Sunday, December 29, 2013

Adventures in Bathroom Remodeling- Picking a Contractor and Setting a Budget

Hello peeps! I'm back for the next edition of Adventures in Bathroom Remodeling. 

Today I wanted to share how I went about making my budget and how I chose a contractor. I am by no means an expert on any of this, but there was so much I learned that I think it might others out there taking on their first big remodel project. As I shared in my first post I had a pretty clear picture of what I wanted versus what I needed. This helped me tremendously in both areas. Many people told me that they went way over budget, it took longer than they wanted and they were not happy with how it turned out. I was determined to set realistic goals from the get go.

I had a small budget, and I was determined not to finance anything. I was willing to spend the money on things that would pay off long term. I am really not that great with budgets in general (just ask my checking account, lol) so I looked at what I had in the bank and used that as a guide.  I am going to refrain from being specific, since I have friends and family who read this blog, but I will say it was a couple thousand dollars. I did have to raise it a little in the end. A few lessons I learned:

-  Tile is more expensive than I anticipated, but totally worth the investment. everything I read told me that good quality tile would last a long time and up the resale value of the bathroom. 
- Labor can eat up half of my budget. I wish I could have DIY'd more of my bathroom, but I have zero remodel skills. Laying tile is surprisingly labor intensive and complicated. But, again, it will be worth it long term.
- I had to be clear and honest about what I wanted versus what I needed. I really wanted a colorful patterned floor. I needed a bathtub/shower unit that was good quality. I wanted a heated towel rack, but I needed a new toilet. Looking at Pintrest and other sites like Houzz you can get carried away with ideas and add ons.  Several times I had to look at my list and cut something or figure out how to re arrange my budget to accommodate it.
- I had to be willing to be patient. As a person in a wheelchair, I had to wait for someone to: take down my light fixtures, re hang my lights, hang my mirror and help me paint. I could have paid my contractor to do all that, but it would have cost me  more money. I have wonderful friends and family-as long as I was patient they would all come around and get these little things done for me. I also ran out of money to add the glass enclosure I wanted around the shower. After Christmas I will have the money, so I waited. I could finance it, but then I risk having monthly payments, finance fees, etc. That was not for me, so I waited. Sure, having it all done in a month and having a big reveal would be fun, but I needed to be practical, so I learned to be patient.


No joke, finding a contractor might have been the most frustrating part of the whole process. I know so little about remodeling, and I had a lot of questions. I needed to find someone I could trust. Someone who would not charge me too much and be willing to take some time and explain what they were doing and why. Turns out, I needed to find someone with the common sense to return my calls and emails. Seriously. I learned that contractors are notorious for  not calling you back or dragging their feet. This to me is really rude, but from what I hear pretty common. Along with this, I learned a few things about what was important for me when hiring a contractor:
- Insist on a serviceman who will call you back and return your emails. I refused to accept that someone who was going to take several thousand dollars from me would not take the time to answer all of my questions. I mean really, would anyone else get away with not communicating with you? Your accountant? Your doctor's office? Of course not! I was reasonable with what I expected- I didn't blow up his email inbox with a million little questions. I would group 3-4 into one email. I would call and leave only one voice mail a week. I waited 2-3 days before I called or emailed back. I actually nixed 2 contract companies for not communicating with me and I am so glad I did. The company I hired was awesome and ALWAYS answered my questions to my satisfaction.....even the stupid questions ; ).
- Some companies will book ahead 6 months or more. I did not expect this. I was all excited to get going, then to be told I would have to wait 4 months to even break ground? That's kind of a bummer. The company I hired told me they specifically do not book themselves more then two months ahead. They were retired home builders who only took the jobs they wanted to. I liked that, because from the time we signed the contract it was only 3 weeks before we actually started.
- Ask for a reasonable time frame. My contractor told me it would take 3-4 weeks. He broke down what would happen each week and why it took so long. I thought because it was only one small room it might be a week or two, but once he went through what had to happen when, it made sense. In the end it only took 3 weeks, which was a happy surprise!
- Rely on on recommendations, but not too many. Every knows someone who knows someone who.....well, you know.  I got a half dozen names and companies, that was the perfect amount of names to narrow down. I did also look at the Better Business Bureau, but I trusted the personal recommendations more. Someone suggested Angie's List, but I did't have much luck there. I think that website is a great idea, but I would be hesitant to trust such a big job to anyone I didn't not get referred to personally.
- Ask about the 'extras'.  I learned that alot of supplies and fees wouldn't be on the standard contract, but I was still expected to pay for them. For example- dumping fees for the old shower and vanity. I wanted certain pipes for my faucet, but no idea where to buy them, pick up for my tub and sink. All of these were important to me and I was willing to pay my company to do them, but I wanted to know ahead of time how much it would cost.
- Don't be afraid to question what they are doing and why. This was a little hard for me at first, but I wanted to understand what was happening and what I was paying for. I tried to stay out of their way when they were knee deep in something, but I would look around and comment on whatever I saw. I also changed my mind of the pipes for my sink, when I learned that what I imagined in my head would not work in reality. I tried to compliment everything I saw that I liked (which was a lot) and thank them everyday for their work. That way they felt appreciated and didn't seem to mind when I asked abut what they were doing. Being friendly is important. Yes, they are working for me, and I can technically say whatever, but you ALWAYS get more bees with honey than with vinegar, right?

