Rarely is a bathroom remodel as inexpensive as we would like it to be, as the precision needed for electrical and plumbing work, as well as the cost of new features such as a bathtub, vanity and toilet, drive up the total cost of the project. Home improvement information site Fixr reports that the average cost to fully remodel a bathroom is $20,000, with low-end remodels costing closer to $6,000 and luxury renovations reaching as high as $50,000.
If those prices have you worried about your ability to revamp your bathroom on a budget, you’re not alone. Plenty of homeowners are looking for ways to cut overall costs on their bathroom remodel and still have it feeling fresh and modern at the end of the project.
Here’s how the cost of a major bathroom remodel breaks down:
- Design and labor: 20% to 65%
- Demolition: 6.25%
- Fixtures: 3.5%
- Shower or tub: up to 30%
- Vanity: 15%
- Lighting: 2.5%
- Countertops and cabinets: 6.25%
- Flooring and walls: 10%
- Budget cushion: 10%
Design and Labor: 20% to 65%
Any bathroom remodel is best done with a solid plan, and if it’s a major remodel, you’ll likely want a designer to create a mock-up and plan. Costs for your remodel design can vary depending on whether you hire an independent designer or the designer is part of the general contracting firm you hire to complete the project. Designs can cost less than $500, according to HomeAdvisor, or reach as much as $4,000, according to Fixr.
“If the client is having the whole project done, it usually makes sense for the contractor to handle everything. It ends up saving you time and money … to not share responsibilities too much,” says Mark Page, construction estimator for Pro.com and based in the Boston area.
The labor required to complete each step of the renovation will also take up a big chunk of your budget, and the more extravagant your plans, like moving the location of the shower or toilet, the more expensive the total cost of labor will be.
“Changing the layout is always going to add cost to the project,” Page says, noting that the amount of work required to bring in licensed professionals, including a plumber and electrician, goes up. Moving your toilet, shower and vanity to different areas of the room requires pipes in the wall and the flooring to be moved as well. Adding new light fixtures and a fan will require additional electrical work.
A full bathroom makeover involves removing the finishes, fixtures and materials that you don’t want to be a part of the final product. It may also include removing the old toilet and tub, taking down towel racks, prying up tile and even potentially knocking out a wall to make the room bigger.
Homeowners may try to save on the cost of labor by handling the demolition themselves. But preparation for a renovation requires more work than a couple swings of the sledgehammer – especially considering the plumbing and electrical wiring in the floor and walls. You also have to carefully remove major appliances, and be sure to shut off the water and electricity before proceeding with demolition.
“Oftentimes there’s a lot of prep work or implications that people don’t think about,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for home improvement company Mr. Handyman in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If you’re planning to replace old tile with new tile on the wall, more thorough demolition might include spackling holes or damaged spots, as well as sanding and cleaning the wall ahead of installation work.
Replacing the faucets, knobs and showerhead in your bathroom are relatively inexpensive changes that can make a big difference in a minor bathroom remodel, but they can boost your total cost in a complete remodel if you select custom design options or pricey styles.
You may be able to install these fixtures yourself to cut down on the total cost of your project, although many contractors doing a beginning-to-end project would likely expect to complete these tasks, and doing them yourself wouldn't make much impact on your bottom line.
Shower or Tub: 30%
Expect a new freestanding bathtub to cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 before installation, according to bathroom product retailer Badeloft USA. The average cost to install a new shower ranges from about $1,400 to $6,400, according to HomeAdvisor.
Installing a new bathtub or shower doesn’t mean you’re done, however. Page says installing tile around a tub will often cost between $3,000 and $6,000. Tiling a 3-foot-by-3-foot shower stall can range from $1,600 to $2,000 at the low end, according to Fixr, though Page says more elaborate work can make the price climb to somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. “The cost driver for that stuff is if you want different niches for your soap and shampoo and shelves,” he says.
A built-in double vanity in the master bathroom is on many people's wish lists for a bathroom renovation. According to the 2019 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, 58% of renovating homeowners opt for a custom or semicustom vanity.
Custom-built double vanities can run $10,000 or more, but stock vanities can be purchased from just about any home improvement or decor store for much less. At Home Depot, for example, 36-inch vanities start at $179.
The right lighting is a key component of a bathroom makeover. If you’re looking for additional overhead light options, know that you’ll need to pay for an electrician to run the wiring. Busch explains that basic contracting professionals and handymen who don’t carry an electrician’s license are fairly limited in what they can do with wiring in many states. If a contractor is managing the entire renovation, he or she will be in charge of subcontracting the electrical work. If you're hiring an electrician on your own, expect to pay between $50 and $100 per hour for the work, according to HomeAdvisor, and that doesn't include any additional work required if part of a wall or ceiling needs to be removed to work on the wiring.
