Bathroom Remodel

Parent Q&A

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  • Berkeley bathroom remodeling

    (6 replies)

     I am looking for someone who can help me with a bathroom remodeling .The project will include removing the tub and convert  to a walk in shower, new plumbing , partial electric,  painting , installation custom cabinet and  new fan. Any recommendations ? Thank you so much.

    Hi Danielle! Elmer Barrios did our bathroom here in Oakland and did a great job. He took our the tub and replaced with a larger, jetted, heated tub. He moved the bath faucet to reflect the taller tub. He replaced the vanity and mirror. And they were able to retain some of the existing tile and match it to save us a little money. Would highly recommend! His English is so-so but he figures out how to communicate (or if you speak Spanish, even better!). His phone number is 706-263-8808

    Hi I have a great person who has done various projects at my house and is currently building me a bathroom addition. He has a lot of experience, very skilled, reliable, communicative. Not licensed. Let me know if you want his info!

    I HIGHLY recommend the unlicensed contractor/ handyman who just remodeled our BR- Pedro Gomez: 510-575-6392, he and his team did waterproofing, custom shelving/bench, tub/shower, fixture installation, fixed incorrect waterproofing, tiling, painting. I believe he can do partial electric too. Though he is unlicensed, he has strong knowledge of current code and made sure everything that was previously poorly done in our sloppy-flip bathroom was up to requirement (He knows from lots of experience working under licensed professionals). Had many good professional references.

    We just did a similar project with Re-Bath in Concord. It was more expensive than working with contractors that we spoke to,  but we appreciated how quickly they were able to complete the work, their longevity in the business,  and the warranty. We were looking to impact our own time and space as little as possible and I feel that is what we got in addition to a beautiful upgrade.  We joke that our shower is the nicest room in our house. The staff that we interacted with were all wonderful and seemed to genuinely like the company. 

    Recently I worked with Bay Full Construction to remodel two bathrooms.  Had a wonderful experience working with John (the owner) and his team.  The scope of my job was very similar to what you are looking for as it included demoing an old big spa tub which I converted to a walk-in shower, installing new shower doors, bathroom fans, new vanities, tile floors, tiling up the walls, recessed lighting, new plumbing, and painting.  Both bathrooms look great.  John also has a great eye for design which was really helpful as he worked with me to ensure that what I was doing was appropriate for my space, offering great alternatives when needed (everything looks on Pinterest but is not always practical for one's space).  

    John is a hard-working professional, trustworthy (as well as the team he works with) and takes great pride in his work producing excellent results. Also very patient as I always had that one more question throughout the process.  I would highly recommend that you contact him:  510-265-9399 / bayfullconstruction [at]  

     Gabi ( Europa Tile)  and his team did a great job remodeling both of my bathroom and laundry area. They were very helpful throughout the process, stayed on schedule and within budget ,and delivered a great final product. I highly recommend Europa Tile . (510) 506-5073. europetileinstall [at]

  • Tile installation and grout repair.

    (2 replies)

     We have a 1935s home and are interested to re-tiling the wall around my bathtub in master bathroom. And second bathroom need some grout repair. Any recommendations ? Thank you .

      Don't  search anymore..!!!. I highly recommend John ( Bay Full Construction ) for any tiling you need. John tiled our bathroom floor & wall , kitchen backsplash and I was completely satisfied with his work. Professional ,friendly, attention to detail and fair with the price.He was neat and always cleaned up at the end of each day. If you need to use a professional company call now (510) 265-9399  Bay Full Construction.

    I have used The Grout Doctor for many years to repair as well as regrout whole bathrooms in my rental properties. His crew always does an excellent job and the renters are universally pleased. Charles can be reached at 510-530-3104.

  • Seeking ideas for a small bathroom

    (5 replies)

    We're planning a full remodel of a small bathroom (6' x 6') that has a toilet, sink, and shower.  Due to water damage in the exterior wall and other issues, we pretty much need to gut the space and start over.

    We're still in the idea-gathering phase, and looking for wise counsel from others.  Specifically, dear BPN readers, if you have a small bathroom, what are the features and aspects of the bathroom that you most like, or dislike? If you've remodeled a bathroom, is there anything you are very glad you did, or conversely wish you had done differently?


    A 6x6 bathroom sounds LARGE to me!  We recently added a 2'4''x4'6'' bathroom - yes small.  A few things we were happy that we did:

    1- Wall-mounted toilet -> saved a ton of space and we really like it

    2-Installed an outlet and water spout for possible bidet

    3-Custom vanity -> Used a wood builder out of Oakland/San Leandro (jeremiah [at] and we were super happy with his work.  We could also make a vanity that fit our bathroom layout rather than one that had set dimensions.  We ordered a sink and did have to get that cut.  Still reasonably priced and works so well with our space.

    4- Used light colors (white tile with light blue/gray paint and light blue tile on bottom of shower)

    5-Higher end bathroom fixtures (we went with Graff)- in addition we installed a wand +  rain shower

    6- floating shelves over toilet for extra storage

    7- Went with the largest size mirror/medicine cabinet

    8- installed small shower window

    Overall, while small our bathroom doesn't feel that small.  We have plenty of storage and it's also a relaxing and comfortable place to be.  Good luck!

    We're in a very similar place in the process for a small bathroom as well. We're taking out a claw foot tub + considering whether or not we really need a built in tub + shower or just go for a floor length nice looking shower with glass. In our current small bathroom I find that curtains on the shower/bath make it look smaller + that open shelving does, too. We're looking for clean lines. I'm booking a consultation soon. Happy to share ideas. Good luck!

    I love my bathroom. Is not too big, is like 6 x 10

    On the 6 ' side there is a shower next to the toilet and across a double sink on floating cabinet.

    The shower is like european style, open concept. All the bathroom has the same stone floor, there is a glass separating the shower from the toilet and no door to shower  (it has space in case someone in the future wants to enclose it. the double sink is wonderful with two mirror-medicine cabinets from ikea, very big and deep and creates lots of storage. The bathroom is one of the favorite spaces of my house with heating mat underneath the floor, you can use the thermostat so it is nice and warm at a specific hour. Also the towel rack is electrical and you can plug and your towel will be nice and warm at a specific time....also we got a nice shower system ( those could be pretty expensive). I have no idea about the cost but I would have love to have a steam shower, since staying under the hot shower is so expensive here,,,, Enjoy the process, mix and match your costs, Ikea, Home Depot and fancy stores, there are thinks like the mirrors that were so much more money that Ikea ones, usually you pay for quality but not always..

    1. Wall mounted toilet saves a ton of space. We also highly recommend a washlet with it.

    2. A “floating” vanity that hangs on the wall and leaves the floor clear.

    3. A walk in shower with NO curb.

    This will allow for a continuous unbroken floor for the whole room which really opens up the space. It’s also super functional and easy to clean. Happy remodeling!

    Medicine cabinets are not stylish right now. But they are very useful to store stuff, especially in a small bathroom. I also recommend a cabinet over the toilet for the same reason. I really like my corian. The sink, counter and backspash is all integrated and therefore very easy to clean. I also really like the marmoleum floor. Looks good, holds up well, and better for the environment than some other choices. 

  • Hi, we are looking for a contractor who can re-do our small bathroom in Berkeley. The previous recommendations are all quite old; it would be great to get recommendations from folks who have had this work done more recently. Trustworthy, competent, careful and attentive to detail, and fair would all be helpful descriptions for what we seek. Not looking for the type of company that does “high end” work; we are aiming for a pretty basic / traditional look but quality work and nice-looking results. Do you know such a company?  Will need new bath, sink, toilet, and floors. Thanks for any recommendations! 

    Mark Griffin was recommended to us via BPN to redo our kitchen last summer. He did a fantastic job and was by far the best value we found. He does kitchens and bathrooms and we will absolutely use him for our bathroom when we redo it. He is a one-person crew (though his partner helps with the tiling), so it did take a little longer than some of the other, much more expensive quotes we got. He's done work for other friends of ours subsequently and everyone has been happy. He was great with his Covid PPE, he works very hard, and our kitchen turned out beautifully-- I think of him fondly every day when I use it!

