7 things to consider before beginning a bathroom remodel. Learn how to save money on your remodel, what to expect, and the one thing you shouldn’t forget!
Back in the fall, I was invited to Delta Faucet Headquarters to take part in a blogger trip and to compete in a design competition. I had no intentions of ever winning said design competition. My husband and I had been toying with the idea of putting the house on the market this spring and a bathroom remodel was just not part of our immediate plan. But low and behold, my design was picked by the judges as the winner and I WON! What in the what?!? It was such an honor, but I could not have been more shocked. I immediately began to panic as to how I was going to pull this all off in a short time frame. It’s one thing to create a dream bathroom on a poster board and quite another to create one in real life!
I was given some cash towards the remodel and told to try and make it all happen within the next six weeks–which by the way happened to include Thanksgiving and Christmas. I learned a bunch of valuable lessons during our bath remodel that are worth passing along! Here are 7 things to consider before beginning a bathroom remodel.
Bathroom Remodel Consideration 1.
It is incredibly easy to go over budget.
I know this is a bit of an “uh…duh” tip, but it’s an important one to include! Although I won funds towards a bathroom remodel, the money I was granted was initially nowhere near enough to implement my luxury bath design. I knew Delta chose my design because they wanted to see the plan come to life. I wanted to stay true to the design plan, but I also didn’t want to go over budget. I had to make some difficult decisions on things to cut. Know going into your remodel that you will need to stay fluid in your design plan and make changes as glitches and expenses arise. Be sure to allow a buffer in your budget for the unexpected because the one thing you can count on in any remodel is the unexpected glitch!
Bathroom Remodel Consideration 2.
Contractor pricing varies greatly so shop around.
Not all general contractors are the same. I received three quotes on my bathroom from three different general contractors, and I could predict before any of them stepped foot in my home whose quote would come in the highest. If your contractor has a staff, on-site designers, a beautiful office, etc., you can expect to pay significantly more. One contractor’s quote literally came in at THREE times the amount of another quote. In the most expensive scenario, I would be doing very little work, subcontractors would be hired for their expertise in installing each element, and most everything would be handled for me. This contractor would have sourced and delivered all materials and managed the entire project from start to finish, and I’m sure it would have been amazing and relatively stress free! However, I knew it was just not what I could afford. In the end, I didn’t just choose the most affordable contractor, I chose the one I thought I could work well with which brings me to my next point!
Bathroom Remodel Consideration 3.
Choose a contractor you trust and can work with.
Let’s get raw and real for a moment. Remodeling a room in your house can really suck. It’s messy, invasive, time consuming, stressful, noisy, expensive, and inconvenient. Depending on the size of the job, you will have people in your home for over a month. I was amazed at how our small master bath took over the entire house! This is a picture of my roof deck. I had bathroom junk on all three levels of my home and at times it felt like it was taking over our lives. Going the less expensive route and DIY’ing some of the work will most likely mean more mess. Sourcing all of the items yourself–which involves finding the products in store or online, ordering everything online or in store and making sure it all gets delivered to your home in time to install, storing everything somewhere in the house until the materials are needed, and running to the store to buy more if you underestimated–can turn into a full-time job. (See my post on how to get a 350lb double vanity up three flights of stairs.) Assess how much stress your family can take before diving into a remodel where you are acting as the main contractor. My blog’s tagline has always been “creating beauty out of chaos,” and I kept chanting it to myself like a mantra during the remodel. It will be chaotic before it becomes beautiful!
Choosing a contractor you like goes a long way when problems arise! I chose a contractor who would perform almost all of the jobs involved with the help of his assistant and very few subs. I also decided to do all the ordering, managing, and delivering of all the materials, painting and staining all woodwork, adding the shoe molding, sealing the tile, and creating the bathroom shelves myself. Going this direction holds more risk but is MUCH more affordable.
I’m obviously a DIY’er and not a general contractor, but I know from experience in working with the “best of the best” DIY’ers in the land that finding someone who is an expert at everything is rare. If your contractor is going to be doing all the tasks involved in your bathroom remodel chances are very good he/she will be better at some of those tasks than others. Check references, look at pictures of prior work, and go with your gut before signing a contract! If you run into trouble along the way, insist on hiring a subcontractor for the more difficult jobs. My contractor let me know up front that I would need to hire a subcontractor for our shower door installation since it wasn’t his specialty. You should know beforehand who will be performing each task.
Bathroom Remodel Consideration 4.
Working with your existing footprint will save money.
In the beginning of my design plan, I had toyed with the idea of switching the tub placement with my shower and creating a hidden toilet area near the window. In the end I decided to move very little around in order to cut cost. I just heard a contractor say today regarding the toilet, “No one wants to see it; why celebrate it?” I could not agree more! A toilet closet or partition is ideal, but in my bathroom makeover it just wasn’t going to be worth the loss of square footage and added expense. I kept the toilet, tub, vanity, and shower in the same general location. Although the plumbing had to be reworked for each, it was not a complete change to a different wall. Using your existing footprint may not be ideal but it will save you money.
Bathroom Remodel Consideration 5.
If installing shiplap or wood ceilings, make sure you have good ventilation.
I’ve received some criticism for installing wood on the walls and ceiling of my bathroom. I do not regret the decision one bit! However, this bathroom has lofted ceilings and has always had great ventilation. I’m not sure I would have been as bold to implement wood in my boys’ bathroom which tends to get much steamier. Our mirrors never steam in spite of very hot showers and the bathroom doesn’t tend to feel humid. We installed the Broan Bluetooth Fan which has the additional benefit of streaming music while it keeps our bath nice and dry! I love it. You can read more about it here if you’d like or order it online here.
Bathroom Remodel Consideration 6.
Choose your materials wisely.
Cement tiles are trending big time right now and they were an absolute MUST for my design. I had used them multiple times on my design board and just had to have them! That being said, cement tiles tend to be expensive, more difficult to install, and need to be resealed every few years. Before installation, I cleaned and sealed each tile to prevent the dark grout from staining the tile, and then cleaned and sealed them all again twice more after installation. They do get dirtier faster than say a glossy ceramic tile and need to be babied a bit. I’ve seen designers use them on kitchen floors, and after living with ours in the bathroom I’m not sure I’d go that route. They are also a trend that might look very dated in the future. But honestly, most tile looks dated after a decade so I say go with what you love!
Bathroom Remodel Consideration 7.
Don’t forget about adding storage!
Our previous bath design was sorely lacking in storage and it showed. If you currently have a room in your home that you just can’t keep tidy no matter how hard you try, chances are good that your current storage and organization system is simply not adequate for you. Our former vanities were cute but didn’t have drawers and were inconvenient to get in and out of. They were designed for a powder room, and I ignored this because I liked them at the time. Design and function MUST work together! You will end up hating that cute vanity if it’s constantly cluttered with face wash and shaving cream because it’s too inconvenient to get in and out of.
Think about the areas of your current bathroom that aren’t working for you and how you can remedy the problem. For us, a double vanity with drawers and storage shelves with pull down baskets for towels and supplies has made a world of difference! You can see how I built our floating bathroom shelves here.
I hope these tips have proved helpful! Feel free to ask me any questions you might have in the comments. For a full list of sources for the bathroom please see below. You can click on the pictures or links to shop for the products listed.
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