By Andy Meredith
Renovating bathrooms in old houses is always a project, and Candis and I go back and forth on how much to spend on almost every bathroom we do. We both know that we’re going to have to make a lot of updates to the bathrooms we work on because these houses were built 50 to 100 years ago, and we need to get them updated so that our buyers will want to use them. At the same time, we don’t want to break the bank on a bathroom when we have a lot of other big remodeling projects to do in the house.
So how do you decide how much to spend on renovating a bathroom? When we’re putting together our budget, I always use these tips to figure out how much to spend and which updates we really need.
Look at the Essentials First
If you’re not careful, you can easily spend $25,000 or more on a bathroom remodeling job, especially if you go with all new, name-brand materials and you have the pros do all of the work. (You don’t need to become a professional plumber or construction expert to save money on your bathroom renovations, but it’s going to be cheaper if you can do at least some of the labor yourself.)
To begin, look at what absolutely has to go and what you might be able to salvage. Next, make a list of what you want to add to the bathroom versus what it really needs, and then start working on your budget to decide which details on the “want” list will make it after you take care of all of the “needs.”
How Much Is the House Worth?
Setting a round number for your budget estimate is usually pretty easy. According to Consumer Reports, you should generally try to spend no more than five to ten percent of the house’s after-repair value on bathroom renovations. Basing your budget on the house’s market value is a really good place to start since it directly links how much money you’re spending on the renovations to how much money you’ll get back out of them.
Breaking Down Your Budget
But that’s just the beginning. You could set your budget at 10% of your home’s value, but how do you use that number to figure out what to spend more or less money on? Consumer Reports says that you should allot about 20% of the budget to labor, but you can go with less if you’re a big DIYer like me and Candis. For the rest of the remodeling job, I usually break it down like this:
• Fixtures – 15%
• Plumbing and faucets – 15%
• Flooring – 10%
• Walls and ceiling – 5%
• Vanity countertop – 8%
• Cabinetry and hardware – 16%
• Windows and doors – 5%
• Ventilation and lighting – 5%
• Other – 2%
Now, Candis and I do all of our own design work on our bathrooms, so we don’t have to account for that, but you can shift some of those percentages to accommodate for a designer’s fee. Also, the less you rely on professional labor, the more room you’ll have in your budget for other stuff. If you’re not comfortable doing a job, call the pros so that that it gets done right and you don’t have to spend money fixing your mistakes. But, if you’re pretty handy and you have some remodeling and renovating experience, getting your hands dirty could save you some cash and leave you more room for those “wants.”