Truthfully, when was the last time you walked into your bathroom and let out a sigh of contentment? Of pure happiness? Of utter relaxation? If it’s been awhile, and you are ready for a change, welcome to the ultimate guide to remodeling your bathroom!
Bathrooms serve several important purposes and are integral to the aesthetics and value of your home. But over the years, they inevitably show wear and tear, in addition to simply becoming outdated or less functional for your family.
Time and constant use can cause a bathroom to look older than its years. Whether you have a growing family, or have just inherited your aunt’s old house, a bathroom can definitely take a daily dose of abuse. Look for these signs that your bathroom is showing its age:
Bathroom design is constantly changing, and has since the day of the outhouse, with each decade having its own questionable designs. Those of you who have lived through the 70’s, know exactly what I mean (yellow tile anyone?). Back in the 80’s, home builders seemed to think putting an oversized bathtub smack dab in the middle of your bathroom was a good idea. The only problem is, it takes up an inordinate amount of space, in addition to making you walk all the way around it just to get to the shower.
If your home was built in the early 90’s, then you probably have a lot of brown covering the walls and floors. Don’t get me wrong, brown is a good color, but it can darken a room when it’s from floor to ceiling.
Nowadays, lighter is better, simply for the fact that it helps your room to feel airier and more spacious. Grays, creams, whites and even blues can create that feeling of vacationing in a Greek villa, without the headache of air travel.
Now, if you still like your seafoam green, wall tile or brown vinyl flooring, then this guide probably isn’t for you. But, if you are in the mood for some fresh ambiance, and space to get ready without painfully banging into vanity corners, then take a few moments to read this guide and learn some helpful facts about renovating your bathroom.
Let’s be real here, most homeowners know that remodeling a bathroom isn’t easy or cheap. But, how do you update your bathroom so that it serves your active family, looks darn good, and contributes to the overall value of your home at a cost that won’t cause you to dip into your kid’s college fund? Let’s look at some questions many homeowners ask when considering a bathroom remodel.
That’s a great question with no hard and fast answers, since your average cost could depend on what part of the country you live in. The price of materials can vary widely from one end of the USA to the other, as well as labor costs. A small remodel could start at $3,000 and move up from there. The average bathroom remodel cost is around $12,000, but once again, it depends on where you live, how big your bathroom is and what materials you choose. A tricked-out bathroom remodel could run upwards of $30,000, however, most don’t even come close to this figure.
Fortunately, or unfortunately remodel costs are fluid and can change with the economy and the market. As material costs go up, so do remodel costs, making the old adage, ‘You snooze, you lose’, apply perfectly here.
The number one regret people have about remodeling their bathroom is the fact that they wish they had done it sooner.
If money is ready to go, there is no reason to wait for your bathroom renovation. Especially, if you have plans to move on the horizon and just want to update your bathroom to help with your resell. Why invest money to have other people enjoy your fancy, new bathroom when you could have relished in it’s beauty first? After all, there is no point in putting money into a renovation if you aren’t the one who is going to reap the rewards.
Budgeting for your remodel depends on several important factors:
There are a variety of ways the savvy homeowner can save money on a remodel, but it does take some homework and a little ingenuity.
This is highly individual and comes down to what your needs are. It can also come down to, appearance or function. Before you even plan out your wish list, or even your budget, you need to decide what are the most important features to you. If your bathroom is small and you need to expand the space, then walls will need to be moved or taken down, thus soaking up a good portion of your remodel dollars. Prioritizing your most important features will also clue you in on the kind of budget it will take to get what you want.
For example, if expanding your bathrooms footprint will take $6,000, and you only want to spend $10,000 total, then you know you will have $4,000 left for other items. Now, you can prioritize the remaining features: new flooring, countertops, lighting, etc.
Generally, the items that will take the most abuse, and get the most wear and tear are the items that can use a higher-grade material. Items such as faucets get handled constantly, and a cheaper version will not only wear out quicker, but also visually degrade at a much faster pace. Cheap countertops such as composite marble (man made marble) will stain and chip easily and cause your newly remodeled bathroom to look cut-rate and incomplete. With countertops taking the brunt of daily use, allowing for a higher-grade countertop such as granite, or quartz is worth your while. Sinks and tubs can also stand to be a little more upscale because of the long-term staining or chipping factor.
Yes, yes and yes! Bathroom remodels, on average should yield a minimum of a 50% and sometimes as much as 70% return on your investment. Provided, that is, that your remodel makes sense to your home, and doesn’t outspend your home’s value. Also, if you have plans to move at some point you may want to keep your remodel practical, for a future resale. Let’s first discuss why you want to remodel.