Next week, I'll be back to share a few in progress photos. Like I said earlier, things moved along pretty quick and I am so glad I snapped pictures along the way. Have a good week!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lawnscaping Winter Blog Hop- Holiday Song Gift Tags

Ho-Ho-Ho friends! Thanks for hopping by for my stop on the Lawnscaping Holiday Blog Hop!  This is my little corner of the internet and I hope you decide to come back sometime. I blog about: DIY's, paper crafts, and everyday life.  I recently started blogging about my adventures in Bathroom Remodeling.

Today I want to share a set of tags I made to use on gifts for Christmas. Truth be told, I tend to buy stamps that I think are versatile as instead of occasion specific. I don't have many Christmas or winter themed stamps. However, I've this idea stewing to make gift tags with song lyrics on them, and I pulled out a couple of my favorite LF stamps to make it happen! 

Supplies: American Crafts cardstock, stamps:  Claire's ABC and Blissful Botanicals, Black Staz On ink, Martha Stewart micorbbead glitter, Ranger Glossy Accents, various markers from my stash, sequins from my stash.

I used the flower and vine from Blissful Botanicals and colored them red and green to look like poinsettias. I kind of love that I didn't have to buy a specific stamp to get this look. I had a lot of fun coming up with song quotes ( and I may have laughed a little too much putting a Hannukah song on a Christmas gift
I'm in love with this MS microbead glitter. I adhere it with Glossy Accents and it gives a really great texture and color to projects like this.
Enjoy the rest of the Hop! Before you go, please leave a comment below letting me know your favorite Holiday song (funny or sentimental I love them both! ). The folks at Lawnscaping have some great prizes to give away. Giveaway will be open until Dec. 15th at noon!

Click over to the fantastic blog: Cards By The Sea. (Note: if you get lost in a snow drift along the way, you can always go back to Lawnscaping's blog to see the order of the hop

Happy Hopping Holidays my friends! 

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Adventures In Bathroom Remodelling

Hello peeps! I am very close to finishing a project so has taken almost two years to complete! The master bath in my condo was on my list to change from the day I moved in. I mean, really, look at what I had to work with:

The bathroom is not tiny, but with a little work it could be a lot more open. As a wheelchair user I could use a lot more floor space to navigate. As I went along this process I kept in the front of my mind- resale value! The more wheelchair friendly I could make this space the more I could market it as accessible when I go to sell. Overall the condo is very wheelchair friendly, and that is NOT easy to find in my neighborhood (trust me, I looked). I also had to keep in mind my limited budget. I didn't want to finance anything if I could afford it. I wanted quality, but not expensive finishes and products. I knew that I could spend more on some things (like tile) but save on others (like light fixtures).

Keeping all this in mind I had a plan for things I would like to do. Some I accomplished, some had to be umm...revised to fit into my budget. 

- remove the ginormous vanity and the cheap sink.
- take out the shower stall, put in a shower/tub! (this one was most exciting to me)
- lay down a tile floor. I mean, i love dark gray marbled laminate as much as the next guy, but...)

Over the next few posts I'll go into details on the projects, who/what/when/where and how. I hope it'll help someone out there! I learn SO much. I mad many, many mistakes. At the very least you can laugh along with me....there were many, many laughs.

Today I also wanted to share the first thing I did. Really, the easiest part. Creating a Pintrest board! I knew I wasn't changing the layout or knocking down walls, so that freed me up to play with colors/textures/finishes. Below are a couple of bathrooms I found very Pinworthy:

I always liked the combo of white, wood and pops of color

I also love gray as a neutral. Gray, silver, with white. I LOVED this metallic gray tile! I also loved the open shower concept. 

I found this pin just about 2 years ago......I love love LOVE this floor! I got really excited about the idea of a 'statement floor'. Wood, white and a floor that made you go 'wow'! Did I get this floor....stay tuned.
 I also loved the idea of striped walls. Maybe two tones of the same color? I loved this simple, but removable upgrade to the room. And, there is another open shower. 

Next post, I'll go into making my budget. What I could do, what I couldn't. And finding a contractor. Oh lord, THAT is a story.  See you soon!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Free Fun Friday! - Holiday Gift Tags

Hello, Peeps.

 It's getting very jolly around here. At least, we are trying to get into the holiday spirit after a rough few months. This is my favorite month of the year, so I am looking forward to everything it has to offer. Today I am bringing back a semi regular feature here- Free Fun Fridays. I created a board on Pintrest to share freebies I stumble upon and I wanted to share a few of my favorites to help you dress up your packages this holiday season!  Just click on the picture to go to the original source. Also, if you decide to use them, leave a nice comment for the blogger-we always love hearing from readers.

Of course, you should follow me on Pintrest. and see other freebies the internet has to offer like these! These are just a sample of what I've found. Check it out:

4 x 4 Retro Inspired Cards from Persnickety Prints. I love the colors.

From Sweet CS Designs. These would look great with kraft paper or white paper wrappings.

I love these from Two Twenty One blog. I am a sucker for great typography.

I'm not sure who made these-does anyone know the source? I pinned them here.

Thanks for stopping by! Have you found any great free tags? I'd love to see a girl up!