Taking on a Bathroom Remodel

It’s no surprise you’re considering a bathroom remodel for your home seeing it’s the most utilized room in the home. When we spend so much time in one space, there is no surprise we want it to be comfortable and enjoyable. 

Many of us get so caught up with a bathroom’s practical features that we often overlook what could make it a better experience. Bathrooms should have a strong balance of utility and luxury. Even the smallest details can go a long way in making a bathroom so much better than before. 

We cover a variety of design details, planning, and more with bathroom remodeling in this guide. The information you can expect from reading includes: 

  • Why you should consider a bathroom remodel and what to ask yourself before taking the plunge
  • Reviewing the types of bathroom remodeling design ideas you should consider
  • How to budget for a bathroom remodel and how much it might cost
  • The process of remodeling a bathroom and frequently asked questions regarding the project

Why Remodel a Bathroom?

Bathroom Remodeling Budget min

If you aren’t sure if a remodeling project is right for your current bathroom, you may be convinced by the reasons others choose to renovate their bathroom. There are many reasons to remodel your bathroom, with most homeowners taking on the project for similar reasons. However, some choose to take on a bathroom remodel for reasons not all that common. You may choose to remodel your bathroom for any of the following: 

  • Modernize
  • Improve utility
  • Integrate luxury
  • Accommodate for aging
  • Fix bad design choices
  • Preparing to sell
  • Match your style

Modernize

A majority of homes in the United States are 21 to 30 years old. If your home hasn’t been renovated or remodeled since its construction, it likely has some outdated design features or fixtures.

In the past 30 years, we’ve come a long way with energy-efficient fixtures, long-lasting materials, design ideas, and more. Your bathroom could likely benefit from a cosmetic update or a complete rebuild if it’s older than 30 years.

Bring your bathroom into the modern age with a remodel. Not only will it look better, but its systems, such as plumbing and electrical, will also benefit from updates.

Improve Utility

The most important aspect of any bathroom is its utility. It must work properly before it can be indulged with relaxing features. When your bathroom doesn’t do the job it was designed to do, it causes a lot of stress. In some cases, it may even hurt the entire home in the form of reduced value or comfort.

Common utility issues bathrooms face include a lack of storage, poor lighting, improper installation of fixtures, poorly designed layout, and wrong material choices. All of these issues impact how you use your bathroom, which is why addressing them is essential.

Integrate Luxury

We’ve mentioned luxury bathroom features a few times, but to each person, that might be different. It comes down to what makes you feel comfortable and what will add an additional layer to your bathroom. There is a wide variety of features that coil raise the bar for your bathroom, such as: 

  • Jacuzzi bathtub
  • Heated floors
  • Heated towel rack
  • Fireplace
  • Sauna
  • Rainfall shower head
  • Smart toilet
  • Smart mirror 

There are so many high-end bathroom qualities to consider for your remodeling project. You may not have the budget for everything on your list, so you’ll have to compromise during the planning process.

Accommodate for Aging

Aging brings a lot of challenges physically, which the bathroom can test in a lot of ways. Slippery surfaces, high-step tubs, and little to no support all pose problems for seniors and the elderly. As you or a loved one age, support will be a growing need while in the bathroom. One-third of all senior injuries occur in the bathroom, making accommodations a must. 

 There are many bathroom design choices you can make for an easier time:

  • Walk-in tub
  • Walk-in shower
  • Grab bars
  • Raised toilet seat or higher toilet
  • Touchless sink faucets
  • Bath mats or different flooring
  • Adequate lighting
  • Medicine cabinet storage

Make sure you or an older family member is comfortable using the bathroom during aging. 

Preparing to Sell

One of the most common reasons to remodel a bathroom is to sell the house soon after. By remodeling your bathroom and other parts of the home before selling, you can increase its resale value. A mid-range bathroom remodel is able to recoup approximately 60% of the costs.

These renovations attract home buyers because it’s less work they’ll have to put into the home upon moving in. Plus, you can make more money by selling your home at a higher price, especially when bathrooms are one of the most important rooms to buyers.

