrew
     
  6. Jan 22, 2013 #6

    Wuzzat?

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
    drew2000 likes this.
  7. Jan 22, 2013 #7

    drew2000

    drew2000

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

    Thanks,
    Andrew
     
  8. Jan 22, 2013 #8

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Most people hire a contractor based on how they look and their people skills. And that is the problem most of the time.
     
  9. Jan 25, 2013 #9

    drew2000

    drew2000

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

    I appreciate it!

    Andrew
     
  10. Jan 25, 2013 #10

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    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 %
    39.0
    45.0
    53.0
    63.0
    69.0
    71.0
    74.0
    74.0
     
  11. Jan 26, 2013 #11

    CallMeVilla

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    One data point missing ... How much of their estimate is materials versus labor/profit?? If you are choosing very high end fixtures, the costs is going to rise. I did a complete bathroom remodel which included relocating the sink, new cabinets, shower to replace funky tub. Did it to the studs and joists. and it was much easier for new plumbing and electrical/lighting AND outside wall insulation . . .
     
  12. Jan 26, 2013 #12

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    We're working on the materials cost. The more we look, the more options open up. I'd think for the same ZIPcode, the profit/(total job cost) follows the same curve across many companies in the same business.
     
  13. Jan 27, 2013 #13

    dthornton

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    Drew, I thought of something that could both save you some money AND get the job done the way you want it. You can tear out the old bathroom yourself, and then get a price quote for building back what you want. Any of the estimates you got so far obviously (or maybe not so obviously) include the cost of removing and hauling off old fixtures (and wall covering, if a tear out was included). Our local dump charges $75 a ton for disposing of construction waste. If you have a truck, you can tear stuff out of the bathroom and haul it yourself. If you don't, you can rent a "construction dumpster" and then call the company for a pick up after you have finished removing everything from the bathroom. You don't have to be a professional to demo your bath. A few wrenches and pliers will remove the toilet and vanity. A sledge hammer and some prybars/wrecking bars/crowbars will make pretty easy work of the wall coverings. Pull off all wall coverings and then take up your flooring down to the subfloor. If the tub is cast iron, an 18 pound sledge will demolish it in about 20 minutes (WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES!!! - a trip to the emergency room will offset any money you just saved!). Vacuum up the floor, and then get your contractor to give you a price quote to put the bath the way you want it. Good luck! :2cents:
     
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  14. Jan 27, 2013 #14

    dthornton

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    You could also go to Lowe's/Home Depot/Menard's and pick up a toilet, vanity, faucets/shower fixtures, the shower you want, tile, etc. Of course you will pay retail, but you will have what you want and won't be paying a contractor mark up.
     
  15. Jan 27, 2013 #15

    JoeD

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    You won't be paying contractor markup but you might be paying more for an inferior product.
     
  16. Jan 28, 2013 #16

    dthornton

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    Joe; true, you just need to do some research before purchase. Consumer Reports has ratings for a lot of items. Sometimes the store people can tell you what's good and what's not (if somebody buys something that's crap, they will at the least go back to the store and complain. You usually want to avoid items that have a lot of returns, too.)
     
  17. Jan 28, 2013 #17

    dthornton

    dthornton

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    You can also let the contractor pick everything out. You may pay some markup, but if you're unhappy with the performance of anything it's up to him to make it right (including labor). The downside to buying stuff yourself is that if they install it and you don't like it, you will have to pay them to remove it and replace it. Could be a real "crap shoot" if you don't know what you're buying. I've never been disappointed with Kohler or American Standard, but that's personal preference. Like most things though, if you buy "cheap", you get "cheap".
     
  18. Jan 28, 2013 #18

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    On occasions I have had plumbers offer to do work for labour only and material at cost. They just gave me the invoice to pay the wholesaler. It turns out, his wholesale price was higher than any plumping or big box store. It is reasonable for any small business man to mark up product that he is supplying. It really puts the contractor in a bad place.
     

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