The Bathroom Benjamins – aka “The Budget”

Money is always a sensitive topic, but I feel it’s important to hash out the budget details on our recent bathroom renovation because there’s a TON of information on the internet about how to lay tile and install cabinetry, but never enough information about how much it actually costs!  Especially if you are doing a project solely on your own (as we did), then it’s really important for you to research as much as possible and have as much information at your disposal.  I understand a lot of people will probably criticize our decision to remodel a bathroom that was relatively new and question the amount of money we put into it, but this was something that we felt was necessary for us and I hope that if you are planning to do a bathroom renovation that you seriously consider the associated costs, headaches and timelines associated with attempting such a project.  It’s a doozy….but it’s also worth it :-)

First off, I talk a little bit in this post of yore about how we came to our budget and what the actual budget was, but if you’re lazy like me (haha!) and don’t feel like clicking over to the other post, then here is basically how we divvied up our budget ahead of time:

  • Cabinetry – $3,000
  • Light fixtures/hardware/knobs/faucets – $1,000
  • Construction/demo/lumber/backerboard/supplies – $1,000
  • Tile/mortar/grout/supplies – $1,000
  • Counters/sink – $1,000
  • Shower door – $500
  • Toilet – $500
  • Miscellaneous – $2,000

That’s a total of $10,000 if you’re keeping track.  We came to that number by just guesstimating that for a five-piece bathroom at under 100 square feet it would be roughly double Young House Love’s bathroom makeover that was for a three-piece bath and a budget of $5,000.  Bigger bathroom = bigger budget!  I wasn’t lying when I said there really ISN’T a whole lot of budget bathroom breakdowns out there, so that was the best I had to go off of!  Now if we had to hire labor for our bathroom (which, I admit, we didn’t even get quotes for), we estimated it would probably double or triple the price of materials, though we really didn’t have any idea.  We certainly had them on speed dial if there was a problem, but felt okay with doing everything ourselves.

So, keeping that 10K number in mind, we saved up for over a year in order to be able to get it all done without going into debt.  We put everything on our Southwest Miles Credit Card and paid the balance in full every single month!  Yea, that was painful, but totally worth it to not have any lingering credit card debt – phew!  Now I will admit that “itemizing” this budget was actually pretty difficult.  There were a LOT of things that fell within “miscellaneous” and some receipts would go missing somewhere between Home Depot and the mad dash to get started working on the bathroom as soon as we got home.  But overall, I’d say that this budget is roughly accurate to within about $250 or so (which, believe me, is a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost).  So here we go – in no particular order:

  • Shower Door + Labor:  $1,065.78
  • Countertops + Integrated Sinks + Labor: $1,448.51
  • Cabinetry + Supplies: $2,039.07
  • Toilet + Supplies: $155.09
  • Faucets (2 sinks, 1 tub):  $241.71
  • Shower Faucets, Dual-head system:  $786.93
  • Subway Tile + Shelves:  $319.14
  • Marble Floor Tile:  $266.72
  • Marble Shower Floor tile:  $159.52
  • Tiling Supplies, grout, sponges, etc:  $109.95
  • Cabinet knobs:  $39.33
  • 4 sconces:  $135.36
  • Miscellaneous:  $1,269.35
  • Total:  $8,036.60

Real quick calculation - that’s $1,963.40 under budget! 

I know that last “Miscellaneous” seems pretty scary, but literally every Saturday and Sunday we would make a run to Home Depot and buy “a little bit of this, a little bit of that”, so it was truly very difficult to itemize.  I didn’t think many of you would care to know how many boxes of cement screws we purchased or how many sheets of drywall.  I’m not that detail oriented and neither should you be.  That miscellaneous encompassed everything from random plumbing hookups and pipes, ALL of the construction materials like Drywall, Hardibacker and all of the subsequent screws and drill-bits that we chewed up in the process to a Sawz-all that we bought in a fit of desperation when we couldn’t remove the shower pan or arch, etc, etc.  In short, “Miscellaneous” was a very good category to add to the bathroom budget!  Also, we totally blew by our “limits” on the counters, lighting/hardware and shower door.  Shower door for $500?  Pish posh, don’t I WISH!  But we came in under budget in a big way on miscellaneous and the cabinetry so that helped us out in a big way.  Overall, sticking to the budget wasn’t hard when we got our cabinetry right out of the gate for such a smokin’ deal.