Match Your Style

Finally, you may choose to update your bathroom to change the style. Outdated bathrooms can suffer from a poor style, or they may not match the rest of the home. Of course, the most straightforward reason may be that you don’t like the style. Regardless of the reason, remodeling a bathroom because of the style is extremely common. Don’t hesitate to take the steps if your bathroom isn’t showcasing a style you love.

What to Ask Yourself Before a Bathroom Remodel

Shower vs Tub min

Jumping into a bathroom remodeling project is exciting, but before you get too far, it’s critical you ask yourself some questions. These questions will make you think about how to handle your bathroom remodel and plan accordingly. There is a lot that goes into a bathroom remodel, so make sure you’re prepared with these questions:

Should I hire a contractor or DIY the bathroom remodel?

Determining to hire a contractor or do the work yourself is difficult for a lot of homeowners. DIY bathroom remodeling projects can save you a lot of money. The biggest downsides are the time it takes to complete and maybe not knowing how to do everything in the remodel.

There are pros and cons to choosing either, but it really comes down to your knowledge, the budget, and whether you want to deal with the work yourself. Simple cosmetic updates to bathrooms can easily be handled on your own. If you want to rip everything out or move a wall, you’re better off with a contractor.

Who is using this bathroom?

Is it a master bathroom? Kids bathroom? Guest bathroom? The people using this bathroom will have some influence on what goes into the remodel. For example, a master bathroom will have a higher budget with greater quality materials, while a guest bathroom will primarily be focused on the essentials. Know who the bathroom is for and make design choices for those people.

What is the extent of my bathroom remodel?

Are you looking to update a few aspects of your bathroom, or would you like to build it from the ground up? The scope of your bathroom remodel will influence a lot of decision-making, such as the contractor you choose, the budget, materials, timeline, and more. You have to know the extent of your bathroom remodel before contacting a contractor (if necessary) and securing a budget. Otherwise, you risk spending more money than you should have.

What is my bathroom remodeling budget?

Speaking of money, the budget is a vital aspect of any home improvement project. Know what your budget is before contacting contractors. Budgets help save money and keep projects on track. We’ll discuss more about how to budget a bathroom remodel later, but it’s critical you start early. Along with budgeting comes securing how you’ll finance the project. These are conversations to have with your potential lender.

How will this project impact my daily life?

Is the bathroom you’re remodeling the only bathroom in the house? If so, what will you do during construction? For those that have multiple bathrooms in their home, the answer shouldn’t be difficult. However, if your single bathroom is being rebuilt, you’ll need a place to go while at home.

You may ask neighbors about using their bathroom, or you may decide to move out for the course of the project. If your remodeling project is only cosmetic updates, you should still be able to use the bathroom when work isn’t being done. Of course, you’ll still want to think about how this remodeling project will affect you and your family during the day.

What are the must-have features in my bathroom?

When coming up with ideas for your bathroom remodel, make a list of non-negotiable features you want in your bathroom. These items are must-haves and cannot be sacrificed at all costs. You should also make another list of negotiable items that you’d like to have but aren’t necessary. These two lists are a great way to manage your expectations and land within the budget you have to work with.

Bathroom Design Ideas

Large Bathroom With Shower and Bench min

Before taking your first steps into remodeling your bathroom, it’s helpful to know what it is you want in your bathroom. There are many ways to discover design ideas seeing there is no shortage online. One of the best ways to accumulate design ideas is to save photos on your phone or create a Pinterest board.

Visual ideas are perfect for your contractor since it doesn’t leave anything to interpretation. Plus, you may have a hard time explaining a detail or feature you want. An image makes it so much easier for your contractor to understand what it is you you’re looking for. Don’t forget to ask your contractor about the latest bathroom trends or research them yourself!

There are many different design choices you’ll need to make for your bathroom remodel. We’ve outlined the most prominent ideas and detailed the decisions you’ll need to make with each below:

Tub vs Shower

Tub vs Shower infographic

Do you want a bathtub or a shower? Both are certainly an option, but your budget may not allow for it. Whichever you choose is based on your budget, who’s using the bathroom, square footage, and personal tastes. Of course, you can always choose a tub-shower combination as they offer the best of both worlds. 

