Bathroom Costs and Budgeting

miniature faucet on top of a budget

Remodeling your bathroom on a budget

Remodeling can put a big dent in anyone's budget, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Try these ideas to trim down the cost:

  • Plan! Plan! Plan! Don't rush the process and allow yourself the time to fully work through all aspects of the project.
  • Avoid cutting up your house. Try to be as creative with the space you have and avoid structural changes.
  • Curves are in, but costly. Curved walls and other difficult-to-build features can add up quickly. Simple straightforward designs are the least expensive to build.
  • Concentrate the plumbing in one location. Place new bathroom additions adjacent to or above existing facilities to reduce rough-in plumbing costs.
  • Use professionals. Architects and kitchen and bath planners can actually save you money because their designs are efficient. They’re familiar with working with contractors and giving advice to their clients.
  • Stick with standard finishes and items. Bath fixtures in custom colors or high-end finishes cost several times what standard fixtures cost. Check the price of any nonstandard fixture in your plan and compare its price against the standard version. Standard may seem boring, but the savings are sure to get your attention.
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Small bathroom with large tub and a lot of bathroom furniture

Completing Your Project in Stages

Another strategy that allows you to afford a complete bathroom makeover is to break the project up into stages, and fund each stage through your cash flow or financing. For example, break the total job into several smaller projects. Make the first phase a face-lift of new paint and or wallpaper. Later replace the vanity and countertop. In the third phase, replace the toilet and install tile on the walls and floor. In between the major phases, replace the accessories such as towel bars and soap trays. Keep in mind, however, that although this approach makes the project easier to afford, the downside is that it keeps the bathroom in a state of limbo for a long time.

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A remodeled bathroom

Exploring Some Financing Options

Funding a remodeling project is usually easier than other projects because you own a valuable asset, your home. The bathroom remodeling you’re looking to fund adds value to this asset, so it’s the type of loan lenders like to make. But keep in mind that you can choose from many ways to finance a remodeling project, and some are more expensive than others. If you’re planning to undertake a major bathroom remodeling project, you probably want to at least consult with your local banker or financial advisor. They just so happen to already have several types of loans designed for exactly this expenditure. While you’re talking to the professionals, don't forget to get the input of a realtor. These professionals can give you some guidance to use the right financing tools and give you some assurance that the improvements you plan to make are financially sound.

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Shaking hands with a contractor over some bathroom floor plans

Creating A budget- When you hire a general contractor

The best method to approach a major project is to work up a plan; decide on the type of fixtures, wall, and floor treatments you want; and get several contractors to bid on the project. Discuss the options with the contractors and how each decision affects the bottom line, but be sure all the contractors end up bidding on the same project.

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Three contractors with hard hats

Creating A budget- When you plan to work with subcontractors

If you’re going to act as the general contractor on the project and hire subcontractors to do most, if not all, of the work, use the worksheet in Creating Your bathroom Budget to track their bids. Gather up your preferences for the materials and then enter the specifications, including such things as tile size, color, and brand.

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Water flowing from a fauvet tap to the sink bowl

Creating a Budget

Making a budget for the project is a bit like forecasting the weather. If everything is on schedule, the cost will probably be close to your estimate, if not right on target, at least for the material portion. But not all remodeling projects go per schedule.

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A luxurious bathroom

Deciding If It’s Worth It

Remodeling magazine, owned by Hanley-Wood, LLC, publishes an annual “Cost vs. Value Report,” which you can find at This annual survey compares the cost of a typical remodeling project with the value of the property after the completion of the project if the house were sold, for whatever reason, a year later. The figures used in this section are a national average, but you'll find figures adjusted for different regions of the country at the magazine’s Web site.

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A bathroom wit white walls, curtains, and countertops

Establishing A Budget- Doing major reconstructive surgery

Remodeling a bathroom is expensive because of all the plumbing pipes and electrical wiring that are under the floor and behind the walls and therefore expensive to relocate. You can change the infrastructure of your house, no matter how complicated, but you’ll pay the price. With few exceptions, there’s very little that can’t be rearranged in your bathroom, but the cost of the project can double if the existing plumbing has to be modified.

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A sink with silver faucet

Establishing Budget- Making cosmetic changes

In many ways, you get the biggest bang for your buck with a simple makeover. An outdated color scheme, old mildew-spotted paint, and pitted or rusty fixtures can make an otherwise usable bathroom look like the restroom at the local truck stop. A few basic changes can breathe new life into and create a fresh clean odor in the dingiest of bathrooms. Depending on the state of your loo, you may decide to choose one of these scenarios or combine several for a complete makeover. If you decide that new paint and wallpaper and a vanity and countertop swap will fill the bill, add the cost for the two projects together.

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Hand typing on a calculator with cash underneath it

Adding Up the Costs

 Before you can begin to plan your bathroom makeover or addition, you have to get a realistic handle on how much the job will cost. This chapter gives you a ballpark idea of what you’ll probably have to shell out to accomplish a simple bathroom makeover, a deluxe master bathroom addition, or anything in between.

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