So what did we learn?  Well, here are a few things to keep in mind!

Cabinetry:  First off, we got super lucky on our bathroom cabinetry.  We wanted higher-end cabinetry because I think it really makes the room and gives it that “wow” factor.  That tower in the middle was a pretty essential piece of the design so we decided to get precisely what we wanted and were prepared to pay a premium for it since we had allocated about 3K to the cabinetry budget from the get-go.  We decided to go with Thomasville Cabinetry from Home Depot and got it for $1,000 off the list price because they were having some sort of sale. 

Here’s a tip – if you go to buy cabinetry, be sure to ask if they are having any sales or deals because when it comes to items that must be special ordered, they don’t generally advertise about it.  Your designer may also know of a sale that’s coming up soon, so if you can wait a few weeks to order your cabinetry, then you should wait until you get the best deal!  It’s always worth asking and what can it hurt?!?!  Also, if you’re doing a massive renovation like a kitchen or a bathroom, then shoot for doing your renovation in the winter months.  Summertime is known as “renovation season” so if there is going to be a hike in prices (or a lack of sales), then it will likely happen during the summer.  Also, since it’s renovation season, anything you order will take longer to get in stock, so if you’re on a tight timeline, then it’s best to start super early to order your cabinetry.

Splurge small and learn to compromise:  Splurge on a small area, like the shower floor or an accent tile!  Our tile budget was pretty small and as much as I wanted Carrera marble as my floor tiles, I also realized that spending close to $1,000 on an 80 square foot floor wasn’t going to win my hubby over anytime soon nor give us very much return when we turn around to sell the house.  It also meant that if I spent that much on the floor, I couldn’t then get the nicer dual head system in the shower or the nicer cabinetry, so it’s all about compromise.  I ended up finding a tile that was similar in tone and color for about a quarter of the price!  It was a special order tile from Home Depot, but it wasn’t fancy.  It had the cooler color tones that I loved about Carrera but more grays and blues in it.  In the picture below, our floor tile is the large tile on the bottom.

However, I DID get Carrera tumbled stone tiles to put in the shower:

It was about the same price as the Carrera tiles (around $10/sq foot), but since I only had to buy 16 tiles of it, I was only out $160 for a high impact tile in a small space.  So, lesson learned – don’t overdo it with the larger surfaces in the space.  But don’t be shy to splurge somewhere so long as it’s small!

Use the internet to your advantage:  Here’s a list for you:  faucets, light fixtures and door hardware – ALL ordered online.  We looked for classic bin pulls at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Target, Restoration Hardware, Overstock.com, etc, and most of those pulls cost about $10-20 apiece!  I needed five of them, so that meant it would be anywhere between $50-$100 – yikes!  I know that’s a drop in the bucket compared to a 10K budget, but I was adamant that we wouldn’t be spending that much on door hardware.  Enter eBay stage right and I spent $20 total on five bin pulls, including shipping!  Score!!  The internet is a fabulous tool.  Use it!  eBay, Overstock and Google itself are great sources to find things you just can’t find in the hardware stores – and probably cheaper too!

