Remodeling a bathroom can be an exciting project, allowing you to update the look and function of an essential living space. However, bathroom remodels also come with the potential for costly mistakes. Avoiding common pitfalls can help you complete your bathroom remodel smoothly, on time, and on budget. Here are some of the 5 biggest mistakes of bathroom remodeling and how to avoid them.
1. Failing to Create a Plan
One of the most common and impactful mistakes when remodeling a bathroom is failing to make a detailed plan ahead of time. Creating a plan for your bathroom remodel will help you avoid missteps, delays, and budget issues during the project.
Your bathroom remodel plan should include:
- A layout: Map out where fixtures, cabinets, and other elements will be placed. This allows you to identify potential spacing or traffic flow problems before installation.
- A budget: Do thorough research on material and labor costs so you can set a realistic budget. Leave a 10-15% buffer for unexpected expenses. Track costs against your budget during the project.
- A schedule: Give yourself ample time, mapping out when each task will be completed based on total project duration. this helps you coordinate contractors and deliveries.
- Specifications: List the makes, models, sizes, finishes, and other details for all materials. Complete specs prevent ordering errors.
- Permits/approvals: Know what permits and inspections are required and build these into the schedule.
Creating a detailed bathroom remodel plan is time well spent. It allows you to identify and resolve issues before work begins, minimizing delays and potential budget overages.
2. Underestimating Demolition
People often underestimate the extent of demolition required for a bathroom remodel. Removing existing finishes, fixtures, cabinetry and infrastructure takes time and labor. Rushing or underbudgeting this crucial first stage of your remodel can cause problems such as:
- Damage to the underlying structure: Taking shortcuts with demolition can lead to damage of walls, subfloors or plumbing/electrical systems.
- Debris removal issues: A full gutting of a bathroom creates a huge amount of debris. Not properly disposing of materials leads to safety hazards and project delays.
- Hidden surprises: Shortcuts can overlook underlying problems like mold or the need for new ventilation.
Plan for full demolition by getting quotes from waste removal companies and factoring ample labor time and costs into your bathroom remodel budget. Remove finishes, fixtures, cabinetry and dated infrastructure back to the studs. Address any underlying issues with the existing structure at this stage before rebuilding begins. Thorough demolition may take time and money upfront but prevents much larger problems down the line.
3. Choosing the Wrong Contractor
Another huge and often costly mistake is choosing the wrong general contractor or subs for your bathroom remodel. Unlike additions or whole home remodels, bathroom projects often rely on specialized skills like tiling and plumbing. Key tips for choosing contractors include:
- Verify licenses and insurance: Ensure all contractors are properly licensed, bonded and insured. Don’t take their word for it—verify directly with your state.
- Check references: Talk to previous customers about quality, timeliness, communication and budget adherence.
- Compare multiple bids: Get at least three quotes to compare pricing, materials, timelines and approaches.
- Ask about subcontractors: For general contractors, ask who they use for specialized work like tiling and plumbing.
- Trust your gut: Don’t ignore red flags like inflexibility, poor communication or abruptness.
Invest time upfront to find contractors who are affordable, skilled at bathroom remodels, and easy to communicate with. This puts your project on the best footing from the start.
4. Inadequate Venting or Moisture Control
Proper ventilation and moisture control are crucial in a bathroom, where high humidity can lead to mold and mildew. Mistakes related to venting and moisture include:
- No exhaust fan: Exhaust fans are required by most building codes. Omitting them can lead to major moisture damage over time.
- Small exhaust fans: Undersized fans don’t adequately remove humidity. New fans should be rated for the bathroom’s square footage.
- No or inadequate insulation: Insulation limits temperature variations that contribute to condensation and dampness.
- Not sealing tiling properly: Gaps or failing to use waterproof grout and caulk leads to hidden moisture issues.
Plan bathroom venting and moisture control upfront. A good general contractor will know proper building code requirements and explain the options like humidity-sensing exhaust fans. Spending a little more on proper insulation and waterproofing during remodeling can prevent huge headaches from moisture damage down the road.
5. Choosing Trendy Over Timeless
With the latest trends featured on home remodeling shows and Pinterest, it’s tempting to choose bold finishes that make a statement. However, trendy design elements often look dated faster, whereas classic finishes stay in style longer. Some examples of trendy choices to avoid:
- Adventurous tile patterns/colors: Simple white or neutral tiles have better longevity than bold patterns.
- Showy fixtures: Avant-garde faucets and sinks get replaced sooner than traditional styles.
- Custom cabinetry: Standard cabinet sizes are easily replaced when styles change.
- Themed decors: Nautical, floral or animal prints look stale faster than neutral backdrops.
If your budget allows, splurge on one or two trendy touches like an accent wallpaper or art piece. For most finishes, choose adaptable, classic designs and materials that stand the test of time.
Bathroom remodels provide the chance to update one of the most-used spaces in your home. But realizing your dream bathroom means avoiding common pitfalls like poor planning, budget miscalculations, and trendy finishes. The bathroom remodel tips above help you minimize mistakes so you can efficiently complete a bathroom remodel you’ll enjoy for years to come. What bathroom design trends are you excited to incorporate in your next remodel? Let us know in the comments below!
Bathroom Remodeling FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about remodeling bathrooms:
How much does it cost to remodel a bathroom?
The average bathroom remodel costs $10,000-$25,000, with small refreshes starting under $5,000 and full gut renovations exceeding $30,000. Costs vary based on the size and scope of the project, materials and finishes chosen, as well as your location.
How do I stay on budget with my bathroom remodel?
- Set a realistic budget upfront based on research.
- Build in a 10-15% contingency for overages.
- Get multiple bids and go with the most reasonable.
- Communicate budget limits clearly to contractors.
- Stick to your plan – avoid scope creep or last-minute additions.
- Use budget materials strategically (e.g. tile only tub surround).
- DIY small tasks like painting and decor.
How long does it take to remodel a bathroom?
The remodel timeline depends on the project scope. A simple makeover like new paint, light fixtures and hardware can take 1-2 weekends. A full gut renovation usually takes 4-8 weeks with multiple contractors. Carefully plan your scope and timeline.
Should I do a bathroom remodel myself?
Bathroom remodels require specialized skills like plumbing and tiling. Unless you have this expertise, hire contractors for complex structural, electrical and plumbing tasks. Focus DIY efforts on cosmetic upgrades like painting, decor and shelving.
What is needed for bathroom permits?
If you’re altering layouts or making structural changes, permits are usually needed. Requirements vary but often include: project scope, contractor licenses, drawings/plans, proof of homeowners insurance, and signed approvals from an inspector.
In another related article, The 2024 Hottest Bathroom Trends