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Important Things to Know Before Remodeling Your Bathroom

McCall Martin
McCall Martin | Senior Editor

A remodeled bathroom can add comfort, luxury, and safety to your home and daily routine. Whatever the reason for the bathroom upgrade, there are a lot of big decisions that surround a bathroom remodel. It’s important for homeowners to select a reputable bathroom remodeling company or bathroom remodel contractor who’s remodeling services will help make their dream bathroom a reality. Here we’ll give an overview about some of the most important things to consider when planning your bathroom remodeling project.

When to remodel your bathroom

  • Your bathroom is old and broken. If your bathroom appliances are falling apart or there is mold or mildew invading your space, it’s time for an upgrade. If your bath is stained and gross, it’s worth the money to replace it and enjoy your bathroom again.
  • It doesn’t suit your style anymore. Even if your bathroom is still functioning well, it can be hard to enjoy if you can’t stand that pink bathtub or the outdated lighting.
  • Someone in your family has additional safety limitations. Traditional bathrooms don’t cater to the elderly or disabled with limited mobility, as it can be difficult for them to enter a standard bath or shower. Installing a walk-in tub or walk-in shower with safety accessories such as grab bars and built-in seating can make bathing a breeze for you or your family member.
  • You’re preparing to sell your home. Home experts and relators continually say that the kitchen and bathroom sell the house. A dreamy bathroom helps potential buyers imagine their lives in your home. If done tactfully, a bathroom remodel can recoup 100 percent of its cost at resale.

Bathroom remodel costs

When considering a bathroom remodel, many people wonder how much it will cost. The price for an average bathroom remodel varies greatly. It can cost anywhere between $2,000–$23,000. The average is around $10,000. This huge range depends on the following factors. These include:

  • Size of bathroom — A small powder room will obviously cost less to remodel than a master bath. Factors include the square footage of tile, wall, and flooring you’ll need, the size of the appliances you’re installing, and the additional labor cost if you’re billed by square feet.
  • Labor cost — If you’re hiring the project out (see below about hiring a contractor), expect labor to cost 40–70 percent of your budget. For example, if your materials cost $4,000, your labor could cost $6,000. If you’re hiring hourly, an average wage for a general contractor is $50–$75 per hour. Labor cost fluctuates depending on where you live.
  • Scope of remodel — If you just want to give your bathroom a facelift with a fresh coat of paint and new accessories, this could cost you less than $100. However, if you plan to change the layout of your bathroom (which includes moving walls, plumbing, and electric), the total quickly rises to thousands of dollars.
  • Materials — The kind of materials you choose to furnish your bathroom with affect the total price dramatically. For example, a stone bathtub can easily cost over $10,000, a cast iron freestanding tub can cost over $1,000, while a classic white fiberglass or acrylic bathtub will cost you around $300. A walk-in shower with a glass door can cost you over $800, but you can get a simple bath and shower combo for $400.
  • Style — As mentioned in the previous bullet point, simple styles are less expensive than customized or decorative choices. For example, custom tilework will cost much more than a generic shower liner.
  • Unforeseen costs — When remodeling your bathroom, it’s difficult to budget for all of the costs that come up. There might be structural issues such as leaks, mold, or failing appliances. The remodel might take more time than you think which could incur more labor costs.

Bathroom remodel timeline

Many wonder how long their bathroom remodel will take. Depending on the scope of your remodel, it could take anywhere from weeks to months. If you’re working with an experienced contractor who is working solely on your project, you can expect things to move a bit faster. Here are some rough estimates of how long each phase of your project could take:

  • Consultation and planning beforehand 1 day–6 weeks
  • Acquiring permits 1 day–6 weeks (see FAQ below)
  • Demolition 1–2 days
  • Framing and carpentry 1–2 days
  • Windows and doors 1–3 days
  • Electrical and plumbing 1–3 days
  • Installation of new appliances (sink, toilet, shower) 1–4 days
  • Walls (insulation, drywall, sheeting, paint) 2–4 days
  • Tilework 1–3 days
  • Cabinetry and counters 1–2 days
  • Flooring 1–2 days
  • Fixtures and decor .5–1 day
  • Details and inspection 1–3 days
  • Clean Up .5 day

If you were to include all of these stages, your bathroom remodel could take anywhere between two weeks and more than two months from start to finish. Some tasks require time before starting the next stage of your renovation such as waiting for the paint/caulking to dry, waterproofing the shower and surrounding area, or waiting for building permits. Some general contractors only work on one project at a time, while others split their time between several job sites at once. When you’re getting bids for your project, ask the contractor how long they think it will take. Budget in time for unforeseen obstacles such as mold, complicated plumbing, or scheduling issues.

Hiring a bathroom remodel contractor

Choosing the right bathroom remodel contractor through a company can make or break your project. Here are a couple of things to consider when picking a contractor:

  • Scope of your remodel — Some contractors only specialize in shower or bath renovation while some contractors do it all. If your bathroom upgrade is simple, you might not need to hire it out (see FAQs for more information).
  • Time —How fast do they say they can get your bathroom done? Some companies will bring in a team of skilled workers to get your bathroom done in a day or two, but some contractors will work on other jobs and not prioritize you and your home. Also keep in mind that there are typically an array of unforseen and unexpected issues that arise when remodleing, extending the overall time frame of the remodel.
  • Bid — Make sure to get several bids for your remodel before selecting a bathroom remodeling contractor. This will help ensure that you that you’re getting a contractor for good price.
  • Reviews — Read reviews and referrals about a contractor and the quality of their work before you commit to working with them. See what other people have to say. Ask the contractor for examples of his or her previous work.
  • Design — Some remodeling contractors are designers, but some are not. For most contractors, it’s best if you come to the table with a design idea already in mind however, there are bathroom remodel contractors that include the design specs as part of their services. Different contractors have different expectations of what the client is expected to bring to the table. Get more details about bathroom remodeling contractors expectations in the FAQ section below. 