    Mark Griffin 510-612-0790

    I highly recommend Darren Gates. He worked with us on our remodel and magically came in within budget. Two years later his workmanship is standing strong and we’re looking forward to working with him on another project shortly. His number is(925) 351-3410

    We had Elmer Barrios do our tiny bathroom in our house in Oakland (new tub, tile, new recessed mirror) and he and his team were very fair in price and did a great job. The one caveat is that Elmer's English is only so-so (good enough to get by for sure) but his son speaks pretty good English. They were a really great team, got the work done in a shorter schedule than they initially quoted, cleaned up every day to not leave our house in disarray, and are just really nice people. His cell phone is 706-263-8808

    We just finished a remodel of a small bathroom with ProModeling (based in El Cerrito).  Stay away from them. Terrible communications, lack of attention to detail, multiple subcontractors with little coordination, and a serious lack of planning that lead a project that began in the first week of January to end in the first week of April.  They have slick and professional materials and we paid more for them than other contractors we interviewed, thinking that they were well put together. Not the case. We are seeking another contractor to finish the cabinet that they left incomplete. 

    Get a quote from "My Construction Group" out of San Jose.  Last year they remodeled two bathrooms for us.  Their pricing was reasonable and they were responsive and competent.  I wouldn't say they were "amazing," but we were very happy with them.  Good value for the price.  


    We used Crowworks Design— crowworksdesign [at] —for our small bathroom remodel and we couldn't be happier. Crow is very creative and works with you to get the result you want. He is strictly a time and materials man and there are no surprises, except for some good ones. Feel free to use my name.

    Good luck,


     We selected Bay Full Construction after meeting with two different General Contractors. Just completed a full master bathroom . Very pleased with the results . John and crew did an excellent job. I will recommend this company to everyone .               

    Bay Full Construction (510) 265-9399.

    bayfullconstruction [at]

  • Contractor for bathroom remodels

    (3 replies)

    Looking for a recommendation for a contractor who specializes in bathroom remodels... who is trustworthy, dependable and does impeccable work. I have all the materials picked out, so no design assitance needed.

    Only looking for recommendations for contractors who you have personally worked with and have had a positive experience with. Thanks so much.

    I just completed a bathroom remodel with Bay Full Construction. I couldn't be more pleased. The estimate for time and cost were both completely accurate.They provided good guidance as we chose  the tiles and the tub we wanted , and their work was professional and efficient. We're really happy with the results. Bathroom feels like 5 stars hotel!!!. bayfullconstruction [at] .Cell phone 510 265 9399. Ana Cohan.

    We're using Promodeling, Inc for our bathroom, and they absolutely deliver!  Our project manager Gilad and our foreman, William, are extremely professional and responsive. My husband is a designer so we already had most of the finishes planned out, but they helped us with the layout. They weren't the lowest bid but they do quality work. I highly recommend them! 

    Hi! I suggest Innovative Construction. Erick has worked on several of my home projects and I am always really happy with the outcome. You can reach him at 510-289-5516

  • We are looking for recommendations for a great contractor that can abate some shower ceiling mold and also remodel our bathroom. 

    Thank you! 

    We just went through a huge mold remediation. The best company in the area is Anderson Group International out of San Jose. They were recommended to me by a world-renowned water damaged building expert I consulted in Washington DC. They lived up to their reputation for sure!

    We had a similar problem with our bathroom which was in serious need of a complete remodel. The walls, ceiling, shower, tiles, vanity- it all needed to be replaced. We were worried about how we could create the bathroom we wanted while still living in our house. Luckily, we found Emanuel with Bay Area Pacific Construction on BPN. They worked around our busy family and they carefully cleaned up at the end of every day. And the most important part: the finished bathroom far exceeded our expectations. It is now the best room in the house. I have no hesitation whatsoever recommending them! Their phone number is (510) 484 5765 and email admin [at]

  • Bathroom remodel - acrylic shower?

    (4 replies)

    We own a condo in TIburon and are looking to remodel two bathrooms.  We have had two bids and are being really pushed to do the acrylic showers.  Should be cheaper but we are being quoted ~90K for both baths, no tile only acrylic.  Acrylic should be cheaper but I think 90K is a bit much for an otherwise simple remodel.  One of the companies was Re-bath.  

    Two questions:

    if anyone has done acrylic showers, please let me know pros and cons other than what one can read about

    Re-bath- any one done business with them?  

    The acrylic shower may be cheap and easy to install. But the surface gets damaged easily. You are not supposed to use any kind of abrasive cleaner. How you gonna keep it clean? I like Corian. Easy to clean. No grout (which always gets moldy). 

    I have remodeled several bathrooms over the past few years and none has cost as much as you were coated by Re-Bath. The fact that they advertise on TV should give you some idea of their price and, if you want reviews of the company and their work, log on to and put their name in the search bar. You can then read the experiences of people who have hired them recently and you can then make up your own mind as to whether or not you want to hire the company to work for you.

    Acrylic look great for a while and then will start looking terrible.  Over the years we remolded 4 bathrooms.  The tile done as good today as it did 10 years ago.  Other issue I have seem with some acrylic is after 5 year or so it starts curling and pulling away from the wall.  Real question is how long will you be in the house?  Less than 5 years acrylic   More than 5, I would go with tile or stone.  Or do the acrylic now and again in another 5 years or so.

    Seems expensive but it depends on what you are asking for. 

    We did not use RE-bath but did do remodel of several bathrooms in a whole home in Tiburon.

  • Anyone used Rebath for bath remodel?

    (2 replies)


    I'd like to know if anyone has used Rebath for their bathroom remodel and whether they would recommend them? They advertise a lot on TV. Was their pricing fair for what you get? They have quoted me $15,000 for one shower replacement or around $20,000 for a complete bathroom remodel (including quartz counter top, floor, fan, new toilet, and shower, but not replacing the vanity) because they stated they offer a product no other company offers.

    Their sales pitch seemed fine, but I'm nervous because I always get taken for a ride (single woman). They said their quote is guaranteed whereas other contractors may start with one quote but then increase costs as the work goes on. Also, they said they are the only company that gives a lifetime warranty on materials and workmanship.

    Also, any other company recommendations appreciated if you loved their work and price.

    Thank you

    We paid $8k in labor, another $6k in materials, but this was for a small bathroom, complete remodel. (So the sink was a pedestal, no countertop). This was also 2016.

    Always get multiple quotes for your specific job.

    I hope this helps!

    Contractors seem to be quoting very high prices right now.  $15k to replace a shower is very high!  

    Go to a big box hardware store and see how much the actual fiberglass shower costs, and you will understand my point.

    We got high bids, and decided to do it ourselves.  The cost difference is amazing.  There are tons of great YouTube videos that show exactly how to do the work.  If you aren’t moving around plumbing or electrical, it’s really not that hard.

    Also, Granite Expo warehouse has great prices on vanities with granite tops.  They do installation for a fee, but it will be much, much less than what a contractor will charge.

    Good luck!

  • Simple kitchen/bath remodel

    (3 replies)

    We are thinking of doing a simple remodel to our kitchen and bathrooms. We would not be changing the layout of the spaces, but just replacing countertops, appliances, sinks, maybe painting cabinets and potentially floors just to make the spaces a bit more modern/to our taste. We are challenged when it comes to design and also don't have the time to coordinate everything ourselves. I'm trying to determine who the right person is to hire for this kind of project - someone to give us design ideas and then coordinate the actual implementation. I would love any suggestions from folks who have done something similar.

    If you need design ideas, Pinterest is the place. Put together a board that you both use to pin ideas. After you have made your decisions, you can hire a contractor. 

     We finally found a contractor you can trust !!!. Bay-Full Construction did a FANTASTIC job on our kitchen and guest bathroom. John was helpful and available throughout the entire project and was always eager and happy to answer our questions.His team was very meticulous and clean.You can call him at (510) 265-9399 or email bayfullconstruction [at] luck! David.

    I am an extremely happy customer. I found all aspects of my project to be done with professionalism ,care and good workmanship. My bathroom was completed ahead of schedule ,the workers were on time each day and cleaned up well after themselves. The collaborative aspect made the job go smoothly. I highly recommend Bay Full Construction.

    cel :(510) 265-9399 or email: bayfullconstruction [at]

  • ISO Bathroom Designer for remodel project

    (3 replies)

    I can use some help with a bathroom remodel.  Specifically, I am looking for someone who has experience in bathroom design... a design professional who will come see our space, take the necessary measurements, work with us to create a design, point us in the right direction on where to purchase materials and most importantly provide a drawing of the new design that we can provide our contractor.

