The Ferracane family updated two upstairs bathrooms

We've all heard horror stories about contractors and how much patience it takes to live through a home remodel project. Living in your house during a renovation can be challenging at best. But, for Tricia and Jack Ferracane of Beaverton, a remodel of their two second-floor bathrooms made sense for them to do, and they decided to take the plunge earlier this year.

'We had looked around at other homes and weighed the options of moving, and we decided that we like this house too much to leave,' Tricia explained. 'We thought we could remodel the bathrooms and make the type of bathroom we wanted for our master.'

Like a lot of people, she had seen bathrooms she liked in magazines and advertisements, but her inspiration for a more spacious and elegant master bath also stemmed from frequent travels.

'We stay in a lot of hotels, and I would see what I liked, or what I might not like, when we were visiting various places,' she said. 'I really wanted a soaking tub and a nice, relaxing master bath.'

The Ferracanes were not sure if they would be able to 'steal space from the kids' bathroom' in order to create a larger master bath, but that's what they did.

As the parents of three sons, they realized that their boys did not need as large of a bathroom as they had. Tricia explained that the main bath on the second floor actually backed up to the master bathroom, which was quite small. They wanted to take space from the main bath and move it into the master bath, while still maintaining what their children needed in their bathroom - double sinks, as well as a full tub and shower.

'The whole process started with a contractor, and we met with him and worked on a game plan for what we wanted to do in each bathroom. He came back with some drawings, and then we tweaked them a little to meet our specific needs,' she shared.

As far as all the finishing touches, including sinks, light fixtures, faucets and other details, Tricia smiled and said, 'I did those all on my own.' She likes those kinds of decisions and has a knack for putting details together. She went on to tell me, 'Once I picked out the tiles, everything else just came together. Our master bathroom has more of a spa feel, and the kids' bathroom has a retro style to it.'

Tricia also elaborated on some of the complications of the project. First of all, it started in early January and ran through late May. Like many such projects, the intent was not for it to run that long, but the fact of the matter is that it did. Both bathrooms needed to be torn apart, so to speak, at the same time since walls were being moved and plumbing was being altered in each space. So, five people needed to share one makeshift shower that was created between the two bathrooms in transformation. Luckily, the home has a first-floor powder room that did not need any remodeling and remained in full service throughout the project. Tricia laughed a little and said, 'Well, it took a lot of organization and planning - and patience!'

She created a dressing area for the family to use in their living room and used baskets to contain everyone's various personal items while they shared the temporary shower. One positive aspect to sharing that space is that no one is going to spend too long in a bathroom that is not terribly comfortable or accommodating. And this inconvenience may have been just a tad easier for family of three boys to endure than it would be for a family with three daughters.

Another facet to the remodel, which is true of any project, is that one change tends to instigate more changes, and the Ferracanes' home renovation was no exception.

'New woodwork in the bathroom led to new woodwork in the bedroom - and then to more rooms, and then throughout the house. It is easy to see how things like that can snowball.' Tricia reflected, 'We put in a new window in the bathroom, and we were going to change the trim pieces just for consistency, and then that led to a new window in the bedroom, and it can go on and on. It is easy to have your project spill over into other rooms of your house, and it is not always just for consistency reasons.'

She stated that when people do a renovation, once the room is done, it looks great, and then they may need to update their bedding, or towels, or window treatments to maintain the new look.

'We tried to stay within our budget for the main project, but there are little things that come up and that end up adding to the cost of the total project.'

Tricia went on to share that when designing their bathrooms, they decided to add a skylight to each of the rooms to help with lighting and add to the atmosphere.

'Well, whenever you remodel, you never know what will happen, and you have to be prepared for anything. We ended up needing some roof repairs that we really could not have anticipated at the beginning of the project, when we were in the planning stages. There are some things your contractor will come across once they open things up, and these are often issues that have to be addressed. So, that takes extra time because you have to wait for someone to come in and do those repairs, or sometimes you have to wait for materials to be shipped, and so on. You have to be prepared for those situations.'

She also said that due to such delays, which she and her family encountered on more than one occasion in this project, there can be days or even weeks that go by when your house is incomplete and yet nothing is happening because you are waiting for one thing or another.

'The plumbing project was also bigger than we thought it was going to be, simply because of the way the pipes were routed in our house. And, just like anything else, mistakes can happen and sometimes the wrong piece comes in, or something is not cut or fitted properly, and you end up waiting some more.'

Words of advice

Tricia offered words of wisdom as she spoke about the home remodeling project her family recently experienced. Those included:

n Find a contractor you are comfortable with. During the project, a contractor will be in and out of your house a lot, and you want to feel good about that person being there.

n Establish a budget, but also determine how far you may be willing to stray from your budget if you decide to do additional projects, or to make upgrades to your original choices for things like counters, or light fixtures, for example.

n Your contractor will give you a timeline. Look it over, and then ignore it. If they tell you two months, plan on three. It all depends on what they run into while working on your house, as well as how long it will take your materials to be shipped, and no one can predict those kinds of things.

n If they do come in on time and your project is actually complete by the end of the contractor's timeline, have a big party and celebrate.

The good news is that the Ferracanes stuck to their budget and did not go overboard or get carried away with upgrades, or major changes in other parts of their house, so their final costs ended up being close to what their initial budget had been.

And, of course, the best thing of all is that Tricia happily shares, 'I love my bathroom. The whole project turned out great.'

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