5 Top Tips for Managing Your Bathroom Renovation

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Planning a high-end renovation for your bathroom is a lot of things.  It's exciting, stressful, annoying, and satisfying.  While it is a rare soul that enjoys the process of renovating and managing contractors, most people can agree, when it's over, it was all worth it.

Bathroom renovations increase property value by 100% of the cost of the renovation or more.  It is always worth it to invest in renovation your bathroom or kitchen.  An important note:  Look at your surrounding area.  You don't want to renovate too high-end or too low-end if it doesn't match your neighborhood.  Do your research to determine how much to spend on your renovation.

Related:  Pros and Cons of Green Plumbing

For example, our plumbing residential customers are generally in Wilmette, Glenview, Northbrook, or Chicago.  These areas support high-end bathroom renovations.  Look at real estate listings in your area to get ideas.

We did some research, and found that these five tips are the most helpful in managing a bathroom renovation.



1.  Plan Ahead.

Pre-plan your budget by picking out your fixtures early, and getting labor quotes before you begin the project.  Also, make sure to have all of your materials on hand before you begin construction.  You don't want to start the renovation, and then a key fixture is on back order, holding up the whole project.   

Choose a trusted contractor.  The cheapest contractor can end up costing you way more.  

Understand standard bathroom measurements and plan accordingly.  This will help you develop a good plan for your bathroom layout.  You can also hire an architect or ask the plumbing contractor to help you make the best placement decisions.  

Related:  The Pros and Cons of Green Plumbing

2.  Hire Good Help

The surest way to ruin a renovation is to not hire the best contractors.  Better Homes & Gardens recommends hiring a contractor with 3+ years of experience who can provide positive customer references and are members to their industry's association.

When deciding on a great contractor, visit a job site so you get an idea of how they work

Related:  Bathroom Inspiration - these pictures will have you running to the contractor.

3.  This is the Place to Splurge

Bathrooms are the best place to splurge on high-end materials.  They are small, but have big impact.  Plus, the added value to the home makes up for the cost.  Houzz said, "A little designer secret is that because bathrooms are usually smaller spaces, splurging on a few high end materials and finishes can be a good investment that can make your space seem incredibly luxurious."


4.  You Can Manage Bathroom Projects Yourself (Except the Plumbing!)

According to HGTV, home owners can manage many of the elements of a bathroom renovation themselves, except the plumbing.  While tiling or putting in a vanity can be done DIY, plumbing should not, unless the homeowner happens to be a trained professional.  Running pipe and installing shower systems should be left to professional plumbers.

Related:  Bathroom Inspiration - These pictures will have you running to your contractor!

5.  Pay Attention to the Lighting

Lighting makes a much bigger impact than you would think.  Some things to consider:  recessed lighting over the bath, updated fixtures above the sink, and incorporate layers of lighting with accent, ambient, and decorative.

Do you have reno fever going into the new year?  Start planning now, and follow our expert tips.


Average Hourly Wage of Plumbers by State by Construction Junkie

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Construction Junkie has been tracking the hourly wage of construction professionals by state.  The full list is available here, but we're going to take a closer look at the plumbing profession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2016 the current wage of plumbers by state.  As it turns out, Illinois is the second highest paying state for plumbers.  Below is the graph from Construction Junkie.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Arkansas averaged $18.54/hour, the lowest in the country.  New York had the highest at $36.90/hour.  Illinois was just shy of that at $36.31/hour.  

The cost of living has a lot to do with the average wage.  When the plumbers wage was adjusted for the state's cost of living, which included cost of housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, health, and other living costs, Illinois had the highest wage for plumbers and New York moved to #24 and Hawaii moved to #51 as the worst paying states for plumbers.

Interested in learning more about plumbing positions at F.E. Moran?  Click here.

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A Customer Thank You to our Plumber

A customer called to thank our amazing plumber, Brian Kiehm!

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Our Customer, Mr. R called to thank our Plumbing team for great service and express how much he appreciated the work done at his dad's house.

His dad is an 81-year old retired surgeon.  He has always had an interest in how things work - plumbing, electrical, and the list goes on.  Mr. R's dad could not say enough about how well he handled the service call and how personable Brian Kiehm was during the job.

Great job, Brian!

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Brian Kiehm



For the Moran Group, customer service is our priority.  

Sure, every company says that, but at the Moran Group, we're a family company and we extend that relationship to our customers.


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Infinity Tub Installation Case Study

FE Moran Plumbers in Action

infinity tub installation

Project:  PIRCHin Oakbrook Center
Task: Placement and Install of 2400lbs Solid Stone Infinity Tub

After accepting delivery and maneuvering this behemoth through and around approximately 30 tradesmen installing tile, cabinets, and other finishes, the "real work" began.

