5 Tips to Reduce Expenses For Your Bathroom Remodel

Few home improvement projects can have the level of impact as a bathroom remodel. However, there is no denying that this remodeling work can be surprisingly expensive. An estimate by HomeAdvisor puts the average cost of a bathroom renovation at $10,364, with high end projects costing as much as $25,000. Even a low-scale remodel will typically cost well over $2,500.

While some smart financial planning can allow you to set a larger budget for your bathroom remodel, it is essential that you don’t let this much-needed upgrade put added stress on your finances.

The good news is that while bathroom remodeling will still be a significant investment, there are many strategies you can use to cut costs without compromising on the overall aesthetics and functionality of the bathroom.

Budgeting Basics For a Bathroom Remodel

As with any other major investment, you should carefully consider how much you can afford to spend on your bathroom remodel. Because of their higher costs, several financing options are available for homeowners planning on these projects.

For example, many homeowners will take out a personal home improvement loan. These loans usually cover costs up to $35,000 and can be secured if you have a good credit score and can provide proof of income. As with most mortgages, a personal home improvement loan has a fixed interest rate, and you will pay a fixed monthly amount over the life of the loan.

Homeowners can also take out a line of credit or home equity loan, or use a home improvement credit card. Home improvement credit cards work similarly to a standard credit card, but often have higher limits to help cover the costs of the remodel. Though many offer 0 percent interest as an introductory rate, interest rates can quickly climb to be as high as 24 percent once the promotional period has ended. You must be especially cautious to monitor your spending if you choose this option.

Regardless of how you choose to finance your bathroom remodel, you must carefully consider how much you can afford to spend each month as you pay off your project. A $200 monthly payment may be perfectly manageable for some families, but put undue financial pressure on others.

To help you determine how much you can afford, many financial experts recommend following the “50/30/20 budget.” In this budgeting plan, 50 percent of your monthly spending goes to needs (like mortgage payments or groceries), 30 percent goes to wants (such as shopping trips or dining out), and the last 20 percent goes to your savings account.

Since bathroom remodeling is typically done for aesthetic reasons, it is more likely to count as a want, rather than a need. Rather than taking away from how much you put toward savings, you may be better served by temporarily cutting back on some of your other wants. Even something as simple as not going out to eat as often while you pay off your bathroom remodel can ensure that you have enough money to cover the project.

You should always have a detailed understanding of the scope of your remodeling project before you start looking for quotes. When you know how much you plan to change and provide contractors with accurate information, you will get a much clearer picture of how much you need to budget for the work. This can also give you a better idea of any adjustments you might need to make to your original plans to improve affordability.

Of course, you can stretch your budget further by making your bathroom remodel as cost-effective as possible. Here are a few key tips to ensure that you don’t overspend.

1. Plan For the Unexpected


When setting a budget for a bathroom remodel, understanding the size of your bathroom and the projected scope of the remodeling work will give you a rough estimate of how much everything should cost. However, your initial budgeting shouldn’t stop there. You should always budget more money toward the project to plan for unexpected issues that could arise during the process.

Most remodeling experts actually recommend that you allocate between 10 and 20 percent of your total remodeling budget to “unexpected costs.” If you’re lucky, you won’t need to dip into these funds, helping you spend less than expected on your project. But if you’re not prepared, there are many issues that could cause you to go significantly over budget.

Hidden damage is a surprisingly common issue in remodeling, in large part because issues like black mold growth and other forms of water damage often aren’t visible until old fixtures and materials have been removed. If you live in an older home, the plumbing and wiring may no longer be up to code. Depending on their scope, these unexpected repairs and required upgrades could cost thousands of dollars.

Delays can also prove costly if you are working with contractors. Repairs or delays in obtaining needed materials could require alternative contractor hires, the replacement or storage of materials, and other cost increases. Look for ways to prevent delays whenever possible, but always be sure you have enough space in your budget to account for the unexpected.

2. Should You DIY?

DIYing is all the rage these days, and if done right, it can lead to significant savings for your bathroom remodel. In fact, the previously cited HomeAdvisor estimate listed contract labor as accounting for an average of 40 to 65 percent of the total remodeling budget. It is easy to see how doing remodeling work yourself could slash your budget, even if it would require a greater investment of your time.

The flip side of the DIY question is your ability to get the job done right. While you don’t need much technical expertise to repaint your bathroom walls, installing a new shower fixture is an entirely different matter. If you do the job wrong, plumbing issues could cause significant damage. You would ultimately end up paying far more if you had to hire a professional to come in and correct your mistakes.

So what should you do? Determining whether you should DIY part or all of your bathroom remodel largely depends on your confidence in your own abilities. For most homeowners, the best solution is to find some sort of middle ground.

Depending on your skill level, repainting the walls or simple plumbing tasks (like replacing an outdated faucet) can be done on your own to reduce labor costs. Removing and disposing of old fixtures is another common DIY task. In general, more complex tasks should be left to a professional. However, if you are particularly handy, you could even take on these more challenging jobs to further reduce your expenses.

