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Unread 04-29-2021, 08:47 PM   #1
KarenA01
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Finding and hiring a GC For a bathroom renovation

We are now just about at the point to start the process of finding a GC... I think we have what we want to have done mostly nailed down (well expect for a few questions I hope get answered)... I just need to find the time to sit write up a detailed explanation of what we want done, with diagrams and supporting documents to capture everything.

Obviously this is the bathroom in my project thread, but I think this is something where a stand alone more general discussion would be more useful for all those who can't do it themselves.

I hope others looking to hire a GC for bathroom renovations chime in and ask their general questions in this vein, as that could help others (and me )

In our case we don't happen to know anyone who has had a bathroom renovated in the last decade, so what would be the best way to go about finding a GC who is good and reasonably/fairly priced... (and how does one know if they are fairly priced!)

Cheap is rarely very good, but expensive does not guarantee quality work!

We likely will be retired shortly and want things done right so they will be in good shape when we have to sell in 15 ±5 years, because we can no longer take care of the house.

In this case there will be tile wainscoting, a tiled tub/shower alcove, probably some structural work needed to deal with floor issues , and electrical and plumbing for an older 1950's built home.

So how would one get started finding a good GC for such a job when you don't have reliable word of mouth recommendations?

When we do find some to start taking to, what should we be asking them upfront?

As there is a lot of tile work (even through it's a small bathroom), are there particular certifications/questions we should ask about the tile guy the GC uses?

I've read on more than once on threads here that a lot of years of experience does not necessarily mean they do things the right way!

What about questions related to the GC's ability to evaluate and deal with potential structural issues with joists/flatness?

Obviously asking if they are registered with state and if they are insured and ask to see certificates, but what else along those lines?

I know I can come on strong sometimes and tend as ask a lot of questions that can seem critical, but I really am a reasonable person even if very detail oriented ... (That is why I have been asking lot of questions here!)

While this may be a small job for lots of GC's, it will be lot of money for us.

Given that, what should I make sure I DON'T do to make a good GC think I might not be a client they want?

I am sure I will have more questions the deeper into the process we go, and hopefully others will too.

Thanks
-Karen
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Unread 04-30-2021, 09:58 AM   #2
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Hi Karen,

Sounds like you'll be looking for a remodeling contractor. And if none can be referred by friends or family, I would begin by calling different ones and asking for references of past customers in your area. When you get it narrowed down to tow or three, check them out with the state registrar of contractors as to licensing and surety bonds.

Get lots of bids, not just two or three, and don't accept any that are not on paper.
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Unread 04-30-2021, 05:01 PM   #3
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Since proper waterproofing is critical, be sure to ask every contractor how they plan on waterproofing the shower and all wet areas - including the floor immediately outside the shower.

If they can't give you an answer, or say something as "The tile guy handles that" ditch him and look for another. Surface applied membranes such as Kerdi, Hydroban, and their foam board systems are the best IMHO, but every contractor should be well versed in a variety of waterproofing methods.

Ask how long the warranty is.

No matter who you hire, start with a copy of their liability insurance. Part of our insurance agent's job is to send directly to you. Do not accept a Xerox copy from the dashboard of his truck.
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Unread 04-30-2021, 07:43 PM   #4
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Great topic. I have a thread in the pro's hangout forum about finding somebody to do a bathroom or two in my father's home. I've had 3 companies come out, each of the guys seemed pretty knowledgeable and all gave what I'd consider a "correct" answer regarding shower waterproofing (Redguard over Durock or Kerdi).

My question is, upon receiving a proposal, is it OK for my reply to ask for the addition of clauses such as "all products shall be installed according to their manufacturer's instructions", or to ask for specificity with regards to particular materials or products to be used? ie, a guy verbally said they use Kerdi, but the proposal just says the shower shall be "tiled and waterproofed", I plan to redline the doc to state "waterproofed with Schluter Kerdi", etc.

Thanks,
jeff
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Unread 04-30-2021, 10:23 PM   #5
KarenA01
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Thanks for the replies so far! Hopefully there will be more addressing the points I mentioned!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff
OK for my reply to ask for the addition of clauses such as "all products shall be installed according to their manufacturer's instructions", or to ask for specificity with regards to particular materials or products to be used?
I intend to do at that. For example I intend to say something like:

"Although some use type 1 mastics in intermittently wet areas, to insure longevity of installation, no mastic will be used anywhere in the bathroom"

-Karen
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Unread 05-01-2021, 07:39 AM   #6
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I feel like a truly reputable contractor wouldn't have any qualms about including such a clause.

