Q: We want to do most of our master bathroom remodel ourselves and get help with a few things, such as the shower pan, wall tile and glass doors. But it seems unless we do a complete remodel, most contractors don’t want to work with us.
A: Sometimes you’ll find a contractor who’s willing to act as a sort of coach for remodeling projects, but most often, contractors won’t want the homeowner to do significant portions of work. And they have good reasons.
For one, the contractor’s name is on any building permits they pull, and they must guarantee that work is done to code. Also, remodelers can’t offer the same workmanship guarantees for labor they didn’t perform. This could cause problems later, if the homeowner encounters issues with the final product.
Best Jobs for DIYers
The jobs remodelers are most willing to cede to the DIY enthusiast include:
▪ Demolition of the old bathroom
▪ Changing light fixtures – if wiring doesn’t need to be changed
▪ Installing door or cabinet hardware
Bathroom remodeling is complex. No matter the size, it involves much plumbing and, quite frequently, electrical work.
You’re smart for deciding not to tackle the finesse jobs, such as installing tile, the shower pan or shower door. Unless homeowners have experience with these tasks, the DIY nature of the work will likely show – and might motivate you to call in a pro anyway.
Pros Often Redo DIY Work
Multiple reviews on Angie’s List tell this story: A homeowner started a bathroom remodel but got in over his or her head. Sometimes, contractors can pick up where the homeowner left off. But other times, the contractor must tear out work and start over, causing the homeowner to pay twice for some materials, on top of time lost.
Homeowners believe DIY jobs cost less because of labor savings. However, homeowners often spend more time than they estimated – and despite not being on a contractor’s payroll, no one’s time is entirely free. Also, homeowners might invest more in tools than they save in labor costs, and demolition often accounts for such a small portion of the bill that it might not prove to be worth the time.
To find a contractor who’s willing to work with you, be upfront about your desire to DIY part of the job. Some contractors will list DIY consulting among their services.
Angie Hicks is founder of www.AngiesList.com, provider of consumer reviews and services. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet with #AskAngie. Follow her @Angie–Hicks.