Most bathroom remodels are done for functionality. Rooms don’t physically grow as your family grows and bathrooms have a way of shrinking as kids grow up and out. So, that one sink vanity that worked when the kiddos were toddlers no longer works for teenagers who require inordinate amounts of time to get ready. Or, this is your retirement home and you want to make sure that doorways and showers can accommodate wheelchairs or walkers.
There are myriad reasons why bathrooms lose their functionality along the way. So, if your purpose is to make your bathroom actually ‘work’ for your family then you are getting an increase in value twofold:
Okay, you were feeling the royal blue wall tiles with the fish on them when you built the house, but the Finding Nemo look just isn’t cutting it anymore. It’s time for a new look. One that makes you want to shiver in giddiness instead of feeling the urge to reach for a fishing pole. The question is, is it worth the investment just for a jetted bathtub and farmhouse lighting? You betcha. But hold on, there are some things to consider:
Most homeowners have been planning their bathroom remodel long before they ever get a bid. That’s a very good thing. The longer you’ve been visualizing your new bathroom, the more concentrated your wish list has become. Like Christmas lists, renovation wish lists tend to start big and whittle down once reality sets in. From cosmetic touches, to the nuts and bolts of your design, the sooner you began your plan the better will be your results.
Your bathroom remodel begins and ends with an excellent contractor. Not only do they guide the process but should have the knowledge to immediately correct any problems that may arise, and the experience to give you the most bang for your buck. So how do you know if you contractor is worth the hire?
Planning your new bathroom can be overwhelming, but don’t let yourself get discouraged. A lot goes into completely changing a part of your home. It is a big decision and a solid investment, so take it slow and don’t rush.
Managing your expectations is your first big hurdle. Not only do the numbers have to add up, but your expectations should fit smartly within your budget. It can be a challenge to whittle down your wish list, but it’s not impossible. Consider these factors when starting to plan:
Yes! Any bathroom can be enlarged providing you have the budget and structural space to make such a move. Moving walls isn’t cheap, but if that is the goal for your bathroom then it can be done. Keep in mind, however, that making more space for your bathroom can mean intruding into space of other areas of your home. Basically, this gives you two options:
If you have the extra space, closets are a good place to steal extra footage. Oftentimes, just a couple of feet one direction or another can make a big difference in a bathroom. If your bedroom or an adjoining bedroom can give up some space, then that might be a good direction to go.
Fortunately, a well-thought out design will accommodate any space encroachment that occurs. If you are knocking out a wall, keep in mind, that if there is plumbing or extensive electrical encased within that wall, you will incur some additional cost to move them to a new location. However, if you are switching plumbing fixtures, such as sinks or toilets to other areas in the bathroom, these things will need to be moved anyway and should be part of the original remodel estimate.
Utilizing existing fixtures, or plumbing is a great way to save money. Anytime you must switch something out (electrical) or move a permanent fixture (plumbing) your costs go up. If you are adhering to a strict budget, then design a plan that will keep your plumbing or electrical where it is.
Showers, toilets, tubs and sinks are your four plumbing sources. If you can keep them in their original position, then your remodel costs will be lower. That being said, one of the major reasons for bathroom remodels is the need to make your layout more efficient. Such as the need for,
Don’t let the fear of moving plumbing, keep you from getting the bathroom you need and want. Just remember to incorporate those costs into your budget. On the flip side, if you can get away with keeping certain plumbing fixtures in their current place, then do so. Or, you can convert a couple of items, such as enlarging your shower, or switching from a single vanity to a double vanity that will keep them in place but increase their functionality.
Keeping your old lights can save your money, but honestly, light fixtures are inexpensive and can certainly spruce up a remodel. It would be a shame to revamp your bathroom into a Byzantine spa but keep the old, tarnished brass chandelier. And while light fixtures are easy to replace, electrical wiring is not. Anytime you remodel a room, electrical will be involved, and can include:
As with any remodel, once your contractor breaks into a wall, the electrical wires are exposed and could either need to be moved to accommodate a feature or brought up to safety code. The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars on a beautiful remodel, only to have it go up in flames because you left in bad 50-year-old wiring. Whether you are knocking down a wall and must move the electrical, or the exposed wiring is in bad shape, electrical updating is a necessary cost.
Current city codes can help you keep your family safe and are important to follow, so make sure your contractor is up to date with his codes. Don’t be afraid to ask what codes will apply to your remodel and if any specific permits are required. Specific code changes could include:
While every city has its own general electrical code, the above list gives you a general idea of things to look for during or before your remodel. It’s worth your while to take the time to go over such details with your contractor - before the first sledgehammer falls.
