A Guide to Bathroom Remodeling

So you’re ready to get started on an exciting new bathroom remodel? Bathrooms require a wide range of materials, specialty work, and aesthetic choices, all integrated into a functional design inside a relatively small space.

Fear not; this bathroom remodeling guide is intended to help you get organized, plan ahead, and generate ideas. Bathroom remodeling becomes a very manageable task by breaking the project down into smaller jobs and keeping a few helpful tips in mind.Remodeled Bathroom

Start with a Budget

The tried-and-true rule for any home remodel is stick to your budget. It sounds easy, but when you’ve exhausted your budget and the project’s only half done, you can’t really undo the work and get your money back. Leaving the project half done isn’t an option either.

So how do you make sure a project stays on budget? Over-budgeting—without approaching the project like you have extra money to spend—is a safe bet. The second rule of budgeting is to add 10% to your estimated labor costs. We recommend that you add 10% to your estimated cost of materials as well, to provide yourself a 10% budget cushion for the entire project.

In 2010, the average cost of an upscale bathroom remodel was around $25,000, according to Remodeling Magazine. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t remodel your bathroom if you only have $7,000 to spend. It does mean that you have to work within that amount and prioritize the improvements you’ll make.

If you stick to your budget and don’t use your 10% cushion, you may get that fluffy towel warmer you always dreamed of after all.

Hire a Contractor

If you’ve already undertaken multiple do-it-yourself remodeling projects as a homeowner, you may have the skills and experience necessary to tackle a bathroom remodel. If a bathroom is one of your first remodeling projects, however, it really pays to have the expertise of a professional to oversee the project for you, even if you plan to do some of the labor yourself.

A contractor helps your project stay organized, on time, and within budget. Part of his or her job is to help you choose materials and make recommendations that save time and money. A contractor works as both a consultant and a manager to ensure the project stays on track and is built to code.

Choose Materials According to Your Budget

When it comes to bathroom appliances, amenities, and materials, the choices are endless. Even after you’ve chosen a style of sink or type of tile, there are still hundreds of brands, colors, finishes, and other options to choose from.

With your budget as a guide, you can drastically narrow your choices when it comes to certain materials. Knowing that you have $500 to spend on a new sink means you don’t have to bother looking at models that cost more.

Discuss the look you want to create with your contractor, who can give you creative suggestions for achieving that look within your budget. Even if you can’t afford the granite countertops of your dream bathroom, your contractor will know of an aesthetically similar alternative.

Leave the Specialty Work to the Specialists

Many aspects of home remodeling can become DIY projects, but there are a few that should be contracted out to professionals, unless you happen to have a lot of experience in a particular area. The bathroom happens to have several specialty areas that should be left to contractors—namely plumbing, electrical work, and tile work.

These are the types of highly specialized areas that, when done incorrectly by a homeowner who’s trying to save money, can end up costing twice as much as it would have to hire a professional to do the work in the first place. A person with experience brings the necessary knowledge and tools to the job, and it happens much faster with a lot less frustration.

Create a Temporary Bathroom

Depending on how many bathrooms you have in the home and the location of the one you’re remodeling, your family may be temporarily inconvenienced during the remodel. Most bathroom remodels take an average of four weeks, but you should plan for six weeks or more for an upscale bathroom remodel, or as few as two weeks for a powder room.

If you’re remodeling your home’s only bathroom, you may need to find another place to stay for a few weeks. If that’s out of the question, there are other temporary set-ups you can create. Your contractor will be able to advise you about this as well.

In addition to planning scheduled bathroom times for each member of the family who needs to get ready in the morning, try setting up a temporary vanity to help reduce each family member’s time in the bathroom.

Before you know it, you’ll have a new bathroom to enjoy. With some good planning, help from a contractor, and an easy-going mindset, the whole process will go by in a flash.

Now where did you put those bath salts?

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