5 Tips to a Budget Bathroom Remodel

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The first task is to put the floor plan of the new bathroom onto a piece of paper. After sketching out a proposed plan; I measure the room and the distance between where the fixtures are to be placed. Using architecture paper; I am able to transfer the exact measurements of the existing room and place the fixtures into place on the plans. Now I can decide whether or not the vision I had been dreaming about would actually work. Using the measurements, I start to research online the styles and availability of the toilet and vanity.


Almost all contractors/sub-contractors will offer free estimates for the home remodeling projects. With a bathroom remodel a licensed plumber, a tile layer, and possibly a licensed electrician may be needed. If there will be “new plumbing”; the plumber will likely be the highest expense. The plumbers will be able to tell you whether or not the floor plan will work and should be able to provide alternative ideas for the placement of plumbing fixtures. The tile layers will need to tell you what type of tile they would use for the floors and walls of the bathroom. Not all types of tile will work in all places. For instance, an old house may not have a true even floor. Without the even floor, marble tile would likely break after placement. Ask the contractors/sub-contractors all the questions you can think of. How will you be charged (flat fee, hourly, or by the square foot)? Any hidden fees or expenses? Can the tile layer, plumber or electrician receive a discount if they order the materials? If their estimates of material are more than what you could pay for on your own, then go ahead and tell the contractors that you will provide the material and they will only be providing the skilled labor. Often times the contractor will prefer to use their own “source” for material and will then offer a discount to use their materials. Check the contractor’s credentials. Many skilled laborers are allowed to “moon-light” and work on your project when they are not working their hourly jobs. I used a licensed plumber and tile layer who each had a vast experience but just wanted extra money for the holidays. The bid on their jobs was slightly more than what they would make at their hourly job and 75% less than what a large company would charge for the same work. LEGAL WARNING – it is imperative that you have the contractor/general contractor sign a form stating that they are independent contractors and you are not withholding any taxes.


Go on a tile search. Find a tile you like that is reasonably priced. What is reasonably priced? The tile should be less than $10.00/sq. foot to be considered reasonable. Budget is under $5.00/sq. foot. Purchase a lot of the Budget tile and then add design detail by adding in other more expensive tiles in patches throughout the room. The entire shower, including floor should be tiled nearly to the ceiling. The floors and walls of the bathroom need to be tiled as well. The more tile, the better. Tile is easy to clean and makes a bathroom look expensive. Pouring the floor of the shower and tiling it is less expensive than purchasing an ugly plastic base. The tile layer should have experience with all aspects of the bathroom tiling as the drainage of the shower floor needs to be correct. Order items online from sites that have free or have low delivery costs and from local stores that provide discounted items. I was able to purchase my vanity for 50% off the retail price by purchasing a floor model and received free shipping on the toilet I ordered online.

Purchase cheap tile, but don’t skimp on the faucet, vanity, and toilet. These need to last and need to look expensive.


Even if you are not paying the contractor/sub-contractor by the hour, it is imperative that you are on-sight during the entire work project. You need to be in charge of the project and make sure that everything is going as planned. The tile-layer and plumber will not be there at the same time and you will be the liason of the status of each, since the tile layer and the plumber may have items that need to set for a certain period of time before touching, etc.


The custom shower door will likely be the most expensive material you purchase for your bathroom remodel. It is worth it. A custom frame/frameless shower door should run between $1,000.00-$2000.00. To stay on budget, you can have half of the door frameless with the other half framed. The tile layer can also create built-ins throughout the shower stall and also around the bathroom. These built-ins can hold shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. The built-ins also provide a ledge for shaving access.

These five tips should ensure you have a better idea of the actual cost of the bathroom remodel. Throwing your money at a contractor’s estimate is essentially throwing your money away. The bathroom remodel does not require a general contractor. All you have to be able to do is measure and then pick and choose wisely. The estimate given to me by a contractor for $30,000.00 did not even include my personal taste in choosing of fixtures. You can save money by not doing the work yourself. Be on-sight but don’t bug the worker. Go on with your daily life and know that the job is getting done by a professional and you don’t have to worry about messing it up.