Bathrooms are small rooms so they must be easier to remodel than larger rooms? No! Remodeling a bathroom can be extremely challenging as there are more features tucked into a bathroom than any other room besides the kitchen.
A simple remodel where you replace just 1 or 2 features like the vanity, counter top and sink won't be too difficult unless the new vanity requires moving plumbing as often happens when you pick a vanity with drawers.
This series on bathroom remodeling helps you sort through and prioritize your choices, to help you stick to your budget. We'll point out up front which changes cost the most like a tile floor and replacing a bathtub or shower.
Prioritizing Your Bathroom Remodel
Many bath remodel projects start small to solve a specific problem, like a leaky faucet. Once you get started you realize this might be the perfect time to replace the sink, and maybe the vanity as well! When the sink project is done, the toilet might look dated. What to do? By taking time to plan the project first, you are more likely to feel good about the results and final cost when it's complete. Below is a simple checklist to help you plan your bathroom remodel.
As you plan any project, keep your focus on your overall objectives. If you update your kitchen and baths instead of moving and plan to stay in the house for 10 or more years, you are investing in your lifestyle. Alternately, if you plan to move in a few years, you may consider scaling back your project to focus on what will help sell your home with the highest payback.
Assess Your Current Bathroom
An easy way to get started is to make a list of what you like and don't like about your existing bathroom. Think beyond today and consider what your bathroom needs to support your lifestyle, i.e. if you really need or maybe want as you've always wanted a towel rack that heats the towels. For example, you may consider installing a second sink if you have several children sharing a bathroom or grab bars for frequent grandparent visits.
For each item you would like to change, assign a priority of high, medium or low. Jot down your ideas for how you would like to change the item, i.e. maybe you've always wanted a whirlpool tub or a tile floor and marble thresholds. Make 2 passes through the list, the first just to identify possible changes you'll make during the remodeling project. On the second pass ass priority so you can start to separate the must have from the wish list.
When working with clients, I recommend they pick 1 or 2 special items that are the highlight of the remodeling project. You might be starting the project because you have to replace the bathtub and you've always wanted a large mirror with integrated lighting over the sink. When you have your top priorities (marked high) identified, it's easier to plan the remaining changes based on what your budget can support.
Plan for 10 to 20% contingency as there are always surprises you'll find after you start but didn't know to plan for. One of my handyman customers got upset because we exceeded her bathroom remodeling project. Our estimate included new hardware for the existing fixtures, new toilets (there were 2 bathrooms) and new linoleum floors. We had no idea until we were working in the bathtub to replace the hardware, that the exterior wall was rotted due to a window leak. Now we had to replace the window and wall which was tiled … and the customer was over budget, and we were the ones responsible?
|Room Assessment||Yes||No||Priority||What Can You Change?|
|Is the room big enough?|
|Does the room have enough light?|
|Is there enough storage?|
|Is the water pressure okay?|
|Are there any water leaks or damage?|
|Are you happy with your porcelain fixtures?|
|Do the vanity and counter top need updating?|
|Does the bathtub/shower meet your needs?|
|Need to update tub/shower surround?|
|Are you happy with the towel racks, etc?|
|Do you like the current wall treatment(s)?|
|Are you happy with the current floor?|
|Is the room easy to keep clean?|
|Do you have unique needs, i.e. grab bars?|
When you have your priorities set, you're ready to start building your project budget so click to visit … Bathroom Remodel: Building a Budget (Part 2).