An Indispensable Guide for your Next Bathroom Remodel
Remodelling your bathroom comes with a number of significant advantages. According to HGTV, it’s among the most valuable investments you can make in your home, and that’s before considering the qualitative difference that a relaxing oasis can make for anyone living in your home. At the same time, a bathroom renovation is an undeniably major project. From new fixtures to tiles and even plumbing changes, it requires not just a fairly complete understanding of the process, but also clear communication with your designer and contractor. If you’re thinking about improving one of the most important rooms in your home, consider this your indispensable guide to planning your next bathroom remodel.
Find a Contractor
The contractor you choose for your remodel can make or break your new bathroom project. As early as possible in the process you need to find a professional with sufficient experience that you feel comfortable with. If you have a designer that you trust, they will be able to help with this step since they will have a set of contractors they have worked with. When looking for potential fits, use online resources like Houzz.com to find local contractors in your area. Check their reviews, as well as the Better Business Bureau for any potential red flags. If you feel comfortable, you can even ask for the contact information of past clients. Direct references are the most valuable, credible information you can get about your contractor. To help qualify you might also ask some pointed questions like how they feel about waterproofing membranes around the shower or tub surround. Waterproofing is a vital part of the assembly, ensuring the long life of your new bathroom, and is considered “best practice” in the industry. The right professional can help you plan your budget and timeline based on past experience with similar projects.
Preparing the Space
Understanding and preparing the bathroom space is a crucial first step in your bathroom remodel plan. This part of the plan concerns what type of fixtures you are envisioning for your dream bathroom, where/ if they will fit, and what work will be required to make it all happen. The most basic part of this plan will be assessing the condition and capacity of the water supply, drainage & electrical. Then comes a basic assessment of the condition & capacity of insulation, framing or flooring. Is the structure adequate to support new fixtures? Are the floor and walls level and plumb? The work scope, cost and timing can be significantly altered based on this initial evaluation of the bathroom space.
Fixture & Vanity Layout
After basic construction upgrades are considered, the type & location of fixtures will also alter the scope of work, material and labour costs. If you want a shower adjacent to your alcove tub for example, there will need to be adequate space for this new feature, and framing to support and surround it. Your contractor must also arrange for both water supply and drainage at this location. A new free-standing tub may require significant shoring of the floor beneath to support the increased weight load. If you prefer a tiled shower base over a acrylic fixture base, this will require extra labour & materials to build/ support the new shower base & install the waterproofing shower membrane. If you simply plan to change the fixtures and finishes but keep your shower in the same location, there are also some important shower remodel considerations to think about and discuss with your contractor.
Set Your Budget
In conjunction with the your initial evaluations and fixture planning determined above, you must consider your budget. According to a popular online cost calculator, on average a middle-class US homeowner will spend from around $11,000 to $22,000 on a comprehensive bathroom remodel. This is quite a range, but it’s understandable considering you can spend either $250 or $500 for 2 bathtubs that look virtually identical with different brand names. What this means is that your materials budget could easily double based on your choice of fixtures and finishings. Based on the discussions you’ve had with your contractor (above) you can also see that adding a shower, tub, or in-floor heating could significantly increase your scope of work, and therefore your labor costs. Once you determine your budget, try to stick to it throughout the bathroom remodel process. The goal is to avoid the sobering reality that sets in when you realize that your tile and fixture choices have consumed your entire budget.
You should be prepared for a realistic time frame for your bathroom remodel. The exact time frame depends on the complexity of the remodel, as outlined above. This guide by The Spruce can help you better understand how long individual parts of the renovation will take. The overall average to shoot for is about four to five weeks, though it does depend on a number of variables that are specific to your remodelling project. Communicate with both your designer and your contractor to get a realistic estimate of the time required to accomplish the plan. To reduce conflict down the road, you will want to be prepared for this bathroom “down-time” especially if the remodel is a significant inconvenience to you and your family. In light of these cost and timing calculations, you should carefully review your plan to determine if some changes (or sacrifices) need to be made to preserve your expected timeline, and your budget. Another important hint to avoid delays, is to make sure you have most or all of your items purchased and at home, or waiting to pick up at a local retailer before the project starts.
Fixtures & Finishes
Next, it’s time to choose and shop for the exact items that will live in your bathroom and turn it into the space that anyone can enjoy. That includes your bathroom fixtures, but also the tiling you choose for the flooring and walls of the space. Your options for bathroom tiles are so diverse, it can be difficult to find exactly the right ones for your needs and style. You can choose between ceramic, porcelain, glass, or stone, as well as a variety of colors for each style option. This guide from Houzz.com can help you decide.
Once you’ve chosen the tiling, it’s time to work on the fixtures for your bathroom. These include the sink, toilet, faucet, bathtub or shower, as well as valves and trims for the shower. Be sure to communicate with your contractor about the fixture finishes you are considering. He/ she can provide you with a wealth of valuable information about differences in brand and material quality, as well as the differences in fixture finish costs, and those fixtures best suited for your installation. Based on your research so far, you should now be prepared to go shopping for your fixtures. Your comprehensive plan should allow you to get the fixtures and finishes you want (within reason) and still stay on budget.
Depending on your budget, you might also be able to go beyond essentials. For instance, a stylish new light fixture could be just what takes your new bathroom over the edge. And why not consider a shower niche? Have your contractor install a shower niche for that extra storage you will appreciate, and a higher-end look.
If you are still in the shower niche planning stage, see our article, Shower Niche Planning – Don’t get stuck with a shower caddy.
Other Finishing Touches
Finally, it’s time to add the elements that make your newly remodelled bathroom stand out at first sight. Your finishing touches are the items that you can see immediately, and therefore play a vital role in building the right type of ambiance in your bathroom.
Finishing touches could include your towel holders, faucet, hooks, and more. You can typically choose between bronze, antique glass, brushed nickel and stainless steel options to take your bathroom anywhere from classic and even antique to modern.
Depending on your choices, finishing touches can quickly become expensive. But while they’re essential for conveying the right ambiance, they are not essential for the actual use of the remodelled room. That’s why adding the finishing touches should be the last step in your renovation, giving you the opportunity to stay within your budget.
A bathroom remodel may be a complex and expensive project, but it’s also one that comes with immense return on quantitative and qualitative investment. The right renovation can turn the most functional room in your home into a relaxing oasis. When you make the right choices, and work with the right professionals, the results of the project will be immeasurable.
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