When you’re plotting a home renovation or house flip, it’s easy to ignore the bathroom. After all, the room’s certainly not glamorous—but that doesn’t mean it’s boring or unimportant. The bathroom is, after all, one of (if not the) most-used rooms. That means it should be top of your priority list during a renovation.
And before you start swinging that sledgehammer, you need a plan.
Unlike with a kitchen, most properties have more than one bathroom. If you renovate the bathrooms without thinking through your strategies beforehand, your bathroom remodel could easily turn into a nightmare.
It might even cost you hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars to get it back to the way it was before.
Follow these five important steps to understand how to renovate a bathroom, plan out your rehab, and avoid surprises.
1. Determine Your Plan
Before you start remodeling, determine what needs to be improved or replaced and what simply needs to be fixed.
Is the toilet dripping and the flapper ornery? You may need to buy a new toilet. And if your bathtub pipes are leaking into the basement below, your entire plumbing system might need replacement. Mildew may just mean cleaning… or you might need to add ventilation. But ugly—but functional—vanities may still work with a few minor cosmetic changes, like inexpensive new countertops. That can save you the (pricey) cost of a new vanity.
Since the bathroom has many fixed appliances like the toilet, sinks, bathtubs, and showers, it can easily turn out to be one of the most expensive rooms to renovate if everything needs replacing. Knowing this beforehand makes budgeting much simpler.
I recommend house flippers finish this step before buying the property. (And even if you’re buying a personal residence, understanding what’s wrong and what’s simply ugly in the bathroom will help you figure out your budget, too.) Evaluating a property’s bathroom needs before purchase provides a rough estimate of how much money you will need to invest.
Having trouble coming up with a plan, timeline, or budget? Bring in a contractor. Even if you’re planning to manage the project yourself, their insight will be invaluable.
Try DIY first
If you have already bought the house, consider a hands-on approach before buying anything new. You may save a few bucks with some simple clean up.
Scrub the grime yourself, first—it might actually makes a difference. And you might be surprised to find that you don’t need to purchase a new fixture or install a new floor after all. Plus, clean grout may make you realize you don’t need to replace the shower tile. Money saved!
(Don’t want to scrub yourself? Outsource this house to a handyman or house cleaner.)
Pro tip: Improve the toilet
Everybody wants to have a clean, sparkling toilet. Flipping or renting out the home? Think about potential buyers or renters. If they see even the tiniest amount of rust or brown grime, they might be repulsed and even decide they don’t want the property after all.
To give an old toilet a brand new look, replace the toilet seat. It’s stupidly simple, but this easy DIY can actually make a toilet appear brand new. Consider it the equivalent of refacing kitchen cabinets. Plus, an entirely new toilet can be very expensive—but a toilet seat is not.
Things to consider
Here are some things to consider as you create your plan:
- Is there moisture in the bathroom? If so, plan to add a fan or upgrade to a stronger one. And if the moisture has penetrated the walls or ceiling, creating mold, you may need to strip the drywall down to the framing.
- Are you interested in big decor changes? Switching from a single to a double vanity can require rejiggering the entire floor plan.
- What hidden budget killers are lurking in your plan? For example, new wall tile or floor tile can be expensive. If you’re flipping or renting out the house, it may be better to keep what exists, as long as it’s functional.
Once you’ve got a plan in place, it’s time to start creating your new bathroom. That means getting rid of anything that needs replacing or changing—including flooring and even walls, if you’re changing the floor plan or layout.
It’s important to be orderly during demolition. Make sure that you get all the demolition sorted out before you begin installing fixtures or making changes to the bathroom. Demolition includes stripping the floor, removing appliances like the tub or the toilet and taking down old drywall.
If you do not finish the demolition process first and you start making changes, you might demolish new fixtures or end up removing them again to reinstall them.
Some bathroom renovations really only require cosmetic enhancements. Nothing to tear out> Skip to step 3.
3. Replace the Fixtures
Sometimes, the small things have the biggest effect. Fixtures like door hinges and knobs, lights, towel racks, shower heads, faucets, and toilet paper holders are inexpensive to buy and install.
In every one of our house flips, we have a standard under-$100 package that replaces all the bathroom’s essential fixtures. Small bathrooms usually cost less than $50. We usually go with brushed nickel or stainless steel hardware for fixtures. Chrome is outdated and can look cheap.
New fixtures can make a bathroom really shine. This easy technique is a clever way to make a bathroom look brand new—plus, it’s an inexpensive project and doesn’t consume a lot of time.
Matching fixtures are even better. Mismatched colors and finishes looks plain ugly, and renters or buyers will notice the subtle inconsistency. If you’re planning on staying in the property for a long time, it’s even more important to choose fixtures that look good to you—and look good together. Spending a few extra bucks can go a long way when it comes to bathroom fixtures.
4. Think About Your Lighting Fixtures
Flickering or dim lights can make a room feel eerie and unpleasant. Just like the kitchen, bright lights make the bathroom look more pleasant.
Sometimes simply replacing the bulbs with a higher wattage does the trick—especially if you are on a limited budget. When you do, you’ll be amazed at how it brightens up the space.
Consider adding or updating the lighting in multiple locations. You’ll want ceiling lighting and vanity lighting, of course, but consider your shower and vanity areas, too. Is it too dark to see easily while bathing? Dim lighting could cause accidents and injury—and for landlords, that could lead to a lawsuit. Consider adding extra lighting to keep every area bright.
5. Clean It Up
Last but not least, hire a cleaning crew to clean the bathroom—or do it yourself. Make sure the showers, sinks, floors and faucets all glisten. Then take a step back and enjoy your hard work.
Nobody likes a grimy bathroom. But a clean, well-lit, attractive bathroom could be the difference between an offer and no offer from many a buyer.
How do you ensure your bathrooms tempt potential buyers instead of repulse them?
Please leave a comment below!