    I am NOT looking to spend a lot of money (ideally less than 2K for the designer)... so I wouldn't need them to manage our project or go out and pick the materials for us.

    *** This will be our first remodel project, so if you have any advice, feedback or insights based on personal bathroom remodeling experience... feel free to share.

    Thanks, oyveyenough [at]

    The designer I used for my kitchen also designs bathrooms. She and her team are amazing! Her name is Lisa Cannelora, she's at Cucina di Cannelora in Alameda. You can reach her at Lisa [at]  She comes out to the house, measures, asks a lot of questions, and every project of hers that I've seen has been fabulous.

    Hi there,

    We used Toshie Lim and I really loved working with her. She came and took measurements of the space (we converted a closet into a bathroom) and drew up a design sketch. This initial visit cost $200 (in October 2017). If you want to continue working with her, she has two models: one is a fee-based start to end design consultancy where she helps pick out materials and works with your contractor. I think it depends on the size of the project, but for ours she quoted me some where in the $2,000+ range. The other is an hourly rate if you just want her to help with certain aspects of the process. At the time it was $100/hour which includes her time doing research and meeting with you. This is what I ended up doing and was very pleased with her suggestions. She helped me find the perfect tiles for our bathroom floor that were reasonable. She has lots of good ideas. Here is her company on Yelp which includes her contact info: I'm happy to answer more questions or send pictures if you like! Good luck and have fun!

    I highly discourage using Custom Spaces (Solano). We worked with Catherine on a recent kitchen remodel and it was a very stressful experience. Needlessly long and over budget. I look forward to seeing other responses!

  • I know that similar questions are often posed but I wanted to ask for a very specific recommendation. Anyone know a good contractor who is licensed, bonded and insured who might do a double bathroom remodel for $40k all in ($20k per bathroom)? I realize it's impossible to estimate costs without knowing details of the plans, but I'm sharing our budget to give a ballpark idea of what we're looking for. I've had an insane time trying to hire someone. First guy came back after 5+ weeks (took forever and wasn't responsive) with $36k for just labor + rough materials (no countertops, tiles, shower doors, etc), second guy provided a good bid but couldn't come up with a single reference and ultimately stopped responding to our gentle follow up requests. I started the process over again - next guy came back after a few weeks to say his company was only taking on projects of $250k or more (fine but would have been good to know that first?!). Finally I thought I'd found the right guy but turns out he is NOT licensed (said he was). We have approved plans from the city and we're ready to go. Just need to find a contractor.

    Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! 

    Try Reimundo at RP Builders.  We used him for a kitchen remodel but if you just need a basic bathroom remodel (countertops, tile, etc.) I think he would be good for a quick/easy bathroom remodel.  If you need more than basic stuff (eg. electric work, etc.), it makes sense your bids are higher.

    I don't have any recommendations to offer, only commiseration. There is so much demand for construction work in the greater Bay Area right now, even halfway decent contractors are swimming in work and can pick and choose the jobs they want to do. It's very difficult to get anyone on the phone, and I sympathize with your situation. Unless you have a friend in the biz, your options boil down to: (1) wait until the demand dies down, which could take years; or (2) pay more than others are willing to pay. 

    Try E&J Builders, at (510) 328-1120. I don't know what their availability is, but Eric should be able to tell you in one phone call. He's done work at our house in Montclair and he's just a really good guy. He's licensed, bonded, and insured. 

    Yes! Check out Priyam Sawhney's work, she is fabulous to work with! I worked with Priyam in 2015, she helped increase the size of my master bath along with updating the paint, fixtures, and closets of our bedroom. She is organized, has great people who work for her, she is honest and up-front and overall really great to talk to and work with. 

  • Looking to remodel two bathrooms.  If you have a contractor to recommend... that you have personally worked, loved and had a positive experience with... please forward me their contact info and any other info you think would be helpful.  Thanks.  oyveyenough [at]

    I highly recommend giving a call to Emanuel with Bay Area Pacific Construction. Emanuel and his brother Alan did a great job remodeling our master bathroom. From first contact to project completion Emanuel was polite, professional, timely, and friendly. We knew there was going to be some water damage going into it, but it turned out to be better than expected. Emanuel and his team were able to come in, correct the problems, and fully refinish the bathroom in less than a month, while still coming in at a good price. They did a wonderful job. The bathroom looks fantastic and we will definitely be using them for future projects. His phone number is 510 484 5765 and his email address is admin [at]

  • Looking for a designer who can help with remodel project of a bathroom.  Would like to consult with them on coming up with a new design/layout and render a design that can be submitted for permits and to help assist the contractor.

    Please email me your recommendations at:  oyveyenough [at]

    We worked with Jennifer at Altera Designs in Walnut Creek for our bathroom remodel two years ago( She created a 3D design for us, and we ordered all the materials from Altera. They also have approved contractors you can hire, but we used our own contractor, and it was pretty seamless.  We found that it was especially helpful when Jennifer limited the universe of choices for finishes (which can be overwhelming) to options we would like, and then she  went through all the possible combinations in the showroom.  She remained responsive when we had some hiccups in the remodel process.  We were very happy with Altera! 

  • Kitchen and bathroom remodel costs

    (7 replies)

    Question regarding house remodeling: We recently bought a house in the East Bay and would like to update the kitchen and bathrooms before moving in. We wouldn't be moving walls or changing wiring/plumbing but require significant updates. We reached out to an architect that a family member used in SF who gave us estimates that were $75000 for the kitchen and $20000/each for the two bathrooms. Meanwhile, our realtor mentioned that he knows some good contractors that can get all of this work done for less than $50,000. There seems to be such a big difference between these two estimates that we are not sure what the average rates in the Bay Area are. We would like to have some modern updates done but do not have too big of a budget and so I have two questions for the group:

    - What is the cost of an average kitchen or bathroom remodel in the Bay Area?
    - Does anyone have an architect that they can recommend?

    Thanks so much for your help in this regard

    You can try Houzz to see if they have statistics on average costs.  The bigger issue is finding people to do the work - most of my contractors have stopped answering the phone for new inquiries, they are just too slammed.  

    As for bathrooms, we recently completed one bathroom remodel and are working on bathroom number two.  Your cost will completely depend on (1) whether you are comfortable serving as the general contractor for the job (usually requires being present on a daily basis, knowing who to hire, and lining them up so there aren't any horrific gaps in the timing), (2) what is actually behind your walls, and (3) how fancy your finishes are.  Do you want radiant floor heating?  Do you want a name brand toilet?  Do you want a rain shower head and a hand held shower?  Do you want the exposed plumbing look? 

    Our recent master bath remodel cost around $25k.  I lined up the contractors myself (plumber, electric, tile, shower glass, wallpaper) and sourced all the materials myself (usually at contractor discounts).  Our tile was fancy-ish, our sink/shower fixtures were middle of the road, and the medicine cabinet and lights were on the cheaper end.  We did remove a tub to create a walk-in shower.  But the big unknown expense was 2 days of subfloor and framing repair since the previous owners decided not to use a waterproof backer in the shower.  You never know what you're going to find once you start demo...

    For our second bath, we're using same contractors and keeping the sink and tub.  We are getting a new tile shower surround, tile floor, toilet, and sconce.  We also needed to replace some old galvanized pipe with copper.  All-in will be about $10-12k.

    Also, I wouldn't assume that you can avoid plumbing and/or electrical work.  Unless you are keeping the sink, toilet, tub/shower, and all lights exactly the same, plumbing and electrical are almost always needed on some level.  It is also worth it to correct any code issues while you have the walls open.

    I did a very superficial kitchen remodel a few years ago for about $20k.  New wood floors, new sink, resurfaced and painted existing cabinets, new quartz countertops from Home Depot, new can lights and pendants, and new range and fridge from Sears.  Backsplash was wainscoting (tile would have added another $3-4k).  My understanding is that the code has changed to the point where it is basically impossible to avoid new electrical updates on a kitchen remodel.   If you can avoid new cabinet work, then you will be able to keep the budget low-ish.

    I'm not sure if an architect is required if you are not moving walls?  Perhaps you mean a kitchen designer?  Either way, you're probably looking at $3-5k for that person, easy.

    Hi - we remodeled two bathrooms and our kitchen before we moved in two years ago for roughly 50k total. We did a very minimal kitchen update though - painted cabinets and kept everything in the same place but swapped all the tiles, appliances and countertops. We removed a wall as well.

