You're going to want to create a budget before you start any demolition.
Behind the kitchen, the primary bathroom is the most important room to consider when selling a house. Whether you're selling or not, though, a bathroom remodel can improve functionality for your day-to-day life, give your home a refresh, and increase your property value.
However, you don’t want to waste your money (and time) on expensive upgrades that don’t pay off. So, how much should you plan on spending for a bathroom remodel, and how can you get the most bang for your buck? We asked the experts to explain the range of prices for bathroom remodels and ways to save money while creating a space that you’ll love.
How Much Does It Cost to Remodel a Bathroom?
As you might imagine, the cost of a bathroom remodel can vary, depending on numerous factors. Mitchell Parker, home design trends expert at Houzz, tells us that the national median spend for primary bathroom remodels is $13,500, which is up considerably from $9,000 in 2022. And he says everything from location to scope to square footage can affect the cost.
“If a shower is added or upgraded during the project, for example, it is considered a ‘major renovation’ and median spend rises to $20,000.” Parker points to the size of the bathroom as another factor that could affect the price. “According to Houzz research, the median spend for primary bathrooms that are 100 square feet or larger is $25,000, compared with $15,000 for bathrooms smaller than 100 square feet."
One reason that prices are all over the place is that there are so many degrees or levels of remodeling. For example, if you’re taking the DIY route and updating hardware and painting the walls, that’s a low-budget and quick facelift. “But once you get into tile replacement, knocking out walls, or adding a walk-in shower, the project is going to require a deeper investment, and it’s advisable to bring in a contractor,” advises David Steckel, home care expert at Thumbtack. “According to our data, hiring a contractor to fully renovate your bathroom can range from $5,800-$59,400, depending on the size of the bathroom and the scale of the project."
Natalie Rebuck, principal designer at Re: Design Architects, agrees that average costs can be all over the place. “It can vary greatly from $10,000 to upwards of $60,000, and there are a lot of factors that go into the numbers, such as the size of the space, and if the plumbing needs to be replaced or moved,” she says. So, before you can understand how much a bathroom remodel will cost, you'll need to do some work to determine exactly what you're looking to do.
How to Budget for a Bathroom Remodel
With such a broad range of costs, it can be difficult to determine how to accurately budget for a bathroom remodel. Bringing in a professional can help, but Steckel says you still need to do your own due diligence.
“Create idea books, and also price out everything before you get started,” he advises. “There are up to 20 line items for a bathroom reno, so don’t go into it until you have every single one priced - down to the light switches.” By doing this, you can set a clear budget breakdown with your contractors, designers, etc., and Steckel says you can avoid a messy and costly disaster down the road. “Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor all your questions before the project kicks off and make sure they are bonded, licensed, and insured properly,” he says. In addition, when you know how much you need to pay upfront, he says that can help you create a plan and budget accordingly.
Also, make sure that your budget is realistic. It’s easy to think you can save money by various methods that may not actually work. For example, you may be thinking you can watch a DIY video and tile the floor yourself to cut on costs. But when you get started, you may decide that you’re in over your head—and then you'll need to call in the pros.
Parker’s advice is to define your goals, set a realistic budget, and then pad it. “We recommend subtracting 20 percent to set aside for contingencies, which should not be used for material upgrades or splashy fixtures,” Parker says. “Construction is a complicated process, so having a buffer will help to reduce stress throughout the project.”
If you plan on doing the remodel yourself—without the help of an architect or interior designer—you’ll need to be precise in your efforts. Rebuck warns against making the types of mistakes that can cost time and money to correct—like not taking sufficient time to plan everything out before getting started. “Make sure you measure things several times to ensure that the vanity, shower enclosure, and anything else that a contractor might need to install fits,” she says.
Design Tips for a Bathroom Remodel
The grand design you have in your head may not match your budget, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still end up with a showstopping bathroom remodel. However, being willing to compromise can save a lot of money. “Moving plumbing components, taking down walls, and building additions can drastically increase the scope and cost of a bathroom remodel,” Parker says. If you keep the same general layout and location for plumbing (shower, sink, toilet), he says you can have a more cost-effective remodel.
Also, don’t get tripped up by the shiny objects. Instead, choosing quality over pretty fixtures can produce a bathroom that stands the test of time. “Don’t judge faucets and other plumbing fixtures on looks alone,” Parker warns. He says it’s the inner components that will determine how the pieces actually function and how long they will last. “Poorly made fixtures often have plastic gaskets and other pieces inside that quickly break down, affecting water flow and other performance features.”
However, using social media and interior design outlets can help you decide what type of trend or style you like best. Steckel recommends spending some time in this area, doing as much research as possible, and going through your plans with the professionals. “It’s helpful to have inspirational images up front to show your contractor exactly what you have in mind,” he says.
If you’re managing the remodel yourself, there are some things you’ll need to stay on top of. “Make sure that your items are on site and available for the contractor to begin his work,” Rebuck says. “Otherwise they could rip open your bathroom and you end up waiting an additional two months for the tile to arrive—and meanwhile, your bathroom is just sitting there demolished and unusable.”
A professional interior designer or decorator can provide invaluable help as these individuals can help you choose more budget-friendly options of your favorite designs. “There are a lot of great materials out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and I really like looking at Wayfair and Amazon to achieve a certain budget range,” says Rebuck. “They have great filters to try to find you items under a certain number as well as with a particular finish.”
Professional designers or decorators may also be able to find items that you don’t have access to yourself. “Some design pros offer consultations specifically geared toward helping you select products that fit your style and budget,” Parker says. “Many have access to stylish products available only to the trade and are knowledgeable about the quality of various manufacturers so you can be more confident in your purchases.”
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