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,, 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.


5 thoughts on “The Bathroom Benjamins – aka “The Budget”

  1. Hi there. I just discovered you today through Remodelaholic. What a beautiful job you did on your bathroom! Thank you for including the links of all the previous posts and details. I was curious about the paint color (love it!), and discovered all the specifics in your painting post. Thanks!

    • thanks so much, Ritajoy, for stopping by! I’ll be doing a post veeeeery soon about all of the sources in the room! I love the paint color, too! Soo soothing and serene!

      thanks for stopping by!

  2. Just a small tip on using silicone caulk: to get perfectly smooth lines, tape the edges with painters tape on both sides of the corner, then apply the caulk smooth it with your finger, and remove tape immediately- perfectly smooth corner caulk joints.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s