Don’t upgrade every fixture, finish, or item:  It’s so easy to look at pictures of high end rooms in magazines and say, “Oh, I want THAT and THAT and THAT!”  Of course it is – because it’s beautiful!  But it’s REALLY not necessary.  Choose your splurges wisely.  For example, Dr. J really wanted to install radiant heat floors under our marble.  While we didn’t price it out, I could just see the dollar signs adding up for such a project plus the added headache of installing marble overtop with no guarantee that the marble wouldn’t crack based off of an uneven surface due to our inexperience with both installing tile and a heated floor.  That’s me, Debbie Downer.  We opted to skip the radiant heat floors and if heat becomes an issue in the bathroom (which it never was before), we can always pop out one of our vent fans in the ceiling (we have two, which is overkill!) and put in a vent fan/electric heater combo.  We’ve done it in the past and it’s relatively “easy” to do and does the same job for about $100 total.  Easy peasy.

Keep the same layout:  This goes without saying, but if you go into a bathroom and start moving stuff around (particularly plumbing), then that’s when a) you have to hire the big guns and b) you start racking up your budget.  We kept the same layout in our bathroom (though, admittedly, we did move one set of plumbing from the sink over about 12 inches and routed off of the existing plumbing in the shower to get a dual system, but we did that ourselves).  When you start moving things like plumbing stacks, toilets and the like, then it’s an absolute budget buster.  If you can manage it, keep your layout – you’ll be happier with the cost :-)

That’s a fairly good rundown of everything.  Again, I’m sharing our bathroom budget mostly because I think it’s very useful for people who might be doing this again in the future and it’s a good placesaver for us when we go to sell our house and hopefully get a little boost from this renovation, but with this economy, who knows?  The only thing I can say is that if you’re considering updating your bathroom, then just save, save, save, save.  Bathrooms and kitchens are expensive but dollar for dollar you get the biggest bang for your buck over any other renovation in the house.  We’re happy we saved a ton of money by doing everything ourselves and scrimping where we could and splurging on key areas, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily for everyone and I think putting together a budget is purely a subjective thing so to each his own.  I’m certainly not above doing a budget makeover (as we did with our guest bath), but this bathroom had bigger problems than a can of paint could fix and plus we wanted a bigger shower, so that’s why we scrimped and saved for over a year so that we could get exactly what we wanted.  This project wasn’t easy, nor was it easy to come to the decision to remodel and took a lot of sacrifice on our part, but we’re so happy we did it and happy that we could afford small splurges in the bathroom as a result!

We remodeled our master bathroom and it was a doozy that took 6 months!  We did absolutely EVERthing ourselves except for installing the countertops and shower doors.  Here are some links to read more about the process and maybe it’ll give you the confidence to tackle your own renovation! 

The Bathroom begins…Demolition Day 1 and Day 2 and how we got rid of all that trash!  Our budget and a tile preview and a little look-see into what MY view is when my hubby is installing electrical and video view of what all of the demolition looked like before we started installing things. Check out our desperate attempt to keep the house clean while we renovate and another video update with a sneak peek at our gorgeous marble floors!  Then you can also see moments of despair as we struggle to maintain sanity after over a month of bathroom renovating!  And then there was paint…  And then the cabinets and toilet were installed…  And then we began tiling…….and then it started to look like a bathroom again!  And then I teased you in a major way….Then we finished the shower and took a summer vacation away from all of the finish work…but managed to throw in this one last teaser photo just for the helluva it!  And if you’re not into reading ALL of that stuff above, just click here to get a good overview of the mayhem that occurred during 6 months of renovation our master bathroom!  And for the FINAL REVEAL, click here.


Before & After Bliss: Our Monster Master Bathroom Renovation

**Warning** This post contains a LOT of pictures!  Please be patient while it loads!

It’s done!!!!  If you’re new here, then take a look at this post, which did a pretty good job of rounding up all of the dirty details that we’ve been doing over the past 6 months!  There’s also a chapter run down at the END of this post if you need more information.  I am SOOO excited to show you this makeover and thank you generously for your patience during this renovation!  This is by far the most amazing makeover we’ve done to this house – and we’ve done a LOT.  I’ll keep the commentary to a minimum and let the photos speak for themselves…

The Vanity

Before

As you walked in the door, the first thing you saw was the vanity to the left.  Before it was a pretty builder’s basic set up with stock cabinetry, off-centered plumbing and lighting, a wall-to-wall mirror and damaged marble countertops.  The finishes were also mismatched (Oil-Rubbed Bronze lighting and door hardware + brushed nickel faucets = ick!).  I could go on, but you get the point.