    Bathrooms were more extensive remodels, though we kept everything mostly in the same place, which kept the cost down. I also purchased a lot of the supplies myself (tiles, countertops) to save on upcharges.  

    Good luck!

    Hello. I don't have recommendations for the area, but I would recommend reading this book first, or something similar:

    Remodel Without Going Bonkers or Broke
    By Jim Molinelli

    I am planning a remodel in the next year and feel so much more confident about what to expect, and from who (architect vs contractor vs design build companies) after reading it. It's quick.

    Good luck

    In general, it's hard to get good estimates for these types of work. You'll get different numbers from different people. I would use $300 per square foot as a starting point, which means using builder grade cabinets, tiles, and accessories. Using an architect will add to that cost, using a general contractor to oversee the project will also add to the cost. If your house is an older house, you might find unexpected things once you open up the walls, like old electrical wires or things that are not up to code, that you probably want to update, again, adding to your construction cost. Are you keeping the current kitchen appliances or getting new ones? Those alone can cost anywhere from $5k to $50k if you are looking at top of the line. Do you want tiles for the back-splash? You can get $3 per square foot tiles or $150 per square foot tiles. I think it's more important to set a budget up front and design your renovation based on those numbers than knowing what the average cost is because everyone has different tastes and budgets. 

    I am in the middle of doing an addition and the architect I used was Gary Meyer at (415) 860-6223. He's easy to work with, good communicator and very knowledgeable with Oakland permit process. 

    The difference in cost often comes down to finishes and how skilled the contractor is, in my experience. $75K for a kitchen and $20K per bath sounds about right (possibly even a little low for the baths, but depends on how much you are doing--the less you move and the more you stay within the footprint of the existing space, the cheaper it is). We did our small, modest kitchen seven years ago during the recession and DIYed much of it and still spent $35K when all was said and done; we didn't get any quotes from general contractors for less than $60K and one was $100K (!!!) I can't imagine you can do a kitchen for $50K in today's market unless you are not moving anything and believe most of your systems are already to code or close to it so it's mostly cosmetic. (You need to bring the whole kitchen up to current code when you renovate, so sometimes that triggers electrical or HVAC work that you had not planned to do.) That said, it can't hurt to call your realtor's contractors and see what they have to offer. Good luck!

    The architect is right, the realtor is wrong. I have remodeled 2 houses extensively over the last 16 years, and just finished a few months ago. In today’s market in the Bay Area, 75k for a kitchen and 20k for a bathroom is actually on the lower end for good quality work with a good contractor.  Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to remodel. 50k for all of the work you described will, in my opinion, get you a bad contractor and sub-quality work. It will cost you close to 50k just for all the appliances, new cabinets, countertop and flooring in the kitchen plus the flooring/tile/toilets/etc in the two bathrooms. 

    Really appreciate all your feedback and comments. This has been super helpful.

  • Contractor for small, fast bathroom remodel

    (5 replies)


    We want to sell our house over the summer. The house is gorgeous other than the kids' bathroom which has never been remodeled from the 1960's original. It's small and it needs a new bathtub/shower insert, vanity, flooring, and mirror. It will also need to be painted. We've already replaced the toilet and light fixture but those will probably need to be removed and reinstalled.

    We'd like to do a fast, inexpensive remodel of the bathroom so that it looks fresh and clean and doesn't detract from the rest of our turn-key house. We're looking for recommendations for a licensed contractor who will get permits and do this quickly, but correctly.

    Any recommendations?



    I recommend David Cook, owner of They did my kitchen in El Sobrante and it turned out very nice. We used dove tailed cabinets made out of birch wood for my kitchen which I realize is a bit higher end, BUT I know they also specialize in shower stall inserts. You may tell them that Barbara Ramel recommended them.

    I highly recommend George Catalin, 510-695-4119, website I found him here on BPN last year and hired his company to complete a kitchen remodel from which I had to let go another deign and construction company.  He worked quickly, without a hitch, and his adjustments to the design from the previous company were on-point and the construction is magnificent.  I am so excited about my is beautiful, and was done within a reasonable time-frame, but no rush, as the attention to detail was flawless.  I, too, plan to sell my home soon, and this kitchen remodel will take my listing to another level. 

    We just completed a bathroom remodel with Gelu Construction.  Our original contractor pulled out at the last minute and I had to find someone in two days to start.  I found a lot of positive reviews of Gelu in this network.  I contacted him one night and he came over the next day.  he started work two days later.  He is fast, and very very helpful.  We know nothing about bathroom remodeling, and he guided us through all the components, lighting, toilet, tiling, painting.  Prices were quite reasonable.  Bathroom looks great.  We are very satisfied with him.

    Myron    mistermy [at]

    Call Tom Wright at 

    Phone number(510) 710-3310.

    Tom is a licensed general contractor, honest, knowledgeable jack of all trades, hard working, creative problem solver, reasonably priced, and a genuinely good person. We call him the house doctor. Give Tom a call for any remodeling or house upgrading needs. You won't regret it.

    He did our bathroom addition at a very reasonable price!P

    hone numberTom Wright at (510) 710-3310.

    I noticed a recommendation for Gelu construction and I wanted to chime in that I recently had work done by him and I was pleased initially by how quickly the job was done and how knowledgeable he is even with some of our communication errors.  (Make sure you get everything you want done in writing.).  We found some problem spots with the tiling afterwards and he became very difficult to reach.  It still has not been fixed.  He also tiled the bathroom cabinet in such a way that we cannot open it all the way.  I had to have the job done fast so we were willing to live with the mistakes but if I had time I would probably have gone with someone else.  

  • Adding a Powder Room

    (1 reply)

    We own a 1-bathroom home in El Cerrito and are finally ready to add a half-bath/powder room. We plan to do this by carving out space from our laundry room. 

    I would love to hear from anyone who has done this about how much this project cost you. We're not planning on anything fancy... just a nice little room with a toilet and a sink will be a heavenly addition to our home.

    Also, can anyone recommend a contractor for this job?


    We used Crow at Crow Works tor our bathroom project. He has a great eye for design and is great with small spaces. Plus he's a delight to work with. We'd use him again in a heartbeat.

    Crowworksdesign [at]

  • I am looking for current recommendations for a contractor to remodel our bathroom in Rockridge. Archives are old and I know it is hard to get good people now. Please let me know how communications took place, if they were clean, quality of the work, if they had good subcontractors, did budget increase, did they complete the work on time or within a reasonable amount of time, anything else I should care about? Thank you!

    You'll probably get a bunch of responses to this question but my wife and I used Chris Orr when I had my bathroom completely remodeled a year ago (completely down to the studs with new electrical, re-routing of all plumbing, new window etc). He's a licensed general contractor and his prices were very affordable. One of the reasons for this is that he does not use subcontractors. He has a team of 2-3 guys (another Chris, Keith and his nephew if my memory serves) that do all of the work (electrical, plumbing, dry wall etc) and he reuses items whenever feasible. He's also a carpenter and was able to build built-in shelving as well as a really nice medicine cabinet. All of the work was permitted. We had (at the time) a 1-year old so he was very conscious of keeping the house clean at the end of the work day. We liked him so much that when our house was broken into recently we had him come over to repair the damage. He was able to save us a lot of money by repairing the damage instead of replacing the items. His number is (510) 517-0493 and his email is orrgeneralcontractor [at] To answer your other questions, communication was usually by phone or text, the budget did increase slightly but mainly because we decided to go with more expensive finishes and work was done in a reasonable amount of time.

    Andy Brucker, Brucker Builders. 

    He remodeled 3.5 baths for me and was a joy to work with. 

    Please check to be sure any contractor you choose has a valid contractor license at the state of California Contractor website.  Check for the number of complaints too. Gelu Ilie does not have a California contractor license and his website says his company does tile work only.  He cannot legally do general remodeling unless he has a California state contractor license.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

2010 - 2013 Recommendations

Contractor for kitchen and bathroom remodel

July 2013

We are looking for good, and well priced contractor to do a bathroom and kitchen remodel and some minimum work in bedrooms. For bathroom, we would like to remove a wall add some space from the bedroom closet to creat a niche for a two sink counter, add new light fixtures, sinks, faucets, cabinets and backsplash. Then the bedroom needs to be modified to add an IKEA closet. For the kitchen, we want to reface the cabinet, add new counter top with new sink and faucet and new light fixture. A microwave needs to be moved inside a cabinet too, so some mill work as well. For our other two bedrooms, we want to change our existing wood sliding doors to mirrors, and creat bigger opening for a hinged door closet to add mirror sliding doors for that room as well. This is the scope of our work, I am a designer, so the drawings are ready, I need somebody to build it!