If you are considering only one option, we recommend you learn of each option’s pros and cons.

Bathtub

Pros:

  • Affordable to install
  • Perfect for children
  • Feature different styles
  • Options for luxury features

Cons:

  • Take up a lot of space
  • Consumes more water
  • Difficult for elderly

Showers

Pros: 

  • Use less water
  • Use is faster than a tub
  • Easy access for anyone
  • Can fit into any size bathroom
  • Options for high-end features

Cons:

  • Higher cost to install
  • Not great for children
  • Problems with shower doors

Overall, we recommend you have at least one tub in your home because removing it could hurt your home’s value. Most home buyers look for bathtubs even though they aren’t used as often. They are really important to have for families and children, so it may be something you keep around.

 

Flooring Materials

When the flooring in your bathroom is going to experience moisture regularly, you must choose the suitable material for the job. Choices like hardwood or carpet (yes, we’ve seen it) are not sufficient picks because they are extremely susceptible to water damage.

 Wood’s greatest threat is water. Over time it will swell, warp, and rot. The hardwood will also soak in moisture, allowing bacteria to thrive. The same goes for carpet flooring. Even when you clean carpet, it’s still able to house bacteria. For these reasons, you need the right flooring material for your bathroom remodeling project.

 The best flooring materials for bathrooms are:

  • Ceramic and porcelain tile
  • Luxury Vinyl flooring
  • Natural stone
  • Laminate flooring
  • Engineered hardwood 

The type of flooring you choose will be influenced by your preferences, the style you’re targeting, and your budget. Consult your contractor or a hardware associate to make your decision easier.

Storage Options

Bathrooms are often plagued with the issue of having no storage. You may store your skincare products, toothbrush, soap, and more all on your small vanity. Clutter can be a serious problem as it dampens your mood. It can also create unsafe environments, meaning storage is critical for the comfort of your bathroom. 

You can consider storage in many places of your bathroom, such as the vanity, shower, closet, towel rack, back of the toilet, and so much more. Even movable storage options like baskets, caddies, and shelves are great options to cut down on clutter.

Water Fixtures

There are a lot of options when it comes to the water fixtures you choose for your bathroom. Water fixtures include the toilet, bathtub, shower, faucets, and sinks. Each of these features will have an impact on the luxury and utilization of your home. They also play a role in the style of your bathroom. 

With each water fixture, you have a number of decisions to make. For example, toilets come in all sorts of types with different features. Smart toilets with built-in bidets have grown in popularity. You can even get a toilet with a heated seat. Consider each of these fixtures and speak to your contractor about your many options.

Light Fixtures

Lighting is a vital quality in any room you’re remodeling. It’s rarely ever the first feature homeowners think about when coming up with design ideas. You should give lighting a good amount of time as it will set the tone for your bathroom and assist in the overall style. 

There is more to lighting than your typical overhead light fixture. Consider recessed lighting, backlit mirror lighting, lighting underneath the vanity counter, and floor lighting. All of these options can evoke a certain mood you’re looking for in your bathroom. Of course, you can even install lighting systems to adjust the bathroom lighting according to how you’ll be using it.

Budgeting a Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodeling Budget Breakdown

Budgets are a must for any home remodeling project you are considering. This is a quality of your project to have solidified early. That way, you know what to expect and can begin the design process. Once you have a bathroom remodeling budget, you can reach out to contractors about estimates. Again, you should always contact multiple contractors. Otherwise, you risk a poorly-built bathroom from a poorly-chosen contractor. Contact at least three contractors, but more if you have to.

Average Costs

According to Bob Vila, the typical bathroom remodeling cost ranges from $6,152 to $16,615. Don’t feel like you must land within this range. There are plenty of projects that sit below it and go well over it. Most importantly. Make sure the money you spend will get the bathroom you desire. That leads us to why every bathroom remodeling budget and cost will vary from the last.

