She thought her bathroom remodel was going well until THIS happened…

bathroom remodel surpriseWas talking with a friend of a friend at a party the other night. She was telling me a horror story about a contractor she hired to remodel her bathroom. She didn’t know I’m a remodel contractor.

She went on about how shady all contractors are and how this guy was really “shifty” from the onset but hired him anyway. I asked her why she went with him. She said because he seemed to know what he was talking about and didn’t want to spend the extra time interviewing contractors. (Big mistake.) Just wanted to get on with the project and get it done. He said the remodel would take about three months. “Getting started” was over a year ago.

She gave him half the money down. He got started ripping the bathroom apart. Then he was gone. Three months went by with no contact. He was no where to be found. Would not return emails or phone calls. Then he shows up again and starts working with no explanation of where he’s been. Prison maybe? Who knows. He did about half the job. She says it is really lousy work. The floor tiles are installed crooked and lifting, the wiring is non-functional; overall it looks shabby. Then he disappeared again, but not before demanding more money to complete the job. Luckily she refused his demand.

So she brought in another contractor. He said everything needs to be torn out and started over. Said it looks like a kid was working on it. Everything is wrong. Nothing is done to code. No permits have been pulled from the city and there have been no required inspections at various points along the project.

She owns the home and has roommates. 3 bedroom, two bath. It was her master bathroom that was dismantled. For over a year she’d been sharing the common hall bath with her two other room mates. She says there’s tension in the house and her quality of life and her enjoyment of her home has dipped dramatically by this bathroom remodeling debacle. She’s lost room mates because of it too.

Now she’s wary of the new contractor because she thinks he’s cutting corners on materials and labor. She doesn’t trust anyone. She had locks installed on every door, room mate’s bedrooms, closets, and even a few cupboards because of theft and “mysteriously missing” items. Cash and other small valuables missing from her and her roommates. Things that were in drawers and closets, far away from the bathroom being remodeled.

She was very distraught over the entire situation. Not just the time and money she’s lost, but her trust in people and faith in humanity. All this distress and ill will from a seemingly simple bathroom remodeling project gone bad. So sad. And I’ve heard similar stories over the years.

I hate to see bad things happen to good people. It’s disgusting to me when one person treats another so badly, especially if he’s supposed to be a legitimate professional being paid for his service!

Finally the conversation turned toward me. She asked what I do. I told her I’m a home remodeling contractor. She turned red and said “Oh my gosh why didn’t you stop me from going on like that!” I told her I was not offended but would actually be happy to help her sort out her dilemma.

You see, it doesn’t have to be this way. A true professional should conduct himself accordingly, as a pro. As a respectable home remodeling construction advisor, as one trustworthy enough to be left alone in someone’s house and have the owner feel confident that their belongings are safe and sound.

A reliable contractor should show up when he says he will and do the job right to the best of his abilities. And in a timely fashion too! Get it done when it’s supposed to be done. Use high quality materials, have the right tools for the job, get all the required permits, etc.

So bottom line, if you want your bathroom remodel done right then do your research first. Find the best contractors you can and interview them. All of them. Don’t just hire the first one who shows up. Ask for referrals then take the time to call them. All of them. Check their online reviews too. Pick the one you feel can do the job the best. Don’t even worry about money at this point. Because with a GOOD contractor you get what you pay for. He may not be cheap, but he shouldn’t be overly expensive either. And you’ll find he saves you money by doing the job right the first time.

Think of all the time, money and hassle you can save in the long run by hiring the right contractor for a fair price before the job starts. Call me if you need anything. Ask me for referrals. Watch me show up on time and be professional. I’ll always be upfront and honest with you. Not ALL contractors are bad. I promise.

Marc Gieselmann, contractor
Phone: 858-748-6580
Location: Poway, CA




Plumbing Choices to Consider in Home Remodeling

Remodeling a home means having choices and making decisions. So if you’re planning to remodel your kitchen, bathroom or add a new room, be prepared to spend an endless number of hours looking at options and making final selections.

Plumbing Pipe ChoicesWhen it comes to cabinets, faucets, light fixtures and floor coverings, there are a lot of choices. Such as different styles, colors, finishes, price ranges, etc. Even windows come in different shapes, sizes and energy efficiency ratings. Yet, when it comes to something as important as the plumbing, it seems ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is the norm. Most people don’t ask any questions about the plumbing. They also assume they don’t have any choices to make.

For many decades, metal (in the form of galvanized steel or copper) was the only material available. Look in the walls (or maybe garage walls for exposed pipes) of any un-remodeled home built before the 1960s and you’ll probably see all metallic pipes.

Leading choice of plumbing materials over the last few centuries have been the following:

  • Lead
  • Concrete
  • Cast iron
  • Steel
  • Galvanized steel
  • Aluminum
  • Copper

There’s nothing wrong with the classic choices of copper and galvanized steel. They work well and have their advantages. But know that today there is a host of other alternative materials, many of which are varying forms of plastic, now available to choose from. We like to help guide our home remodeling clients on the best choice to fit the right application.

