Should You Do Your Own Bathroom Remodeling?
Even seasoned DIYers gulp and take a deep breath when considering tackling a bathroom remodeling job. Other than perhaps a kitchen, no project is more involved in terms of the systems and skills involved. Bathroom remodeling is all about plumbing, electrical, and tile work—all highly skilled trades. It’s dense, tight work, too, where every square foot counts. And then there are the frequent surprises, such as when you find rotting subfloor and joists below a leaky shower or cast iron plumbing stacks that have rusted to the point of crumbling. And finally, there is the time pressure. A bathroom is an essential space, and a DIYer is under great pressure to get the room remodeled and back into service as quickly as possible.
But there’s one real (and very important) reason why you wouldn’t hire professionals to handle your bathroom remodeling job: money.
Choosing a Project Manager
So, who is in charge of your bathroom project, anyway? That depends on the scope of the project and your goals for the outcome. You may opt to work with a licensed bathroom designer (often they also specialize in kitchen designs). A general contractor or architect may act as the lead/project manager—or the designer may have a project manager on staff that sees through the project. Designers themselves also serve as project managers, ensuring that the process goes according to plan and keeping open lines of communication.
The Home Team
Your bathroom renovation project will require a band of professionals—tradespeople, contractors, designer(s) and someone to oversee the project (other than you). While you can certainly serve as the general contractor on the project, it’s a lot more difficult than it may initially seem to coordinate a bathroom project.
When hiring a designer, general contractor or any professional, be sure to do your homework. Consult with family and friends to get recommendations. Find out what certifications they hold. If a designer does both kitchen and bathroom design, find out which area is his or her strength.
7 Mistakes Not to Make in Your Bathroom Remodel
Whether you are just replacing an outdated vanity or renovating the entire space, bathroom remodeling can be an expensive proposition. Read on to find out the 7 most common mistakes made during a bathroom renovation and how you can avoid them in your own home…
Ignoring the Bathroom Fan
Don’t forget about this often-overlooked feature: an appropriately sized bathroom exhaust fan. Without proper ventilation, humidity gets trapped in the enclosed space. Over time, this moist environment becomes the perfect home for mold and mildew, and allows paint, grout, and metal to deteriorate.
Lacking a Clear Plan
Planning is everything! Instead of discovering your bathroom’s specific needs after you’ve already ripped out the toilet, make a plan that takes into account precise measurements, anticipated cost, all materials, and your own personal taste. Map out your plan for any family members or contractors who will be helping you with the remodel.
If your plan for your bathroom renovation focuses on looks rather than function, that’s a big problem. Leave the decorating for later and think about the layout and spacing first. If you’re breaking down walls and moving plumbing fixtures, you’ll not only want to make sure the new layout satisfies building codes for minimal spacing guidelines, but also be certain that the placement of fixtures and furnishings allows for comfortable everyday use
Choosing the Wrong Materials
Bathrooms undergo some serious stress—from high moisture levels to quick temperature shifts. To prevent warped or mildewed floors, walls, or vanities, you’ll want to choose materials designed specifically for the bathroom.
Being Unrealistic About a Budget
Be honest about the budget. If you have only a limited amount of money to work with, stick to what you can afford. If you overspend, you’ll have to cut corners somewhere and won’t be pleased with the results. Extra costs do arise, however, so err on the safe side by budgeting an extra 15 to 20 percent for surprise expenditures.
Overlooking Small Mistakes
Small glitches in a new tile job or a gap in a bathroom vanity might seem minor, but even the smallest errors will become eyesores down the line. As your renovation progresses, always fix mistakes, even the smallest ones. Don’t persuade yourself to overlook work that’s been done wrong—if you notice it now, you’ll see it every time you use the space.
Losing Focus Toward the End
Any renovation is exciting in the beginning, but hard work and long hours cause most people to lose a little steam. If you’re so eager to see the completed room that you start rushing, you can burn out. Instead, move at a steady pace at the beginning, then slow down at the end to be sure everything is done correctly. Patience definitely pays off.
Inexpensive Bathroom Remodeling Ideas
Limit Your Tile
Tile gets expensive, especially when you hire a contractor to lay it all out for you. To save money, limit the amount of tile and focus on high-impact areas like the floor (instead of the floor and inside the shower stall walls). Alternatively, you could tile one horizontal strip along the wall and paint the rest.
Save on Counter Tops
Another way to save on granite countertops is to buy a slab containing imperfections. The more visible the imperfection, the cheaper the price will be. Keep in mind that your sink basin will take up a lot of surface area, so if the imperfection is located where the sink or faucets will be then you won’t see it anyway!
If you don’t have a lot to spend, then repainting will be the cheapest and, perhaps, the most effective way to give your bathroom a new look.
Next, look at the little details. You can update light fixtures, sink faucets, towel racks, and drawer pulls for a relatively small investment. These items may seem insignificant, but updating them can make a big difference in your bathroom’s look. Check out sites like ModernBathroom.com for ideas. The items may be out of your price range but you can find ways to replicate the look for less.
How to Remodel Your Bathroom From Start to Finish
A bathroom makeover is an easy way to spruce up your home. But before you start taking measurements for an open shower, you should take the time to plan out your bathroom renovation step-by-step so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Steps to Remodel a Bathroom
1. Remove or Demolish Bathroom Fixtures
Assuming you’re partially or totally renovating your bathroom, this is where you’ll start removing drywall and any fixtures you’re replacing. Remodeling a bathroom yourself isn’t all that hard, but there are a few steps you should follow to avoid any costly mistakes during the demolition phase.
2. Install Your New Shower or Tub Basin
After you’ve gutted your bathroom, its time install your new fixtures. For a shower or tub replacement, you’ll want to pick a pan or basin that fits your new decor, as well as the space where your current tub sits.
3. Install New Fixtures and Features
With the shower out of the way, you can now install your new vanity and cabinets. If their dimensions are bigger or smaller than your current ones, you’ll need to renovate your bathroom a little further by adjusting the wiring.
4. Lay Down Your New Floor Tiles
A DIY bathroom makeover is not complete without new floor tiles. But before you start grinding away with the grouting, use a mason’s chalk line to mark reference lines perpendicular (at a 90-degree angle) to the wall with the longest continuous line. This will allow you to keep your tiles in a straight line, avoiding the dreaded crooked tiling job.
5. Hang New Drywall and Start Painting
Now your bathroom makeover is starting to take shape. The next step is to hang your new drywall. This can be a long process as you have to cut new drywall to fit around your vanity and any other features. But once you start nailing up the boards you should be able to move briskly.
6. Install Your New Vanity and Cabinets
After you’ve taken care of the walls and finished installing any new lights, it’s time to install the vanity, cabinets and anything else that’s on your bathroom remodel punch list.
The first thing you want to install is the vanity, including the sink and faucet. Once you have the drain hooked up to the faucet, you can move on to the other essentials such as the mirror, cabinets and the trim around the shower or tub.
7. Finish Hooking Up the Plumbing
At this point in the process, your bathroom actually resembles a bathroom, except for one thing: the toilet. You could install or re-install your toilet earlier in the process but leaving it for last helps avoid chipping it while working on other areas of the bathroom.
Add the Finishing Touches to Wrap Up Your DIY Bathroom Remodel
The last finishing touch is to install the trim around the room and mirrors. The trim is the capstone for every bathroom remodel as it provides the last bit of detail your bathroom needs to feel complete. But of course, the real last step in any bathroom makeover is to draw a nice hot bath for yourself after all your hard work. You deserve it.