Advice on renovating bathroom?

So I'm a single female who's very, very intimidated by the thought of having workmen in the home to do jobs, though unfortunately it's necessary as I made the (naive!) decision of buying a flat that has turned out to lead a lot more work than I anticipated. In the summer I had people in to do my kitchen, and while they did a good job in the end the process was extremely stressful - they discovered the subfloor was damaged midway through the process, and I was asked to make lots of ad hoc decisions about what I wanted (e.g. floor type, insulation type) that I wasn't prepared for and felt I had lacked the necessary knowledge to answer properly. I felt like I was floundering and felt very condescended to throughout the process, which was humiliating. I'm not a stupid person but I feel out of my depth when it comes to anything to do with home repairs, etc.

In the bathroom, I recently had to replace the water tank as the old one was 30+ years old and leaking. I also had to get the toilet cistern replaced due to a leak, and when that done it was discovered that the floor around the toilet was rotted and the toilet bowl was sinking slightly. The plumber did a temp fix of putting down new ply and putting the toilet bowl on top, but it's very much a temp fix and I obviously need to get the whole bathroom (which is very dated) replaced. I obviously need to deal with the floor at the same time. 

I think the uncertainty of the floor situation is the scariest thing - there are some dips in various places and a bit of creaking when I step on particular places, which is scary. I know it's obviously going to need replacing but I won't know how deep the damage penetrates until things are actually ripped out, which I find very scary. I'm also worried about the complexity of potentially needing to take out the unvented hot water cylinder to replace the floor, as that was an expensive and complex job and I'm dreading them having it taken out again.

Any advice on what to check/how to find good people to do this kind of bathroom renovation? I've tried finding people using FB, Checkatrade, personal recommendation before but have never felt totally at ease with/confident in anyone I've used. I just feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start, so would welcome any advice. 

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Comments

  • Teapot55
    Teapot55 Posts: 719
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    edited 12 December 2023 at 7:05PM
    I usually look on Checkatrade and choose three tradespeople that look like they do the work I need - words like ‘plumbing, bathroom, floors’ for example in your case. 

    Get the ones who contact you to come and look at the work that needs doing. That’s when you get an idea whether you are going to find them alright. If they’re polite, on time, friendly and seem to know what they’re talking about but without talking down to you, then that’s a good start. You also don’t have to decide there and then. Weigh up the price they give you and whether they are someone you feel comfortable with in your home. 

    If you don’t find any that are suitable ask some more for estimates. 

    Edited to add this: here’s advice from Checkatrade

    “Hiring a tradesperson
    When hiring a tradesperson, we recommend you follow these steps:
    Contact several trades to compare quotes
    Read our essential hiring guide to staying safe and avoiding rogue trades.
    Get detailed quotes in writing. Use our cost guides to help budget
    Agree payment terms and schedule in writing and avoid paying large sums of money upfront
    Leave a review within 30 days of the job being undertaken or completed to be eligible for the  Checkatrade Guarantee*
    *Contact tradespeople through Checkatrade and your job could be guaranteed in the event of sub-standard work for 12 months, for claims up to the value of £1,000. Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply.”

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  • f0xh0les
    f0xh0les Posts: 6,772
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    Sadly there are a whole raft of tradesmen out there who try and make you feel like fluffy-headed moppet.   So get them to come and quote, ask if THEY are the actual person who will come and do the job, and choose one who doesn't talk down to you.   I currently have builders in the house, it seems one goes out to quote ( the socially acceptable one) and the others randomly turn up to do some work, tut if you ask a question, and roll their eyes if you say that something is wrong ( like the roof is leaking).    They are perfectly pleasant to my husband. It drives me nuts. 
    Good luck, be brave!   It will not take long to fix and just think,  you will not need to replace your bathroom again. 
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  • ThisIsWeird
    ThisIsWeird Posts: 4,458
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    Bambi, do you have any friends, family, or work colleagues who are DIYish or just more savvy about this sort of work? Someone who can be there when folk are looking to quote?
  • Emmia
    Emmia Posts: 2,943
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    edited 12 December 2023 at 9:01PM
    Do you know what you want in terms of tiles, sanitaryware - bath? shower? toilet? cabinets? basin? 

