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So it's bathroom remodeling time

Posted: February 19, 2008 in House & Garden

Ever since we moved into the new house, the bathrooms have been on the list for things that need remodeling. The powder room got the treatment instantly, because it was the worst - cheesy 70's etched glass light fixture, almond toilet, and white vanity with gold swirls on the faux marble sink. The powder room looks great now, and we get lots of compliments, but we've fallen behind on the other two bathrooms, other than a coat of paint in each.

While I prefer showers, Jessica is a bath person, and likes spending time soaking in a tub of hot soapy water. The problem is, the tub in the upstairs bathroom is too shallow for her to immerse all the way, so she complains about it whenever she has a bath. Last week I finally got a wild hair up my ass and called Bathfitters to come out for an estimate, figuring it would be good to go with a place that would do everything so we wouldn't have to hire separate contractors for plumbing, tile, etc.

On the phone, I didn't get a great feeling. It sounded more like a call center, but hey, they're a big outfit, so maybe they need to have that to stay organized. But then I got a red flag - both husband and wife have to be present for the estimate. They usually do this to prevent the "I need to run this by my wife" excuse for not wanting to sign on the line right then and there. Because of this, I expected some pressure to commit right after the estimate. I was right.

They came in and looked at both bathrooms. For Jess's bathroom we were doing a new tub, backing, fixtures (aka faucets, etc), and sliding door. For mine we were doing a new shower stall, fixtures, and a swinging door. Total price: $12,000 and change. This was not for hand-laid tile, mind you, but for a pre-fabricated acrylic insert, mass-produced at one of their two factories. I thought it was a little steep, but more than that I was worried that the style of their product would not fit in with the style of the rest of our house, as all their samples and photos looked quite contemporary. I asked if there was some way we could see a "live" product, like at a showroom or something. They have no such thing, but they directed us to a local mall that was around 35 minutes away. Later in the evening, we made the trip, but it was for nothing, since the Bathfitter display had been gone for over a year.

At the end of our estimate/sales pitch, we were told that since this is the "off" time of the season for them, we qualified for a $350 per bathroom discount. We would also get a 5% promotional discount, as well as $200 off for some reason I can't remember. This was all well and good, but on a $12,000+ price tag, it was peanuts. Then I got red flag #2. If we didn't sign on the line right then, we'd lose all those discounts. How typical.

This is usually where I cut off the sales pitch and show the person the door. The only reason they pull stunts like this is because they're afraid you'll shop around and find a better price. If they were confident in their product or their price, they wouldn't make it "more expensive" if you don't sign right now. So this was a clue that I'd better shop around before signing.

I will say that the salesperson was very nice, and you could tell she believed in the product 100%. But those sales tactics just don't sit well with me. Never have. There's no way I'm going to sign on the line for a $12,000 anything without thinking about it, comparing prices, or at least seeing what the finished product looks like.

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