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bathroom remodel

How Much Does a Bathroom Remodel Cost?


Apr 18, 2020 by Liz Brumer

One of the first things homeowners and rehabbers consider doing when making improvements to a home is a kitchen or bathroom remodel, and for good reason. According to the annual cost versus value survey conducted by Remodeling, in 2019 a bathroom renovation recouped 60% to 67% of the property owner's original investment.

If you're planning on remodeling your bathroom, learn how much a bathroom remodel costs, including the most expensive parts of a bathroom remodel, as well as a few remodel ideas to help you save money on your next remodeling project.

Before you begin remodeling, consider this

A bathroom and shower remodel can be a lot of work, and there are a lot of decisions a homeowner or investor has to make before starting the remodeling project, including:

  1. Your budget.
  2. The space and square foot of your bathroom.
  3. The scope of the bathroom remodel.
  4. Design ideas.
  5. Who will be doing the work.

Establishing a budget for your remodeling project before you begin work will help you determine the scope of the bathroom remodel and narrow down what materials or decor will meet your design ideas within your budget.

It also helps you identify who will be doing the majority of the work. If you'd like to keep the remodel cost on the lower end, you may have to do most of the projects yourself, compared to being able to hire a contractor if your budget is higher.

Average bathroom remodel cost

Deciding on the scale of your renovation can be tough. While it may seem like a good idea to do a high-end bathroom remodel, it may be difficult to recoup your remodel cost when it comes time to sell. Keep in mind that the square footage or size of your bathroom, whether you hire a contractor for the job or do the work yourself, and the quality of the fixtures will greatly affect your total remodel cost.

Light remodel

The lowest tier of a bathroom remodeling project, a light remodel makes minor but noticeable improvements to the space. It can include:

  1. Changing the paint color of the walls.
  2. Replacing a light fixture, towel bars, mirror, or medicine cabinet.
  3. Reglazing the tub or shower.
  4. Replacing the toilet.

According to Home Depot (NYSE: HD), a light remodel can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, possibly less if you do the projects yourself.

Mid-range

According to Remodeling's home survey, a mid-range bathroom renovation is a more extensive remodel that could include:

  1. Adding new paint or wallpaper to the walls.
  2. Replacing the floor and shower surround with ceramic tile.
  3. Replacing the tub or installing a walk-in shower.
  4. Moving or replacing plumbing fixtures.
  5. Updating the vanity and mirror or medicine cabinet.

Universal design

According to Remodeling's home survey, a universal design bathroom remodel is defined as a higher-end wheelchair-accessible bathroom. A remodel like this could entail:

  1. Installing a walk-in tub or walk-in shower and accessible toilet.
  2. Improved lighting and electrical features.
  3. Replacing the vanity or sink.
  4. Upgrading the floor to tile or another high-quality flooring.
  5. Tiling the walls and installing towel bars that withstand significant weight.

Upscale

According to Remodeling's home survey, an upscale bathroom renovation is defined as enlarging a smaller bathroom and including luxury fixtures and features, such as:

  1. Expanding the bathroom to 100 square feet.
  2. Relocating all of the major fixtures within the bathroom.
  3. Designing a modern shower with built-in fixtures.
  4. Include a secondary tub.
  5. Installing a double sink vanity with quality countertops.
  6. Having a separate room for the toilet.
  7. Include heating and cooling features.
  8. Improving the lighting to include multiple LED sources.
  9. Replacing the floor with high-end tile or stone.

In Remodeling's 2019 survey of 136 U.S markets, they compared the average cost versus value of 22 remodeling projects and found that the highest bathroom remodel cost recouped at sale was for a mid-range bathroom remodel. Light remodel was not included in the survey.

Mid-range Universal Design Upscale
Avg job cost $20,420 $33,374 $64,743
Avg resale value $13,717 $20,868 $38,952
Avg cost recouped 67.2% 62.5% 60.2%

While a mid-range bathroom remodel is likely to produce the best return on investment, it's important you don't over-improve your home. Try to maintain a similar style and quality to the homes in your neighborhood.

The most expensive parts of remodeling a bathroom

According to HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI), labor accounts for 40% to 65% of the average bathroom remodel costs, which clearly makes it the single most expensive part of a bathroom renovation. Most property owners choose to hire a general contractor to:

  • Manage and oversee the remodeling project.
  • Hire subcontractors, like a plumber for plumbing work.
  • Handle the application and approval for a building permit, if needed.

As for the physical items necessary for your remodeling project, the most expensive tend to be the vanity, fixtures (sink and toilet), and tub or shower, although this can vary greatly based on the quality.

As an example, bathroom vanities can cost as little as $300 or as much as $3,800 for the same size but varying quality cabinet. As a general frame of reference for price differences based on quality, HomeAdvisor states that you will likely spend the following amounts in total for the four above-mentioned items:

Economy $500 to $2,000
Mid-grade $1,500 to $3,000
Luxury and custom $4,000 to $22,000+

How to save money on a bathroom remodel

The easiest way to save money on your remodel cost is to do what you can yourself. Obviously you need to be skilled at whatever task you take on personally because even a simple mistake like improperly installing a bathroom vent can quickly cause mold and mildew to occur over time, which in the long run could cost more to fix than you saved in labor originally.

Here are a few other remodel ideas to consider if you're looking to save money.

Do This Instead of That
Paint the walls. Tile the walls.
Reglaze the tub. Replacing the tub.
Install shower curtains. Replacing shower doors.
Laminate over existing flooring. Replacing the flooring.
Update the vanity door. Replacing the entire vanity.
Upgrade lighting to LED bulbs. Replacing the lighting fixture entirely.

The remodel costs associated with even a light bathroom renovation can still be quite costly, especially if you choose to use higher-end or custom fixtures. If you're a homeowner who plans to be in the home for a while before selling, it may be worth the higher bathroom remodel cost to enjoy luxury items like a jacuzzi tub, but for many, a simple bathroom update may be the best return on investment.

Decide whether you need a contractor to assist with the bathroom remodel. Also, consider the durability and aesthetics of the fixtures you choose in relation to their expense. Try to find a balance and something that provides a nice, clean look for the space without unnecessary added expenses. Don't forget that a well done, timeless bathroom will hold its value long after a trend comes and goes.

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Liz Brumer-Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Home Depot and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $120 calls on Home Depot and short January 2021 $210 calls on Home Depot. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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