Remodeling Bathrooms
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modern design bathroom

Remodeling Bathrooms

When rehabbing a home, the bathroom is one of the most important rooms to update-and sometimes one of the most challenging.

Though it is usually the smallest room in the house, there's a lot to deal with.

Remodeling bathrooms can really make or break a home. If you have an out-dated bathroom, you really do want to give it an exciting new look.

Related Bathroom Remodeling Projects:

Set Your Budget

It's a well-known fact-remodeling bathrooms can be an expensive proposition. Kitchens and bathrooms are generally the two most expensive rooms in the house.

You will need to set a budget for your remodel.

bathroom demolition

Bathroom Demolition or a Make Over?

Depending on the current condition of the existing bathroom and exactly what is required, your budget could be anywhere from $500 to $5,000. Remodeling bathrooms can go into the 10's of $1000's when you're talking "High-End Luxury!"

If you need to replace all of the expensive bathroom fixtures like:

-- Tub and Shower Surrounds
-- Toilet (water closet)
-- Sink, Vanity, and Faucets
-- Medicine Cabinet and Mirror

Or if you are planning to upgrade to a Jacuzzi Tub or Whirlpool, you will want to budget on the high end.

Build a little wiggle room into your budget, especially in bathrooms. You may find unpleasant surprises such as dry rot behind a bathtub or shower that needs to be replaced, and you want to make sure you don't exceed your budget.

Here's an example of a Bathroom Blueprint

bathroom blueprint

Evaluate And Plan Your Remodel

Do you have a Bathroom Blueprint? Maybe you don't need one if you're just giving your bathroom a make over. 

Blueprints are a commonly used when remodeling bathrooms when hiring contractors on the major demolition or adding on projects. 

Don't be surprised on the large remodeling projects that the City Building Department will request a blueprint or at least a simple drawing of the site-plan and scope of work.

The first step is to evaluate the existing bathroom. Consider the condition, color, and style of the fixtures.

For a while, colored fixtures were in vogue, but now they're pretty much out of style.
If your bathtub or toilet is pink, blue, or avocado, you're probably going to want to replace them with new, solid white fixtures. 

If the fixtures are white, in a neutral style, and in good overall condition, you may be able to get by with just a thorough cleaning.

Look at the walls, ceiling, and floors. You'll want to consider the color, condition, and the materials used. For instance are the walls
wall papered,
or dry walled? Do they have a solid color or a fake finish?

Are the walls dry and solid or mildewing and rotted in places? Is the floor level and even? Tiled or linoleum? Decide what you want to change and what you plan to keep.

As you can see, remodeling bathrooms can get complicated and very expensive. Further down the page are some simple techniques to achieve a major difference.

There's more to consider remodeling bathrooms...

Consider the overall floor plan of the existing bathroom. Will it stay the same, or do you want to rearrange the fixtures and cabinets?
Are you considering adding on to the room size?

Keeping the same layout will save the most time and money even if you do replace the fixtures. 

Rearranging and adding on will add significantly to the cost! Changes in the electrical, plumbing and venting, HVAC will add several $1000 to the project with licensed contractors and Building Permits. The cost is mostly labor!

Of course, the do it yourself bathroom remodel Rehabber, who is skilled in the trades, can tackle these projects merely for the cost of the materials. Maybe you know a Rehabber that is willing to give you a hand.

small bathroom cabinet

A Small Bathroom Cabinet Doesn't Have to be Expensive!

In the photo, the small bathroom cabinet and vanity set, including the sink only cost $150. Perfect for the second bathroom or a nice little rental unit.

Look at the cabinets and counter top, including the amount of storage and counter space you have available.

Do you want to keep the existing vanity and cabinetry or change them out? What about the option of refinishing or painting the cabinets in lieu of replacing them?

Do you like the style of the faucets and handles?

If the cabinets and vanity are custom built or a specific size, they will be more expensive to replace than if they are standard pre-built units. Sometimes just changing the hardware, faucets, and handles gives your bathroom a fresh new look. Remodeling bathrooms can be as simple as that!


Remodeling bathrooms can be a challenge. Take careful measurements of everything! And measure everything before you start anything!

If the original bathroom fixtures (the tub and shower in particular) were installed in the bathroom before the home was completed, they may not fit out the existing bathroom door without deconstructing a wall.

And then, they may not fit out your front door to dispose of them. There lies the worst task of remodeling bathrooms.

Likewise, when you are deciding on a new tub or shower unit, consider the width of your entry door, your bathroom door, and every doorway you will need to pass through with the new unit to get to the bathroom before you pick out the unit you want to purchase. Many large units will not fit through standard width doors.

Be Prepared for the Worst

Notice that if walls are damp, decomposing, mildewing, or rotting, the entire wall board will definitely need to be replaced.

There's a good chance the wooden wall studs are rotting and decomposing as well. 

Here is the hidden area to add a little to the budget when remodeling bathrooms and demolition becomes more that what you just see on the surface.

Replacing wood and using water resistant green board (green dry wall) shouldn't be much more than a couple hundred dollars.

If your paying a carpenter to remove wall studs and rebuild the walls, allow at least another $500 to the budget for labor.

Building Permits

A lot of work can be done without needing to pull a building permit. When it comes to removing drywall and exposing the wall studs,
replacing the wood framing in the wall or floors,
and adding electrical circuits;
Building Permits and Inspections are usually required.
Building and electrical permits in my area run about $100 each. Just another typical over looked cost to consider before you start demolition.

Be prepared for anything when you pull out a tub or shower unit or take tile off the wall or move cabinets!

You never know what you will find! Many a Rehabber has discovered:

  • Rotten wood
  • Sagging floor joists beneath a bathtub
  • Uninsulated exterior walls behind lathe and plaster
  • Leaking pipes and broken Vent stacks
  • Bare wires that are unsafe
  • Maybe a Varmints Nest or a Beehive...
  • Maybe a hidden treasure - that's what I'm looking for!

If the wall was wet, there is sure to be mold inside the wall cavity on the opposing wall. You may end up replacing the opposite side walls or at the very least, bleach them down or use the appropriate "safe mold removal chemicals".

Remodeling Bathrooms - Do it Right

Once you remove something, you need to make sure you do the job right!

Correct any structural defects or damage that you find. When in doubt, call your local City Building Department for advise and recommendations on proper building codes. 

I consider the Building Inspectors my friends, they've always been very helpful when I was starting out, and still today on more difficult projects I find myself getting into.

Additionally with the Floor

you may discover you need a new subfloor before you can install new linoleum or vinyl tiles. If your going to add a ceramic floor, cement board is going to be required.

Remodeling Bathrooms Luxury Style

luxury bathroom

Again, this is another area where that extra padding in your budget could be a lifesaver.

Consider also whether you will need to replace the:

  • Bathroom door
  • Door hardware and locks
  • Window units
  • Curtains, blinds, or shades and the hardware
  • Exhaust fan

On the Lighter Side...

Get An Incredible Effect!

No Demolition needed? Than Building permits will more than likely not be needed either. That's a big money savings!

You can make a tremendous difference in the look of the home when you update:

  • Old bathroom fixtures
  • Repaint walls
  • Lay a new tile floor
  • Replace the vanity or even just the countertop
  • Accessorize the room with an ornate new faucet and handles
  • Tasteful new toilet paper holder and towel bars
  • Stylish new lighting over the mirror

You'll have a fresh, clean, streamlined new look that will make a noticeable difference in your home.

This is the way to go if this is an investment home or for a rental unit. Major renovations are not usually necessary unless it's an added luxury for your home. Then by all means, enjoy all that you can afford.

Where would you like to go from here...

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