Ways to Lower Your Bathroom Remodel Cost

Bathrooms today are more than just a functional space. They’re the room that we often retreat to for self-pampering or a spa-like experience. If you’re looking into bathroom remodeling, you have likely found such a spectrum of costs and designs, that it’s hard to know where to cut costs and what options are available. But there’s always a way to minimize your bathroom remodel cost without completely sacrificing style and function, although there will likely be compromises. In this article, we’ll discuss ways in which you can cut the costs of your bathroom remodel while still creating a space that meets your needs and that you’ll enjoy today as well as down the road.

Determine the General Cost & Set a Preliminary Budget.

Before you meet with contractors, designers, and even retailers for your bathroom remodel you’re going to want to research to get a general idea of how much your bathroom remodel will cost. On average, a small bathroom remodel will cost between $8,000 and $10,000 in materials – a new toilet, sink, bathtub, tiling, cupboards, and countertop. As you’re trying to figure out your budget, it’s helpful to learn a few bathroom remodel averages, which you can customize based upon your bathroom size, intensity of remodel, and geographical location:

  • The total bathroom remodel cost, which includes both materials and installation, shouldn’t exceed 5%-10% of the home’s overall value.
  • The national average for bathroom remodel cost is around $16,000, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA).
  • A complete demolition and remodel of a small bathroom should be able to be completed in about 23 days, or four and a half weeks. However, this length of time for remodeling will vary greatly depending on the scope of your own bathroom remodel.

Determine your Design Options & Preferences…and Their Cost.

As is the case with any interior remodeling project, bathroom remodeling costs will increase significantly with major design changes such as relocating important fixtures. This includes fixtures that are plumbed, such as the toilet, sink, and tub/shower, because their removal and relocation requires such extensive effort, even down past the subfloor at times. One contractor in NYC estimates the cost of moving the toilet over just one foot, for example, to be about $1,000. If you can get away with installing an offset flange and buy yourself a few inches for that double vanity, it will only cost you $10. These are tips that a professional can certainly help you with.

If you’re somewhat experienced and comfortable enough with the process, you can save bathroom remodeling costs by DIYing some of the projects. For example, you can install a custom-cut vanity mirror yourself, just like the pros would do it. Or you could remove the tub/shower tile yourself rather than pay someone to come remove it. Then, if you are already planning on tiling your tub/shower surround, you can adjust the position of your shower head by moving the in-wall plumbing up or down, since you’re already inside the walls for tiling.

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Knowing what design options you want before the actual remodeling process even starts will likely save you money. If you want heated floors, for example, you can save thousands by installing electric radiant-heat mats instead of hydronic lines…but you’ll need to know this upfront, before you order flooring so that you ensure compatibility.

Research Materials for Functionality & Longevity.

Bathroom remodeling materials will require a little background research before you make all your design decisions. For example, if you fall in love with some tile for your floor, make sure it’s durable enough for flooring (grade 1 or 2) and not designed for walls (thinner, grade 3). Wood floors in a full bath, where water can (and will) soak the floor from time to time, are discouraged; tile floors with a coefficient of friction (COF) rating of 0.60 or higher are preferred. You’ll also need to check the tile’s water absorption rating as well, keeping in mind that the lower the absorption percentage number, the less water will be able to seep through. Look for a <7% rating for bathroom flooring tile, and <3% for shower flooring tile.

When you’re researching materials for bathroom walls and the ceiling, you can save a little money by painting them with basic interior paint, rather than ordering costly bath-specific paint. According to research conducted by consumerreports.org, there is sufficient mildew resistance in regular interior paint; satin or semigloss finishes will last the longest with scrubbing.

To cut costs during your bathroom remodel, once again, you can consider DIYing some of the work after you’ve researched the best materials. Have a glass shop cut your bathroom mirror to your specifications, for example, and then install it yourself with professional adhesive.

Doing your research and finding the materials that will work for the longest amount of time and provide the safest and most functional environment will save you lots of money and frustration over time. Even if these products cost a little more upfront, consider it a cost-savings when looking long-term, because what this bathroom remodel cost won’t have to be duplicated with replacement a year or two down the road.

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Strategize your Fixtures.

Just because an average bathroom remodel cost is a certain amount does not mean that yours has to be in the same ballpark. You can pick and choose which aspects of the bathroom you can leave as-is, which fixtures you can clean up or otherwise improve, and which fixtures should be completely replaced. Distinguishing between these three choices (and many points in between) can decrease your costs significantly. For example, installing a new shower costs an average of $3,000 (installing a new bathtub is almost $2,900), so you can decide if you want to give the one you’ve got a facelift or install a new one altogether. Or, if you don’t need a new toilet but really could use a new sink faucet, recognizing this can save you the cost of a toilet (about $350 on average to install a new toilet).

Toilets are one area to save in bathroom remodel costs, as you can easily and safely avoid toilets with bells and whistles for a high quality basic model. Consumer Reports found that dual-flush toilet models don’t perform well enough (unless they’re the space-saving wall-mounted toilets) to make them worth the extra cost. And most new toilets use less water than older models, at just over a gallon per flush. Whatever you do with the toilet itself, make sure there’s a tasteful toilet paper dispenser arrangement in your remodel.

An old and unsightly cast-iron tub could be reglazed rather than replaced, costing you a few hundred dollars rather than a thousand. Double vanities are a popular bathroom remodel choice these days, and are highly sought after in the housing market, so if you have the space and are able to put one in, you will recoup your costs later on. But don’t tear out a wall to do it; look for other cost-saving ideas, such as a wide trough sink and two wall-mounted faucets to give the same sort of convenience within a small bathroom remodel.

Consider purchasing ready to assemble cabinets for your bathroom vanity, and then add a custom look by refacing the cabinet doors (which could cost over $1,000 for a large bathroom vanity or less than $100 if you DIY) and adding high-end hardware, rather than customizing the entire vanity to the space, which will cost much more. Upgrade bathroom lighting, including some DIY industrial lighting options, to add a fresh, vibrant lightness to your bathroom at a lower cost than other more drastic remodeling efforts. There are plenty of other cost-saving DIY options for a bathroom makeover or remodel that you can explore.



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