Just at the end of a major bathroom renovation (and new deck construction) with Tom Parenteau from Carr Custom Builders. It's been a great experience (excellent quality of work, good organization, really nice and trustworthy workers). Happy to pass on a recommendation -- carrcustombuilders [at] Elizabeth

For kitchen and bathroom remodels I senthusiastically recommend Robert Brown. 510-427-4722. He remodeled our bathroom and reconfigured an awkward part of the house between the main and addition, which included two doorways. He is talented and experienced, reasonably priced, and he is very pleasant to work with. I'm happy to provide a more detailed recommendation for him. Heidi

Due to excellent previous reviews on BPN, we hired Berkeley Construction in Feb. of 2013 for our bathroom remodel and kitchen painting, and it is still not finished, 5 months later. The project is currently running 3 months behind. Many mistakes were made. The ordering of supplies and fixtures were ''forgotten'' numerous times. Excuses have piled upon excuses. Communication between us and the owner has been non existent to very poor. He prefers to relay info through his workers who give nonspecific answers to our questions. Some of his subs, especially the granite fabricator and the second painter, were unprofessional. We actually repainted the trim work in the bathroom ourselves last weekend just to get it done. The painter went back and forth between sanding and painting, and got sanding dust in the paint, yet used it anyway. I regret that I did not get more current info on this contractor. still in limbo

Constantin from CGBuilders did the remodeling in my house. My conditions among other things where a 'good and well priced contractor' same as you are looking for. I was very pleased to work with him. He is a good contractor and for my project was a well priced contractor. You can contact him a 5103055680, info [at] Don't forget to visit his website diana

We would highly recommend Emanuel with Bay Area Pacific Construction. We hired them for a kitchen remodel, 2 bathroom remodels and electrical work; excellent work to code, good communication, very clean/neat, respectful of our home, meticulous work indicative of craftsman-like passion and old world pride, plus they finished the job over 2 weeks ahead of schedule. We cannot recommend this company enough and are more than happy to give references. You can reach Emanuel at 510 484 5765 or online at Greg & Celeste

Bathroom re-tiling logistics

June 2013

We need to have our shower stall re-tiled and we don't know how to go about it- should we hire a licensed contractor, or go with a handy person that we know and trust? And how do we navigate the permit process? Does property tax increase? Just looking for some opinions about how to navigate the Berkeley system. Thanks, anon

Hi. Re-tiling a shower stall (or even a bathroom) will not require permits. The most important part about re-tiling in a wet area is making sure that water does not get behind the tiles. It is important to hire an experienced and good tile person to perform the work. Not sure if the person should be licensed contractor. You should look for recommendations for good tilers. I'm new to the Berkeley/Oakland area and unfortunately unable to recommend anyone. But that's where you should start looking. skys mom

Anon, My name is Mike. I live in North Oakland. Hiring a licensed contractor tends to cost more but the insurance they come with may be worth it. If you have the time you can act as your own contractor and hire a handyman to complete the work. I have both acted as my own general contractor and hired general contractors. If their are no structural changes I usually pull my own permits and draw my own plans. If there are structural changes I will bring in a general contractor. If you need help with the permit process start with the zoning department for the city. I am not sure about the increase in property taxes. If you need an affordable experienced contractor try Angel's Construction in the east bay 415-810-5049. Or if you really want to save money and aren't concerned about the the license try Carlos Mejia at 415-786-2919 - he is a handyman. Hope this helps Mike

You might give Robert Robbins a Call. He works by the job and within your budget. His number is 415-545-8542. He has some pretty good ideas even if you decide to go with someone else. Mike

Bathroom designer needed for finishing details

March 2013

Hi, I'm looking for recommendations for a designer/decorator to help me with my bathroom addition. I have a lot of the big pieces in place -- I have the floorplan (it's a basic Jack and Jill bathroom between 2 kids rooms) but I need help with the finishing touches, for example, the decorative tile border in the shower alcove, which lights to pick, if I want two mirrors instead of one large one what size should choose, help finding a cabinetmaker for the vanity. I feel like this is a pretty small job; I almost want to just buy an hour's worth of design time for a double check on my ideas. I want this to be a fairly contemporary bathroom as well. What I don't need is someone whose main goal is to sell me cabinets. I'm in Walnut Creek and would prefer someone located out this way. Erin

We had help from Alina Druga with Alina Druga Interiors. We were kind of in the same situation as you. We we looking for someone to guide us in the right direction and give us advice for almost every room in the house, on how to update and make our home look more like us. We couldn't afford to have someone do all the work, we were just looking for someone to show us the way. Alina was wonderful; in a few hours she transformed our home with her ideas. Her suggestions helped us make the changes that we needed. She also helped us with window treatments in our office from Hunter Douglas, which we purchased from her, and guided us in selecting finishes and color for our bathrooms. She made sure we were completely satisfied, and was completely wonderful. She is really down to earth, easy to talk to and her fees are also very reasonable. We would definitely recommend her. Her website is, and phone number is (510) 566-5917. Good luck! Monica

Bathroom contractor recommendation wanted

March 2012

We're considering reinstalling a tub (previous owners removed and put in a large walk in shower), hopefully a fairly simple job, minimal demo, maybe some plumbing and a little tile work. Appreciate recommendations for quality, reasonably priced contractor. Thank you! Audrey

We're using Michael Colombo of Miccolo Construction (michael [at] 510-848-8188. He also did our kitchen. He does great work and is very honest and careful.

I used Will Perez and Luis Arreola for several projects in my home and they are excellent carpenters. Neat, reasonably priced, efficient, honest, smart, and thorough. They did carpentry work and repaired a difficult plaster ceiling for us. The work came out fabulously. I recommend them highly. You can get in touch with Will at 415-806-3859. Ellen

I can only say that Marius Construction has proved to be a real lifesaver for me and for my neighbors. He is prompt, his workers are quiet and well-mannered, and above all he sticks to two things like Crazy Glue: A-the price he quotes is the price you pay and B-he completes the work on time. All this plus he is an artist with a vision at a modest and fair price. He's on the web and you can check his ratings on several sites. Susan

Contact Eric Sterken--he's everything you'd ever want in a contractor. He does great work, he listens and communicates well, he's reliable and honest, he's reasonably priced, and he's a joy to have around. These are rare qualities in contractors, as you may know. He's a FIND! Also, his wife runs the business and she is also very sweet, and very competent. He loves doing bathrooms, kitchens and decks, and has built quite a few whole houses. They are E Builders: Cynthia

I can very highly recommend Seth Melchert as a general contactor for new constuctiuon and remodel projects. We have hired him over the years for everything from bathroom remodels to a newly constructed studio on our property. He is very thorough and has high quality standards as well as easy to work with. He can be reached at Master Buiders (his company) at: 510-654-2746. Roger

Hi Audrey! I highly recommend you contact Sorin Feraru with Feraru They remodeled our bathroom not long ago and did an amazing job. Sorin was always there for us with his knowledge and advice. His team is very well trained, skilled, and had great respect towards our property. The project went smoothly from beginning to end and the price was within our budget. Call Sorin at 510- 228-7366

I highly recommend Eco Logical Builders. They did a complete remodel on our bathroom--gutted a very sad,tiny bathroom with lots of leaky issues--now we have the most gorgeous functional bathroom ever. They are very reasonable in price, delivered on time and were very customer focused. I would also recommend them for kitchen remodels as well, as they are full on with all plumbing and electrical. Eco Lgical is also a Green Certified Builder. Contact info is Willie at 415-823-5525. website: Kelley

Eric Sterken, of E & J Builders has a lot of experience with these kinds of jobs, and also with rebuilding decks, in case the next poster is reading here, too! He's personable, honest, and very easy to live with (minimal noise, cleans up at the end of the day, understands that you need to live your house, too). Let him give you a free estimate. Nice reviews on Yelp, too. signed M

Our landlord hired Mike Rudd to redo both bathrooms in our house (new tile, new floors, new counter, paint). He was a careful worker, very affordable and considerate! The work has held up well. I've recommended him to friends too. His email is handyman [at] Phone: 510-703-1657 License #908064 Kristine

Sink, Bathtub, and Tile Work - separate? Together?

