When you become interested in a home improvement project, often it’s difficult to anticipate what it might cost. Do you want to try to get estimates if you’re not even sure you want to spend the money? This page is intended to give some cost ranges and explanations so you can make an informed choice as quickly as possible.
Below are some example projects and costs that others have invested. While these price ideas are not specific to your project, we do want to provide a range of projects and costs so you can plan your own budget accordingly.
- Example Projects
- What Exactly is the Scope of a Bathroom Remodel?
- Researching Bathroom Remodel Costs by Geographic Averages
- Remodel Budgeting by Percentage of Home Value
- What are the Driving Factors in Pricing a Bathroom Remodel (IE: Why does it cost so much?)
- How can I Keep my Bathroom Remodel Affordable?
What Exactly is the Scope of a Bathroom Remodel?
Ok, it may seem obvious – but before we can talk about specific pricing, we need to agree on what exactly is being done. Many of the pricing guides online seem oblivious to the sort of work a typical remodel entails, and the cost estimates are similarly bewildering.
There are plenty of helpful DIY sites out there helping homeowners “remodel” their bathrooms on a budget, where the only task involved is painting the vanity. Or stapling some shiplap to the wall. Or updating the towel racks. These are all great, but they are smaller in scope than what we will be discussing here.
For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that we are removing all fixtures – toilet, vanity, tub, flooring, towel racks, lights. Moving fixtures (ie switching the toilet and the shower around) will complicate things quite a bit, so let’s assume everything stays in place. We will put all new flooring, tile, paint, vanity, toilet, shower or tub with a new surround. Fixtures will be categorized by cost/quality levels, and design choices will likewise be categorized by cost to the homeowner.
Researching Bathroom Remodel Costs by Geographic Averages
Today’s Homeowner recently did a comprehensive survey of remodeling costs and return on investment. They calculated average costs and returns across the country, and compiled breakdowns based on geographic region. When reading through the report, there is some interesting information to be had:
Return on investment, while it exists, in our opinion is hardly the factor that should drive your decision. Of every 100 dollars spent, you’ll regain roughly dollars – not exactly something that would be considered good strictly as an investment (ie, when compared to stocks, bonds, and other traditional investments).
That said, if you plan to stay in your home for awhile and enjoy your newly-remodeled bathroom, the costs might be worth it. Much like a new car, your purchase will depreciate somewhat, but you’ll derive the majority of the benefit yourself, and still recoup a large part of the costs afterwards.
Remodel Budgeting by Percentage of Home Value
If you do plan on moving in the near future, it may be wise to put a limit on your spending, so as to maximize your ROI upon moving. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase: “pricing your home out of the neighborhood.” Unless you live in a neighborhood with particularly high-value homes (say, seven figures and higher), you’ll want to start by taking a look at your current home value. The rule of thumb is to spend between 5 and 10 percent of your home’s value on a bathroom. As an example, if your house is worth $450K and you plan to remodel your master bathroom, plan to limit your spend to the $45-50K range.
Of course, it’s difficult to predict what will happen with the housing market at any given time. Overall, though, some common-sense consideration about your budget will help you narrow your options and give you parameters in which to work. It’s actually easier to plan a project when you are boxed in a little bit than when everything is possible.
What are the Driving Factors in Pricing a Bathroom Remodel (IE: Why does it cost so much?)
There’s definitely a chasm between the average homeowner’s understanding of costs and the average contractor’s understanding. Shows on HGTV and DIY social media influencers often give pricing information that makes homeowners excited to get started, and leave contractors scratching their heads at how anything could get done at such a price (here’s a hint: there’s a lot of donated labor and product for “exposure”). Then, accurate contractor bids leave homeowners aghast at how a contractor could charge such a price for their remodels. Let’s take a little time to explore just what it takes to bring a remodel to life:
This one’s pretty obvious: for every remodel project, you’ll need the finish materials. This includes flooring, tile, faucets, a vanity, toilet, bathtub, closets, lighting, paint and all the little things like towel bars and toilet paper holders that make a bathroom one-of-a-kind. Homeowners are typically the most excited to choose these things, and may work with a designer to help create a cohesive whole. (If you need a designer recommendation, send us a message).
Expect the labor rates for installation to be higher for more expensive materials. The contractor assumes a certain level of risk to install more expensive materials. Pieces break, things go wrong, and your contractor will have to factor that into his pricing.
These are all the materials that are used to build your bathroom, but you wouldn’t find on a showroom floor. These are the lumber, the fasteners, the mortars etc. The cost of these can seem rather low, but do the math, and things will add up quickly. During the past few years, prices have been incredibly volatile, first with COVID-19 creating problems with lumber imports, and later supply chain problems creating additional problems for almost everything else.
Labor: Direct Costs
The direct costs are those costs that are directly related to your remodel. Depending on how the contractor’s business is structured, these might include: paying employees, buying and transporting materials, purchasing fixtures, gas for vehicles, paying for permits and inspections, project-specific taxes, and any other thing that is related to each specific project.
Labor: Indirect Costs
Indirect costs are those related to keeping the contractor’s business afloat more generally. These include paying employees who don’t work on individual projects, communications, bookkeeping, taxes, vehicles, tools, a shop, liability insurance, workman’s comp insurance, trade associations, warranties, health insurance, retirement accounts, and ongoing training for employees. Needless to say, these costs are hardly insignificant. The only way to recoup these costs is to spread them over the individual projects. Typically, a contractor will figure out a per-hour rate or per-project rate to account for these costs.
Profits are financial gains that a business makes for shareholders or growth. If there are no profits, a business is considered floundering or even failing. Typically, a 10% profit margin is considered average, 5% poor, and a 20% profit margin is considered good.
How can I Keep my Bathroom Remodel Affordable?
By far the easiest way to keep your remodel affordable is to limit the scope of work. Ask yourself what is the most important aspect of your bathroom that needs improvement?
After that, understand that some aspects of a remodel cost much more than others. Painting and simple fixture change-outs are smaller, more affordable updates you can make without a large budget. Reworking an entire plumbing system, on the other hand, has cascading effects through a project, and will usually cost on the upper end of the spectrum. An honest conversation with your contractor will be your best way to figure out where you can save on your project.
For those customers planning a project for aging-in-place or a remodel to accommodate a disability, there are grant programs that may be available to you. Please see Private and Government Home Modification Resources on Illinois’s government website for more information.