How to Renovate a Bathroom On a Budget

update bathroom vanity

Homeowners can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over $60,000 (and more!) on a bathroom renovation. If your bathroom remodeling budget is closer to the lower end, these tips (and a good contractor) can minimize the costs of renovating a bathroom while maximizing the amount of wow—even if you don’t have the time or expertise to do all the work yourself.

Don’t change the layout (too much).

Major changes to the bathroom layout is one of the most costly bathroom remodeling expenses. The cost to move or add electrical and plumbing can quickly add up. Before remodeling, make sure your electrical system is up-to-date and ready for any additions.

Unless the bathroom layout is incredibly dysfunctional, try to keep the sink, tub, lighting, and tub in the same location. If you do need to make changes, realize that you may have to make cutbacks in other areas of the budget.

Think stock (in-stock).

Custom order items tend to cost more than in-stock items. Sometimes this is easy, but other times custom-made pieces are necessary to fit odd-sized bathrooms (or to make your bathroom one-of-a-kind). If you need items that are custom, you may need to save funds in other areas.

The same can be said for in-stock bathroom fixtures and lighting; try to choose in-stock items that won’t add up or look for store and online deals on custom fixtures.

Consider good-looking laminate countertops.

While stone countertops are a trendy addition to bathrooms, they are not always easy on the budget. Stone countertops are typically more expensive than their laminate counterparts, even though high-quality laminate countertops look incredibly similar.

If you really need to scrimp and save on your bathroom renovation, look for a bathroom countertop with a sink. Usually, a bathroom countertop with a built-in sink is cheaper than buying the two separately.

Update strategically.

If you can’t afford a full bathroom renovation, contact a contractor to update areas that make the most impact on the look of the bathroom. This can include updating the vanity, floor, countertops and paint. Some of the simplest changes can make it look like a big-budget makeover—even though it didn’t.

Repaint.

Paint is one of the cheapest and best ways to improve the look of the bathroom. For a bigger “wow,” talk to a contractor about installing wainscoting around the bathroom. Wainscoting is an incredibly economical way to brighten up a bathroom. It can also be helpful if there are blemishes or damage you want to cover up.

Be organized.

Of course, the best way to renovate a bathroom on budget is to set a budget and track your expenses. You can use a budget checklist (or ask their contractor to track expenses) to make sure that each line item is staying within budget. A bathroom budget checklist can also be invaluable if there is an unexpected expense that comes up; a checklist makes it easier to find other areas to trim. If your budget is slim, don’t order every item right away in case you need to choose another less-expensive item.

Choose your contractor carefully.

Homeowners don’t always need to bear the brunt of renovating a bathroom on a budget on their own. An experienced contractor can be incredibly helpful before and during the bathroom renovation. Before the project starts, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask the contractor for ways to save funds. Based on their past experiences, many contractors may make suggestions that homeowners haven’t considered. Homeowners can find out if the contractor is experienced when selecting and hiring a contractor.

When setting a bathroom remodeling project, homeowners should always include a “just in case” amount—commonly called a contingency fun—for any unexpected expenses. If there are any added costs, it’s okay to ask the contractor for cost-saving recommendations.

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