After

We replaced EVERYTHING!  Nothing here is original.  New cabinets, lighting, counters – slam-damn EVERYTHING!  There’s so much going on here that I’ll just let you look at the pictures to take it all in.

The Tub

Before

To the right of the door and facing the vanity, we find the tub.  The tub was fine – good size, good placement, good condition.  But that tile surround simply had to go.  It was cracked, damaged and just plain ugly.

After

We kept the tub but replaced everything else, including the backsplash and tub deck tile.  We opted for a board and batten treatment on the face of the tub deck rather than more tile (it’s an easier and cheaper installation that honestly looks more “custom”).  We kept things feeling serene and restful by limiting the color palettes to whites, pale blues and grays.  Though you can’t see it in the pictures, we also added a can light above the tub for more lighting.  Here is the tub area after our renovation:

The Loo

Before

I don’t have a ton of pictures of this area – it’s just not one of those things people really want to take pictures of.  Regardless, this toilet was never going to stay – it wasn’t a comfortable toilet to sit on and could barely handle the job it was designed to do if you know what I’m sayin’ (*wink*wink*).  Also, in the process of foreclosure, they had installed that air freshener above the toilet, which left a sticky residue behind that we had to *cut*out*of*the*wall* in order to remove, so some patching work was definitely in order:

After:

We replaced the loo with an elongated bowl, which is much more comfortable for my hubby and dudes in general.  Then we added some modern open storage shelves from West Elm and topped the whole area off with beautiful crown molding.  There wasn’t much to look at before and I’m not one to really get all giddy about a toilet, but, boy, is it pretty now!

The Shower

Before

Ahh….the space that pretty much started it all.  I did a pretty extensive post on this area back in June when we finished it (which you can read about by clicking here).  But it’s worth it to see what it was like before.  Cramped, dark and growing black mold – ick!  We had a light-blocking arch that didn’t do much except make that area feel smaller – as if that was possible!  We had no storage in the shower – not even a decent place to put our soap!  We pined for something larger, grander and more functional…and I apologize on the quality of these pictures – it really was a difficult place to photograph before…

After

I saved the best for last.  Wow, what a difference 6 months make!  NOTHING here is original.  And this shower is absolutely bee-you-tee-ful.  You can read more about this process by clicking here.  Essentially, we demoed this area down to the studs, added more plumbing so we could have a dual shower head system, built a custom shower pan (it’s easier than it sounds – more on that in another post), tiled floor to ceiling with crisp white Subway tile, added some soap dishes and storage shelves and installed a gorgeous Carrera Marble tumbled stone floor that has a nice flat and smooth finish – super easy on the feet!  Check out this after – it literally takes my breath away every time I see it!

Other Views

…anything that wasn’t covered above will be here.  Enjoy!

That’s it!  Thank you to everyone for your patience and encouragement during this journey.  It’s been a process and I’m sooooo glad we’ve done it.  I’ll work on a source list and our overall budget breakdown in the coming weeks.  But in the short term, I’m exhausted.  I’m so glad it’s done.  I’m so glad we did it.  Would we do it again?  Not in this house, no.  But in a future house??  If it needed it, then yes, definitely!  We learned so much doing this bathroom and I was continually surprised at what my husband and I were able to accomplish with our own four hands.  It certainly has given us a good deal of confidence that if you put your mind to it (and your back INTO it), you really CAN accomplish anything…

But now I’m off to take a long soak in my tub.  I think I’ve earned it, don’t you??

We remodeled our master bathroom and it was a doozy that took 6 months!  We did absolutely EVERthing ourselves except for installing the countertops and shower doors.  Here are some links to read more about the process and maybe it’ll give you the confidence to tackle your own renovation! 

