Written by Nellie Lazar, CRS
A bathroom remodel can be a daunting task. I should know… a few years ago, we purchased an 80-year-old home with charming original bathrooms (4 total!), all of them in some state of want. Last fall, we experienced a shower leak in one of the upstairs bathrooms that required a new shower, which inevitably led to removal of the tile. There was no pleasant way to partially remodel the bathroom, so we set out on gutting the entire thing and started from scratch within the framework of the room. Through the experience of now having fully remodeled two of our four bathrooms, I’ve come up with a list of Do’s and Don’ts that may just save you some time and headaches when you decide to tackle your own bathroom update. Be the bathroom big or small, it not only takes time and money, but you can bet there’s going to be mess, stress, and a few unexpected surprises along the way.
Do invest in good design. Consulting with a professional is always a good idea. They can help you avoid costly mistakes by ensuring you get the most bang for your buck with proper planning of functionality and aesthetics. An expert will help you maximize your space and utilize its full potential without overcrowding.
Do establish a realistic budget. It’s important to have a dollar amount in mind that you’re willing to spend and then with your designer/contractor discuss that budget and together review the items that are important to you. Be prepared for some give and take.
Do protect your home. Regardless of where your bathroom is situated, there’s going to be a path of entry. Have your contractor protect your floor, walls, and/or staircase with the proper materials to keep your surfaces protected from scratches, gouges, and dust.
Do plan for proper ventilation and lighting. You never want to attract mold, so be sure that your exhaust fan is updated as well, and works efficiently. This is also a time to determine which task and ambient lighting is best for your space.
Do prepare to adjust your lifestyle. Most people don’t realize that once you get started, you’ll have a crew in your home most likely all day, everyday except weekends, for the duration of the project. Be prepared to alter your schedule accordingly and account for the fact that you’ll have some loss of privacy.
Don’t set unrealistic time lines. If your contractor tells you it’s going to take 3 weeks, do yourself a favor and just double that timeline. There will be hiccups and delays, so you may as well accept the fact that it’s going to take longer than you anticipate.
Don’t schedule house guests or entertaining. For previous reasons mentioned, unless you don’t mind the chaos, save yourself any additional stress, and avoid any entertaining or hosting houseguests until after your project is complete.
Don’t buy accessories before the project is complete. Wait until the bathroom is finished before you invest in towels, rugs, and other decorative items. You’ll make much better decisions, and avoid unnecessary returns if you are patient with this process.
Don’t keep changing your mind. Trust in the plan that you and your design consultant have devised. Constant changes will only add time and money to the project. FOMO (fear of missing out) will not serve you well.
Don’t be afraid to make necessary changes as you go. No intention of contradicting the previous rule, but you also need to be prepared for setbacks. For instance, your countertop material may become unavailable, or the plumbing fixtures you initially ordered may be delayed by the manufacturer. At this point, flexibility is important and you may have to make different choices for the sake of completing your project on time and within your budget.
And finally, the most important piece of advice I can give you is allow yourself some grace! Home remodeling projects are never easy on any family. Go into it knowing that for a few weeks life at home will be a little crazy and unpredictable! Take heart, though. Remodeling your bathrooms is one of the best ways to increase the value of your home. Live in a home long enough, and you’ll be faced with whether you should or shouldn’t. The average return on investment of a bathroom renovation is around 70%. Regardless whether you plan to sell your home or not, your investment in your home will be rewarded.