A bathroom remodel project is an exciting way to level-up your home’s personal style while also increasing its value. But installing new fixtures — like a bathtub or shower — can be costly and intimidating. How can you make sure that your bathroom remodel stays within budget? What hidden costs could tip the scale in the wrong direction? We have you covered. Read on to find Modernize’s advice for what to expect when budgeting a bathroom remodel. 

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Basic Costs of a Bathroom Remodel

The best way to start is by figuring out your baseline bathroom remodel budget. The average bathroom remodeling project can range from $1,000 to upwards of $25,000. The range is so large because bathrooms come in so many different shapes and sizes. 

 A small bathroom with a single shower will have different needs than a mid-size bathroom with a shower/tub combo. And both of those will have totally different needs from a large ensuite bathroom. 

Additional factors to consider include the cost of materials, permitting, and labor. The cost of your project will be impacted by the following: 

Your main shower or tub and its surrounding enclosure

The options here are endless. Depending on if you opt for a frameless shower or a clawfoot bathtub will change how your project will proceed and what it could cost. 

Modernize recommends discussing your bathroom’s daily uses ahead of time and how new enclosures will maximize its capabilities. 

Materials

There are hundreds of bathroom fixtures — including sink hardware, toilets, and more — waiting to be optimized for your bathroom remodel. They range in price and style depending on your needs. Things like showerheads can range in price from $5 to $500 depending on what you opt for. 

Additionally, materials like bathroom tile versus stone versus drywall give a homeowner plenty of price variants depending on what best matches their goals and style profile. 

Permitting 

Depending on where you live and the scope of your project, your contractor may need to secure permits to complete your bathroom remodel. Your contractor will manage the permitting process, but you should be prepared for the cost. Depending on the details, your bathroom remodeling permits could consist of a flat rate or be based on the size of your bathroom and other details. Modernize always recommends discussing permitting with a contractor ahead of time. 

Labor

Labor costs will vary based on the size of your contractor’s crew, their experience, and the scope of your bathroom remodel. It’s important to note that Modernize encourages homeowners to never select a contractor just based on the price. Especially for a bathroom that may be used daily, it is important to consider the quality of the work being performed. 

The Most Common Hidden Bathroom Remodel Costs

No matter how well prepared and researched your bathroom remodel project might be, bear in mind that construction always risks uncovering additional costs beyond your contractor’s control. This is especially true in older houses. With that in mind, here are some of the most common unexpected costs to be prepared for: 

Removing and disposing of old fixtures 

Before you can get excited about a new shower or bathtub, the old one has to go somewhere. Depending on the scope of your project, elements that typically cost money to remove include bathtubs, surrounding enclosures, sinks, toilets, and any additional materials. Removal and disposal can cost anywhere from $50 to a few thousand dollars. Modernize recommends discussing these protocols ahead of time with your contractor. 

Mold 

Especially in areas like bathrooms, which are constantly surrounded by water, mold damage can add hidden costs to your bathroom remodel project. These problems will have to be addressed before your contractor can move forward with installations. Issues can be especially prevalent in older houses and more humid climates. 

Electrical Upgrades

Another issue that can be prevalent in older homes is dated electrical work. Depending on the upgrades your bathroom might be getting, your contractor could identify a need for upgrades. Discuss this possibility with your contractor ahead of time. 

Keeping Your Bathroom Remodel on Budget 

There are different ways you can prepare ahead of time to minimize additional costs that can occur during the actual installation. Tips include:

  • Wait until offseason for your bathroom remodel. For bathroom renovating, winter is the offseason, while spring and summer are more competitive. Offseason can also mean manufacturer discounts. 
  • Scope out discounts for hardware, fixtures, and materials. Speak with your contractor ahead of time about companies they work with, meaning they might get a cheaper rate. It’s also worth checking salvage yards and online auction websites for leftover bulk amounts of things like tiles to avoid spending full price. This option may require some flexibility when it comes to your final vision.  
  • Handling elements like removal or prep-work can potentially cut labor costs. Coordinate with your contractor ahead of time if you are willing to get your hands dirty. Depending on the scope of your bathroom remodel, this might not be an option. 
  • Don’t alter your plumbing footprint. It can be tempting to shift everything around when diving into a bathroom remodel, and often times, it’s worth it for the final product. But be warned that little shifts can amount to large plumbing costs. 
  • Think twice about replacing your entire toilet. For smaller remodeling projects, homeowners can just swap a toilet seat and lid for a refreshed look and comfort. 
  • Leave about 15 to 20 percent of room in your budget for surprises. This lets you prepare for hidden issues without the rest of your vision suffering. 
  • Establish communication with your contractor from the get-go. Let hem know about your budget constraints and limitations from the beginning. This will help them determine with you the best way to reach your final vision. 

Ultimately, having a reliable bathroom remodeling contractor is the best way to avoid hidden costs. Take advantage of Modernize’s tools to find a trusted contractor locally.