Plan and Estimate Costs for a Bathroom Remodeling Project

Remodeling a Bathroom provides a high Return on Investment

By Mark J. Donovan

Deciding to remodel a bathroom that is outdated or is in rough shape is a smart financial decision. Bathrooms are one of the most important rooms in a home that prospective home buyers value. Remodeling a bathroom for the shear personal benefit is also another major reason for redoing it. A bathroom is like a small sanctuary that allows one not only to escape the frenetic pace of a busy work life, but also a place where one can even get a little piece and quite from their immediate family. So whether for personal pleasure, or as a financial investment, choosing to update a bathroom is an excellent decision.

A bathroom remodel, however, can be a major undertaking depending upon the level of remodeling desired.

If, for example, you envision replacing all of the bathroom plumbing fixtures, flooring and wall surfaces with new fixtures and materials, the coordination of the work and the costs will be quite high. If, on the other hand, you plan to effectively only put some lipstick on the old bathroom, e.g. updating the faucets and countertops, and adding some new paint, then the level of work and costs will be fairly minimal.

If you’re like most folks today, you’ll most likely want to go full monty with your bathroom remodel. Meaning, you’ll want a new Jacuzzi tub or whirlpool bath, a custom ceramic tile shower, a high-end vanity with granite countertop, and the latest in bathroom plumbing faucet fixtures. Similarly, you’ll probably desire the latest in toilet technology and lighting. As a result, the amount of work and dollars required in the bathroom remodel will be substantial. And because they are substantial, you’ll want to develop a solid bathroom remodeling plan before starting the actual construction.

If you are a fairly skilled DIY homeowner, you could save yourself some serious money by doing much of the remodeling work yourself. For example, removing the old plumbing fixtures, flooring, and tile surfaces is fairly low skilled work. Similarly, installing a ceramic tile floor in a bathroom is not that difficult. In regards to the actual plumbing work, if you have the right tools and some previous plumbing experience you may be able to tackle this part of the bathroom remodel as well. If on the other hand you don’t, then hire a plumber for this part of the remodeling.

Similarly, if your bathroom remodeling plans include new lighting fixtures then you will most likely need to hire an electrician for this phase of the project.

Tiled shower in bathroom

A Bathroom Remodeling Project’s Return on Investment

Since virtually every prospective homebuyer highly values a modern and clean bathroom, bathroom remodels typically offer a high rate of return. Thus, it is often okay to spend a little extra on remodeling a bathroom without fear of not being able to recover your investment if you so choose to sell your home.

Planning a Bathroom Remodel

Make sure your bathroom remodeling plans describe what you specifically want to see in your new bathroom. Make sure to specify specific types of plumbing fixtures, including; toilets, sinks, faucets, vanities, tub/shower units, shower doors, mirrors, etc. If there are unique custom features that you desire in the bathroom remodel, such as a custom ceramic tile shower or a steam shower make sure to include them in your description. Also sketch out dimensional information about the bathroom and where you want the new fixtures to go in it. Keep in mind that if you move the location of the toilet, tub/shower unit and vanity, then you are dramatically adding costs to the project. Moving these items means moving existing plumbing supply lines and drains which takes time and money.

Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet

In regards to toilets, you may want to consider reusing your existing toilet if you like how well it flushes. The new toilets available on the market today are all the low-flush types. Though they’ve come a long way since they were originally introduced, many of the low-flush type toilets still have a propensity to clog, unlike their older counterparts. Often an old toilet can be refurbished and restored to its original beauty, so you may want to think twice before throwing it away if it is still functional.

Remodeling a bathroom is dirty and messy work, and can take some time to complete, so make sure your plans include how you will deal with and mitigate the mess during the construction. Make sure you include in your contract with any bathroom remodeler language that states the remodeler will clean and vacuum up the jobsite at the end of every workday on the project.

When developing your bathroom remodeling plans decide right away if you will contract out the work, or a portion of it, to a contractor(s). Also figure out what you have for a budget before engaging with bathroom remodeling contractors. This way you and the prospective contractors will know what each has to work with, and can figure out a solution that financially works. If hiring a general contractor for the project, make sure you have solid plans to show him/her when they arrive at your home.

Key Bathroom Remodeling Features to Consider

Large whirlpool tubs are still in vogue and ceramic tile showers even more so. Similarly, multi- head shower jets and even steam showers are very popular. In the sink department, pedestal sinks are highly desired, particularly for smaller bathrooms or powder rooms. If it is a large bathroom use large vanities with double sinks. Homeowners today are also electing to go with tile on both the floors and walls. Vinyl flooring is still sometimes used, but if your budget can afford it, go with a bathroom tiled floor.

Structural Considerations

If your bathroom remodeling plans include the addition of a large whirlpool tub you may need to beef up the flooring by sistering additional lumber to the floor joists. This means ripping up the subfloor to get to the existing floor joists. Similarly, a whirlpool tub also requires additional support framing to go around it.

Likewise, if your plans include a custom ceramic tile shower some additional framing may be required. In addition, a mortar shower pan will be required.

Also, if your bathroom remodeling plans call for new recessed lighting, soffits may need to be constructed on the bathroom ceiling to support them.

Final Bathroom Remodeling Plans

Your complete bathroom remodeling plans should include a floor plan for the bathroom, and plumbing fixture locations. In addition, your floor plan should include dimensional information, and spell out specifically the various plumbing fixtures and other materials to be used in the project.

Once you have a solid set of plans in place then start interviewing prospective bathroom remodeling contractors. They should be able to come up with fairly accurate cost estimates for the project. Make sure to review each contractor bid carefully and check references on each of them before deciding upon which one to hire.

For help on your bathroom remodeling project, see my Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to prospective bathroom remodeling contractors. It also includes a comprehensive bathroom remodeling cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the contractor to include his projected remodeling costs for every phase of the project.

Related Information

Additional Bathroom Remodeling Design Resources

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