Unless you've got loads of time (and expertise) to spend on your project, the best way to add sweat equity is up front, by handling your own demolition, or at the back end, by doing some of the finish work yourself. "If you want to save money, dig in and start helping out," says Tom Silva. "You can insulate, you can paint, you can sand." Or better still, he says, help with cleanup every day. "Instead of paying someone to pick up sawdust off the floor, put your money into the time it takes to trim the window properly," he advises.
While a textured glass shower door offers a bit of privacy, a clear glass shower door turns the shower into an extension of the rest of the bathroom rather than cutting it off the way a curtain or half wall might. If your remodeling plans allow, consider changing out a tub for a standing shower, and opt for a shower with glass sidewalls as well as a clear glass door.
Sure, your eyes may want the most modern, chic couch in the showroom. But your back may not. "In my experience, it's really better to test out seating and take the time to look at the dimensions," says Sharon Blaustein. If you're tall, for instance, you might want to opt for a depth of between 40 to 42 inches for a sofa (rather than the standard depth of 36 inches).
You’re right that there should definitely be some kind of ventilation in a bathroom to prevent moisture build-up. My husband and I are remodeling our bathroom and removing the window that is attached to one wall (it’s just so awkward having one there) and installing a vent to replace it is definitely something we’ll want to look into. I’m not sure if we already have an inlet valve, but our toilet can be rather noisy, so we’ll have to talk to the contractor about that, as well.
If your addition calls for clapboard siding, for instance, you can save more in the long run by ponying up now for the preprimed and prepainted variety. It costs an extra 10 to 20 cents per foot, but "you'll wind up paying for half as many paint jobs down the road," says Paul Eldrenkamp, owner of Byggmeister, a design-build remodeling firm in Newton, Massachusetts. The reason? Factory finishes are applied on dry wood under controlled conditions—no rain, no harsh sun. "I used prefinished claps on my house about ten years ago and the only flaw in the finish is the occasional mildew spot, easily washed off," Eldrenkamp says. "The paint looks as if it'll be good for another ten years, easily."
For bathrooms, overhead lighting is very important. As for ambient options, you can always consider the use of a sunken track lighting, frosted glass fixtures, or even rice paper. Likewise, perimeter lighting is also capable of creating both soft, ambient glow, as well as useful light. It’s also highly advisable to consider using pendant lighting. Something like this allows the scattering of light into the direction that it gives the illusion of a beautiful centerpiece ceiling.
If your walls are in such rough shape that it would take a painting contractor days of filling and sanding to make them ready for the roller, consider using materials such as Texturglas, from Deerfield Beach, Florida— based company Roos International. A breathable, nontoxic wall covering made of fine glass filaments, Texturglas has a similar look and feel to the fiberglass matting used in auto-body work. It's available in a variety of surface patterns, takes paint readily, and is designed to be installed right on top of existing surfaces, adding strength while covering up dings.
By sticking to the lightest shades within a single color family for paint and furniture, you’ll avoid the strong contrasting hues that can make a small room seem even smaller. Matching your choice of floor tile to the wall color can also be a good idea—this will make the corners of the room disappear, creating a feeling of more space. Avoid putting any color on the ceiling, though; a basic white is the best choice here.
This planning would be very helpful and go a long way toward keeping with your bathroom renovation plan as you move along with the project. Once you start with the renovation, you have to know that the process could take around 30-90 days. No matter how long it is going to take, try to resist the temptation of changing your plans unless financial constraints or problems arise. Change of plans will force you to spend more and for the completion date to extend further out.
Knocking down may not be as costly as rebuilding, but you can still shave dollars by doing some of the demolition yourself—as long as you proceed with care. "If a homeowner wants to demo a deck, well, I am sure they can handle that," says Michael Winn, owner of Winn Design, in Virginia. "But when it comes to interior spaces, I would dissuade them from doing it unless they have done it before." The reason: A reckless wrecker might unwittingly take out a load-bearing wall or, worse still, plunge a reciprocating saw into live wiring or pressurized plumbing. (For tips on how to do demo right, see our October 2005 feature, "Before You Construct, You Have to Destruct.")
For home owners who are currently in the process of building a new home, what they can do is incorporate a remote timer and this would give them the ability of being able to turn the fan on in the middle of the day or at night remotely. Likewise, you can also consider wiring in a dehumidistat, so that the fan would be able to run whenever you need it.