Some general questions about a fairly major home remodel project

I am considering having my bathroom completely remodeled. Just a few questions to start:

  1. I have just one bathroom. I expect the remodel project would take several days at the minimum. In such cases is it common practice (and feasible) to have the toilet still functional and available during the great majority of the project? What about the shower?

  2. We are going to hire an actual company, not ‘a guy’. Is it common practice to have the workers working alone in the home while the homeowners are out making a living? I don’t really want to take a vacation week just to sit around watching guys work on my bathroom, but I also don’t want my autographed photo of Regis Philbin to go missing.

  3. What sort of down payment, percentage-wise, is appropriate and safe?

1] I’ve gutted, replaced sub-floor and reset the toilet in one day before, and then the next morning pull up the toilet again … but then again, sometimes I couldn’t … talk to your neighbors and see if you can use their bathroom for a few days …

2] If this is a well-establish company in your community with a reputation of honestly … I wouldn’t worry all that much … of course secure your easily pocketed valuables like cash, jewelry and such … but I wouldn’t worry about your sofa or refrigerator … you should already have a household inventory for your home-owners insurance policy … so if one of the workers swipes your autographed photo of Regis Philbin you can file a claim against the company’s insurance …

3] I always asked for, and got, a 50% down payment … but this is a small community where everybody knows everybody else … plus I would use the money to buy all the materials and stow these materials at the job site, so the customer knew exactly where the money went …

The risk here is when the contractor buys the materials on credit, finishes the job, and then not pay off the credit account at the suppler … the suppler can now come after you for payment, and file a construction lien against the property where the materials were installed … the “fly-by-night” scam … one way to protect yourself for this is to check the contractor’s insurance, make sure they actually have insurance for this kind of situation …

When I did a remodel like this, I first added a 2nd bathroom (half-bath, just a toilet & hand sink) in the basement (already was a shower there), and got that working before starting to gut & remodel the existing upstairsbathroom. (It was a lifesaver when the remodel took much longer than expected.)

I’d really advise looking into that.
You can probably get a good deal from the remodeling company to do both at once. Besides the convenience to you (both now & in the future) it will save the remodelers work & time if they don’t have to worry about making the bathroom functional every night before they leave, and then removing that before starting work the next day.

And a 2nd bath greatly adds to the resale value of your house!

Helpful answers, watchwolf, thanks. But as for using the neighbor’s bathroom, nope, not gonna happen.

t-bonham - we considered that, but we don’t really need two terlits, and I don’t really want to give up even that small a portion of basement real estate.

Depending on the code in your area, it may be necessary to have a ‘port-a-john’ on site. But this would depend on just how extensive the work is and if you need a permit/s. I would talk to your contractor.

As far as a shower is concerned, you can do a passable job taking bird baths in the kitchen sink. Or, you might talk to your local recreation center to see if you can get a pass for just a week - use the shower there.

It’s a small bathroom that can certainly be knocked out within a work week by someone who knows what they are doing. I doubt that a porta-potty would be sensible.

I did mention the shower in the OP, but I’m actually more focused on the crapper. I do belong to a nearby gym that I can shower at, so while that may be inconvenient, it is certainly do-able.

But I don’t want to have to drive there every time I need to make water (or solid).

But porta-potties are pretty darn cheap, so why not just do it? Beats wishing you had one at 3 a.m. after too many tacos and beers:eek:

Plus, the workers will be there all day. You don’t want to pay for them driving to the gas station.

What is the builder going to use while remodeling your bathroom? I think a port-a-potty would be useful to them as well. (My parents had some remodeling done in their house and the company that did the work installed one temporarily for the use of their workers.)

You might be able to use a camping toilet while the bathroom is out of commission. I can’t see them hooking up the toilet every night. Too many chances of leaks if it’s not done right.

A 50% deposit has been typical for the major jobs I’ve had done. Check their Yelp other other reviews to see if anyone has had any issues with them not completing work.

Make sure everything is on site before you begin. All the pluming fixtures, tile or whatever you are using, light fixtures, etc. Depending on which state you live in, you may need to get a permit. It would probably be required in CA; definitely in my municipality. In the municipality I live in, there would also be at least 3 inspections (maybe 4 or 5) for this project, assuming you’re doing tile in the shower. But we’re a bit unusual about inspections. Other municipalities are not so stringent.

Rough-in Inspection
(Insulation Inspection)
(Sheetrock nailing Inspection)
Lath inspection
Final Inspection

Isn’t that up to them to solve? Is it my responsibility to provide them with facilities?

No, of course it’s not your responsibility. And they certainly have some plan they normally follow. But if the answer is that they need to leave the worksite to go to the gas station down the street, that’s going to slow up work.

But my point was merely that if a port-a-potty would be useful to the workers, it would similarly be useful to you.

Pee in the kitchen sink until the toilet is working again.

A porta potty may be required depending on your building department/permits. And that would be built into the bid.

Really, talk to your contractor.

Use baling wire to attach a toilet seat to a five gallon bucket for your crapping needs …

But, without the matching autographed photo of Kathy Lee Griffin it’s really not worth much.


mmm, my husband, before he retired, did many many kitchen and/or bath remodels - I mean gutted and redone, and he ALWAYS had the necessities working when he left for the day.

His clients (once they got to know him) left him there to work while they went to their jobs. At one time he had 4 different garage key pad combinations going - I’d end up having to look up which one was which for him. :slight_smile:

Down payments really weren’t a percentage so much as what he needed to get really going (materials, $ for help - on some jobs he had to hire help) - it was something he and the homeowner discussed and agreed on.

NOTE: HE WAS SELF EMPLOYED - you said you had a contractor, so I’m just giving you Husband’s general experiences with remodels. :slight_smile:

  1. Should be able to have the toilet working during the vast majority of the project, tho it would take a little bit of effort to reseat it after tearing out the old floor tile but before installing new. Would be at least one day, tho - after setting new tile - that they would want you to stay off the floor. The shower is likely to be out of commission for most of the entire time. Showering at the gym and in the sink will have to do. If you have an unfinished basement and utility sink, you could hook up a short piece of hose…

  2. Yeah, really no good way to be home throughout an entire project. Make sure they are bonded and insured. We lent our guys a spare garage remote we happened to have for access.

  3. Agree with others - 50% is reasonable. Maybe another 25% when work begins or is partway done. But always hold something back until final inspection/approval.

We have a Luggable Loo on our pontoon boat. Never used it, but it is nice to know it’s there.

During our remodels the fact we have 3 bathrooms came in handy. When the water was off, I peed outside (nice thing about living in the country).

We always pay 50% at the beginning, the rest at the end.

When we had all our windows replaced, we left the doors unlocked (as they always are) for the contractor, who also was doing other work inside. We ended up short one screen. The contractor ordered the screen, which took weeks to arrive. When he got the screen, he came while we were at work without telling us and installed it. Kinda creepy that he just walked right in