March 2012

Hello, We need some work done in our bathroom (1916 home). The sink & bathtub need replacing, and we would like new tiling done on both the floor and 'tub surround'.

If you needed this work done, would you hire a plumber to do the sink & tub and then someone else to do the tile work? Or, one contractor to do all 3 parts of the job?

Do you have recommendations for a contractor and/or plumber and tile work person you might hire? Anyone you've had great luck working with, did a fantastic job, and didn't charge an arm & a leg? How many bids did you get? Any other information or recommendations for this job (or these jobs?) Thanks very much. Needing a useable bathroom

I know an excellent plumber whom I have used for years. He is reliable and his prices are always really fair. He just remodeled our bathroom. He can do the tile as well or he can recommend other contractors. My house was built in 1914. His name is Robert Esposito. Flowmechanic [at] or cell#510 725-9763 good luck! Stacey

Our long-time contractor Lowell-James Hicks recently did a major bathroom and kitchen remodel for us in our 50+-year-old Berkeley condo. The plumbing, the excellent tile work, the bamboo floor, etc.

He is licensed and insured in California. He has, over the past twenty-plus years, done for us more than a dozen moderate-to large projects which included everything from framing and finish carpentry to electrical, plumbing, tile, roofing, and HVAC maintenance. He is a craftsman and an artist, two qualities which show prominently in his work. Whenever we have recommended his service to our friends, the reports have come back with an abundance of thanks and praise. He is fast accurate, clean, reasonably priced, smart (a member of Mensa), and, perhaps most importantly, utterly dependable. His contact information is: Lowell Hicks fcleffer [at] 510-612-9988 John B

Hi, we just completed a bathroom remodel using Marius Adamache. It was quite extensive as we had bad wood rot issues. Marius, his business partner Dan and all of his workmen were wonderful to work with. Marius will come promptly, assess your situation and give you very reasonable pricing, depending on what you want to do. He is straightforward, honest and always checking on progress and troubleshooting any unforeseen issues. He has a large enough team of skilled workmen that he can always have someone come quickly to deal with a particular issue. He even had someone to fabricate granite at our home-no worries about someone getting the measurement wrong. Marius' workmen were quiet, clean, considerate and polite.Their workmanship is excellent. My dog's first stop this morning was to poke her head in our new bathroom to see if any of Marius' guys were there. Like it says on the refrigerator magnet 'I wish I was the kind of person my dog thinks I am.' Well Marius and his crew are those kind of people. I would absolutely ask him to coordinate your bathroom work. Donna

Tub/shower install--bathroom with slanted ceiling

Oct 2011

We are looking for a contractor to install a basic, modern tub/shower combo in the space where a club-foot tub now sits(with a shower attachment) in our upstairs bathroom. Our house is over 100 years old and the bathroom has a slanted ceiling with a skylight in it, installed many years ago by the previous owners. The shower curtain set- up that we now have is quaint, but a mess. We are on a tight budget but hope there are some contractors out there who have dealt with similar situations. Karen

Our house is 90 years old built in 1921. Most of the walls and ceilings in our home are slanted from what I believe to be settling due to the age of our home. A portion of our master bathroom use to be a triangle shaped closet prior to our remodel. Our contractor, Amir was fantastic, came up with solutions that worked and stayed within our budget. Call Amir of Integral Home Improvements at (510) 904-2786. Berkeley Home Owner

Two bathrooms, two issues; one fixer?

Oct 2011

Hi all, Both of our bathrooms are in need of some repair. If one person (contractor? handyman? plumber? tiler?) could do both jobs, that might be great! Otherwise, if you have recommendations for either, we'd love those!

Bathroom 1: built only 6 years ago, but the roof is leaking during the rain. Not sure if this is work only for a 'roofer', or if a 'contractor' or other professional could do this.

Bathroom 2: Needs a sink replaced, bathtub replaced, floor and wall tiling re-done.

Both of these are TINY bathrooms, if that makes any difference. Any and all recommendations welcome and appreciated! (Any you'd stay away from, on the other hand?) Thank you. Time to get it done!

Andrew Nardinelli did an outstanding job with our bathroom and kitchen remodel. He is particularly talented with tile design and install and very competent with plumbing. Shortly after we began working with him, we realized that the bathroom tile we had selected was much too expensive. He redesigned the tiling using a large amount of inexpensive tile and a small amount of expensive tile for decorative insets and edging. It turn out gorgeous - actually better than we had originally envisioned. He has handled two small but kind of complicated roofline/gutter issues for us, so I suspect he could easily handle a small roof repair. Sometimes, though, the big time consuming challenge is finding the exact source of the leak, not actually making the repair. I believe his phone is 510 219-9653. His email is andrewnardinelli [at] Laurie

I would highly recommend Amir of Integral Home Improvements (510) 904-2786. We used him initially on our rental property to complete a bathroom remodel. He gutted the bathroom, reconfigured the space with new plumbing, new fixtures and great title work. We recently used him to give a our master bath a mini- remodel that included a new window, fixtures and paint. Amir did an excellent job. Jess, Oakland

In regard to your two tiny bathrooms remodeling I wholeheartedly recomend Constantin. He can do any of the work that is require in your bathrooms including roofing, all the bathroom fixtures instalation, plumbing electric... He is a general contractor and he did several projects for me, first, and then for several of my friends. I am really happy with his work and that's why I keep recommending him. Give him a call at 510-305-5680 or email him at info [at] By the way, if you want to see some of his work go to Diana

Juan Manuel Diaz is your man. He has done several recent projects for us, including tiling a shower (after framing and sheetrocking it to create the space), opening up a doorway, finding the source of a pesky leak, and finding a cheap and creative solution to a drainage problem. He does great work and is very creative with solutions for tight spaces. (Your bathroom can't possibly be smaller than our bathroom.) He's a real artisan with tile and plaster -- he has done a lot of work for my mother-in-law over the years, and she recommends him highly too. And he's friendly, responsible, and very easy to work with. You can reach him at 415-678-9591. Jennifer M

Call Sorin Feraru with Feraru & Associates Building and Design. He just finished a major remodel for our house. He is reliable, trustworthy and very professional. And you get all that at a reasonable price. Sorin took care of our remodel from beginning to the end and worked along with us as a consultant. He was always in contact with us and answered his phone, or called us right back. Things went smoothly and the remodel was finished on time. Sorin's crew builds dust barriers in the house so the dust doesn't spread to the part that was not remodeled. Also they left the job site clean at the end of each working day. We highly recommend Sorin Feraru. Please call him at 510-228-7366 or go to his web site

Great Contractor for Tub/Shower Remodel

Sept 2011

Can you recommend an affordable and reliable contractor to do a simple tub/shower remodel in our modest home and ONLY bathroom? We just need a new tub/shower with either tiles on the walls or a tub surround if the space permits. We're also desperate for the job to be done quickly and reliably - we're expecting our second child in November! Thank you much! Tubfanatic

For a great contractor, call Robert Leitz at Decade Construction. I used him for a small job and he's excellent. They are also green and also certified to do no-lip shower installations. You can get an excellent sense of him and how he works by looking at the photos and videos on his website: Best

I suggest you give Dan Martinez Construction a call. You say you want it done on time - Dan's guys show up EVERY DAY and get the job done on schedule. (I know, shocking.) He is reasonably priced. You can call 510.893.0485. Feel free to say I recommended them. Dawn

Bathroom ventilation

Aug 2011

We need to install a ventilation fan in our bathroom. (Condensation is causing paint to peel and moisure to build up on the walls and ceiling.) This will require cutting through a wall or the ceiling in addition to installing the fan itself. The house is old (1908). I'm not sure whether I need an electrician, an HVAC specialist, a handyman or someone else. Who is the right person for this kind of job and do you have any recommendations? Thank you for your advice. Sarah

Try a general contractor such as Eric Sterken. He's licensed and insured and has done jobs like the one you are describing. He's the nicest guy, prompt, detail-oriented, and a most amazing contractor. You can reach him at 510-710-1985. Rosie

Because a bathroom fan uses electricity, we STRONGLY recommend that you ONLY employ knowledgeable and licensed electricians. We live in the EastBay and we own income property, where, of course, it is absolutely necessary to follow all housing codes and all building codes ! When we need electrical work done, we employ Fighting Amish Electric. Fighting Amish Electric: Daan and Inder = 510.847.5577 Other than the very odd name for their company ('Fighting Amish' is meant to be a joke, because the Amish do not fight), these two brothers are really knowledgeable of codes and regulations, they know and work with good local distributors, and they're really careful. Please, NEVER employ anyone but a licensed electrician to do work that includes electricity !

