Bathroom Renovations Costs
Now that we’ve taken a first shot at understanding the cost breakdown for a full home renovation, we’re digging in this week with a look at pricing a bathroom renovation. We’ll spare you the clichés about how bathrooms are zen sanctuaries – if you are a homeowner looking to re-do an outdated or less-than-functional bathroom, especially in New York (land of showers, sinks, and toilets that are three centimeters apart), you need a transparent look at the basic and variable costs of your project. To get started, we talked with Sweeten Expert Aleks, the man behind the scenes at Ben and Therese’s Brooklyn Heights bathroom upgrade, and Sweeten Expert Alan, the key player in Sanaya’s Clinton Hill kitchen and bathroom renovations (–Sanaya’s bathroom renovation pictured in this post).
Where do you start when planning your budget if you want to renovate your bathroom?
Alan explained that the bare minimum begins with swapping out an individual fixture or two. You can replace a toilet or vanity for a fairly limited cost, and pay a la carte for the cost of the new fixture and the hours of installation work. “The only way to stay under $5, 000, ” he explained, “is to focus on a straight swap of the toilet, vanity, and accessories like towel rods and hooks.” Aleks estimated that you could go one step up with new fixtures and some limited tile work and stay in the $8, 000 or $9, 000 range. Both Alan and Aleks agreed that the minute you decide you are opening walls or touching the plumbing, the job becomes a more holistic project and you will need an average of $16, 000 to $20, 000 to get it done. Alan noted that even if you are just re-doing fixtures and tile work, you may find that you need to replace the sheetrock on the wall and address issues behind the walls (old valves, ancient drain pipes, etc). These expenses can be surprising for homeowners who are just envisioning upgrades to visible fixtures and finishes.
Can you walk us through the material elements of a bathroom renovation that a homeowner needs to think about?
Aleks noted that because of space demands, most homeowners start with ideas about the placement and function of the tub or shower. “Do you want to leave what’s there?” Aleks asked, “Convert an old tub to a new tub? Convert a tub to a walk-in shower?” Homeowners tend to focus next on the vanity and related storage (cabinetry, shelves, niches, etc). Aleks noted that he often sees homeowners opting to use the vanity and medicine cabinet to stretch their budget and pick higher-end, custom fixtures because these are focal points that can have a more immediate visual impact with higher quality materials. Next, you need to decide on the toilet, tile, faucets, lighting fixtures, and hardware accessories like hooks, towel bars, and cabinet pulls.
Alan helped to shed some light on the range of materials, noting that both toilet and vanity options can start as low as $250 (for options available from big-box retailers) and range up to $3, 000 (for higher-end or custom pieces) and beyond (for highly specialized, European, or customized options). Alan noted that homeowners can add to their expenses if they decide on sinks that leave piping exposed under the sink, because they then need to spend more on decorative drain pipes. Specialized options like tubs with jets can also bring the cost up because they require more plumbing labor and have an electrical wiring component. Homeowners can opt to limit or stretch expenses for materials like tile and stone, which can start as low as $1.50 per square foot and range up to $35 per square foot and beyond.
Here’s a look at Sanaya’s bathroom, renovated by Alan after being matched on Sweeten:
Both Alan and Aleks agreed that homeowners need to look at the work holistically. “When you are renovating a full bathroom, you can plan for the right sequence and the most cost-effective methods, ” Aleks explained. While it can be tempting for homeowners to try to apply a la carte prices to individual elements of the work, a full renovation is necessarily more integrated and it can be mis-leading to try to break up and price out each step.