budgeting for a bathroom renovation
Note: We've updated this information for current (2022) construction costs, since a lot has changed since this post was originally published in 2021! I've also added additional budgeting resources at the end of the post.
It's one of the most common questions we're asked at the beginning of every new project - how much can I expect this to cost?! It makes perfect sense. When you don't live in the renovation world day-in and day-out, it's tough (practically impossible) to know what the realistic costs are for renovations. And HGTV sure doesn't help! I won't get on my soapbox now, but just know that the costs you see on a renovation show typically are about half of what the true cost would be! Shocking but true.
Of course with any design project, there are huge variables that can affect cost. Where you live, how fancy you want to be, if there's any damage that is uncovered that needs to be remedied. But we wanted to give you a starting place on what a typical bathroom project costs for 3 common types of projects.
The numbers I'll share below are what we are seeing currently in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. If you live outside of this area, yours may be a bit higher or lower. More rural areas tend to be lower, and more densely populated areas tend to be higher.
When you hire out a bathroom renovation, the rule of thumb has been that about half of the cost is going directly into the materials and fixtures that go in (the tub, tile, lighting, etc.) and the other half is paying for labor. As 2021 unfolded and now into 2022, we are seeing both of these numbers rise. Material costs have continued to increase, but labor is where the number has really changed the most. Labor shortages and the overall busyness of the renovation industry is now such that labor is more like 1.5x or 2x the cost of the materials themselves.
So to manage costs you can either reduce the cost of the fixtures, by, let's say, finding a less expensive tile, or reducing the cost of labor by getting multiple bids or acting as your own general contractor (or GC). And while there are cost benefits to be found in acting as your own GC, there are also a lot of headaches that come with trying to do that yourself! All of that information can be found here.
'For our purposes here, we're just going to talk about the cost if you hire the entire project out. Also please don't save this blog for 6 years and then get mad at me if the cost is higher. I've updated for 2022 but can't make any promises for 2028!
Powder baths are pretty straight forward and are the least expensive of the bunch since we aren't dealing with a tub or shower. We will typically look at about $7,500 - $10,000 for a powder bath renovation assuming a new small vanity, toilet, tile floor, lighting, mirror, and some accessories. Things like custom wallpaper or tiling the walls would add cost. Getting a pedestal sink in lieu of a vanity with a countertop would reduce cost.
I've lumped Guest and Kids' bathrooms together, but this could include any bathroom with a standard tub or tub-sized-shower. We typically estimate $20,000-$25,000 as our first blush cost on these bathrooms. That would include all new plumbing fixtures and new tile for the shower/tub surround. Keep in mind that a shower is more expensive than a tub. With a tub, you have the cost of the tub itself and the tile on the walls. With a shower, you need a drain, a shower pan (to keep the water out of your floor), the extra tile, along with a shower door. Shower glass alone can run you $1-2K. So if you're wanting to convert your tub to a shower in your renovation, you could assume that's adding about $5K to the cost over what it would be to just replace the tub.
Here's where things really get interesting. We've done master bathrooms on a budget, and we have done a few that begin to approach $100K. But most folks fall in the range of $45,000-$75,000. What accounts for that huge range? Typically it's two things - layout and fixtures. The layout of most powder baths and guest baths are pretty straightforward and there typically isn't a huge reason to change them. Master baths are a different story. In the 50's, 70's, and 90's bathrooms were just DIFFERENT. In the 50's they were tiny, in the 70's they got a bit larger but the architects were clearly on some sort of drug with the "creative" layouts during that period. And by the 90's things were getting bigger, but this was the era of the Giant Garden Tub and TINY shower. Generally, when we approach a master bath renovation we are almost always moving things around to maximize the layout.
As for fixtures, often the dream master bath includes a large shower (which we learned above can be pretty spendy) and the piece de resistance, a soaker tub. A freestanding tub can run you anywhere from about $1K for a decent one to $7-10K for a luxurious Victoria and Albert version. Generally, once we get to a master bath, we're looking to create a sanctuary and not scrimp in the same way we might be willing to for a Guest Bath.
Nicer finishes, nicer fixtures. Treat yo' self. But also treat yo' resale value, because bathrooms bring the biggest ROI when it comes time to sell, often 1.5 times your money, especially Master Bathrooms.
Well, there you have it! Hopefully, this gives you some insight into the typical costs of a bathroom renovation in case you're working towards starting one at your home. Please reach out if you have any questions on your particular situation or if you're ready to get one started at your house! We'd love to help.
UPDATE: when we took on our One Room Challenge master bath renovation in the spring of 2021, we shared a customizable budgeting spreadsheet template that you can download. Find the post and download here.