Qualities Affecting Price

The range we mentioned above is extensive, with many remodels landing below and above that. This is because of the many qualities that impact the price of a bathroom remodel. You can expect the following to influence your bathroom remodeling price and budget:

  • Where you live
  • The contractor you choose
  • Scope of the project
  • Size of the bathroom
  • Material selection
  • Must-have features you want 

Make sure you consider each of these areas since they’ll directly affect the cost of your bathroom remodel.

Average Bathroom Remodeling Budget Breakdown

Bathroom Remodeling Budget Breakdown Infographic min

Let’s break down what areas the average bathroom remodeling budget goes to using the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s (NKBA) guidelines:

  • Installation: 20%
  • Cabinetry: 16%
  • Fixtures: 15%
  • Faucets and plumbing: 14%
  • Flooring: 9%
  • Lighting and ventilation: 5%
  • Walls and ceilings: 5%
  • Doors and windows: 4%
  • Design fees: 4%
  • Other: 1%

As you can see, labor is the largest portion of your bathroom remodeling project. Depending on the area you live in and the scope of your project, labor may be as much as 40% of the budget. It varies drastically depending on many factors.

Choose a Payment Method

Choosing how to pay for your bathroom remodeling project will vary based on many factors, but there is no shortage of options. You can pay for your bathroom remodel with any of the following:

  • Cash
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loan
  • Home equity line of credit (HELOC)
  • Home equity loans
  • Cash-out refinance

Check with your bank to see what options are best for you. You can also speak with the contractor for potential financing options they may provide or any landers they have partnered with. Above all, make sure the payment method you use doesn’t put you financially at risk.

The Bathroom Remodeling Process

If you haven’t remodeled your bathroom before, you likely have questions about the process or wonder what it may look like. We are here to outline the bathroom remodeling process to give you more insight into how a professional contractor would complete such a project.

The remodeling process we outline below is for a complete remodel. Your remodeling project will look different if it’s strictly cosmetic or encompasses a complete rebuild. Every project is different from the last, so your remodeling process will vary as well.

Most bathroom remodels will follow a process like the following:

  1. Design the bathroom
  2. Prepare for construction
  3. Demolish the bathroom
  4. Update plumbing and electrical
  5. Hang drywall and install flooring
  6. Install shower/tub
  7. Install exhaust and lighting
  8. Install vanity, sink, and toilet
  9. Install accessories
  10. Finalize bathroom remodel

To get more details about each of the steps listed above, read on. You’ll find out what contractors do at each stage of your project.

1. Design the Bathroom

The design process will look different depending on the scope of your project and the contractor. Not all contractors have in-house designers or architects. They may outsource the design to a design firm or agency. However, the process is still similar. You meet with the contractor and designer who asks you questions regarding what you want in your bathroom. 

This is the time you can show them your Pinterest board or picture album of all the bathroom design ideas you have. From these images and what they ask you, they get a better idea as to what you want in your bathroom remodel. The design process can take several weeks, depending on how well they can capture your vision. Once you have approved the design, they’ll move forward in the process.

2. Prepare for Construction

Preparing for construction may start before the design is approved, but it primarily involves ordering materials, obtaining permits, and setting a date for demolition. It will take several weeks for the materials to be delivered, so it’s better they are ordered sooner than later. 

Building permits are not always necessary for bathroom remodeling projects. It will come down to the scope of your remodel. For example, replacing the vanity and installing new flooring won’t require a permit. Projects that require permits include those that have changes or updates to the structure, plumbing, or electrical.

 Your contractor should apply for any necessary permits. After permits are obtained, and the materials are delivered, demolition can begin. 

3. Demolish the Bathroom

On demolition day, the crew will start removing all the old materials from your bathroom. Again, this step in the process may look different depending on the scope of your project. If your bathroom is being expanded, it may include demolishing walls. 

They’ll take out the old fixtures, flooring, plumbing, electrical, and anything else that is going to be replaced later. Your contractor will have a designated area in which these materials are collected and disposed of.

