First, the broad strokes:
- What’s the problem? Face it, if your bathroom was perfect, you wouldn’t be pondering a remodel. Is the water pressure sufficient? If not, piping is likely going to be a larger part of the budget. Just freshening up the space or gutting it? Are you getting ready to put the house on the market? Building the master retreat you’ve always wanted? Prepping a bathroom for the mobility issues of an aging or infirm user? Know the issues and prioritize the solutions to them.
- What’s the budget? According to Remodeling Magazine, the average bathroom remodel in 2016 cost $17,908. Remember, that’s a national average. If you’re in New York, the number is more like $25,000. A general rule of thumb is to spend 5 to 10 percent of your home’s value on a bathroom remodel — so a $200,000 house shouldn’t have a bathroom job go over $20,000. Too, any budget should have a 10 percent contingency built in for unexpected expenses.
- What’s the hurry? If you only have one bathroom in the house, we understand — showers at the gym could get old fast. Yet a realistic timeline does not simply include the time it takes to complete the tasks from demo to paint. Ordering tiles, fixtures and cabinetry, as well as nailing down a schedule of a contractor and/or subcontractors, must be considered.
Then, the details:
- Size matters. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a 62-inch vanity meant for a 58-inch space. Do not — let’s repeat that — do not begin shopping for anything without solid measurements for your space. A floor plan showing plumbing locations and certain interior dimensions — the distance from the existing commode to the edge of the tub, for example — is better yet.
- Create a shopping list. The items to buy:
- Floor tile
- Wall tile
- Vanity top
- Vanity pulls
- Other cabinetry or shelving
- Towel bars
- Sink fixtures
- Shower base
- Shower door
- Shower fixtures
- Tub fixtures
- Light fixtures
- Electrical outlets, switches and covers
- Drywall and subfloor anchors
- Ventilation materials (fan, ductwork)
- Who’s doing the work? Working with electrical, tile and plumbing is beyond the abilities of many homeowners. Doing the demo and the paint will shave off a day or two of labor on either end of the project and let you rightfully claim you did some of the work. However, honestly appraising one’s skills shouldn’t stop with the homeowner. A contractor should be able to discuss his or her strengths and weaknesses — everyone has both — and let you know when to expect subcontractors. Be wary of the contractor who says he or she can do everything — especially if he or she has no former customers willing to recommend the contractor or, preferably, show you his or her work. Even if you use a contractor, you might be wise to buy some or all of the fixtures yourself. Instead of a convenient or favored supplier, you can hunt down the best deals — for example, at an online supplier that offers free shipping and a low-price guarantee.
- But, for the DIYers: Have a detailed plan. Typically, you’d start at the top and work your way down. Ceiling first, walls next, floors last. It’s harder to drop a pipe wrench on a freshly drywalled ceiling than it is a newly tiled floor. If possible, stage the bulk of the materials before starting the job. First, you’ll see if there are any unexpected variances in a countertop or floor tile well before you’re ready to put them in place. Second, nothing slows down a project like three or four daily trips to the local home improvement store for those tile spacers or drywall screws you should’ve already had on hand.
You’re Ready To Start Your Project
You’ll be singing in the shower in no time, if you’re careful to adhere to a bathroom remodel pre-checklist. You’ll know the issues your current bathroom has and how to solve them; what you hope to spend and what you can spend if you have to; how long it will take; and everything you’ll need to get the job done right.