Our Step-by-Step Guide to Bathroom Renovations

Mar 2019

A bathroom renovation, no matter the size, can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be. We’ve here to help any new renovator take on their renovation with confidence. If new bathroom visions have been dancing in your head for some time, follow our three-step guide to get the bathroom of your dreams:

First, Think Big.

Any self-help guru will tell you that when you are working toward a professional, personal, or physical goal, you have to start with your “why.” The same goes for updates to your bathroom. You need a clear picture in your mind of what you hope for. This vision will be the beacon that guides you along the way. Trust us, it’s the philosophically practical first step. Consider some of these questions:

  • Who will be using this bathroom?
  • Are you looking to modernize or simply update the room’s look with a more boho vibe or a classic contemporary style? 
  • Would you like to create a more spa-like experience or increase efficiency for your morning routine?
  • Are you in need of additional storage or square footage?  
  • Now, Get Down to the Details.

While your grand vision may be fantastic in theory, in actual execution, it may not make much sense. Take time to figure out what you’re working with, noting all spending, space, and time constraints.  

We recommend looking at your budget first, before you get your hopes up on renovation possibilities. As reported by Homeadvisor.com, the “average” bathroom renovation cost spans from about $6,000-$15,000. On the low end, you can expect to pay about $2,500. Add a zero for the high end. With a price tag that ranges over $10,000, it can be challenging to decide which update should come first. Break it down by your must-haves. For example, if you can’t go without a new bathtub, expect to spend anywhere from $400 on the low end and $6,000 on the high end. If you’re in dire need of a new toilet, expect to spend anywhere from $130-$780. If your budget can afford both – we say, go for it! If not, set your priorities. Read the complete story for more information or get a glimpse at expected expenses below:

Option Low Range Mid Range High Range
Install bathtub $400 – $1,500 $2,600 – $4,100 $6,000 – $8,000
Install cabinets $1,200 – $3,500 $4,700 – $7,000 $8,000 – $13,000
Install countertops $900 – $2,000 $2,800 – $4,100 $5,000 – $6,500
Install flooring $800 – $2,000 $2,500 – $3,600 $5,000 – $7,000
Install lighting fixture $120 – $900 $1,100 – $1,700 $2,500 – $4,000
Install shower $450 – $2,000 $3,000 – $4,800 $6,000 – $10,000
Install sink $190 – $900 $1,400 – $2,300 $3,500 – $6,500
Install toilet $130 – $250 $340 – $480 $550 – $780

After considering these factors, you should be able to clearly see if the high-end ceramic tiles are a necessity or unnecessary. Remember, no matter what your renovation budget looks like, simple lighting adjustments and fixture replacements can make an incredible difference. These updates are small but mighty in visual impact.

The second metric you’ll need to take into consideration is the physical size of your bathroom, down to every nook and cranny. Measure with precision to determine if your cabinet dream is realistic or if small shelves will be enough for storage. When renovating, you want to make use of every inch possible. But, the actual size isn’t the only limitation you must take into consideration. When taking your measurements, consider the location of existing plumbing pipes and electrical wiring. You’ll want to work with your space, not against, to save both time and money.

The age of your bathroom is equally as important to consider as the square footage itself. How well a home is built determines if it is structurally sound or hiding significant problems, unbeknownst to homeowners. Before beginning your project, look for things like structural deficiencies in floor framing and corrosion in plumbing. Be sure to consider how ventilation can be improved to prevent issues moving forward.

The last metric to consider is the time you can afford to spend on your renovation. Your time is valuable and, for most, limited…especially for those in 1-bathroom homes. A blog post from The Spruce outlines what you can expect in each stage of a bathroom renovation. They estimate that a full-scale remodel will take 23 days. This includes 2 days allotted for demolition and 2 days of inspections.

If 23 days seems unrealistic for your renovation timeline, decide which updates are “nice to haves” and which are “must-haves.” 

  • Skipping out on tilework or flooring can save an estimated 4 days.
  • If new drywall is a necessity, expect approximately 3 days of labor.
  • Plan for a couple days’ work to hookup any new plumbing for sinks, tubs, and toilets.
  • No two projects are the same, so always bake in flex time so you’re prepared for any unexpected changes.

After taking your timeline into consideration, you may find that it’s best to break up your project over a few rounds of work. No matter how you plan to attack your project, it’s always best to start at the top of the room and work your way down. From simple paint updates to full demolition, focus on ceilings first, then walls, then floors to prevent damage…and wasted time.

  • Perfect your Project.

Now that you’ve gotten the detailed planning out of the way, it’s time to gather up your visual aids, measurements, and budgets, and connect with a contractor. Because yes, if this is your first renovation: we highly recommend bringing in professional help. Share your big-picture vision with idealistic magazine cutouts and realistic photos of your current space. Be ready to share every detail because the more information your contractor has, the more likely your dream will become a reality. Keep in mind; carpenters’ work pace and prices vary. Talk through a realistic timeline before the project begins to save time – and miscommunication – when you’re in the midst of the renovation.

Throughout your project, keep the communication open with your contractor. Asking for regular updates is important, not an inconvenience. Once the work is completed and approved, it’s time to make your bathroom a part of your home. Stage your space with plants, decorative towels, and wall hangings to transform even bathrooms with the most minor updates. Be sure to collaborate with every household member who will use the bathroom to decorate with function – and preference – in mind.

Though easily forgotten, the final clean up is arguably the most important of all. Thoroughly clean all cabinetry inside and out, no matter if they’re newly installed or existing. Cleaning out ductwork, floors, and fixtures can make all the difference. Note to yourself: If you’d rather avoid doing this yourself, work in the cost of a cleaning service into your budget.

So there you have it: three simple steps to creating the bathroom of your dreams. Leverage your current motivation and get started on your “why.” It’s time to take your first step.

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