As a cost-saving option, you can replace fixtures and bulbs in their existing locations. Replacing a fixture can be done by a handyman, or even as a DIY project with the right research and preparation.
Countertops and Cabinets: 6.25%
The right surface space and storage will make your bathroom function just how you want it to, and you likely want to add additional counter space, more cabinets or both. While cabinets and countertops can make up 35% of a kitchen renovation budget, the smaller scale of a bathroom makes the cost much more manageable.
Flooring and Walls: 10%
Installing any type of floor – and especially a custom tile floor – is a job often best left to a professional, especially when you have to work around a toilet, vanity and other parts of a bathroom. The more custom and expensive your flooring or wall tiles are, the higher the cost of installation will be, as it requires more skill to get the job done as well.
Budget Cushion: 10%
As with any major renovation, you should leave room in your budget for unexpected issues, like water damage discovered once the walls are opened up, or work from previous renovation that needs to be up to local building code. Page recommends earmarking about 10% of your budget for such issues.
“There’s always going to be unknowns, no matter how well you plan,” Page says. “But a good contractor is going to do as much work as possible to identify some of those unknowns before the project begins.”
If no unwanted surprises happen during the installation, that budget cushion can be used for a future project elsewhere in your home. Your contractor may even be willing to do some additional work as the bathroom remodel finishes up. Page says it's common for the unused cushion in the budget to be used by extra projects like installing tile in another bathroom or building shelves in a different part of the house, which he refers to as "while you're here" projects.
What will your budget let you renovate?
Home prices are high and interest rates are rising, so many homeowners are opting to stay put and renovate rather than search for a new house. According to Houzz’s 2018 study of renovations in the U.S., 51 percent of Houzz users have plans to renovate in 2018, with a median budget of $10,000. But how far can your budget get you? We're breaking down the cost of some popular home renovation projects to help you figure out the best ways to spend your remodel money.Kitchen
It doesn't matter if you're a gourmet chef or a microwave connoisseur – you want a welcoming kitchen that makes the space worthy of spending time, not just prepping food. A kitchen renovation is the most common planned project for homeowners, according to the Houzz study, with 31 percent of respondents noting they plan to remodel their kitchen. But it's also a costly project. Remodeling Magazine's 2018 Cost vs. Value report breaks down the national average cost for kitchen remodels as such:
Midrange minor kitchen remodel: $21,198
Midrange major kitchen remodel: $63,829
Upscale major kitchen remodel: $125,721
How much you'll spend all depends on your planned makeover. Read on for a breakdown of some popular kitchen updates.Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Cabinets and countertops are two of the most visible aspects in a kitchen, not to mention that they take up the most space. You have a lot of price wiggle room when it comes to material and installation of both: The installation for countertops alone can range from $1,700 for butcher block to $14,000 for quartz, according to HomeAdvisor. For a kitchen with 30 square feet of counter space and 40 linear feet of cabinets, here are some cost estimates for materials, based on HomeAdvisor information:
Budget: $3,600 for stock cabinets, butcher block countertop.
Midrange: $13,800 for semicustom cabinets, midrange quartz or granite countertop.
Splurge: $52,050 for custom cabinets, concrete countertop.
Kitchen: new appliances
If you're not looking to drop $50,000 on surfaces, consider freshening your kitchen with new appliances. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe's often offer significant discounts if you purchase kitchen appliances in a package deal, with the added benefit of having the same brand appliances that match in color and style. Consider these budget options to replace your fridge, range, dishwasher and microwave all at once (based on prices listed as of Sept. 14, 2018). You're more likely to get a deal on appliance purchases close to the end of the month, on a holiday weekend or just after the new year.
Budget: $1,234 for mixed brand.
Midrange: $2,794 for Whirlpool Kitchen Suite through Lowe's.
Splurge: $6,476 for Bosch Kitchen Suite through Lowe's.
Kitchen: knocking down walls
Removing a wall tends to cost the same in every room, but these days it is commonly done in the kitchen to create a more open floor plan. Wall demolition costs vary based on whether the wall is load-bearing – meaning it's a key part of the house's structure – or if there is plumbing or electrical wiring running through it. HomeAdvisor provides national averages for the cost of removing a wall:
Budget: $300 to $1,000 for a wall that doesn't bear any weight.
