9 steps to profitable bathroom renovations
Bob Gockeler, owner of Kitchen Intuitions and KraftMaster Renovations in Chatham, New Jersey, has 20-plus years of experience in the construction industry. The award-winning remodeler provided Pros these expert tips during a recent Pro Construction Guide Podcast for Pros.
Plan extensively. Start by having your customer create an idea book at houzz.com, says Gockeler, “and explain your process to them before your first in-home meeting. This way, you’ll have an idea of what the estimate should be even before you see the space. Then, when you do see the space, you can easily make any necessary adjustments to the bid at that time. “Don’t depend on price to get the job,” he says. “It isn’t your bid that sells a customer on your work. It’s your attention to detail, experience and trustworthiness.”
Ask a lot of questions up front, such as how the customer showers and what body and hair products they use. “Ask them, ‘What aggravates you most about your shower now?’ and then figure out how to change it,” says Gockeler.
Even if some of the questions seem personal, Gockeler says, it’s important to ask them if you’re going to do the best possible remodeling job.
Finally, ask your clients if they want certain features, like heated floors or towel-drying racks. “They might not know they want them until you ask the question,” he says.
Before you begin work, take great pains to protect the customer’s home and space as you work. Use plastic or plywood on the floor, build temporary walls, and seal the work space from the rest of the house (including the vents). Then at the end of each work day, wipe down the entire area.
Don’t keep anything from the original space. Take everything out of the room – all the way down to the subfloor. “The plumbing and electrical work will be much easier,” says Gockeler.
Be sure your bid calls for adding proper ventilation to the bathroom. According to Gockeler, eight out of 10 bathrooms are not properly ventilated. “Fix that problem with a simple vent fan that fits the space,” he says, “and put it on a timer switch or install a motion sensor.
Never use drywall in the shower area. Instead, install cement board or HardieBacker, fastening the boards every 8 inches. Waterproof all the seams. “Water vapor can go through anything,” says Gockeler.
“To prep the area for tiling, make sure the floors are level,” he says. Then lay out the tile exactly as you plan to place it in the bathroom using the garage or other space. That way, you’ll know how it all fits together and how it will look with the trim.”
“Small slivers of tile at the top or side look unprofessional,” says Gockeler. “If you lay the tile out ahead of time, you can prevent that.”
Take pictures of the bathroom renovation from start to finish. “If you’re proud of the project, post the pictures on your website or make prints that you can show potential customers,” he says.
“Most important,” says Gockeler, “for profitable bathroom renovations, always provide the best possible service.”
–By Molly Podlesny
Podcast for Pros
John Gordon and Dave Dovell, hosts of popular home improvement radio call-in program for more than 20 years, have partnered with Pro Construction Guide to present the only podcast in the industry that’s just for Pros – Podcast for Pros. Recent episodes included:
- “Stone vs. porcelain,” a conversation with professional tile setter Joe Truini
- Tips and tricks for installing cabinets from carpenter Steve Roth
- A discussion about how to best ventilate an existing house with Mark LaLiberte, president and lead building scientist at Construction Instruction