Wellllll, you can, but you may need to be distantly related to Chip and Joanna Gaines if you are going to tackle such a big project on your own. Remodeling a bathroom, or any room for that matter, is extremely labor intensive and requires specific skill sets that many professionals train years for.
These are highly intensive skills that can make or break your bathroom renovation. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig, if it isn’t done correctly and beautifully from the ground up, then no amount of touch-up is going to fix it or make it look good.
Now, if you, a relative or friend has actionable skills that can be applied to your bathroom remodel, then you can certainly pitch in. However, remember you are paying your contractor for the entire project and he or she may not be willing to share chores. Anytime you step in for part of the remodel, you are interfering with the project schedule. If you are great at laying tile but are slow, then your project gets backed up, which can also back up the contractor’s other projects. Also, if your skills aren’t exactly up to snuff, it could affect other parts of your renovation. It’s like building a house of cards, one card put in incorrectly can cause the entire structure to fall.
Your budget plays a big part in the kinds of materials you can choose for your new bathroom. Materials can range from budget friendly, to Taj Mahal status. Before you go shopping have your design completed and list of materials ready. It is shockingly easy to come out of a design showroom having gone over budget and with way more items than you need. Especially lighting. The power of tinkling chandelier crystals and shiny metals can get to even the best of the budget conscious remodelers.
So, how do you get top of the line materials while also leaving some gas money in your pocket?
1. Make your list. Check it twice. – Once your design has been completed and discussed with your contractor, you can make out your list. Most remodel material lists look like this:
As you can see, the list can be extensive. But, if you are not replacing all these things, your list will be selective and mercifully shorter. Your contractor can certainly purchase these items once you have chosen them, but you will want to give your input on the selection. After all, it is your bathroom and you will be the one to use and enjoy it, so you might as well choose the items and colors that make you happy. It’s also a good idea to go over the list with your contractor. Some items may not be feasible for your area (bamboo flooring in Alaska?), so it’s smart to discuss your selection beforehand and make sure everything will work well together.
2. Watch your costs. – It’s a well-known joke that remodels inherently go over budget, and materials are the main reason why this occurs. There is something about a quartz countertop that makes some people giddy, while Italian marble floors float other people’s boat. These are gorgeous features to add to your new bathroom, but unless your budget is full and healthy, you need to be conscious of what you are choosing.
It is perfectly okay to splurge on some items. Heated floors are well worth the cost when there is frost on the ground, and multiple water jets can give you that ‘Ahhhh’ feeling when taking a shower. As long as your budget allows, and it won’t cause a major rift in your marriage, then feel free to splurge on the items that mean the most to you. Just be aware when you make your selections, that every decorative item you choose has a back-end cost attached to it.
Tile needs adhesive and grout, glass shower doors must have stripping, glue, special glass and installation, light fixtures require installation and sometimes a rewire in the wall. While these are all normal costs associated with a bathroom remodel, and should be included in your initial estimate, some homeowners forget about the back-end costs and plan their budget around the retail prices. Just stick to your list and budget, and everything will be fine. And as with everything, make sure to discuss these costs with your contractor.
Homeowners rejoice! Bathroom remodel ideas are everywhere!! All you need to do is hop on the internet or turn on your television and you will be inundated with gorgeous bathrooms and the millions of items you can buy for them. While there are endless places to look for inspiration, here are some of the best and most practical places geared toward simple folk like us:
Believe it or not, Open Houses are also a great way to garner some ideas. Most homes for sale, especially new ones, have been gussied up before they hit the market and you can cop some great looks for your new bathroom. Home builder websites usually have galleries of bathrooms for you to peruse, as well as blogs like The Spruce.
Neighbors are also a great source of information since they are usually more than happy to tell you what has worked for them (bathroom remodel wise) and what hasn’t. Even retail websites like Bed Bath & Beyond and Target have great pictures used to highlight their products. Grab some inspiration from them and maybe also, a towel or two.
The ultimate goal when remodeling any room in your home, is to make your life easier and more enjoyable. Your home is your biggest investment and it should welcome you with open arms and kiss your feet every time you walk in the door. Renovating your bathroom is only part of that equation, but it can certainly pack an amazing punch. Bathrooms get constant use (unlike that exercise room, am I right?), and should reflect your ever-evolving lifestyle and need to pamper yourself. So, as long as you do your homework and put a solid plan in place, a bathroom renovation will do you just fine!