Why is it expensive to remodel a bathroom

bathroom remodeling
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Clients ask all the time, “Why is it so expensive to remodel a bathroom?” I am a bathroom contractor, or, you can call me the “Bathroom Master” because not only do I like to remodel/renovate bathrooms, I am good at it.  I also understand how a bathroom remodel can quickly become a bathroom remodel mess.

A bathroom remodel is challenging because it involves so many facets;

bathroom remodeling

it needs to be functional, aesthetically pleasing, always requires demolition, a plumber, an electrician and so on.

Generally, two reasons precipitate a bathroom remodel.

Either something is leaking, especially the shower,  or the bathroom is outdated.

When there is a leak the issues of remodel become more complicated and usually require a larger budget. It’s been my experience that

a bathroom seems to shows its “style age” after about ten years.

This brings up the subject of a budget. Bathroom remodel clients don’t usually have a budget until they find out how much it costs. Occasionally I get the question: “How can I save money?” This can be tricky because I include at least 15 line items on an estimate and many clients want to see a further breakdown of what makes up the estimate. The fifteen line items include things like demolition, construction costs, hauling away demoed material, possible dumpster rental, plumbing, electrical, tile work and labor.  And we haven’t even begun to discuss fixtures, cabinetry and lighting.

What if there is new drywall to consider, or simple wall repair?  There is the cost of hauling the demoed materials either to the subcontractor’s trailer or to a rented dumpster in the front yard. (As an aside – most customers like the dumpster in the front yard, despite the lawn damage.

The reason?

It alerts the neighbors there is something happening.  Everyone loves a good remodel and it can have an upward effect on the housing values in the neighborhood. Remodeling is a good thing!)

There is also a cost involved in protecting the construction traffic area as well as adjacent areas during the renovation.

We have all seen the dust and small refuse related to remodeling and minimizing damage to walls, doorways as demoed materials are being removed, and new materials and tools are brought into the house is always a priority.  There is also a need for an area to store, stage materials and work (outside when possible) to keep dust to a minimum.

By far, however,

the major cost in a bathroom remodel is the plumbing and tile/labor work, followed by the electrical work.

I can’t stress the importance of a quality plumber or electrician.  Using these contractors without experience is a huge risk to the client’s remodeling budget and overall project.

There are two areas in bathroom remodels that require special diligence:

  1. plumbing
  2. and waterproofing the shower.


Once again, a good plumber will take care of the first.  But both issues can take years for problems to be revealed.

Smaller, but important categories for aesthetic reasons are faucets, cabinetry and lightning. Regardless, my basic fifteen line items add up to an average of $15,000 – $19,000 when the layout remains in-tact, or the price can reach the upper twenties when the client goes high-end.

Speaking aesthetically, because this is what ultimately pleases the client the most, style elements can add a lot: ceramic or natural stone, plumbing fixtures can go plain-Jane or tricked out from a big box retailer to a specialty store. The client can go with standard shower heads or steam units.

For the cabinets there are standard prefab mdf wood boxes or the client can decide on a custom unit.  The countertops go from cultured marble to granite. And don’t forget the extras!  How about a heated floor and heated towel bars?

As a Bathroom Master, I can do the initial consultation with the client(s) to determine their style, tolerances, time table and make some determinations about their requirements, their wants and make sense of those changes based on the value of their home.

house for sale

In summary, bathroom remodels, especially Master Bathroom remodels, can sell a home.  Even if you are not planning to move, it is time to enjoy that space, after all you are where you live.