Fast and efficient remodeling appeals to the segment of the market that is looking for an updated look but not a custom design. Tim Britton of Tim Britton Construction Services, Falls Creek, Pa., offers a standard bath that includes replacing the toilet, tub, and vanity/sink with a tub/shower unit, an oak vanity, and vinyl flooring. The jobs are done in a week and cost $5,499. Britton also offers a gold package with high-end products. "It's like selling a car -- you have a base price with upgrades," he explains.
Eddie Ferrentino, an Ocala, Fla.-based remodeler, offers a seven-day bath that runs about $8,500. That price includes a tub and toilet, a tile-topped wood vanity, and a mid-priced faucet for a 5-by-8-foot space.
Last year, ImproveNet began offering a 5-by-7-foot bath remodel for $6,000, available through its network of contractors. The "swap in, swap out" of brand name products is completed in seven days. The service is offered in several limited cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
Scott Bly, vice president of professional services, says ImproveNet's win-win partnership gives contractors a fast turnaround time and quick payment, and customers have minimal disruption to their households, as well as a 100% guarantee on work. "They have the comfort of coming to us if something goes wrong," Bly says.
Britton describes the packages as a stepping stone to upgrades or more work. "None of the jobs are exactly like we describe in the package," Britton says. He's also able to remove the variables and determine profit before he sells the job.
"It gives us a controlled environment, and the client is happy," agrees Ferrentino. It requires a lot of front-end work preparing the project, he says, but it's worth it for the markup he charges. He spends about $3,200 for labor and materials and charges his clients up to $9,000.
Scott Bly says ImproveNet's deal appeals to landlords with rental properties and homeowners who don't want to spend a lot of money on a second bath. Even though most homeowners choose custom options that increase the cost and add a day or two to construction, they still think of it as a package.
Building and planning in advance is crucial in these fast turnaround bath remodels. ImproveNet finalizes the bid within three business days, and the contractor begins the work within 14 days of the signed contract. An ImproveNet representative and the contractor attend the sales call, and the representative helps homeowners choose products.
Ferrentino has a dedicated three-person team that works on the installation. The team leader orders the products and schedules the plumbing subcontractor. Ferrentino stresses the importance of having products ready before beginning demolition. He finds it is most efficient to hire a plumbing subcontractor to handle the whole project. Many plumbers ask for the pre-packaged work.
Britton finds the packages work so well that he's developed a similar package for two-car garages. "It sets the frame of mind of the client. It's an entry point -- gets you started in the sell," Britton says.