We have hit Survey Question #10! To celebrate the success of Bathroom Survey, we are breaking the mold with this survey question. This is an opportunity to reflect on your personal bathroom needs in the context of a renovation or remodel.
Beginning the process of planning a bathroom renovation may seem like a daunting task, but answering a few simple questions will point you in the direction of preferred design, function, and budget. Below, we have listed several questions you should ask yourself when beginning to plan for a bathroom remodel or renovation.
- Where is the bathroom located? Does that impact its use?
- Who is the primary user of the bathroom? This will affect how you strategize the remodel, the aesthetic decisions you make, and the features you include.
- What is the purpose of the remodel? Is it for aesthetic or functional purposes? Functional renovations are often more expensive, but aesthetic remodels can increase quality of life and the value of your home.
- What are the most important “special features” for the remodel? Consider: luxury showerheads and systems, makeup lighting, mirrors, and vanity designs.
- Do you have a preferred color scheme?
If your answer is NO, we have a few tips for you to try out.
Bathrooms are, necessarily, places of privacy. Unfortunately, they are sometimes placed in uncomfortable locations within the home—just off the kitchen, as a door leading to the living room, or sandwiched between bedrooms. This can prove to be a detriment to those who want to use the space while others inhabit outside rooms. If you believe thin walls to be the issue, consider installing sound deadening drywall or wrapping the pipes in insulation.
For added comfort, consider adding a white noise machine or toilet sound blocker. This will help bathroom users feel more comfortable “doing their business,” even if the bathroom is located in a particularly audible spot within the home.
Perhaps your privacy issue is one of sight, not sound. If your bathroom window overlooks a populated area—your neighbor’s yard, or maybe even your neighbor’s window—replacing the glass is the best, most cost-effective way to address the inconvenience. Privacy glass is a simple and inexpensive way to shield bathroom users from the outside world. The glass comes in several varieties and thicknesses, so choose the option that best suits your individual need.
If you answered YES, you are likely experiencing “phantom flush.” The “phantom flush” is a common toilet problem, but it can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day. This phrase describes a condition wherein a toilet tank is leaking. It occurs when water leaks out of the tank or your toilet (the back part), causing it to automatically refill with water. This creates the familiar “flushing” noise.
To determine if your toilet is suffering from “phantom flush,” you can conduct a simple test. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank of your toilet and let it sit for fifteen minutes. After this time, check the toilet bowl; if there is food coloring in the bowl itself, you have a leak.
The leak itself is likely caused by an old, worn toilet flapper. This is a piece of rubber toward the top of the toilet tank. When you push the lever to flush the toilet, the flapper moves to allow water to flow from the tank into the toilet bowl. Over time, this piece of material deteriorates, allowing water to flow from the tank to the bowl even if the toilet has not been flushed. In most cases, replacing the flapper will do the trick.
Unfortunately, some leaks are not this easy to fix. If replacing this piece of hardware does not solve the problem, your best option is to call a professional to have the leak assessed.
If your question is YES, several factors are likely at play. The first and most accessible is your lifestyle. Perhaps your shower drain is clogged with hair, or your sink drain is susceptible to clogging from excess toothpaste or beard trimmings. These clog culprits are easily addressed with hardware store-bought chemical solutions. Use a drain stopper, purchase a drain snake, and provide monthly maintenance to prevent the build-up of waste.
If you have ruled lifestyle out as a cause for your chronic drain clogs, more serious issues may be at play. Most causes deal directly with the pipes themselves. Tree roots in search of water, for example, have been known to cause cracks in old sewer pipes. Concrete and clay pipes, which are the most easily crushed and least likely to be water tight, are the most susceptible. Pipes installed between 1920 and 1970 are the most at risk. If you suspect this to be the cause of your drain issues, it is best to contact a professional.
Offset pipes many prove to be another cause of drain clogging. Old, concrete clay pipes were generally installed in 3-foot sections. Decades of ground shifting and settling may cause pipes to move around, thus impacting gravity drain systems. If you suspect this to be the case in your drain clogging, it is best to contact a professional to assess the situation.
One of the key barriers to bathroom remodeling isn’t just the ability to be to “afford” a renovation project. Even if they do have these kinds of funds, most homeowners don’t have 10, 20, 40 thousand dollars lying around in a readily accessible account. A lot of people, even those with the means for an upscale project, end up financing their remodel. Much like getting a home mortgage and buying a home, you’ll need to convince a bathroom remodeling company that you have reliable and timely financing.
