You got an amazing deal on your home, in part because the master bathroom was kind of really outdated. The wallpaper says it all — and that pink toilet, oh boy. You are so ready to do something about the Pepto Bismol nightmare attached to your bedroom, but you also want to be sure you’re doing this remodel right, otherwise you may be doomed to repeat it.
Bathroom Remodels Can Be Good Investments
When it comes to remodeling projects, there’s the rare exception that will return the entire cost of the improvement when you go to sell your home or have it appraised for a home equity loan. Although they don’t typically have above-cost ROIs, Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value survey found that midrange bathroom remodels returned 70.1 percent of their cost for home sellers and universal design bathrooms returned 70.6 percent. Neither figure isn’t too shabby, especially when you consider that adding an entire midrange master suite only returned 56.6 percent!
However, even Remodeling Magazine is quick to point out that these gains only apply to well-executed bathrooms, and there’s no shortage of bathroom remodels that have gone horribly wrong. Before you even start to put a dollar figure on your remodel, take some time to hop on Houzz, Zillow or Realtor.com and look up houses like yours. See what their master baths look like, how people updated them, what seems to be working and what is a real mess. The research on this project is going to take time, but it’s necessary for the best results possible.
Some Practical Questions to Ask Yourself
Sometimes the idea of remodeling your own home can sort of supercharge a fantasy where gravity doesn’t pull down the roof if you take out a bunch of structural walls, anything can be made to fit anywhere and cost is absolutely not an issue. This is a good time to develop a list of things you really, really want. But before you so much as look at your credit card or touch your savings account, let that early excitement fade. You need to approach a bathroom remodel with a level head or you may end up spending a fortune to gain very little.
With a clear head, consider these items before starting a master bathroom remodel:
- How does the existing setup work for me?
Hey, you may not love that pink tub, but it does seem like it’s kind of perfectly placed. The vanity, however, seems like it was just kind of dropped in place randomly. It’s weird and you kind of really hate it. Make notes on how the current configuration works or doesn’t so you can work on arranging the new parts properly.
- What are my goals for this bathroom?
This might seem a bit of an odd question, but if you think about it, you use this bathroom differently than its last owners use it, more likely than not. Maybe you need more plugs or more wall space. Possibly, you’re tired of the wallpaper and how hard the vinyl floor is to keep clean. Figure out the why of your remodel long before you cut the first check.
- Should I be using Universal Design principles?
Universal Design is one of those things that you’ve probably never heard of, but you’re still kind of thinking about anyway. Basically, Universal Design revolves around making spaces like bathrooms easier to access by everyone. That means people with disabilities, the elderly, anyone that might normally be excluded. For you, this is going to be about both resell, if that’s in the future, and aging in place. While you’re young and able, convert as much of your home to a Universal Design if you don’t plan to move again — you’ll thank yourself later.
- How long will it take?
Any sort of remodeling project can take a very long time to complete, especially if you’re doing most of the work yourself. This isn’t likely to be a weekend project and everything will be gross, wet and awful for a while — possibly months or years, depending on your budget and motivation level. If you’re hiring the job out, the contractor can give you a much better idea of their schedule, but since they’re highly motivated to get a check from you, even a massive remodel that involves knocking out walls shouldn’t take more than a couple of months.
- What’s it going to cost?
There are so many ways to remodel a bathroom that it’s as difficult to estimate costs in general as it is the timeframe it takes to spend that money. However, there are a few surveys that can help give us a peek at something like an answer. Remodel Magazine says that a mid-range bathroom remodel will run about $19k and an upscale remodel over $61k.
That being said, there are a lot of factors that can change that price dramatically. Obviously, the size of the bathroom now and the size it’ll be when you’re done are both huge variables. Another is whether or not you’re moving plumbing. Believe it or not, if you can work with plumbing where it sits, you’re going to save a lot of money. Sometimes all you need to do is twist a fixture around a bit to make it work better in the space.
If you’ve never remodeled a bathroom before, it might not be the best idea to start by yourself on your own. At very least, find a friend or family member who has a lot of DIY experience before you dive into a project of this scale on your own.