The Bathroom begins…Demolition Day 1 and Day 2 and how we got rid of all that trash!  Our budget and a tile preview and a little look-see into what MY view is when my hubby is installing electrical and video view of what all of the demolition looked like before we started installing things. Check out our desperate attempt to keep the house clean while we renovate and another video update with a sneak peek at our gorgeous marble floors!  Then you can also see moments of despair as we struggle to maintain sanity after over a month of bathroom renovating!  And then there was paint…  And then the cabinets and toilet were installed…  And then we began tiling…….and then it started to look like a bathroom again!  And then I teased you in a major way….Then we finished the shower and took a summer vacation away from all of the finish work…but managed to throw in this one last teaser photo just for the helluva it!  And if you’re not into reading ALL of that stuff above, just click here to get a good overview of the mayhem that occurred during 6 months of renovation our master bathroom!

Bathroom Demo Day 2

Woke up Sunday feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.  But we still had to remove the toilet, all of the shower tile and the remaining floor tile.  Removing the toilet wasn’t so easy….

A shoddy (and crooked) install meant we couldn’t undo the bolts.  We didn’t care that much to trouble shoot it, so out came the sledge!  So much for trying to recycle that loo to the Habitat for Humanities ReStore (they love low flow toilets!).  Moving on, we still have all of that floor tile to pull up which was a downright b$%^&!  By the end of the day, though, I was victorious!  Seriously, that floor didn’t come up without a fight and Queen B$%^& of the Household (that’d be me, L-blogger) prevailed over that stupid B%^&* of a floor.  In the end, it was MY B%^&*!  Yea, that’s right.  I called it out, I hammered away and that floor was gone, gone, GONE!!!!!!  Stupid miserable lil’…..I’m moving on, okay?!

Dr. J worked on the shower while I was wailing away on the floor.  We started with the weird arch-y thing and realized that a Sawz-all would probably be pretty damn useful about now.  We don’t own one and we’re in no hurry to get it down, so we just hacked away at what we could and moved on to the tile on the sides of the wall:

Check out that huge chunk of wall!!! Oh, sorry for the biker helmets - we improvised and this is what happens when non-contractors improvise. Better than ski helmets, though!!!!

What’s really funny about that last picture is that as I was taking it, the wall literally fell off and pushed Dr. J back into the corner – oops!  Oh, and the bike helmets were a “better than nothing” solution.  It was either that or ski helmets and it was too damn warm for that!  Anyway, the shower took a *really* long time to demo.  We opted to take the full wall approach rather than trying to demo individual tiles (too time consuming).  So we hammered away at the edges until we got a little clearance to the studs, stuffed our pry bars in there and yanked.  It may or may not have involved us climbing the wall to get the right leverage we needed and it took both of us to get ‘er done!  And then we had to carry all of the pieces down the stairs and holy crap!!!  MARBLE IS HEAVY!!!!!!!!!!!!  I think the neighbors are fully aware that something nuts is going on.  We filled up another 4-5 bags of heavy duty trash bags and dragged them down stairs one by one (more on that later!!).

So at this point, the floor was out, the shower was out, the toilet out and our fears were kind of semi-confirmed about the mold issue on the back wall of the shower.  Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as we thought it was going to be….but after only 6 years of use it shouldn’t have been bad at all!  Luckily the shower tub will also be coming out (eventually) and we’ll be replacing all of that sheathing with brand new here in a few weeks.  For now, we’re back to work this week and taking a break from all of the broo-ha-ha.  And it couldn’t have come soon enough.  I think Maggie was about to have a heart attack from all of the pounding!

Gratuitous puppy shot!

So here is where we left the day on Sunday night…

Shower = DEMOLISHED!
Toilet = GONE!

Not to mention the progress we made on Saturday with the vanity completely gone and the tub surround and tile all removed!  Overall, I’d call that a pretty sweet demolition!  And just remember, things have got to get ugly before they get prettier!!!