Midrange: $1,200 to $3,000 for a load-bearing wall in a single-story house.
Splurge: $3,200 to $10,000 for a load-bearing wall with two or more stories.
The second- and third-most popular home renovations, according to the Houzz study, both fall under the bathroom category, covering guest or secondary bathrooms and master bathrooms. Current design trends show homeowners want a spa experience in their bathroom, whether that means a rain-style showerhead, double vanities or exquisite tile work. Remodeling Magazine separates the cost of remodeling a bathroom into two categories, based on national averages for 2018:
Midrange bathroom remodel: $19,134
Upscale bathroom remodel: $61,662
Beautiful tile in a bathroom can make the room a showpiece in your home, not just a necessary space for privacy. But depending on your tastes, new tile can get pricey. Home renovation cost estimate site RemodelingCalculator.org notes the material and installation costs increase with the intricacy of the design and rarity of the material. Based on Remodeling Calculator's estimated costs, here's some pricing to consider:
Budget: $4.60 per square foot for ceramic tile, $3.80 to $6.70 per square foot to install.
Midrange: $6.70 per square foot for granite tile, $5.45 to $7.50 per square foot to install.
Upscale: Up to $25 per square foot for custom mosaic tile, anywhere from $15 to $300 per square foot to install.
Bathroom: moving plumbing and drains
Plumbing changes are often one of the most expensive parts of a renovation. If you're looking to relocate the toilet, shower or sink in your bathroom, the cost to move both the plumbing for water and the drains can add up quickly. Home improvement marketplace and information site Porch.com – a former U.S. News contributor – estimates the national average to move one plumbing line costs between $653 and $802 – and that’s just for the work. Be sure to factor in the cost of new fixtures and any additional work related to opening up the floor and walls.
Budget: $653 to $802 to move shower.
Midrange: $1,306 to $1,604 to move shower and toilet.
Splurge: $1,959 to $2,406 to move shower, toilet and sink.
To renovate a bedroom that's more focused on the furniture inside than the four walls means a simple bedroom remodel should be fairly attainable for someone with a small budget. Often a fresh coat of paint can do the trick to bring new life to a bedroom, but sometimes a little more work is involved. Home remodeling cost guide Fixr estimates the national average to completely remodel a room – from replacing the drywall on the walls and ceiling to new flooring – at nearly $8,000.
Budget: $200 for paint and painting materials.
Midrange: $800 for high-end painting, professionally done.
Splurge: $7,880 for new walls, floors, etc.
Bedroom: master suite addition
Sometimes, though, the bedroom you have isn't the one you want or need. Master suites are frequently high on the list of homebuyer wants, but they're also not always common in older houses. Making an addition to a house is an extensive project that will cost you a lot of money, but your investment does come back to you, at least somewhat, in the increase in property value. Remodeling Magazine notes a master suite addition recoups just over 48 percent of the cost in resale value for upscale projects and more than 56 percent for midrange projects. Here are the average costs for both projects, per the Cost vs. Value report:
Midrange master suite addition: $123,420
Upscale master suite addition: $256,229
Easily transforming your closet to fit all your clothes and having extra room for storage is the dream for many, but a custom closet can cost you. The overall price tag will vary depending on the size of the closet and how customized you want the space to be – a hanging rod and a couple shelves can put you back a few hundred dollars, but once you factor in wood finishes, built-in shoe racks and rolling drawers, that price tag climbs. Here's what Fixr estimates for closet costs:
Budget: $400 to $1,000 for small closet.
Midrange: $300 to $3,000 for walk-in closet.
Splurge: $400 to $6,500 for custom closet.
Once your kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms are right, it's time to tackle those rooms that aren't as frequently used but can make a big impact on your daily life. A revamped laundry room can be just the ticket to taking the household chore of cleaning clothes from a hassle to downright enjoyable. The cost to redo or build a laundry room varies based on what you have already and whether you need plumbing and electric moved. Fixr breaks down the range of costs depending on if flooring is replaced, whether appliances are new and if professionals are required.
Midrange: $6,000 to $7,000
While it's more out of necessity than luxury, your roof is certainly a major home improvement project to consider if you’ve experienced leaks or it's near the end of its functional life (about 25 years). It's possible you'll only need repairs done to the existing roof to ensure the rest of your house is protected from the elements, but you may need an entirely new roof installed.
Budget: $334 to $1,243 for repairs.
Midrange: $2,380 to $12,100 for new asphalt shingle roof.
Splurge: Up to $84,000 for a new slate roof.
She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.
Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at email@example.com.