Recently, a prospective client called me and asked if we will do just a bathroom renovation. I thought that was an interesting question, since bathroom renovation is exactly one of the services we offer. As it turns out, not many design/build companies will take on only a bathroom unless it is part of a larger remodel. Contractors avoid these smaller projects because they are hard to schedule and less profitable than other remodels. Clients wonder, why is a small room like a bathroom such an investment of time and money? Let’s take a look.
What drives the cost of a bathroom renovation?
Prices across the country will vary quite a bit. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) reports that homeowners spent a mean of $32,000 renovating their bathrooms in 2019, roughly twice what they spent on redoing a guest bath (about $18,000) or a powder room (about $12,000).
Another NKBA study released at the end of 2020 revealed that the average primary bathroom spend over the past year was between $20,000 and $30,0000, with two-thirds of the finished projects showing an increase in size over the previous layout. The most popular anticipated option for layout change is to remove bathtubs to increase the size of the shower.
How many trades can you fit in one bathroom?
Not many. Bathrooms, even before social distancing, only allow one trade at a time to work no matter what the size of the room. You just can’t have subs working on top of each other. Scheduling becomes a fine balance of giving everyone time to complete their appointed tasks and keeping the job moving. Coordinating multiple trades is like choreographing a dance troupe. There are a lot of moving parts.
Building Materials and the Bathroom Renovation
The cost of most everything has skyrocketed, and building materials have not escaped price increases. Simple items like lumber have more than tripled over the last 12 months. Materials like sheet rock, windows, insulation and even the pipes have been impacted by price. Building supplies can by hard to come by, and delays inevitably happen these days.
Tile, Tubs and Everything In Between
Remember that gorgeous oversized freestanding tub with the sexy tub filler that holds a glass of wine? Is your client dreaming of indulging in lavender-infused water and a session of chromatherapy? Be prepared to allocate $5,000 for that indulgence. Luxury has its price.
The Perfect Freestanding Bathtub
Showers with multiple heads, temperature-balanced water controls, built-in benches – as well as the added benefit of steam – are all to die for. While attractive, they drive up the costs of not just the fittings themselves but also the plumbing installation costs. However, if you do specify a freestanding tub, make sure the hot water heater is large enough to accommodate the water consumption. Newer tubs with air systems can be ordered with inline heaters to keep the water at a comfortable temperature. This feature eliminates constantly adding hot water and will save your client money and frustration.
Tile materials are also available in every style and every price point. Marble and glass tiles are generally more expensive than porcelain tile and will cost more to install. Pinterest is full of tile style ideas, but those beautiful images could carry a hefty price tag. Complex patterns add drama and beauty but increase the cost of installation. Intricate designs also require more waste, because there are the extra materials needed to create those beautiful patterns and designs.
I advise my clients to create a portfolio of rooms they would love to live with. Once you have a design plan in place, you will be able to help them make informed decisions about what cabinet type is right for the bathroom renovation.
April 2, 2021
Sharon L Sherman is the founder of Thyme & Place Design, Thymeless Home Decor and Thymeless Well Being in New Jersey.