    I'd do a tour of some local bathroom showrooms so you have a good idea of what you want - we redid our shower room recently and I did it all via a local independent bathroom shop that supplied and fitted everything.
  • Thanks everyone - really appreciate the advice. I'm not unsettled by the thought of picking out the bathroom suite, it's more the uncertainty around the flooring situation that really stresses me out. I live far away from my family, which is frustrating as if they were closer I know my dad would be a useless person to have around (as much as it's unfair, from experience I know that workmen are way more respectful to other men than to women). 

    How do people go on living/functioning during a bathroom renovation? Would anyone trust workmen with keys if they were to stay with a friend for the duration of the renovation, or would that be unwise? Every fibre of my being wants to get away from the renovation site while the work is going on, but at the same time I know it's important for me to supervise the work and keep an eye on what they're doing...
  • f0xh0les
    f0xh0les Posts: 6,772
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    edited 13 December 2023 at 9:05AM
    My builder just removed the whole bathroom ceiling, lowered it, put in new beams and laid flooring above it in one day. So don't fret too much. A new wooden floor sounds scarier than it is in reality.  Unless you have a massive bathroom, it is not a huge job and something really common in bathrooms.  Tell the workmen when they come to quote, and ask them not to start without all the supplies needed for the job. 
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  • f0xh0les said:
    My builder just removed the whole bathroom ceiling, lowered it, put in new beams and laid flooring above it in one day. So don't fret too much. A new wooden floor sounds scarier than it is in reality. 
    Thank you - that's actually really reassuring. I guess I'm more nervous about it than I would be in other circumstances as I live in a first floor flat and have a neighbour below me/a management company for the block, but I guess I should just inform them that I'm planning on getting the work done/ensure work is only done during sociable hours? I'm hoping it will be better this time as I at least know the floor will need to be replaced, so it won't be a nasty surprise like it was with the kitchen!
  • Emmia
    Emmia Posts: 2,943
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    edited 13 December 2023 at 9:25AM
    Thanks everyone - really appreciate the advice. I'm not unsettled by the thought of picking out the bathroom suite, it's more the uncertainty around the flooring situation that really stresses me out. I live far away from my family, which is frustrating as if they were closer I know my dad would be a useless person to have around (as much as it's unfair, from experience I know that workmen are way more respectful to other men than to women). 

    How do people go on living/functioning during a bathroom renovation? Would anyone trust workmen with keys if they were to stay with a friend for the duration of the renovation, or would that be unwise? Every fibre of my being wants to get away from the renovation site while the work is going on, but at the same time I know it's important for me to supervise the work and keep an eye on what they're doing...
    We are fortunate to have two bathrooms, so no issues during the refurbishment. Plumbing issues were also found during the works and the floor was dodgy - but it was all sorted by the same guys from the bathroom shop.

    Having them supply and fit almost everything made the process really smooth too - I wasn't juggling different trades or deliveries. I'm sure hiring my own contractors might have been cheaper, but my time/stress is also worth money!
  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,246
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    Bambi12345 said: I live in a first floor flat and have a neighbour below me/a management company for the block
    Check your lease - If you have a rotten floor, whilst the floorboards may be your responsibility, any rotten joists should be for the freeholder to fix/repair. Before you embark on a major refurbishment, I'd suggest doing a bit of exploratory work to see how much damage there is (particularly under the toilet & bath floor). If joists need replacing, cooperation with the flat below will be required, and it should be work that the freeholder carries out (depending on the lease terms).
    Any creaks in floorboards may well be cured by putting some screws in. Not an uncommon problem and doesn't immediately point to a major problem - Got creaky floors here, some are a result of ham fisted lifting of boards in the past for rewiring & plumbing. fixed most of them by using 40-50mm screws in place of the old floorboard nails. Joists are all fine and do not need replacing.
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  • danrv
    danrv Posts: 1,379
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    I'm also worried about the complexity of potentially needing to take out the unvented hot water cylinder to replace the floor, as that was an expensive and complex job and I'm dreading them having it taken out again.

    Hopefully the floor can be renewed without having to take it out. 
    The old floor sounds a bit like mine was. Damp and swollen chipboard around the WC.
    Once the suite is out and plumbing capped off, it should be straightforward to rip up the floor and put a new one in.
    Having another WC in the property makes things easier.
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