How to Plan a Professional Bathroom Renovation

Budget and scope out how to redo your bath

By Jan Soults Walker

A great bath renovation is more than a game of chance and random numbers. Before you track down the tile of your dreams or spend hours caressing spa tubs, do some planning. And, the two most important planning steps you can make are to establish the budget and find the right pros. 

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Contemporary Bathroom by Ines Hanl
Ines Hanl

Are you flush with excitement over a potential bath renovation? Here's how to get a handle on the budget and make winning choices.

Budget basics
When it comes to pegging down a budget, plan for the unexpected. "I would always figure in a 10 percent contingency to the project budget," says Dallas-area certified master kitchen and bath designer Alan Hilsabeck Jr. of Hilsabeck Design Associates. "You also want to make sure you have all your materials on hand before starting the project. One of the biggest budget busters is finding out a product isn't available and making a last-minute change order."

Other issues beyond labor and materials will affect the budget as well. You'll save money, for example, if you keep plumbing (tub, sink, toilet) where it is now. Relocating plumbing can boost the budget significantly. Still, if your bathroom layout doesn't work as it is, it may be necessary to move some pipes. So plan accordingly.

A savvy budget uses trade-offs. Look for some money-saving opportunities, such as selecting a floor-model vanity, so you can splurge on something you really want, like a roomy soaking tub.

You can also sprinkle in some high-ticket features for a custom look, rather than budgeting in a bath-full of pricey goods. For example, intersperse a few expensive handmade wall tiles within a backsplash of low-cost field tiles.

Eclectic Bath by Kathryn Scott
Kathryn Scott

What you get for the money

What you get for the money varies widely and depends on your shopping skills. Here are some sample budgets and what they could buy (depending, of course, on the size of your bath and costs in your area).

For $500 or less, you can:

  • Paint or add wall coverings
  • Replace the bathroom sink and faucet (or change out an aging vanity for a pedestal sink)
  • Upgrade lighting and cabinet hardware

Boost the budget to $5,000 and you could do all of the above, plus:

  • Choose new cabinetry and countertops
  • Lay new flooring
  • Install a whirlpool tub
More in Bath Fixtures

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