What to look for in a bathroom remodel company

Bathroom remodel companies specialize in bathroom remodels. Many specialize in tub and shower renovation, but some expand their services to full remodels. In addition to the factors listed above about picking a remodeling contractor, consider these things when choosing a bathroom remodel company:

  • How is the customer service?
  • Does the company use subcontractors, or employ all of its own workers?
  • Does it offer a design consultation?
  • Does it offer a free estimate?
  • Does it offer financing options?
  • Will the company take care of the necessary building permits?
  • Does the company offer a complete remodel?
  • How many years has the company been in business?
  • Does the company offer a lifetime warranty on its products?
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Bathroom Remodel Services Frequently Asked Questions

How do I remodel a bathroom for resale?

If you’re planning to move out soon, make sure your bathroom is in a style that will appeal to the masses and catch the eye of future buyers. Steer away from trendy styles and colors. Design your bathroom in neutral tones (tans, whites, grays) that can be personalized with art and accessories.

Consider the cost of your house and don’t over-remodel. For example, if your house is worth $200,000, it doesn’t make sense to spend $40,000 on a luxurious bathroom. If you live in a home with only one bathroom, consider the option of adding a second one instead of remodeling your current one.

Can I do my bathroom remodel myself?

With many home blogs and TV shows highlighting renovation projects, it’s common to want to turn a bathroom remodel into a DIY project. If you are planning a small scale facelift and not changing out any major appliances, you can often do the project completely yourself. This could include things like changing out the shower head, upgrading the cabinets and countertops, adding mirrors, updating lighting, or redecorating.

However, larger scale bathroom remodels involve plumbing, tile work, and electrical. All of these require the help of skilled tradesmen (and often permits). Taking plumbing or electrical projects into your own hands can cause safety issues such as fire or flooding risks. If you don’t have experience, you can cause damage and incur additional costs, probably more than it would cost to hire out the job in the first place.

To save money, consider doing part of the job yourself and hiring out the rest. Though hiring contractors to remodel your bathroom will cost more than if you do it yourself, the project will get done much more quickly and you’ll have your bathroom back and better than ever.

Will you need any permits to renovate your bathroom?

Most home projects involving any major changes to the structure of your home will require a building permit. These permits are required for your safety and that of your neighbors. If you don’t obtain a permit when one is required, you could be facing major fees down the road. Building and construction permits vary greatly based on the city or county you live in. Check with your municipality’s building and permit office to know which permits are required for your remodeling project. In general, permits are required for these bathroom remodel situations:

  • Changing the structure of your home. This includes demolishing/removing walls, changing the use of a room (like changing a closet into a bathroom), or additions.
  • Creating new holes in your house (for new windows, doors, or vents/fans).
  • Moving plumbing or wiring (even just moving an electrical outlet).
  • Adding a water heater.

How do I choose the right bathroom remodel contractor and company?

When choosing a bathroom remodel contractor and company, you’ll want to consider the scope of your remodel, the time it will take, the company’s bid, and the company’s reviews for previous work. Different bathroom remodel compnaies may have different guidelines for their contractors. Some bathroom remodel contractors are expected to help from start to finish. Beginning by helping to choose the inital design to installing the last finishing touches. Other bathroom remodel contractors may take more of a back seat to the selection process. The client is expected to have the vision and the bathroom remodeling contractor is simply hired out to do as they are told. Depending on a homeowners type and knowledge of the remodel process, both kinds of contractors are valuable. Check out our reviews of the top rated bathroom remodel companies in your state and ask about their staff of contractors. 

How do I know which bathroom remodel ideas are right for me?

Between sorting out which general contractor to hire, estimating how much your bathroom remodel with cost and obtaining a building or remodel permit, there are a lot of factors that can distract from the initial problem at hand — how you want your bathroom to look.

It is important to establish two major parameters — your desired bathroom remodel cost and the size of your space.

There are some costs that are relatively fixed, but varying costs may depend on the type of light fixtures, floor, tile, sink, tub, mirrors, faucets, counter tops, etc.

First, find your design ideas and inspirations online, then find copy cat materials that look similar, but are more cost effective.

For example, perhaps you are wanting a marble countertop or backsplash in the bathroom. Instead of breaking the bank with this costly material, try finding a granite quartz countertop that mimics the marble look, but doesn't cost a fortune.

Take the time to find cost effective materials hat fulfill your dream bathroom remodel ideas. There is almost always a cheaper way to finish out your bathroom from start to finish, you just have to do a bit more research.

Second, calculate the square feet of your bathroom and then plan accordingly.

A small bathroom remodel will require a bit more tetris like planning to ensure that your bathroom is as functional as it is beautiful. Perhaps it is in your best interest to consult your general contractor on how to re-work the plumbing to ensure that your bathroom is maximizing its space. You'll be surprised how possibly switching the location of your shower with the sink can add a few square feet of usable space.

In addition to logistical changes, here a few small bathroom remodel ideas to keep in mind when faced with decor dilemas.

  •  Make storage space as purposeful in design as it is in functionality
  •  Mirrors help to accentuate the space and make it appear larger
  •  Showers with a glass door rather than a blockade of a shower curtain help visually expand the bathroom
  •  Busyness in patterns and decor can be mistaken for clutter, opt to go more minimal
For a few bonus tips that go more in-depth on this topic, check out our insights here.
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