10 Cost Saving Tips When Renovating Your Bathroom

small simple bathroom

Bathroom remodels can be costly, with a mid-scale remodel costing an average of $15,500, according to our experts. This number is really just a benchmark, however, with a lot of variation depending on the size of the bathroom, the materials used, and just how extensive the renovation will be.

There are ways to stay within a budget, but it won’t happen without some effort and planning on the homeowner’s part. With the help of a skilled contractor, it is possible to turn your bathroom into something you love, without breaking the bank.

1. Make a plan and stick to it

Whether you’re shopping for a new house or buying a new car, most financial gurus will give you the same advice about deciding on a budget — know what you’re willing and able to spend long before you start shopping. The same goes for a bathroom remodel.

Be honest with yourself about what your budget will allow. Because of the likelihood of unexpected expenses, it is best to settle on a number that is lower than what you’re actually able to spend. Make sure your bathroom contractor knows just how serious you are about your budget and ask them to help you in avoiding unexpected expenses.

2. Leave the plumbing alone

According to Architectural Digest, one of the most expensive parts of renovating a bathroom is moving the plumbing. In fact, just by deciding to move your sink to the other side of the room, the cost of your remodel could double.

The reason plumbing changes in a bathroom are so costly has a lot to do with what happens behind-the-scenes. Sometimes it’s guesswork what will be needed until a plumber is well into the project and able to take a closer look at the pipes behind walls and in the floors. Your bathroom’s general contractor will find the right plumber to work on your bathroom’s plumbing, so no need to attempt it yourself & end up with costly mistakes.

3. Say NO to custom work

If the bathroom of your dreams includes custom work, expect your budget to go up extensively. Whether you hire a designer or work directly with a contractor, this is an important factor to keep in mind during the decision making process.

Standard sizing of fixtures, sinks, tubs, and cabinets are almost always the most affordable option. If you bathroom’s size or shape requires custom pieces, speak with your contractor about your concerns about the cost. They just might have some ideas for staying within your budget.

4. Shop around for big ticket items

Just because you’re hiring a contractor and designer, that doesn’t mean you need to step away from the purchasing process. Instead, let you’re contractor know in advance that you’re planning to do some material shopping yourself.

For example, remnants can be used for countertops. Fixtures may be found on online classifieds sites as well. There are endless ways to find beautiful pieces without buying them at their highest price.

*All items shown are from big box stores and are entry-level.

5. Be flexible about materials

Coming into a project with a level of flexibility might save you money in the long run. Specifically, by being willing to consider other materials for your bathroom remodel you could find more affordable options.

One way this could play out is if your contractor’s supplier has excess materials on hand they’re trying to move out of their warehouse. These could be items leftover or ordered by mistake and they might be willing to give them to you at a discounted price instead of ordering something new.

6. Skip tiling altogether

Floor to ceiling tile might be on trend right now, but it will also cost an arm and a leg during a renovation. If concerns about the budget arise, consider skipping tile in favor of alternative materials.

For example, a tub casing provides a more cost effective option over a complete tiling of shower walls. Reclaimed wood or shiplap give a bathroom an interesting aesthetic at a fraction of the cost of tiled walls.

7. Avoid structural changes

A bigger bathroom might be a high priority in your renovation plan, but how structural changes are approached can greatly affect the final cost of the project. Here’s the deal: if a wall is load-bearing, leave it alone. Trying to take out one of these supporting walls could require additional structural changes beyond the bathroom itself and the help of a structural engineer – driving up the costs considerably.

Instead, be open to changing the bathroom’s design to include moving non-load-bearing walls. It might take some creativity, but it will save you a load of money in the long run.

8. Get the gritty details of drywall replacement

While we’re on the topic of moving walls, let’s talk about drywall replacement. This is a common aspect of bathroom renovations because of the amount of moisture in these rooms. It isn’t uncommon for a contractor to tear it all out and start from scratch.

To save money, don’t be afraid to get the specifics of what truly needs to be replaced. Ask your contractor if any of the existing drywall can be left alone to cut back on this expense.

9. Be open minded

According to NerdWallet, cabinetry and hardware can account for 16 percent of a bathroom renovation project. It makes sense then to be more open minded about storage options in order to save a little money.

Open shelving instead of cabinets aren’t just on trend, they’re more affordable. A contractor can provide an accurate estimate comparison and walk through storage options at different price points. Additionally, look into the option of salvaging or upcycling a vanity. It isn’t hard to create a one of a kind bathroom by turning vintage furniture into a beautiful focal point.

10. Small changes for a big impact

If you’ve suddenly found yourself way over budget during the planning phases of a home improvement project, the next logical step is to determine what can be dropped to save money. If this is a hurdle you’re trying to get past, prioritize the items that will have the biggest impact.

In a bathroom, this could be the lighting. It’s no secret that builder-grade lighting fixtures are either boring or downright ugly and adding new lighting can give the entire space a facelift. Painting the walls, replacing the countertops, and refinishing the tub are small changes that will bring new life to your space.

Is it time to get a contractor for the job?

If you think you’ve got a handle on how to save money on a bathroom renovation and you’re ready to move forward, let us help! Our Renovation Advisors are here to help your find the right bathroom remodel contractor for the job. They’ll find the top three 53-Point Verified Contractors to bid on your home improvement project without any cost to you. Call us or fill out our form to get started!

Marilena Tricarico has been a key figure in the interior design world for over 15 years. Her expertise and designs have been featured on the hit TV show Décore ta Vie for 10 years. Today, she shares her knowledge of the renovation industry with RenoAssistance as a video content producer and host.