Going DIY to Gain ROI: Tips for Budgeting a Bathroom Remodel
With the possible exception of the kitchen, no room in your house costs more to remodel than the bathroom. According to Remodeling Magazine, the average cost of remodeling a mid-sized bathroom is more than $19,000. For a large bathroom, you’re talking $62,000 (this figure includes fixtures, finishes, appliances, etc.). This isn’t like enlarging a closet or cleaning out the garage. It can be a major investment, which is why it’s important to budget carefully and determine what can be done DIY and when you’ll need a professional contractor.
Be aware that there’s a wide cost variation between a low-impact and top-of-the-line bathroom remodel, which will be reflected in the most mundane features. For example, your new shower door may run you as little as $300 or come with a hefty 4-figure price tag, so do your homework and focus on what you can afford.
You can save considerably on labor costs by taking it on yourself. While that’s well and good if you’re putting in new towel racks, new light fixtures and faucet handles, it can be a very different matter if you’re talking about a renovation involving the plumbing or electricity. Putting in a new bathtub or shower can be a big challenge if you’re only moderately handy and haven’t tried it before. Messing up your plumbing is like taking your chances with the wiring – it’s not something you want to fool around with unless you absolutely know what you’re doing.
Remember, the more ambitious you get with a DIY project, the more it’s going to cost you in terms of special equipment and supplies that only a contractor may have, so weigh that factor when coming up with a budget and deciding who will do the work. Many improvements that offer the best ROI, such as tile, recessed lighting, cabinets, faucets and crown molding, are probably good DIY candidates.
Factor in the unexpected
The bathroom is a good place to factor in possible unexpected costs. There are several areas where unexpected damage can occur in the bathroom, particularly mold build-up and water damage, which often go undetected until you’ve cut into flooring or walls. Repair costs can run well into the thousands, so take that into consideration as you budget. Bear in mind the age of your bathroom. If the wiring and plumbing were put in many years ago, they may not meet code and will require an upgrade. Long story short: There’s a lot to plan for, so plug an additional 15 percent or so into your bathroom budget.
Call in the pros
In general, any jobs that require rewiring and a lot of electrical work are probably best left to the professionals. Electrical contractors are certified in certain kinds of work that you probably aren’t and, besides, wiring can be very dangerous if you’re not very competent and extremely careful.
Tubs and showers
These tend to be big-ticket items – an average shower can cost up to $6,000 and involve putting in new walls, valves, the pan and more. Putting in a new bathtub is no walk in the park. For one thing, it’s heavy, and wrestling a new one up a flight of stairs can be a bit risky. A new shower or tub can bring you a nice ROI, but be aware you can do more harm than good trying to max out on adding value.
Plan your bathroom remodel thoroughly, and always get multiple quotes when engaging a contractor. ROI is a great thing and a bathroom remodel can be a great way to increase value, but be smart, and always assess your capabilities carefully before jumping into a project.
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