4. Update Plumbing and Electrical

Once all the old materials are removed, the electrical and plumbing are updated. This could include replacing the old guts or rerouting them. It greatly depends on the scope of the project. Your contractor will install the rough-ins for both plumbing and electrical. Once the fixtures are installed, they’ll finalize the placements. At the end of this process, a city inspection will occur to make sure everything is up to city standards. Your contractor should schedule the inspection and be there during the inspection.

5. Hang Drywall and Install Flooring

When the inspector signs off on the work, your contractor will begin closing the walls with drywall. They’ll prime and paint them afterward, too. Once they close the walls, the crew will install the flooring you chose for your project. The flooring also encompasses tiling the shower if that is something you’re installing for your bathroom.

6. Install Shower/Tub

The shower and tub come after the flooring. As we said, the tiling for the shower will come alongside the flooring. After it’s tiled, the showerhead, faucet, and other features can come with it. The tub will also come during this time if a tub is being installed for your bathroom. Some tubs are freestanding, while others are more integrated into the flooring. For this reason, the flooring must come before the tub.

7. Install Exhaust and Lighting

Most municipalities require exhaust fans, so this is essential for your bathroom. Your contractor’s crew will install the necessary exhaust fans for the bathroom and any lighting. This phase is where some of the rough-in electrical will be finalized. 

8. Install Vanity, Sink, and Toilet

It’s at this point you’ll begin to see the final form of your bathroom. The vanity and remaining water fixtures are installed according to the rough-in plumbing. This process doesn’t take long, and you can expect to be near the end of the project shortly.

9. Install Accessories

The final few items to install are the accessories for your bathroom. Accessories include mirrors, shelves, towel holders, toilet paper holders, and more. These are essentially the final touches of your bathroom remodel. After they are complete, your contractor will reveal the work to you.

10. Finalize the Bathroom

Finalizing the project includes getting approval from you and getting a final inspection from the city. If everything looks good, the project will be finished, and you’ll be good to use your brand new bathroom!

Bathroom Remodeling FAQs

1. How long does bathroom remodeling take?

It greatly varies depending on the scope of your project. On average, a bathroom remodeling project will take three to six weeks to complete. That doesn’t involve any of the planning so expect the entire project to take longer.

2. Do you need permits to remodel a bathroom?

It depends on the extent of your project. Cosmetic renovations do not require a building permit. These are considered projects like painting, replacing light fixtures, and installing new flooring.

 

Projects that do require a building permit are those that make changes to the structure, electrical, or plumbing. Projects like moving a wall, replacing plumbing, or moving electrical all require a building permit.

3. What is the most expensive part of a bathroom remodel?

If you’re remodeling your entire bathroom, the most expensive part will likely be the labor to install everything. This is what most bathroom remodeling budget breakdowns tell us. Of course, your project may differ depending on many different factors.

 

Projects that do require a building permit are those that make changes to the structure, electrical, or plumbing. Projects like moving a wall, replacing plumbing, or moving electrical all require a building permit.

4. Does a bathroom remodel add to my home value?

Yes! When done correctly, a bathroom remodel can greatly increase the value of your home. Bathroom remodels are some of the most popular projects taken on by homeowners because of the value they add. A mid-range bathroom remodel is able to recoup 61% of the costs spent upon selling.

 

Projects that do require a building permit are those that make changes to the structure, electrical, or plumbing. Projects like moving a wall, replacing plumbing, or moving electrical all require a building permit.

5. Can you remodel a bathroom yourself?

Yes! Bathroom remodeling projects can be highly DIY-friendly. If you are looking to replace a few fixtures and replace old materials, it’s certainly doable with a bathroom remodel. If you need to extend the square footage of your bathroom or replace the guts, we recommend having a professional do the job. That way, you can ensure the project is handled correctly.

 

Projects that do require a building permit are those that make changes to the structure, electrical, or plumbing. Projects like moving a wall, replacing plumbing, or moving electrical all require a building permit.

Resources

If you want to learn more about bathroom remodeling, take a look at the resources we’ve listed below. 

 

Bathroom Remodeling Ideas