PVC and CPVC Plastic Pipe

CPVC Water Plumbing PipePlastic pipe also known as PVC and an enhanced version called CPVS are rapidly gaining popularity. Why has plastic gained such popularity? Metal has demonstrated a number of pitfalls through the years that have been documented by numerous studies and lawsuits. Pinhole leaks and premature system failures, caused by metal’s natural tendency to pit, corrode and scale, have opened the door for more reliable, virtually maintenance-free systems.

Not that PVC is without its unique characteristics, advantages and pitfalls too. PVC has a lower external strength than metal. Meaning that is has lower a PSI rating and is more susceptible to damage by crushing or puncturing with tools.

What is CPVC?

You can think of CPVC as PVC’s cousin. PVC is most commonly found in sprinkler pipes and drainage systems. They are similar in many ways, but they shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Both are made of the same basic elements with one distinguishing factor. CPVC is altered by a free radical chlorination reaction that effectively increases the chlorine content of the material. CPVC is also a thermoplastic that is molded into many of the same products as PVC.

This difference in makeup allows CPVC to withstand a wider range of temperatures. This is why many building codes require the use of CPVC as opposed to PVC for use in hot water applications. The ASTM standard allows PVC to be used in applications not exceeding 140 degrees F.

Temperatures over this can cause softening of the material and weakening of joints.  CPVC on the other hand can handle temperatures up to 200 degrees F. There are certain advantages of CPVC (post-chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) plumbing systems and pipe fittings over metallic systems.

Top 4 Advantages of CPVC over Metal Pipes

  1. Primarily, they never pit, scale or corrode, which eliminates the risk of premature failures and costly re-piping, in addition to possible property damage.
  2. CPVC systems are also highly energy efficient with natural insulating properties that keep hot water hotter and cold water colder than metallic systems. In addition, condensation, which is a common problem with metallic pipes that can cause drip damage to walls and foundation, is virtually eliminated.
  3. PVC piping has gained high marks for its ability to maintain water quality. There is no leaching or metal contamination into the water supply, so there are no related health concerns. And without pitting or corrosion, CPVC systems are able to maintain full water carrying capacity throughout their entire life. If you’ve ever looked inside a piece of old copper pipe, you’ve probably seen a thick layer of hard minerals.  These minerals can dramatically reduce the diameter of the pipe, which reduces water flow and water pressure, and can inhibit the efficiency of many water-using appliances. Eventually, homeowners with corroded pipes must completely re-pipe their home at an average cost of $6,000.
  4. No more noisy pipes due to ‘water hammer’ when you abruptly shut off flow, such as a shower, sink or washing machine running through its fill and drain cycles. Through the years, many homeowners have come to accept water hammer in their homes, which is typical of metallic systems. CPVC systems, on the other hand, resist water hammer. They also minimize water flow noise, which has been proven by independent testing laboratories to be four times louder in copper pipes.


CPVC systems are most often used in new construction. They are compatible with other plumbing systems used in kitchen remodeling projects, the addition of bathrooms, or the replacement of a failed copper or galvanized steel system. Using CPVC pipe for home water pipes eliminates toxic metal contamination caused by using all other types of new metal pipes. Additionally CPVC eliminates the certainty of contamination in your drinking water that comes from metal pipe corrosion.

Call us today about your plumbing concerns and various choices of piping materials. We are happy to help guide you towards the best plumbing for you and your home taking into account usage, health concerns, cost, and overall plumbing system longevity.

Top 10 Checklist: How to Select the Best Bathroom Vanity for You

The bathroom vanity is more than just the sink-cabinet-mirror combination. It’s the showpiece of your bathroom. Here are the Top 10 things to consider when searching for the best bathroom vanity for you and your home.

1) Size Matters

Width is important. It has to fit the space available. Most people won’t miss that detail. However there is an equally important detail to consider: Height. Height is often a more important element of the vanity for daily use. Vanity height is not at all standard. Some are tall, some short and all others anywhere in between. Too shorts and you may end up having to bend down to wash your hands. Too tall and your kids might need step stools to reach. If you are tall family then consider mounting your vanity on a pedestal to raise it up. If kids are the main users then perhaps a shorter vanity is in order. Remember that the height of the sinks, mirrors and cabinets should be customized to their users, according to their actual size. Not that they have to be custom made, which of course they can be if that’s what you want. But for simplicity’s sake there are plenty of choices available to choose from in catalogs and big box stores.

2) Make Sure it Fits

Make sure your new vanity fits through the bathroom door! On more than one occasion we’ve had to disassemble a new vanity just to get it into the bathroom. Then reassemble it for installation. If it’s absolutely THE ONE then so be it, we can make it work for you but it will cost more in time and labor. If budget is a concern then make sure to double check the exact measurement before you buy a new vanity. Also be sure it fits the space allotted inside the bathroom. You don’t want to redesign things in the middle of installation. For instance, be careful to pick the right size sink to match your cabinet, especially if the cabinets are already built-in. Our bathroom remodeling consultant advises that many unexpected costs in installation can be avoided by taking the drafting stage seriously.

