We got a chance to chat with Pete, our Production Manager here at Riverside Construction, about what really makes or breaks a bathroom remodel. Pete didn’t hold back on the real talk about common slip-ups and how to dodge them. So, here’s Pete, sharing his wisdom in his own words.
Q: What is the single most critical mistake that’s made during a bathroom remodel that can ruin the project?
A: In my opinion, the mistake we see most often is the customer wanting to skimp on the details. Things like putting in new baseboard or new casing or a little bit of crown molding. So, things that may be reused, but they’re already a little bit beat up or they have some scratches on them or something like that. Then we have this beautiful tiled shower and new bathroom. And then we’re going back with the same scratched baseboard that’s stained or painted. And it really detracts from things when, in reality, 50 bucks gets you some new baseboard or a bit of crown molding at the top that just classes the thing up a little bit. But hey, we want to save a couple of bucks, so we’ll do it.
We do that on a semi-regular basis. We have a customer that would like that, and we’ll repaint it, and we’ll sand it. We’ll do some work to make it look nice. But in the end, it’s hard to not notice that that’s just a reused piece that could have been changed out. So, our scope of work, we try to make it really, really detailed to make sure that we are doing exactly what the customer wants and not doing something that the customer has not approved. And so, in a case like that, it sometimes means that we’re putting back in a piece of used trim or even a door slab that maybe the previous dog put a little scratch in, and we just need to spend the extra 150 bucks or $200 to get a new door and get it painted uprights. And it just finishes out that job perfectly.
Q: Can you share an example of a bathroom remodel gone wrong due to this type of mistake, how did it impact the project?
A: Yeah, I’ll not give out any names to protect the guilty, but we have seen this. There was one quite recently that the profile of the trim was fairly unique throughout the house. And it was something that we would have had to have a custom piece of baseboard made, we couldn’t find it anywhere. And there’s a place in town that will do that. But it costs more than the standard piece of baseboard. And so we opted to do that with the customer’s permission and their knowledge. And we got through the project and realized that there was a small calculating error, and we needed about four inches of baseboard that wasn’t existing.
So, the space needed four inches more baseboard. And so we found a close profile match and we tried to use it in a place that was inconspicuous. And we touched up with new stain and we tried to do all of those things. But in the end, it just didn’t look good. And so we ended up doing a change order and getting this custom piece of trim made for the entire bathroom and redid the whole thing. And so in the end, it turned out very well. But it did cause some hiccups along the way where we had to slow down production a little bit, work through a change order, get the product in, get it made, and then actually get it installed.
Q: How can homeowners avoid this pitfall? What steps should they take before and during the remodel to prevent it?
A: That’s a good question. We are constantly adapting and improving and changing our process. And the way that we present these types of things during our selections process with our designer, and during the sales process with the project consultant. So, we’re taking steps to help ensure that we highlight some of these seemingly small things that do impact the job quite largely.
I think for a customer, if they can think through and use the renderings and the design that we provide to help visualize the project in the end. And think through those details of what’s the first thing that I’m gonna see when I walk into the space? Or at my eye level, what am I gonna see? Maybe is there something else in my house that bugs me that I can pull into? So maybe there’s a scratch in a front door that I see every time I walk in. Or when I’m cleaning and kind of down in the space, I notice that this baseboard doesn’t match up. Or even the way that kind of tiles are laid out, which is something that we talk about quite often, the layout and the pattern that we want to have on a wall. But thinking that through from different vantage points. What’s it look like when I’m sitting on the toilet? What’s it look like in the reflection of the mirror? What does it look like when I first walk in the room, as I’ve already mentioned? But thinking through that and just from a slightly different angle, I think would be the best thing they could do.
Q: What role does communication between the homeowner and the remodeling team play in ensuring the project’s success?
A: Man, communication is everything. We do really well with communication and we struggle with communication all at the same time. Because it is so important and it’s continuous through the job. So, our designer, Kelly, being able to get a good view and a good picture and a good understanding of what a homeowner wants. Their design style as well as just their personality and their preferences is crucial. And she does a really good job of that.
Being able to help manage some expectations and come up with a good process is 100% communication with the customer. When we start our project, we have a pre-construction meeting where myself and the project manager meets at the customer’s home, walks through the space, reviews the print with them, and talks about day-to-day operations. How we come and go. Is there a cat or a dog in the house? Making sure that we communicate all of that. At that meeting, we set up a text thread between really any people in the home that want to be involved and that project manager. So that any bit of communication that comes through via email or text message, everybody can see that. We have a weekly meeting during the entire process of building out the space. So that there’s a quick face-to-face, here’s what we did last week, here’s what we’re planning to do. We’re on schedule, we’re on budget, all of those things. Making sure that we’re communicating that really well.
We try to communicate at the end of the job and walk through it and check in on the customer after we’ve been finished with the project for a period of time just to make sure that everything is still working well and suiting their needs. Communication is the most important part of this entire process. And for that reason, it’s really good and at times it’s lacking. But we’re constantly trying to do better at it. So, I think even writing this article is trying to communicate well what to expect in a remodel or what to expect in, and having Riverside, especially in your space, doing some work for you. We can’t overdo communication, there’s no way.