Bathroom Renovation Progress – 2 Weeks In
Our bathroom renovations kicked off exactly two weeks ago. That first week, we got out of the house and headed down to Florida for some R&R. (More on our trip coming this Friday!) During that time, our contractor and his crew completely gutted both our kids’ bathroom and the bathroom in our room. While the entire process of renovating a bathroom is messy, the demo is really the super dusty part, so I was relieved to have the family out of the house during that time.
Coming back from vacation is never fun. We were leaving the sun and sand and returning to snowy and cold Chicago. However, I do always enjoy the feeling of returning home and getting unpacked, organized, and back into a routine. This time around, we didn’t know what we would find when we opened the door to our house.
When we walked in, we immediately noticed that everything was pretty dusty and the floors were dirty. That was to be expected, of course. Then, I walked upstairs to find our two bathrooms gutted, plastic sheeting everywhere, and tools in our bedroom. Again, I knew this would be the case, but it was still tough to get unpacked, do laundry, and get the kids back to “normal life” in the middle of a construction zone.
I asked our contractor to leave access to our bed and closet so we could still use our bedroom. He did a phenomenal job tarping everything off and covering our bed so it wouldn’t get dusty. But I will say, that first night in our room was a tad creepy and it reminded me of the TV show, Dexter.
Navigating Bathroom Renovation Progress from Afar
The most common questions I received on vacation were about doing a renovation while away. “Weren’t you scared about your stuff getting stolen?” “What if something goes wrong?” “How are you keeping in touch and on the same page as your contractor?” These are all very valid questions.
First, is the issue of security. We’ve worked with our contractor for over five years and he has become a friend to us. He and his team do beautiful work and we trust him completely. I didn’t give a second thought to handing the keys over to him. To be honest, the most important things in my home were with me in Florida…my family, followed by our wallets and computers…ha! I don’t want to encourage everyone to go ahead and hand out keys to their home to every worker, but it’s also nice to find people you trust so you can just let go a bit.
As for the work itself, I had several walkthroughs with my contractor prior to leaving. I gave him a supply list; we reviewed all of the products housed in our garage; and I printed out every single document I could think of so he would have everything he needed to get started. (You can read this post about prepping for a renovation for more.) These meetings were crucial to getting on the same page, right from the start.
He also called and texted me pictures, just about every day of our trip, to review the work they were doing and discuss any issues. He even asked for some pictures of the beach, while telling me about the 4+ inches of snow they were getting in Chicago. Ha!
Ordering Last-Minute Products
No matter how many renovations I do, I find that I always forget something. This time around, I forgot to buy an extra product for the shower drain. (I ordered this gorgeous black drain, but forgot to buy this part to go inside the floor.) Luckily, my contractor goes through every box before starting, and he realized right away, so I was able to order the part and have it shipped to our house while we were in Florida.
Treat Your Crew Right
As I was showing the construction mess last week, a few people popped into my Instagram DMs asking if I let the crew use our working bathroom on the first floor. (The one bathroom the entire family is using right now.) Yes, of course, I do! Honestly, I was kinda aghast at the question. Should I have them go out in the snow? Or stop working multiple times a day to drive to a coffee shop to pee? Letting the people who come into your home and work hard to beautify it, use your facilities is the least you can do.
I’ve always emphasized how important it is to take care of the tradespeople you work with. We provide coffee, water, snacks, and sometimes lunch during a big project. And at the end of a large renovation, we individually tip the crew members if they’ve done an above and beyond job, which they often do. So many people complain about how hard it is to find reliable contractors, and I think if you want to make a lasting relationship with someone you should treat them like a friend! Our crew has been here working every weekday from 7:45 am – 6 pm. These are hardworking people who deserve our respect.
They’ve been extra sweet to the kids too. Our contractor ran out to his truck the other morning and returned with a chocolate treat for Rory. She was so very excited and felt so important when he handed it over to her. Every day when they leave, she says “Thank you, Patrik,” or “Bye, bye, Jerry,” and it makes my heart melt. So this is my message to you to go above and beyond to make the people who work on your home feel welcome inside your home. I promise it will make the end result of any project that much better!
The State of the Main Bathroom
You may have noticed that I haven’t shared much about the main bathroom design plan just yet. Even though we’re renovating both simultaneously, I thought it might get confusing if I shared the plans for both rooms at the same time. My editorial game plan is to share the completed kids’ bathroom before jumping into the main bath.
But for now, let’s chat a little bit about the space. As you can see from these pictures, we removed the bathtub and we’re creating one large shower. Over the past week, they’ve spent all of their time working on this room, getting all of the behind-the-walls work done. Moving electrical, reworking plumbing, pouring concrete for the shower floor…all of this takes the most time and I think they’re just about done with those important steps.
The design plan for this bathroom is completely different from the kids’ space, so it will be fun to share each as they come together.
The State of the Kids’ Bathroom
Here’s a look at the kids’ bathroom. Everything has been removed; the new bathtub is installed; the new ceiling fan is in, and the crew has completed all of the behind-the-walls work. I find that the demo is fast; the behind-the-wall stuff is slow; and then the building it back up comes together faster than expected.
No progress happened in this room last week because the crew spent all of their time in the main bath, so there isn’t too much to report here. This week, I believe they’ll start to tile the floors and walls and I can’t wait to see it come together. (I shared our gorgeous tile choices in this blog post.)
I keep carrying Rory into the room to take a look and talk about all of the future baths she can take in here and she is a little confused as to what the heck is going on. Ha!
Initially, my contractor said the entire project (both bathrooms) would take about three weeks total, and we’re already two weeks in. He is down one man from his crew, so I think we’re a bit behind schedule. The main bath might take a little longer to get to the finish line because we will wait to order the glass shower doors until everything is tiled. Waiting until then will assure accurate measurements and that will be the last step. But I’m hopeful that we can have a livable bedroom and bathroom space long before that. And man, I can’t wait to clean this entire house from top to bottom. The dust is driving me wild!
I’ve been sharing real-time updates over on Instagram stories. Be sure to follow along there for more timely updates.
Catch Up On The Kids’ Bathroom Renovation
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.