Almost everyone has heard this expression, that if you find a good contractor, you hold onto them for dear life. That should not be the case, but until changes or an oversight board is created for this industry, homeowners often take a deep breath and hope that the contractor they hired to renovate their homes, will be someone who does good work and won’t leave them stranded. The contractors who saved our bathroom renovation from hell, are who I want to take the opportunity to write a post about and thank them for stepping up, when others would not.
The contractors who saved our bathroom renovation nightmare
I’ve written about the bad part and what happened with our master bathroom renovation in a previous post. When it was torn down to the studs again, we sat there and felt sorry for ourselves for a sweet minute. Then we started to look for someone who could and would even care to fix the mess that our first contractor had made.
WHAT DID WE DO DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME?
- Poured over recommendations in local Facebook groups for contractors. We refused to use anyone that had not been personally used by someone in their current home.
- Then we messaged *everyone* who posted a name in the comments sections and asked to see photos of their homes and projects. We asked for very candid opinions and photos.
- We decided to look for specialized trades. Meaning instead of having a General Contractor do the whole bathroom, we decided to look for a tiler to do the tile for the shower, someone to prep the shower for the tiler and then a plumber for the plumbing.
WHO DID OUR SHOWER PREP
We were introduced to Dana at DCL Consulting and Contracting through Phil at Tileworx (who wound up doing our shower – more on that later in the post) as he had worked with them on several projects. We had explained that we needed someone who was willing to take on basically a redo of the shower and bathroom walls, while still allowing Phil and his team do to the tile. A lot of contractors want to be able to do the entire project, but Dana was happy to work alongside Phil’s team and given our nightmare experience, understood why we wanted someone who lives, eats and breathes tile, to actually do the tile.
Dana completed all the prep work for the shower itself and the bathroom walls. In the process he found so many additional mistakes done by our previous contractor, that he then fixed. He caught that the shower piping was not adhered properly to the wall. The floor drain was old and pipes were moving around when they were not supposed to. The wall between the shower was not built straight. The shower height was incorrect and there so many issues with the remaining shower bench (which we had originally left thinking that was salvageable) but nope. The waterproofing was also not done properly by our first contractor, so Dana fixed all that too.
His work was very thorough and he explained everything he was going to do before he did. He measured and created a niche for our shower to correspond to the tiles we were using so that when Tileworx did the tile, there would be no unnecessary ugly tile cuts. He prepped additional support for the sliding handrail for the shower. So many “little” things that made a huge difference in the overall finished product.
We would absolutely recommend hiring Dana from DCL Consulting and Contracting to help you with your home renovations and we will be hiring him to do any future bathroom renovation.
WHO FINISHED OUR SHOWER TILING
We wound up working with Tileworx after several exemplary recommendations from people in our town who had hired them to do their tiling. Tileworx was founded by Phil Turkiewicz back in 2013 and their reputation and exceptional workmanship led them to working with such household names as Bryan Baeumler on his resort build Island of Bryan.
Again, we cannot even begin to express the difference in the caliber of work Phil and Tileworx team member Pat did for us. First of all, Pat who completed most of the shower, took a full day just to measure out the locations of the tile (we wanted classic subway tile, which was 4″ x 12′). This is so that they would avoid unnecessary cuts and have a smooth, transitional flow across the niche in the middle of the wall, but also to avoid small cuts in the corners.
I still get very emotional looking at this photo. To people, it’s just a tiled shower wall in progress. To me it’s the end of a nightmare.
To show you the difference in the time and care in the shower tile, Tileworx took two weeks to complete our shower tiling, including the floor base versus 8 rushed hours by our nightmare previous contractor. Every tile was laid down and made sure it was level and flat. All cuts were complimentary to the shower wall, especially around niches.
Seriously. Look at this niche. Dana’s planning allowed to have Pat from Tileworx work in almost a symphony of tile cuts around the niche. No small slivers of tile and all the lines just flow horizontally.
I dare you to go and look at bathroom photos with shower niches on Pinterest. You will be able to tell who pre-planned their niche and who just winged it, by how the tile is trimmed around and through the niche.
These little details matter. Period. Because they show care and quality in a project.
Another great recommendation made by Pat was to source not only a different grout brand but a different floor tile. We wanted a classic hex floor for the shower floor, but our house tends to shift drastically as the seasons change. This is one of the reasons that causes the tile grout to pop out of the floor tiles in our kitchen floor. Blame it on poor quality suburban house builders, all the houses in our pocket have similar issues.
A different brand of grout would help with not only adhesion but also would help to remain the same color grout. We wanted white grout for the walls and we all know white grout, can go yellow. Not all brands of grout are created equally.
