How to Hire the Best Bathroom Contractor for Your Next Renovation

Meg Scanlon
Written by Meg Scanlon
Updated July 19, 2022
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From choosing new bathroom tiles to deliberating over the hottest trends in bathtubs, there's no question that renovating your bathroom is the ultimate dream project. 

There are also plenty of ways to lower the stress of a bathroom renovation—but finding the right team tops the list. Hiring the best bathroom remodeling contractors involves doing thorough research and making a plan.

How to Find a Bathroom Contractor

Getting a referral from someone you know and trust is a great place to start. Speak with family, friends, and neighbors for their honest feedback—especially if you're new to your neighborhood. Seek out contractors who completed similar projects to the one you're envisioning. If you find yourself oohing and aahing over your neighbor's tile work, this is the time to inquire about their contractor.

Next, check out the top list of local bathroom remodeling contractors in your zip code. Be sure to review the comments and reviews for any company website or referral service to get a sense of the contractor's reputation.

Before Hiring a Bathroom Contractor

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It's important to get a few ducks in a row before contacting your prospective contractors for the first time. 

Determine your ideal budget, timeline, and parameters of the project. You may also request the help of an interior designer near you in this phase to draw up ideas. Here's a closer look at each task.

Plan Your Bathroom Project for Accurate Quotes

Clarify your objective and all the specifics of the bathroom remodel. Decide if you’ll gut the bathroom entirely or preserve some of it and do only minor updates. Be specific about any items and details you want to keep from your existing bathroom. 

Once you explore your bathroom remodeling options, determine a ballpark figure you would like to spend. At the same time, keep an open mind if your contractors suggest small upgrades to your initial ideas. 

Going slightly over budget could end up costing you less in maintenance or replacements in the long run. And you may be pleasantly surprised that some upgrades are only a modest amount more.

Check Your Bathroom Contractor's Qualifications and References

Contact at least three general contractors for their qualifications, referrals, and—if they pass the test during your initial research phase—schedule an in-person walkthrough for an estimate. 

During your first call or email exchange, ask for their contractor license number and their insurance certificate. Verify the status of their license and insurance by contacting their state licensing board and their insurance provider.  

Inquire if the contractor and employees have certifications or specialized training or education. 

Certifications may include:

  • Certified kitchen and bath remodeler

  • Certified remodeler

  • Certified remodeler specialist

  • Certified lead carpenter

You can also ask if they are members of professional associations. Such associations with high standards include:

  • The National Association of Homebuilders

  • The National Kitchen and Bath Association

  • The National Association of the Remodeling Industry

Last but not least, ask if your contractors provide references or have testimonials from recent clients. Inquire about the contractor's professionalism, transparency, and whether they stayed on track during the project.

Questions to Ask Your Bathroom Contractor

A family talking with a home contractor
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You don't need to be a renovation specialist to interview a bathroom contractor like a pro. Remember that the vetting process ensures that you feel comfortable and confident about the project no matter its scale.

As you get to know your bathroom contractors, you may want to ask them:

  • Do you hire subcontractors?

  • If so, who will be working in my home?

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

  • Have you worked on this scope of project before? Can I see examples?

  • Do you specialize in an area of bathroom renovation?

  • What is the schedule and timeframe for completing this project?

  • What permits and fees are related to this project?

  • What hours will you be in my home?

  • What is your payment schedule?

Hiring Your Bathroom Contractor Tips

Choosing the best bathroom contractor on your shortlist is a big decision. In the final stages, it's important to clarify the details of your estimate, if and how the price may change during the project, and what to expect just before, during, and after renovations.

1. Request Estimates From Bathroom Contractors

Getting estimates is essential to selecting the best bathroom remodeling contractor. And whether you receive an estimate over the phone, in person, or by email, always request an official estimate with a line-item breakdown in writing.

We recommend asking for the timeline in writing as well. Construction projects tend to take longer than expected—especially if there are global building material shortages—so clarifying the start and end date estimates are very helpful.

Items included in a written estimate are:

  • The total cost

  • Site plans

  • The schedule of primary construction tasks

  • The payment schedule and methods accepted

  • The scope of work

  • A change order clause

  • A dispute resolution clause

  • A waiver of lien

  • An express limited warranty

  • A procedural list for closeout

2. Get a Contract and Arrange Payments With Your Bathroom Contractor

Before beginning the project, make sure you sign a legal document. Both parties should have the document signed and dated and keep a copy. Never give the green light to your contractor before you've completed this step.

During the contract process, you likely discussed their preferred form of payment. You may need to put a down payment for the project and set up scheduled payments as it progresses.

3. Keep Records of Your Bathroom Renovation

Documenting the changes to your home and the progress of your contractor is not just about protecting your investment. Keep these details in order to ensure you have an updated blueprint of your home, data for tax season, and documentation for resale or appraisal.

Take photos of the before and after of the bathroom, as well as specific changes in between work days. Request copies of permits and supportive documentation from your contractor for your files as well.

4. Look for Red Flags and Prepare to Troubleshoot

If you do your homework, you're sure to find a skilled and trustworthy bathroom contractor. Unfortunately, there are still professionals or scammers out there looking to cut corners. 

Always make note of common warning signs from contractors and trust your gut before signing contracts. 

Red flags may include:

  • Pushing to start work without a contract

  • Persistent upselling before or during the project

  • Inability to provide documentation of licenses and insurance

  • Requesting an abnormally high down payment

  • Their prices are much lower than other bids

  • They cannot provide examples of similar work from the past

After Your Bathroom Contractor Has Finished

With the last tile polished, countertop installed, and fixture fastened, it's time to enjoy your dream bathroom at last. Test all the new fixtures and take photos of the details of your contractor's work.

Be sure to make any final payments in your contract. While tipping contractors is not the standard, consider tipping $20 to $50 per worker if they went above and beyond. You can also help them find future business—and help other homeowners like you find them—by leaving a glowing review with photos of their great work.

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