During the months that it took David Shall and Susan Corzilius to get a $65,000 remodel of their master bathroom, one moment stands out as especially gratifying. It was an August evening in their Southern California home. After five months of planning — and the day before construction began — Shall, a lawyer, and Corzilius, a physician, took sledgehammers to their old bathroom tile. “It felt so good,” Shall says, recalling the destruction of the cream-colored tile with terra-cotta trim that a designer would later decry as “so 1970s.” “We hated the old bathroom so much, we wanted to take the first swings,” Corzilius says.

In the original bathroom, the large window that offered a view of the canyon was wasted except for the moments when the couple walked past the bathtub, which they rarely used, on the way to the shower.
In the original bathroom, the large window that offered a view of the canyon was wasted except for the moments when the couple walked past the bathtub, which they rarely used, on the way to the shower.

That was the first and last time the busy couple would take a tool or their hands to the bathroom remodel. With two demanding careers and three young children, the couple never once imagined taking on the project themselves. Rather, they knew that they would eventually hire a full-service construction company to bring about the bathroom's desperately needed transformation.

The couple bought the traditional two-story home in the late 1990s. It was spacious enough for their family and two dogs. Best of all, its pool and wide decks overlooked a verdant canyon thick with wildlife and, beyond that, the Santa Monica Mountains.

The sturdy wood-and-brick home was custom-built in 1979 and sits along a winding road in a quiet neighborhood of other upscale custom homes. But although the general quality and the layout of the house were exemplary, the master bathroom missed the mark.

Three Major Flaws Most egregious was the bathroom layout, which had three major flaws. First, except for a small corner window, the only view of the canyon came from a window over a large bathtub. So unless one enjoys baths —Corzilius and Shall do not — the view is squandered. Second, the shower, which the couple did use, was of miserly dimensions despite the generous 250 square feet of bathroom space.

The third design mistake was the placement of the toilet and the bidet. They were situated behind a door in a small room that also functioned as the entryway to the shower, to the right, and the sauna, to the left.

The couple might have endured the bathroom even longer but the shower pan was leaking to a patio below and they feared that rotted floor joists might give way. Though the couple had never done a remodel before, Corzilius says that they knew this one would require some significant structural changes. And so they wanted to hire a top-notch contractor, even if that meant paying more for quality and peace of mind.

They found what they were looking for in Matt Plaskoff, a Tarzana contractor known in Southern California for producing a large volume of luxury homes and remodels. Plaskoff Construction was recommended by a colleague of Shall's whose husband is a former contractor. When Shall was told by his colleague that Plaskoff's company was not inexpensive, Shall was not dissuaded, giving a higher priority to the contractor's reputation than to his price.

In the remodeled space, there is still a bathtub in the room, which will help with resale value down the road, but it shares the view with the shower area. The homeowners delight in the up-to-date rain-shower heads.
In the remodeled space, there is still a bathtub in the room, which will help with resale value down the road, but it shares the view with the shower area. The homeowners delight in the up-to-date rain-shower heads.

Shall and Corzilius were most interested in how Plaskoff Construction would pull off their remodel, and they liked what they heard: that communication and relationships were the company's top priorities; that the project manager would be available by cell phone and would return calls within five minutes; and that the company's goal was to cause as little disruption to the family's life as possible.

Upscale Client Care According to Plaskoff, upscale and luxury projects require more client care than mid-range projects, and that care costs money, specifically in the cost of a project manager to manage the clients, the schedule, the materials, and the budget. Plaskoff Construction employs four project managers, and each takes on no more than two jobs at a time.