Bathroom Remodel: Create an Oasis Within Your Home
A Bathroom remodel is probably the second most important update you can make to your home after a kitchen upgrade. Just like a kitchen, it can entice potential buyers who would see that the home has been updated and taken care of—one fewer thing to worry about in the future. While not as pricey as a kitchen renovation, the costs can add up quickly, but the end result can be quite satisfying.
That is because a bathroom is likely the first place you go to right after you get up. It can also be a private hideaway where you can escape to relax and enjoy a break from your daily routine with a warm bath.
So, if you’re tired of looking at outdated or cracked tiles on the floor or old-style laminate countertops, or maybe you suspect a water leak is damaging the structures below the bathroom, it might be time to consider a full bathroom remodel.
Hire a contractor
While you might think of yourself as a good DIYer with a “can-do” attitude, a bathroom remodel is not a job you want to take up on your own, unless you have experience with this type of work. Additionally, depending on the city or municipality where you live, part of such a project might require licensed professionals—electricians and plumbers, for starters.
A good contractor is also familiar with the permits that might be needed. While some cosmetic items can be done without city permits, others are more than likely to require them. If you just want to replace your countertops and change the tiles, for example, you would be fine. But if you’re planning to take down walls, especially weight-bearing ones, or move plumbing and electrical outlets around, you definitely should consider handing off the project to professionals.
Also, keep in mind that some of the work will require help—lifting heavy items, such as vanities, for example. Are the family members or friends you’re planning to ask for help able to assist?
This is the type of project that requires great attention to detail. If a pipe isn’t properly installed or sealed right, it could lead to disastrous consequences if that part starts leaking in the future. A contractor with years of experience probably has redone hundreds of bathrooms and will be thoroughly familiar with the processes to ensure that everything is done right.
Setting expectations—and a budget
Set a budget. While costs vary from state to state and even region to region, according to HomeAdvisor, the average price of a bathroom remodel ranges from about $6,100 to over $16,000 or even much higher.
However, keep in mind that these costs can climb once you start adding premium items to your project. For example, do you want to upgrade from a standard bathtub to a jetted whirlpool or Jacuzzi? That could increase the cost of the project substantially.
The same goes for toilets. Old toilets—from the early 1980s and before—used anywhere from five to seven gallons per flush. Compare that to today’s models, which only use about 1.6 GPF or less. You can, of course, get state-of- the art units with automated sensors and all sorts of gizmos, even, ahem, bidets to take care of the private parts. Those modern pieces will set you back several hundred dollars or more, whereas a regular off-the-shelf toilet is likely to cost under $200.
It all comes down to what you expect from your bathroom: a sanctuary with modern features or just pure functionality. You can get roomy bathtubs if you prefer those over regular showers. If cost is no object, the choices are virtually endless: from imported, very expensive tiles and fixtures to electronic toilets, dual shower heads, and more.
Setting priorities for your main bathroom remodel
It could be very helpful to set priorities when considering a main bathroom renovation.
Start by making a list of the things you want and need to change, things that annoy you, items you’d like to have but which could be optional.
Do you need more storage for your medicines, toiletries, make-up, and everything else that is crowding your vanities and countertops? Is that countertop already warped by moisture? What about the lighting—are those shadows under your eyes created by your ceiling-mounted fixtures make you look tired when you look in the mirror?
It is also worth asking how long you plan to be at the home and whether you might need grab bars in the shower, by the bathtub, and near the toilet. Falls are the leading cause of injuries and deaths for older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and grab bars can help prevent such accidents.
Asking yourself such questions can help you set priorities: items you definitely need to change, things you’d like to have but are unsure about pricing, and luxuries that would be nice to have if your budget permits but you can live without.
An extra wall-mounted cabinet could add extra storage space, for example, without crowding the space. A double sink is possible, but it might require additional plumbing work. And modern or contemporary lighting can help make the bathroom brighter.
Other items to consider are paint and ventilation.
Choosing a contractor
As stated above, main bathroom remodels are not easy DIY projects, so you should consider hiring a reputable contractor.
As with any significant expenditure, you should do your homework and research before signing a contract. Read reviews (but don’t rely 100% on them, as they can sometimes be misleading). Talk to neighbors and friends who have had work done. Sometimes, the best sources can be trustworthy people you know and trust. You can also check the Better Business Bureau to spot any potential issues.
Visit the contractors’ websites. You can find lots of information about them, including how long they have been in business, photos of previous work, customers’ testimonials, and more. They might also list associations they belong to.
Make sure you get at least three bids from contractors, and make sure to ask them if they do the work themselves or whether they subcontract their work. While the general contractor might be a great choice, they might rely on other, smaller subcontractors with little or unknown experience.
When the potential contractors visit your home, ask them about their experience, the cost, licenses, the time frame, and request references.
Once you settle on a company, you should sign a contract in case something goes wrong. The contractor might ask for a down payment or deposit, which is standard in most situations.
The work begins
The time a bathroom remodel takes will depend on several factors, so it can be anywhere from just a couple of weeks to possibly a couple of months. Make sure you have a plan for alternate bathroom needs—and even if you do have a plan within your house, remember that there might be frequent water shut-offs during the project.
Labor shortages and especially supply-chain problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have wreaked havoc and delayed projects all over the U.S.
If your new vanity, toilets, tile, accessories and all other parts have arrived, the length could go a lot quicker. A good contractor will have all the specialists lined up and ready to do the work when needed: the plumbers, electricians, tile workers, etc.
But even with the best-estimated timeline, allow for last-minute changes or unforeseen factors that could delay the remodel. The contractor might find that a previous owner didn’t repair the damage from a leak, for example, which might cause a delay—and cost an extra chunk of money as well. The best thing to do is to expect the unexpected and trust the contractor’s best advice.
Enjoy your new surroundings
Enjoy your new bathroom remodel!
Your new bathroom will feel warm and welcoming. If you think you will sell the home in the future, potential buyers will notice the work that went into it. Not only will you get to enjoy your new bathroom, but the main bathroom remodel will add value to your home.Back to Blog