As you decide whether to DIY part or all of your bathroom remodeling work, it also helps to consider the trade-off of time. Are you willing to dedicate your evenings and weekends to remodeling work? In some cases, the time savings and reduced stress of having a contractor do the work are worth the cost. Whenever you hire a contractor, be sure to get multiple quotes before making a hiring decision so you can find the best value for your money.

3. Know Where to Buy Your Upgrades

bathroom remodel vanity

While a custom-built vanity or shower enclosure certainly has its own unique appeal, these products tend to be far more expensive than getting a standard production item. In fact, a custom built product can sometimes cost as much as 10 times more than an “off the shelf” alternative. These days, however, the sheer number of options available means you don’t have to purchase a custom-made product to find something that perfectly fits your bathroom.

Vanities, shower enclosures, bathtubs, medicine cabinets, and more are all available in a wide variety of sizes and styles. This makes it easy to find something that fits your personal tastes at a price you can afford.

Similar savings apply to the materials you choose for your walls and flooring. While ceramic tile is a stylish and durable flooring option, it is also one of the most expensive. Depending on your preferences, you could still get the quality looks and performance you desire with cheaper alternatives like linoleum or vinyl plank.

As with choosing a contractor, where you buy fixtures, furniture, and materials matters for your total remodeling costs. Here at Kitchen & Bath Authority, we offer high-quality vanities, faucets, sinks, shower doors, toilets, and more at significant discounts off MSRP. You can get the beautiful, functional bathroom products you want at a more affordable price than at other retailers so you can get more out of your budget.

You don’t have to go custom to get something that looks and performs great. Today’s manufacturers make their products with several sizing options to better fit the unique layouts of different bathrooms.

4. Stick With the Same Layout

The scope of a bathroom remodel is one of the biggest factors in determining the overall cost. You can save a lot of money if you keep your current layout as-is, rather than doing a complete tear down that requires the re-routing of plumbing and electrical wiring.

The more complex your renovation plans get, the more labor that will be required to turn them into reality. Knocking down a wall to expand the bathroom to make room for a shower enclosure and standalone tub will require the help of a demolition expert, as well as a plumber and bathroom designer. Adjusting the location of the vanity will likely entail new plumbing and electrical installations. Moving the toilet is an especially complex plumbing task that tends to be far more expensive than most homeowners expect.

Not only will such tasks require the hiring of additional specialists, but they will also increase the total labor and materials costs associated with your project. While it is true that some redesigns simply will not work without an upgraded layout, you will enjoy significant savings (and enjoy a faster completion of the project) if you keep the layout as-is.

For example, by installing a new vanity in the exact same position as your old one, you won’t have to worry about re-routing pipes. You won’t need to hire an electrician to install new outlets in a different part of the bathroom. You can even keep your medicine cabinet or mirror in the same place.

As long as your current bathroom layout is functional as-is, simply giving everything a “facelift,” rather than completely redoing the design, will greatly reduce the complexity of the work and lower total labor costs.

5. Consider Gradual Upgrades

bathroom remodel

Even with the previously mentioned tips in mind, there is no denying that remodeling your entire bathroom can sometimes be more than your budget can handle. But in reality, you don’t need to complete all the remodeling work at once! Many homeowners make the process more affordable by breaking things down into a series of gradual improvements.

For example, you could start by upgrading your shower enclosure. Then next year, you could install a new vanity and bathroom mirror. By spreading the spending out over time, you may even be able to complete all the work without the need for additional financing.

When planning for this type of remodeling work, prioritize the must-have items first. Focus on replacing items that are broken, inefficient, or just plain ugly. Start with the issues that bother you the most. Later, when your budget will allow it, you can then start spending on other bathroom elements that you’d like to upgrade.

By focusing on the necessities first, you can enjoy improved performance right away, while gradually building up to the new style you want to create in your bathroom.

While this gradual remodeling process can be more cost-efficient, you must be careful to resist scope creep. It can become quite tempting to keep making changes to your remodeling plans, or to find another thing you’d like to update. If you’re not careful, you could see your total expenses go far beyond what you had originally planned and find yourself in a state of constant remodeling.

Parting Thoughts

A bathroom remodel can turn a room that you hate into your favorite part of the house. Whether you want to upgrade your shower enclosure or give the entire bathroom a makeover, proper planning will help you make the most of your budget.

Here at Kitchen & Bath Authority, we want you to achieve the look of your dreams without straining your finances. That’s why you’ll find products from top of the line brands like DreamLine and Robern, all at significant discounts off MSRP. With some items available for nearly 50 percent off their standard pricing, you’ll be able to get high-grade updates for deals that you won’t find elsewhere.

We further help you stretch your budget by offering free shipping and additional exclusive discounts to our members. Paired with expedited order processing, this valuable membership will allow you to complete your remodel quickly and on budget.

Whether you plan on enjoying your bathroom for years to come or wish to upgrade your home to improve its resale value, you can get great-looking (and performing) results even when you are on a budget. At Kitchen & Bath Authority, we are proud to help turn your remodeling dreams into reality.

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