3) Get Your Plumbing Right

Coordinate the sink and vanity fixtures with the existing plumbing. Extending piping around the inside of walls is not a minor consideration and the cost could outweigh the convenience. Especially in an older home, where plumbing is always an expensive and tricky business and could even be a recipe for disaster. If you’re ready for a complicated and expensive remodel then know that anything thing is possible for the right price. But if you budget doesn’t allow it then maybe it’s better to try to finesse your exquisite taste around the plumbing that’s already there.

4) Choose Function over Appearance

Some cheaper vanities are built with the facade of doors and drawers but in reality they have none! It’s just for show. Personally I don’t like these. If it looks like it has cabinets and/or drawers then they should be real doors that work and real drawers that open! If you are going to effort and expense of replacing your bathroom sinks and cabinets, choose a vanity that has storage space, not just a plumbing camouflage. If you really don’t want cabinets, put in a pedestal sink or a wall hung sink. The general rule is don’t try to fake it. It could be embarrassing in the long run. Not to mention taking up valuable floor space without the hope of storage opportunities.

5) Door and Drawers

Because bathrooms require special attention to detail, don’t neglect the amount of space you need to open and close your vanity cabinet doors and drawers. Provide at least 30 inches in front of the sink for an average person to get down on the floor and into the cabinets or slide open drawers. Keep the toilet at least 18 inches away from the cabinet sides to accommodate door swing and give much needed elbow room. If the vanity is installed along a wall near the bathroom door, make sure the door swings away from the sink. A little planning with a tape measure and some thought avoids this nuisance and helps you enjoy trouble free use of your bathroom vanity cabinets.

6) Match Vanity Design to Floor Plan

There are only a few standard bathroom shapes. Each type accommodates different bathroom vanity styles. Corridor shaped bathrooms look best with smaller fixtures mounted all on one wall. The L-shaped bathroom is designed for a discreet place for the toilet with the roomiest area reserved for the bath and a larger vanity. The U-shaped bathroom is the most spacious and can fit extra large or customized fixtures in a choice of locations. There are also other sizes such as small rooms converted to extra large bathrooms. Such a space takes as much extra planning and design as the space needs. Large round or double kidney shaped counters look nice in large bathrooms but are definitely not appropriate for the corridor or L shaped plans.

7) Counter Tops

Maybe you want a stone counter over your vanity instead of a cheap laminate finish but you don’t have the extra money for stone. Look into faux finishing as an alternative. Or perhaps consider another Plan B choice of surface material that you like just as well that fits your budget. There is always a creative solution to most bathroom vanity design problems. Don’t settle for less. Ask around or Google images of bath vanity tops. Or better yet, ask us! We’re always happy to help.

8) Lighting

In general it is best not to use colored lighting in the bathroom. Think to enhance and soften. There are so many options available to give personality to your bathroom and the choices in style and material are endless. Choose carefully with an eye on ease of maintenance and upkeep. Keep in mind that the cheapest fixtures are often the most difficult to maintain. Go for quality here.

9) Mirrors

Match mirror size and design to the existing room size and decor and to the style of your new vanity. Consider framing in your mirror or going with a beveled edge. Those choices always give an upscale appearance without adding too much extra cost.

10) Budget Accordingly

A vanity is an expensive bathroom fixture. Expect to pay 600 dollars for a good quality cabinet, counter top, sink, and faucet. Remember to budget in the cost of installation as well. Allocate an appropriate amount of your bathroom remodeling budget into your vanity. It is the focal point of the bathroom and a cheap one will reflect the same. Even if you can’t afford anything else, a new vanity will spruce up an entire bathroom. Make sure to match it to any preexisting fixtures you decide to keep.

So there you have it. The Top 10 Bathroom Vanity checklist of success.  Following these helpful hints should help guide you towards a trouble free experience in selecting the right bathroom vanity for you.

Bathroom Remodel

HK Construction can handle all your bathroom remodel needs, everything from your standard common remodel to your complete customized rebuild. 

Bathroom-Remodel-HK-Construction-San-Diego-1HK Construction can remodel your bathrooms with custom designs for new rooms or upgrade your existing bathroom space.

Bathroom remodel and upgrade ideas we have done for San Diego homes include:

  • Custom cabinets for vanities and linen areas
  • Soaking tubs with Jacuzzi jets
  • Heaters and deck systems
  • Walk in showers with custom tile work
  • Built in seats and shampoo holders
  • Custom glass wall and door systems

HK Construction also works with our special needs clients in developing bathrooms that need more room for walkers or wheel chairs. 

HK Construction can redesign showers to step or roll into without steps or damns; we can also widen areas and supply support systems in showers and around water closets to be more user friendly.