Secondly, having a thicker tile allows the tiler to push that into the floor. So in the case of a shower floor, if your house is old and prone to shifting like ours is (i.e. Your front door is impossible to open in the winter but easy to open in the summer), your tiles are embedded more securely than a thinner tile, which essentially almost lays on top of the mortar. Pat said he didn’t want us calling them back to fix popping tiles in 2 years, so he strongly recommended sourcing a thicker hex tile.
This was undoubtedly a good decision based on our home. Looking back on our kitchen renovation, our contractor really should have used an uncoupling membrane to allow for this type of movement that our house is prone to, but instead they did the wire mesh. We believe has led to the problems we’re having with the kitchen tile popping all the time and the grout constantly coming out. And yes they added support to the beams under the floor and that still was not enough.
These are things that someone who works with tile all the time, can tell you and as homeowners, we greatly appreciated them doing things right the first time, to save them from having to come back again. When your reputation is important to your business, this is the type of information that your customers need. It’s why we will never ever hire anyone else to do our tile again. Tileworx will always be our preferred contractor for tile.
WHO FINISHED OUR BATHROOM FLOOR
That was my husband. After all the hexagon tile mess from our previous contractor, not only were we out of money and could not afford to tile the bathroom floor, but we could not stand to look at the contrasting hex mess left behind. When you walked on it, it was bumpy and individual hex tiles were higher than others, so you would actually stub your toe on them.
Every time we looked at the floor, be it online or in person, it just reminded of us the nightmare bathroom renovation. I used to love contrasting hex floor. Now? I just see all the mistakes that are often made by people who have no business installing it. The idea of redoing it, again, was out of the question. And again, money played a huge part.
So we tore it out.
We would up going to Lowe’s and getting their DURACLIC Black Walnut Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring. On sale no less!
The bathroom floor cost us about $400, taxes in to complete. We are super happy with this decision as we are huge fans of wood floors.
While these are not wood but are wood-look alike, they’re easier to install than wood tile. They are durable, waterproof and so, so, so easy to clean. Not grout lines or anything to worry about. This was the blessing in disguise part of the bathroom as we far happier with the floor now, having this waterproof vinyl tile, than we would have been with the hex tile.
It is a very good product and we like it so much, we’re debating on using it for the entire upper floor.
WHO DID OUR PLUMBING
Our plumbing was a trifecta of Dana from DCL Consulting and Contracting, my husband and our plumber of a million years, Aaron from Aaron’s Plumbing and Gas (APG Plumbing). Aaron had done all our gas stove and plumbing for our kitchen, fixed many toilets over the years and after my husband tried to get the plumbing started for the bathroom vanity, we realized it was not going to be an easy job for him.
We called Aaron last minute and he came over and caught a ton of things that made installation better for us. Such as better fittings for the pipes that the manufacturer didn’t provide to ensure better waterproofing and prevent leaks, that make you understand why it’s important to hire specialty trades for the job you need at hand.
If there one huge lesson I can give anyone doing a home renovation, it is to find specialty trades.
Hire people for the job you need.
You wouldn’t hire a chef to do paint your living room and you wouldn’t hire a gardener to fix your car. Any renovation we do in the future, will be along these lines. That’s everything from framing to drywall. So you can be as relaxed as this guy in the tub.
Even though we tore ours out. Don’t hate, we’re just not bath people. He’s kinda cute though and on sale at Michael’s post Halloween.
WHO INSTALLED OUR SHOWER GLASS DOORS
The final piece of shower was the glass shower doors. At this point we were really negotiating between a curtain and glass doors and wound up going with glass. Superior Glass and Mirror are who we chose to make and install our shower glass. They came to measure our bathroom, placed the order and 3 weeks later came to install it. They were finished their work in about 30 minutes.
I became very emotional when I saw the glass put in because it pretty much was the final puzzle piece in a renovation I never want to experience again. Their work was very thorough and they explained how to for care the glass and how it was sealed for waterproofing and so forth. We love that we could also support a local company.
We are very grateful for all the contractors who stepped in to help us fix our en-suite bathroom and help us finish this room to be blunt, useable. It now looks AND functions incredibly. For those of you in the Durham Ontario or even Greater Toronto Area, who are looking for contractors for your bathroom renovations, do not hesitate to reach out to any of the individuals we have mentioned. They were all who we should have hired to begin with.
You can find their contact information here:
Contractor for shower prep: Dana from DCL Consulting & Contracting Inc.
Tiling: Phil and Pat from Tileworx
Plumbing: Aaron from APG Plumbing
Shower glass doors: Superior Glass and Mirror
In my final series of the master bathroom renovation, I will be going over the products and items used in the shower. Because I know you want to know where you get that light blue vanity. It’s Costco. Seriously. Costco.
READ THE WHOLE SERIES:
PART ONE: Our bathroom renovation nightmare
PART TWO – you just read it
PART THREE: The Master Bathroom Renovation Reveal – Before and After