Months ago, the floor below the tub was reinforced to accept the weight of this 2,400 pound tub which holds approximately 710 pounds of water. The finished product was set to have a small rock feature around the perimeter with a drain to accept the overflow of the "infinity" feature. This means that the tub had to be set on top of a raised platform. This raised platform was built by the GC with a small opening left for our plumbers to tie in the drain line (which is underneath the tub and recessed slightly into the solid stone bottom).

Journeyman Plumber Jim Jolivette was tasked with the burden of lining up the drain pipes as the tub was lowered and then soldering the pieces together in a manner that ensures no leaking into the finished spaces below. With some much needed help from Assistant Project Manager Dan Yungerman (who says the PM staff doesn't get dirty?), the boys finally set, leveled, and squared this $20,000 tub which sits as the centerpiece of a bath display that showcases upwards of $100,000 worth of plumbing fixtures.

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The Pros and Cons of Green Plumbing

green plumbing

Writer:  Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group

The average household uses about 250 gallons of water per day. That is over 80 times more water than the flooding rain that wreaked havoc across Chicago and the North Shore in April. With some "green" plumbing initiatives, families have the potential to save gallons of water a day, but are these "green" plumbing methods always what they seem? We sat down with Mr. John Nelson, Director of F.E. Moran Plumbing, for some expert insight into "green" plumbing.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are growing in popularity. With the need to conserve water growing in our society, the efficiency of these water heaters makes them a green choice for homes.


Tankless water heaters are very efficient in all contexts of the word. They take up the space of a large computer, as opposed to the standard water heater, which is over double the size.

Tankless water heaters only heat the water you need, when you need it, so it is not constantly working. Standard water heaters are working 24/7 to keep the 40-60 gallons of water it holds at 120-140 degrees, ready for when the water is needed.


The initial installation for a tankless water heater is more expensive than a standard. The tankless water heater costs $700-$1000, plus the additional cost of installation and updating the venting, gas pipes, and electricity to work with this type of water heater. Although, there are monthly cost savings of approximately $10-$30 a month, it generally takes 8-9 years to pay itself off in efficiency. The tankless water heater itself has a 10-15 year life, so if the motivation for choosing a tankless water heater is cost savings, the payoff may not be there.

The efficiency that makes tankless water heaters so appealing is also its downfall. Because tankless water heaters produce hot water as needed, if hot water is used in excess, there will be hot and cold temperature surges. Along the same vein, if a home has a whirlpool tub and a tankless water heater, an additional tankless water heater will need to be installed to have a large enough capacity to heat beyond the whirlpool tub, doubling the cost.

About 12 manufacturers design tankless water heaters, each with their own nuances. Because of this, they are difficult to service. If a part is needed, it may be difficult to find the correct manufacturer. Standard water heaters only have 3 manufacturers with a relatively standard design, making it easier to find replacement parts.

Low Flow Toilets

Many North Shore homes were built far before low flow toilets popularized in 1994. If your toilet hasn't been replaced in recent years, most likely the toilet uses approximately 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing the old toilet with a low flow toilet can save up to 3 gallons per flush.


Low flow toilets are easy to find. Even if you are just upgrading to a newer toilet that is not advertised as efficient, it is still more efficient than older toilets. The new standard toilet uses about 1.28 gallons per flush. If you choose to get a dual flush toilet, it uses .5 gallons of water for liquids and 1.5 gallons for solids per flush.


Because newer toilets use less water, they may not have as thorough of a washdown of the bowl. Low flow toilets also tend to be louder than standard toilets.

Shower Heads and Faucet Aerators

Replacing shower heads and faucet aerators can be an inexpensive way to lower water bills. For an investment of less than $20, water bills may be lowered by 25-60%, according to the US Department of Energy.


Older shower heads that are typically installed in homes use 3.5-5 gallons of water a minute. New shower heads use 1.6 gallons of water per minute. They use a tight spray, like a mist, ensuring water pressure is not lost. If, on an average day, you take a fifteen minute shower, the shower head that is most likely in your home currently will use up to 75 gallons of water. With a low-flow, modern shower head that same shower will only use 22.5 gallons of water.

Standard kitchen and bathroom faucets use 4-7 gallons of water per minute. If you add an aerator to the bathroom faucet, you will save 1-1.5 gallons per minute, and in the kitchen, 2.2-2.5 gallons per minute. To test your faucet aerator for efficiency, time how long it takes to fill a 1 gallon milk jug. If it takes less than 20 seconds, you should add an aerator for some serious water savings. Adding low-flow aerators to faucets can save 1,100-1,500 gallons of water a month.


The low flow shower heads may eventually succumb to pressure problems due to calcium or rust buildup. However, there is a simple fix. Place a bag of CLR around the showerhead and rubber band. Leave it overnight. The next day, any calcium or rust within the head should be gone. If the problem persists, the calcium or rust buildup is behind the shower head. Homeowners can take the showerhead off and clean inside.

Going "green" with your plumbing is something that every homeowner will need to weigh the pros and cons before making a choice. If you need help making the decision, call the experts at F.E. Moran Plumbing.

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