My step sister is contracting out her bathroom remodel and this is the verbiage I suggested should be included in the contract:

“All products/materials, including all tile surfaces, shall be installed per manufacturers installation instructions, industry guidelines (such as TCNA - Tile Council of North America), and shall meet all applicable local building codes. Tile setting “mastic” shall NOT be used anywhere in the bathroom.”
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Unread 05-01-2021, 10:10 PM   #7
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You can add any clause you'd like. The one you mentioned doesn't need to be included as it is part of every contract by state law and court precedent;

As the homeowner you have ZERO responsibility when it comes to how the installation is performed. As the contractor I bear 100% of the responsibility.

Thus it is incumbent upon every contractor to provide his service* 1- According to the manufacturer's instructions (to the letter) for every product used. 2- According to ANSI standards, 3- According to industry standards (in our case the NTCA manual) and 4- Any applicable local building codes**.

* These are ranked in order of importance when you are in court. Manufacturer's instructions reign supreme.
**State/city/county building codes apply whether you have a local enforcement officer or not. Just because no one is watching doesn't mean I can do bad work.
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Unread 05-02-2021, 06:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
You can add any clause you'd like. The one you mentioned doesn't need to be included as it is part of every contract by state law and court precedent
That may be true, Paul, but insisting that such a clause be added to a contract that doesn't have it puts the contractor on notice that you've done at least a little homework, and could well serve to weed out the good contractors from the bad.
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Unread 05-02-2021, 10:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
2- According to ANSI standards, 3- According to industry standards (in our case the NTCA manual)
While the TCNA Handbook will carry a lot of weight in court, Paul, ANSI A108 and A118 are the standards. The Handbook publishes a lot of Methods for particular installations and is generally in compliance with the ANSI standards, but it can't address every potential application. And the Handbook, unfortunately, even publishes methods using materials for which there is no standard.

It's not an easy thing to draw clear lines at times, but any professional craftsman should be able to complete his tasks in a "good and workmanlike manner," which has been a construction industry standard for generations and a term the court recognizes. Unfortunately that can be argued to mean the way things are generally done in the industry in that area, which, today, may mean very little in gauging quality. Same is true of the old "contemporary professional standards" requirement.

But industry groups such as the TCNA have come to represent what is supposed to constitute good and workmanlike manner in particular industries and what can be expected to be contemporary professional standards. That is, if a fella can manage to keep up with the changes to the industry standards published in such documents, not an easy thing at all. Just ask our Mr. Gobis, who has for years now made his living sorting out tile industry installation failures and claims.

But there is little or no ambiguity in requiring that products be installed according to the product manufacturer's instructions. There is, however, frequently a good bit of ambiguity within those instructions.

Bottom line is still, as always, finding contractors for whom doing a good job on every project is personally important. Just how do you ensure you've found that? I dunno. Seems to get more difficult every day.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 05-02-2021, 01:49 PM   #10
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Dan,
You're right, it doesn't hurt to add it for clarity.

CX,
In my experience in court, judges are looking for clear, written down, standard industry methods which is what the NTCA manual provides. This is why I confine my comments in court to the manufacturers instructions, ASNI, and NTCA so I can pick up any manual, book, or literature to show the judge in black and white. It also makes for an easier time for the judges and lawyers who generally don't know much about what we are talking.

This may also be why the #1 people who purchase the NTCA manual are Judges and lawyers.
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Unread 05-03-2021, 09:20 AM   #11
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I have heard that of the TCNA manual, I even used to be one of the guys that packed them for shipment many years ago. The NTCA manual is not designed for the same purpose, it is a cause and effect book, not a methodology. I have been a long time member of both committees.
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Unread 05-03-2021, 10:12 AM   #12
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The real reason Judges and Lawyers are the #1 customers for the TCNA publications is because they can afford them, 'specially the shipping!

Poor working stiff tile contractor can't afford to keep them current in his tool budget.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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