Cost of Remodeling a Bathroom

How to Cost out a Bathroom Remodeling Project

By Mark J. Donovan

The first step in remodeling a bathroom is coming up with a budget that you can feel comfortable with. The cost of remodeling a bathroom can vary widely, depending upon the size of the bathroom, the plumbing fixtures that you plan to replace, the extent of bathroom remodeling desired, and your specific tastes.

Consequently the best way to come up with an accurate bathroom remodeling cost estimate is to draw up your own set of bathroom remodeling plans and generate a bill of materials list with specific bathroom remodeling items priced out.

For a rough bath remodeling cost estimate you can also use one of the many online bathroom remodeling calculators as well.

However, most of them will only provide you with an estimate that is within +/-25% of what it will really cost you to remodel your bathroom. So take their numbers with a grain of salt.

One of the most expensive variables in costing out a bathroom remodeling project is labor. If you plan to hire / subcontract out all of the work for remodeling your bathroom then you can expect to pay at least double the costs of your bill of materials list for remodeling your bathroom. Many do it yourself homeowners elect to do all or at least a portion of their bathroom remodeling project themselves to control costs. However, if new plumbing supply and drain lines are required you’ll need to hire a plumber. Similarly, if you plan to install a large bathtub, such as a Jacuzzi tub, or a custom ceramic tile shower, you may also need to hire a framing contractor to move or install walls, and an electrician to move wires.

When establishing costs for remodeling a bathroom it’s always important to include a separate line item for contingencies. As a general rule of thumb, the contingency line item should be about 5 to 10% of the sum of the rest of the cost items for the project. This way when the new custom ceramic tile shower costs you a bit more because you selected a more expensive tile at the last minute, or extra labor was required for installing the mortar shower pan, you’ve got it covered.

Another way to save costs on your bathroom remodeling project is to buy the supplies yourself versus relying on the hired bathroom contractor to do so.

Estimating the cost of a bathroom remodel.

Most contractors charge a mark-up fee for all the materials they buy and use on their projects. In some cases, the contractors may push back on you and demand that they buy the materials because they know exactly what they need. They may also argue that they’ll save you some money in the long run in supplies because they get a contractors discount when buying materials. Both statements may be true, however most of the time you’ll save money if you buy the materials yourself. In the end, you may want to compromise with the contractor(s) and buy the large ticket items only, e.g. the new Jacuzzi bathtub or fancy bathroom vanity.

If you plan to contract out all of the work for remodeling your bathroom make sure to get several contractor bids and carefully compare them against one another. Never go with the cheapest bid just because it is the cheapest. Also, evaluate each bid for thoroughness. The more complete and detailed a bid, the more likely it is an accurate reflection of the true cost of remodeling a bathroom. My “Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet” is the perfect tool for soliciting bathroom remodeling contractor bids and for comparing and evaluating bids. In addition, it includes a separate Excel spreadsheet for estimating and monitoring your own specific bathroom remodeling costs.

So plan your bathroom remodeling project thoroughly, do your homework by visiting bathroom supply stores and getting accurate material costs, and screen your contractors carefully.

Bathroom Remodeling Bid Sheet

Doing all three of these items well will ensure an accurate cost of remodeling your bathroom and improve your chances of a successful bathroom remodel.

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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