We installed a fan 1 year ago. What we did was get a contractor. When we replaced our roof, we'd learned that owner of Collins Roofing had a brother who's a contractor. Anyways, he had someone come in to cut the hole and install, we ordered the fan online ourselves, and then he had an electrician come in and wire it for us. The handyman person came back to patch the ceiling up a bit. anon

Contractor for bathroom remodel?

Aug 2011

We live in Walnut Creek and are looking for a reliable and efficient contractor to remodel our two bathrooms in our ranch house. The bathrooms are in their original 1960s (with 1980s touches) state and we're planning a simple & clean update for both, as they're not huge rooms. Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you!

We recently remodeled our bathroom and used Mircea Ilie Construction as our contractor; Mircea did a great job- provided a quote and a contract and stuck to his price and schedule. He made some excellent recommendations for design improvements. His workers were skilled, courteous and efficient. He also advised upgrading the house's plumbing and electrical systems and provided reasonable quotes for doing that. His pricing is very fair, and he is honest and extremely competent. His office phone number is 510-538-8109 and cell is 510-459-5502 BonnieK

Mark Shure of Shure [email protected] construction is quite frankly one of the best kitchen and bathroom contractor specialists in the Bay area. He is located in the Berkeley area. He designs for his clients kitchen cabinets (among other things) and builds them himself in his shop, which is located next door to Truitt& white lumber also located in Berkley. His shop like his work is spotless, I know because I have been there and noticed all the quality tools, even his vacuum system in his shop are top of the line. Take it from me he is the best cabinet maker and finish carpenter I have been in contact with, it was a real pleasure working with him. You may reach him at (510) 540-1952 William

Difficult to add bathroom to detached studio?

June 2010

We are looking at houses in Berkeley (currently live in SF) and finding some with detached studios. I've heard that it may be difficult to get permits to add a bathroom to them because it might be considered a rental. If it is doable, what are the approximate costs? Thanks! Confused

You can add a Half-Bath to a detached studio. Showers, Bathtubs, and Stoves are the no-no's. These are seen as indications of rentals. The difficulty in adding a Half-Bath is not in procuring the permits, but in running new plumbing - both water lines and sewage to new plumbing units, often quite a distance. Good Luck - hope you find a house you like.

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Bathroom Remodel - Who do I need?

Nov 2009

We need to fix and remodel our relatively small 1980's master bathroom (need to repair persistent leaks that have damaged the subfloor; windows need replacing, etc.) I want to get a separate bath and shower out of this. There's not a lot of space (or money) to work with, but I have devised a simple plan based on my own research. Do I need a bathroom designer? A design-build contractor? A contractor? Advice and recommendations welcome. Anon

If you have a contractor who specializes in bathrooms, I don't think you need a bathroom designer. In fact, I used one when I redid my master bath and I can honestly say, my contractor and I came up with a much more workable and cost-efficient plan. The contractor I highly recommend is Scott Montgomery. His phone number is 925- 382-4112 and if you prefer to correspond through e-mail his address is michael.montgomery4 [at] Please contact him - I know you will be thrilled.

I think you can get by with a good contractor who specializes in bathrooms. I highly recommend Jim Zwaal (google him on Berkeley Parents for contact info). We started our bathroom remodel project looking to work with a designer and it just seemed to add a lot of unnecessary expense. Jim has a good eye and had a lot of great aesthetic suggestions. He's very practical and good w/ a budget. We were very happy. Sharon

A design-build contractor would be good, but if money is really tight the way to go is to make your simple plan readable and co-ordinate the subcontractors yourself. You can even submit your own drawings for a permit. There are classes you can take at the Building Education Center to help with such a process. If you would like a consultation during the process, fell free to call me (510-601-1150).

I have remodeled several homes over the years, and used a few different contractors, but Greg Watson, in El Sobrante, is the best I've ever worked with. He does excellent bathroom and kitchen remodels, and what I like is that he's licensed and insured. He just did a bathroom and family room/office for us, and he had lots of cost saving ideas. You'll be lucky to get him to do the work if he isn't too busy. His office is 510-223-1541, and cell phone is 510-453-5638. MJBD

If the bathroom is relatively small all you need is a contractor with a bit of imagination. And since you have a plan too that is a recipe to save some money. I am sure that the contractor that I know can help you with your bathroom. I am very happy with the work he did for me. You can call him at 510.305.5680 or email at info [at] His name is Constantin and is a trustworthy contractor. diana

I had my bathroom remodeled by a great contractor who worked together with my designer. But if you have a limited budget and a lot of imagination I think you can skip the designer. Contractor's name is Sorin Feraru and you can reach him at 510 228 7366 or go on line to see some of his work at He helped me a lot with my bathroom remodel, not to mention I saved money and time due to his experience and great ideas. The project turned out wonderful, on time and it was worth all the money. Also, he provides a great customer service.I won't be hiring anyone else but him, for my future remodeling projects.

Bathroom Designer for bathroom remodel

March 2009

Hello, we are about to have our 1970's pink tiled bathroom remodeled (full tear down/remodel) and are looking for recommendations on designers to help us provide a sketch to our contractors, as well as help us with materials selection/purchasing. We are working with a very limited budget for a designer ($1000-1500), so any recs for affordable, great designers would be most appreciated. Thanks! Catherine

I'm in the process of remodeling a very old bathroom with the help of interior designer Francis Combes. He is a very telented designer who was able to help me pick out all the components I need, such as the tile, fixtures, color, faucets, and design elements. He was able to modernize our bathroom with hardly any additional cost. His plans were well done and understandable for the contractor. Best of all, he was very reasonable and professional. Check out his website at A very satisfied client

We just finished a bathroom remodel that we love! We got help from Isabel Tsang at Albany Cabinets and Design (; 510.526.2288). She was very helpful in working out the design and suggesting resources. She has a showroom in Albany, which I found very useful when trying to talk about style and consider different options. I always felt like she listened to our needs and opinions, but wasn't pushy about using the businesses that she has relationships with. And she would definitely fit into your budget. Good luck. Ruth

I am an Architect who specializes in small remodels and am flexible about how to facilitate a project. A budget as small as yours will buy some good professional help, getting a design and input on related matters, but is insufficient for a remodel that requires a building permit. Some remodels only require plumbing and electrical permits. I call these ''upgrades''. AB

I highly recommend Bonnee Elterman. You can reach her at bonnee.elterman [at] or 510-593-3466. She helped us with a kitchen and living room update/remodel, but she has quite a bit of experience with whole house remodels, and I wouldn't hesitate to have her help you with your project. She's great at making excellent design recommendations within your budget constraints. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to hear more about our experience working with her. Kara

Hi Catherine, I highly recommend interio designer Benjamin Dhong. He had helped me with my office space last year. I really love his style. He is very easy to work with. He truly cares about his clients and pays attention to details. In fact he was featured in SF Chornicle on 3/8/09. Here's the link: You can check his website too. ( His email: ben [at]; or phone# (415) 595-2582 Have fun w/ the remodel... Lan

Where to start on complete bathroom remodel?

April 2007

Hi all We need to do a complete bathroom remodel. Can anyone give advise on how to start? Would it be best to hire a designer first and then a contractor? Or has anyone had success with a design/build contractor? If so does anyone have any recent recommendations for a contractor, designer or both? Archives are a couple of years old. Thanks. julie

We had our master bathroom remodeled in 2006 and Jason White did a great job! It was a part of a larger project but he made some design recommendations in the bathroom that really changed it from good to great! For example, he recommended putting in radiant heating. It's on timer so that when I walk in in the morning, the tiles are toasty warm and so is the entire bathroom! I was still pumping for my baby then (6am, before the baby was up) and nothing relaxed me more (could almost get 8-10oz!) than pumping in a warm bathroom. He's currently designing a master bathroom and doing the work too. He's really excellent, listens to you, makes recommendations and understands your budget. He knows where to get good deals and is probably one of the best tilers I've seen. Call him at 510- 866-5516 and let him know that Susan recommended you. Love my new bathroom!