To this end, there are numerous ways to finance this kind of project. Many major remodeling companies maintain their own sources of consumer credit for prospective customers. One of the best ways to finance a bathroom remodel is with a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This type of loan can be complicated and time-consuming to get. That’s why most home improvement pros will tell you to do this beforehand—again, this isn’t unlike getting preapproved for a home loan. Just because you can’t get—or don’t have—a HELOC, this doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
In fact, because this is becoming such a common occurrence, some banking institutions are stepping up to fill this credit gap. Most notably, Goldman Sachs which typically avoids consumer lending programs has recently initiated exactly this type of program, according to CBS News. With interest rates that are slightly higher than HELOC loans but lower than credit cards and other unsecured credit programs, this may be the best available solution.
One of the reasons why timely financing may become increasingly important is the shortage of qualified home improvement contractors—an issue that’s only going to get worse over the next few years as home builders increase their staff and snatch up much of the skilled workers in the home construction industry. If you have a highly respected bathroom remodeler who’s quoting you a fair price, you may not want to slip off the contractor’s schedule because of a financing problem. Indeed, this seems to be the exact angle that Goldman Sachs is taking in marketing this credit program for bathroom remodels and other home improvement projects.
If you answer is NO, then you might want to consider a larger bathroom remodel. Older bathrooms were designed with economy in mind, and were rarely designed to accommodate larger storage needs. That’s not the case anymore. The average American keeps everything from beauty products, to pharmaceuticals, to cleaning products and extra towels in their bathroom, and that doesn’t even account for a good magazine or two. If you’re constantly cursing the lack of space in your bathroom, think about what these simple additions to your bathroom remodel can do in terms of increasing your storage options:
- Vanities with Cabinets, Drawers, and Additional Shelving
- Recessed Medicine Cabinets
- Built in Cabinets
- Tiered Towel Racks and Additional Hooks
- Sink Skirts
- Built in Shelving
- Door Racks
If the answer is yes, you might want to think of it as an opportunity for a larger bathroom remodel. Failing tile grout doesn’t just look bad, it often leads to larger problems, like mildew and mold, loose tiles, and more serious water damage if water gets behind surface materials and compromises structural elements of your bathroom. The same goes for areas where old caulk is giving way (though this is an easier fix). It is true that you can remove old grout and re-grout old tile if you choose to, but it is laborious work, and many homeowners see it as an opportunity to embrace a larger remodel given the amount of work that it entails. If you’re going to get your hands dirty (or pay somebody to do it for you), why not replace that old, boring, subway tile with a new design, and upgrade your outdated bathroom fixtures at the same time?
If the answer to this question is yes, then you might want to think about a new bathroom remodel (or at least replacing your shower/tub fixture). The truth is, the days of having to leap out of the way of hot and cold streams of water is a thing of the past where modern bathroom fixtures are concerned. New shower fixtures and faucets have systems built in to prevent these kind of temperature imbalances, enabling everybody in your home can take care of business without ruining each other’s day. Here are a few other signs that you might be ready for an upgrade when it comes to your basic bathroom fixtures:
- Your tub or sink plugs are missing or no longer seal
- You have separate hot and cold knobs on your bathtub or shower fixture
- Your tub faucet leaks when you shower
- Your sink faucet is missing the pull valve
- Your sink and/or tub doesn’t have a safety drain
If you answered yes to this question, you should be thinking minor repairs, if not a full-scale remodel. Why? Household leaks account for nearly 1 trillion gallons of wasted water in the United States every year, and even a small household leak can waste more than 90 gallons of water in a single day. If that doesn’t get your attention, then maybe this will: fixing a leaky faucet can decrease your water by bill by as much as 10% annually. Leaks can be caused by a number of issues, including worn toilet flappers, worn faucet valves, and blown washers, to name a few. Not only will a remodel eliminate those costly leaks, but technology has come a long way since those old fixtures and appliances were installed in your home decades ago. Here’s a few energy saving products that you’ll want to consider if your leaky faucets have you leaning towards a larger bathroom makeover:
- Low Flush Toilets
- Dual Flush Toilets
- Low Flow Shower Heads
- Water Saving Faucets
- Shower Thermostats
- Steam Showers
If the answer this question is YES, then you should be thinking bathroom remodel ASAP. There are a host of reasons that signs of mold, mildew, and water damage might be showing in your bathroom, and none of them are good. They include . . .
- Poor ventilation
- Leaking tubs, toilets, showers, and faucets
- Failing caulk, grout, and other waterproofing measures
- Hidden plumbing failures
While signs of mold, mildew, and water damage are certainly an eyesore, the underlying causes behind them can lead to much bigger problems for homeowners. Visible signs of mold and mildew are often just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the true extent of the problem, and serious mold and mildew buildup can lead to a number of health issues, including respiratory distress, chronic irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, and even more serious immune system disorders. Beyond that, ignoring signs of water damage can lead to serious structural issues in your bathroom if the underlying source of the water isn’t identified and addressed.