I have been getting a lot of requests on my topic of bathroom renovations (tub to shower conversion) over on Houzz.com about what the best questions are to ask when looking for a new contractor. It's funny this subject comes up because just last week my last client said it was what they learned from my posts online that in the end lead them to me.
What are the top ten questions you should ask your potential tile crew or bathroom renovator? What are you favourite questions?
I have a list going here.
Hiring a bathroom contractor or tile setter can be a scary process. Do you have the right person? Do they have the skills and the training to do the job right? Often you are at the mercy of the person you hire and many times the same contractor can produce different levels of finished product. What are the best questions to ask when looking for a new contractor?
I have some good questions here that can open the doors to many renovation realities. Dust, Testing, Product Approvals and the like are all subjects that need to be raised. Often getting a better tradesperson is in asking better questions. What is key is understanding how their job should be done before asking the questions. Here is a few questions to get you headed in a better direction.
There are many simple steps you can take to get a better contractor or better tile installation company on your job. Here is a few questions you might ask when interviewing a new tradesperson.
"How long have you been incorporated or doing business under your current company name?"
Look for business that have been operating under the same business name for long period of time. A 40-50 year business owner doing business for twenty years ideally has not changed the company name often - if ever. A brand new business would raise alarm bells with me. If it is a new company your dealing with or interviewing ask what the last business name was and check out any consumer reviews for both of these company names. A shower renovation could easily cost $28,000-$90,000 - you would not buy a luxury car without a test drive and extensive research. The person you hire will be responsible for it's outcome - CHECK THEM OUT.
Do they have insurance. WCB. Better Business Bureau. Are they members of the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Assoiciation)? The NTCA or TTMAC. Perhaps one of the Marble Associations. Look for people active in their industry, chances are they have more training and more support at their disposal.
"How long will you flood test the new shower?"
Every shower needs to be flood tested to ensure it holds water and that it drain properly. Shower's need the waterproofing material to comply with ANSI 118.10 standards. There are so many options a just a few of them include "Hot Mop", "Rubber Liner", "Kerdi", "Hydro Ban","Wedi", "Noble Seal", "Noble Deck".....and on and on.
As long as they meet this ANSI 118.10 standard and the showers are flood tested your good to go. Typically "Hot Mop's" are only found in the state of California and most times it's the plumber who installs a rubber type shower liner with a clamping drain. If a topicall membrane like Kerdi or Noble are used it is the tile installer or membrane installer who would need to preform this flood test.
Flood tests are ideally 72 hours. In much of the United States a flood test duration of 15 minutes is all that is required but a more measured and controlled 72 hour test is far more accurate test of your new shower's waterproofing measures.
"Who's job is it to protect the finished floors and counters?"
It appears to be nobody's responsibility on most job sites. Demand better. Protecting the new and old work from harm should be first on every tradesperson list. If it's not included in a quote take the job on yourself. If the job site is neat and tidy you get neat tidy work. If the job site is a "Gong Show" - you can guess the care many take. Keep it tidy. Protect the floors. Check out this product. Ram Board
"How do you contain the dust on the renovation?"
If your only renovating a bathroom the entire home should not suffer. Us tradespeople need space. If your ensuite is the project move out of the bedroom and let your crew use the space. This is nice treat for us blue collar workers and makes for a neater and safer job site.
"Where does the messy work and mixing take place?"
Tile setting materials contain cement. It's corrosive and the dust mask should be worn by the person mixing it. The dust should not be flying around the home. Settle on a place to mix these dusty materials and what measures will be put in place to prevent dust or flying cement from harming other areas of the home or yard.
"Are all your products cUPC certified?"
They need to be. Often there is a sticker or approval letter in the package. Save these for final inspection. Make a file to have ready if requested by the plumbing or general inspector on a job.
"What is the name of your plumber, drywalled, tile setter and electrician?"
You want to have the right sub contractors. One general contractor might work with several tile setting crews. Who is the best? Find out. Plan your job around that crews schedule for best results. Don't hire a general contractor and then let it go to quote. The tile contractor and tile setter should have a history of projects together - ask for pictures.
"Who does the pressure test on the new plumbing work?"
An often overlooked test that is so crazy to skip.
"Are permits needed for this renovation?"
Most times not. But Why Not? Get the city involved - the more "Eyes" on a job the better chance of catching something built wrong.
"What kind of warranty is offered by the individual materials? Do you extend them?"
Not all warranties and products are created equal. If your paying one set price for the new shower - what is the base standard? What quality is the finishes? The grout?