There are plenty of good reasons to tackle that bathroom remodel. Maybe you’re trying to increase the value of your home before selling; perhaps you’re just tired of crouching beneath a low-placed showerhead. Whatever your motivation, a well-planned bathroom makeover can take your private space to the next level.
That being said, it can also be a time-consuming and expensive project. HomeAdvisor recently placed the average cost of a bathroom remodel in the U.S. at $10,341, pointing to a range of $5,954 and $14,828. And since the bathroom is a space you use every day, you will have a constant reminder that the job was not done right – not to mention the volumes of water that will exploit any and all leaks if the workmanship is poor. Be sure to set a budget and plan ahead to keep your project on track and done right!
Here’s a list of things to consider even before you start tearing up that tile.
- Budget generously. Even the most experienced professional can’t magically see inside your walls before starting a project. It’s quite common for contractors to discover other problems such as water damage or mold once they start adjusting the plumbing and electrical fixtures. To be on the safe side, add an extra 10 to 15 percent onto your budget for such contingencies.
- De-emphasize the toilet. When you’re doing the designing, hide this permanent fixture behind a wall, half wall, console, or piece of furniture for both aesthetic and practical reasons.
- Choose durable surfaces. Fixtures, floors, and walls tend to take a lot of abuse over the years. Choose surfaces that are chip-averse, scratch-resistant, and easy to clean (stainless steel, enamel on steel, granite, quartz, etc.). If you have your heart set on a more exotic material, consider using it as an accent.
- Reconsider the double sink. Many who latched onto the trend have since found they’d rather have the extra counter space and/or a vanity space where they can sit and groom.
- Tubs out, showers in. Like most people, you’ll probably end up using a shower way more than a bathtub. Take advantage of the space that used to hold your tub by building the shower enclosure of your dreams; this may include seating, his-and-her showerheads, multilevel sprayers, steam generators, a heated shower mirror, heated towel bars, and more. Showers built in an L shape could even allow you to forgo a shower door.
- Go green. Save money – and the environment - by choosing water-efficient showerheads, toilets, and faucets. From a comfort standpoint, you’ll likely notice no discernible difference.
- Let there be light (and air). Consumer Reports recommends opting for “different layers of illumination” via different kinds of fixtures throughout your bathroom. This can include ceiling fixtures, sconces, or vertical fixtures on the sides of your vanity and separate lights over your shower and toilet. And make sure you have an adequate fan for eliminating the humidity that can lead to mold and mildew.
- Don’t fail to plan. Take your time designing your bathroom and choosing fixture and decor elements, perhaps seeking ideas from magazines and Pinterest. The final design should align with existing plumbing and electric lines, meet your budget, be ergonomic, and make sense when it comes to workflow.
- Don’t assume you can do it all yourself. Some tasks, like ripping out your own tub or demolishing a wall, may be relatively easy. Installing your plumbing and electricity, on the other hand, are not. Consider getting quotes from at least three different contractors, vet their references, and check their required paperwork (licensure, insurance, and workers’ compensation). Once you choose a professional, thoroughly review his contract before proceeding.
- Don’t go cheap with essential materials. Your bathroom is bound to see a lot of traffic, so make sure you’re choosing surfaces and fixtures that can deliver (preferably via lifetime warranties). Factory seconds aren’t a good idea; if you need to cut costs, look to modest light fixtures and basic toilet models that forgo all the bells and whistles.
- Don’t think young. You may wish to plan ahead for when you or your loved ones will be unable to navigate a standard bathroom. Consider installing grab bars, accessible showers with seating, and other features that meet the aging-in-place standards of universal design — or at least the structural framework allowing you to install all that later.
- Don’t forgo storage. Planned the perfect bathroom but didn’t leave yourself any shelf space? You’re going to want ample room for towels, toiletries, grooming tools, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, plungers, and more.