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Frequently Asked Questions.

We made a list of questions that we frequently get asked, then we thought of some questions that we don't get asked but are good questions anyway, from this list we wrote answers. Below is the result of that process. If you have a question that isn't covered, please feel free to drop us an email.

Q: How much will it cost to remodel our bathroom?
A: A total bathroom remodel from tear out to finish generally runs between $10K and $15K. Premium faucets and fixtures, art tile, stone, heavy glass shower doors, etc., can add considerably to the overall cost.

Q: How long will it take to remodel our bathroom?
A: A simple remodel with the fixture locations unchanged, solid surface tub surround and countertops should take about two weeks. A bathroom with fixture moves, custom plastering, art tile, solid stone countertops and heavy glass shower door will take two months.

Q: Do we need a building permit even if we aren't adding on?
A: Most jurisdictions require that a building permit be obtained for any work that alters structural framing, in-wall plumbing or electrical wiring. Technically, this work must be inspected before covered over. While building inspectors are not quality control inspectors, they do check and insist that all relevant building codes are adhered to.

Q: Is it true that I can save money by acting as my own contractor?
A: It's a general observation that acting as your own general contractor on a reasonably complex project is really more akin paying a large tuition to the school of experience than it is to getting the best value for your money. The savings are often marginal at best and the results are seldom as good as they should be. So unless you're highly desirous of exploring the arcane of construction detail, enjoy resolving a myriad of interface issues, and can cheerfully insist that a diverse assortment of mostly autonomous tradesmen cooperate and comply, you are best to go with a general contractor. However the Owner/Builder school in Berkeley offers excellent courses for the avowed do-it-yourselfers.

Q: Our bathroom is too small and we want to move a wall. Can you do that?
A: Contractors really don't move walls. What we do is demolish existing walls and construct new ones in new locations. This can be simple or complex, depending on what's above, what's in, and what's below the wall in question.

Q: Our current bathroom is awkward. Can you move the fixtures?
A: Moving fixtures is much like moving walls . The old supply and waste lines are removed and new ones routed to the new locations.

Q: We have only one bathroom. How long are we going to be without a toilet?
A: Two to three weeks. It would probably be a good idea to take a vacation for at least part of the time. We can provide a port-a-potty.

Q: We like our old deep tub and want it to stay. Is it possible to fix the tub by reglazing it in place?
A: The original glaze on a bath tub is just that: porcelain and glass adhered to the cast iron in the tremendous heat of a fiery furnace. Onsite glazing is really just a paint job. It's a cost effective way of changing the color of tub (and even tile) when usage is light and longevity is not an issue. Under average family usage, the finish tends to break down in a couple of years.

Repair of dry rot damage to subfloor and walls around the tub often requires that an existing tub be removed and reinstalled after repairs are made. This can almost eliminate the potential cost savings of "reglazing" the tub.

While the standard five foot bath tub is a rationalist compromise between bathing and showering and therefore shallower, tubs of traditional dimensions are still available. If the promise of a long, deep soak after a hectic day appeals to you, then the added expense is fully justified.

Q: What is dry rot?
A: What we call "dry" rot is actually "wet" rot. This is caused by wood-eating fungi. The same organisms that in nature recycle dead fall and leaves into humus and topsoil, flourish in the warm moist conditions behind leaky tile and floor coverings. The key to bathroom longevity is keeping water from contact with wood.

Q: What causes the dark stains in my vinyl floor?
A: Sheet vinyl flooring is the lowest initial cost flooring material used in bathrooms. Quick and easy to install, it's the perennial favorite of Licensed Structural Pest Control contractors and is offered with a thirty day guarantee (until the close of escrow). An essential part of the system is the bead of caulking between the tub (or shower) and the flooring. While the surface of sheet vinyl flooring is waterproof, the backing material isn't... After the caulking detaches (which it always does), water penetrates into the particle board underlayment which is usually used under sheet vinyl. This material expands and disintegrates with continual moisture contact. Molds and mildew start to grow in the particle board underlayment and work their way into the mineral felt backing of the sheet vinyl with the characteristic black stains showing through the vinyl surface layers. The cycle begins again with the next "Termite Report".

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