We recently did a re-model of our bathroom. We had a good contractor who was decent and got the job done ''on time on budget''. Our house is kinda old, so making the best of it was basically as good as we could do it with new flooring, toilet and cabinets.

What made a really big difference was adding a few decorative bathroom furniture pieces we got from an online furniture store.

The biggest thing was adding a new vanity sink and mirror set that replaced the old school one we had in there. Here is a link to the one we bought: It is a metal and marble one; the existing plumbing attached easily and was hidden once we put a few things on the bottom shelves like extra TP and some accessories.

The cool glass sink gives off a custom decorator touch, but without the custom price tag.

Overall keep an eye on your contractor, keep them honest and look all around, especially on the web for checking out ideas and contractors as well.

Check this link to check out a contractor you are thinking about using before signing anything. Many times after you sell your house prior work will need to be validated that it was done by licensed / insured contractors, so be careful what you do and who you use. It's worth paying a little extra t get it done by the right contractor. Scott

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Need a reliable and affordable contractor for bathroom remodel

Oct 2006

Hello. We're fairly new to the Richmond area and we're starting to plan a bathroom remodel in our small home. We're open to suggestions on good, reliable, and affordable contractors (w/ or w/out permits) and places to go for fixtures. All postings are dated, so hopefully someone out there has recently gone through a successful remodel. Thanks in advance Elaine

I have someone absolutely great to recommend for your bathroom remodel (and he does other stuff, too!): Gabriel Ortiz Kobban (cell: 510-228-7924). Last year, we re-did an existing bath and added a new one. He and his crew did a great job on both. Also, I was very pregnant when we started, and they got everything done in time for our baby's arrival. His pricing was very reasonable, too. He also was really helpful in finalizing scope to fit in our budget. He is a licensed contractor, and he managed the inspections with the city. Also really important is that he's bilingual (Spanish and English), so he could communicate well with us as well as with his Spanish-speaking crew. He lives in Oakland. Feel free to call me for more details: 415-846-2207 Laura

Need help with designs for bathroom remodel

Aug 2006

I need to take three bathrooms in my 1924 Berkeley house down to the studs to remodel them. I need help with designs - it's overwhelming. I'd like someone who can come to the table with ideas/designs and move things along.

I had help redoing me entire house including 3 bathrooms. Jeanette Patterson decor[at] 510-271-0191 Jeanette helped the entire way. She was easy to work with and worked at various budget levels depending on how much we were spending on each bathroom. She did the designs I found the labor. She can help with as much or as little as you need. For example, to save money I did the leg work after she picked out the items. I can't say enough great things about her! Jennifer

Hi - Beverly Wilson in Berkeley (510)524-0990 is an excellent bathroom designer. (She also does kitchens.) Beverly designed 2 of our bathrooms & our kitchen/dining space (essentially half our home) as well as my in-laws kitchen. We have a 1906 Berkeley Bungelow home which was added onto in 1915 (kitchen & bath) & again in the '80s (masterbed & bath). She did a great job with our kitchen & bathrooms making the house flow better & making the home look more cohesive. I'd be happy to show you her work, if you're interested. Just contact me via email. Good Luck. deborah

JB Turner and Sons design and remodel kitchens and bathrooms. They do excellent work and have many references. The designer Marilyn Gardunio was featured in the latest Oakland Magazine. They are located at 3911 Piedmont Ave Oakland, CA. Phone #:510-658-3441 Good Luck!

We are currently working with Samantha Sullivan of Atmosphere Design Collaborative on a bathroom remodel (in our '30s house with an '80s addition). She is friendly and extremely experienced. Her ideas are in keeping with our style and budget--but she has come up with looks and solutions that never would've occurred to us. In Walnut Creek, 925/935-9147 Sarah in Montclair

I used Sara Jaffe (Sara Jaffe Designs) for our master bath/closet remodel. I had strong ideas of my own, and she respected them as well as coming up with lots & lots of great ideas I never would have thought of. She does all aspects of the design (including electrical, HVAC, plumbing, etc.) and gives you a finished set of plans that can be taken to the city for permit approval. She is excellent at what she does, and she happens to be a pleasure to work with. We are using her for another project now! Please let me know if you want more information. Her contact info:, 510.834.8716 j.s

2003 & Earlier


I recommend Jim Zwaal for bathroom remodeling. Jim is in the middle of remodeling my bathroom, and so far, he has been very meticulous and a provider of great/practical design ideas. I got Jim's name from this list and I have not been disappointed. Jim can be reached at 510-652-8258. Cathy

I second the recommendation for Jim Zwaal for bathroom remodeling. Jim did our bathroom from the ground up last spring/early summer, and was a godsend. He's meticulous, skilled, personable, creative, and reasonably priced. The bathroom is unrecognizable as the mildewy hole it used to be, and we remain very satisfied. Wendy


I can recommend a contractor named Jim Zwaal, who has done a lot of work for my parents in berkeley and can do big and small jobs. He is scrupulously honest, does excellent work (and takes pride in his work) and is very reasonable. He works on his own. His home number is 652-8258. Karen

For the person asking about bathroom remodeling - Bob Bernal is a great person to call. He's in El Cerrito. Donna

I've used Springwood Builders for work on our house. The owner, Karam Khalsa, is a wonderful person who stays open and honest with you, which is highly valued in the contractor world. Toby

David A. Thompson is a Licensed General Contractor who has been doing residential remodelling in this area for 18 years and can provide numerous glowing references. He is dependable and a pleasure to work with, and can help with design. The one drawback is that he is often booked ahead though so it's best to contact him a while before you need the work done. He can be reached at (510) 843-5100.

Ronald Rivers, ph 510-2906036, is a general contractor who renovated my home and is now working on renovating a friend's 4-plex, unit by unit. He is reasonably priced and lives in Berkeley.

March 1999

I love our remodeled bathroom which is quite small, but turned out quite lovely. We had wonderful help on both our kitchen and our bathroom from an architect: Ann Marie Celona 420-1128 She is brilliant and easy to work with, unlike several others we consulted. Our contractor for the bathroom was Jesse Young 527-8143 who I also recommend very highly. Very high quality work. I have seen several other jobs he has done and they are superb. I am happy to let anyone look at the work. Sherry

For bathroom remodeling, I recommend Alameda Structural (in the phone book in Alameda.) We just moved and had two bathrooms redone including structural, tiles and floors and we were very happy with their work. Randy

A friend of mine had her bathroom remodeled by Steve Schliff of On the Beamcontracting company in El Cerriro (Tel: (510) 832-0144) last summer, and is very happy with the job. Though I don't know if Steve is accepting new jobs at the moment, it is worth talking to him for an estimate. Marie-Josie

I've known Steve for the past two years, in his capacity of coach for my daughter's softball team. Seeing how well organized, on top of his job, and in control of the team he is, I would trust him with any contractor job!

Sept 1998

We have a lot of confidence in Mark Manske and Steve Tiffin, who have recently formed a contractor partnership after working for over 15 years each for other contractors. They've done a variety of work for us, very competantly and VERY reasonably (they significantly underbid the major contractors). We used to rent Steve's house, which had a beautiful kitchen that Steve and mark did together. They do all the work themselves which eliminates dealing with multiple sub-contractors. Mark's particular specialty is tile work. They are both very pleasant, timely and honest. They rely on word of mouth for their business, so they will make sure you are happy and satisfied with their work. They will also work with you on how to reduce costs if that's an issue. You can reach Mark at 526-4428 and Steve at 655-1591. Good luck! --Raissa + Denis

About the bathroom contractor. We just had an addition of a new bedroom and were very happy with our contractor. His name is Joe Jensen and his phone number is 524-4665. Unlike many other contractors we interviewed he only takes one job at a time and only has one, very nice, employee. Kirk. He was fair honest and very reliable. He specializes in cabinetry as well. Good luck! Elizabeth

Regarding your request for a contractor for your bathroom, we highly recommend John McCrane Construction. He was the general contractor, recommended by our architect for a kitchen remodel. He worked on several other smaller jobs for our house too and was terrific. He is bright, has high standards, is ethical, and conscientious. Denise