Flipping Houses

5 Bathroom Remodeling Tips Every House Flipper Should Know

Expertise: Flipping Houses, Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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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.

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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.

Related: How to Renovate a House—Whether You’re Renting, Flipping, or Moving In

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.

Related: The Simple 6-Step Process for Estimating Rehab Costs

2. Demolition

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.

Related: 6 Handyman Skills Every Flipper Should Master

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!

Michael LaCava is a full time real estate investor, house flipping coach and the President of Hold Em Realty located in Wareham, MA. He runs the website House Flipping School to teach new real estate investors how to flip houses and is the author of "How to Flip a House in 5 Simple Steps".
    Eric
    Replied over 6 years ago
    And do not forget to beef up, or replace, the bathroom sub-floor if it is rotten.
    Michael
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Yes of course Eric. A solid and properly installed sub-floor for all types of material especially ceramic tile. The finished floor is only as good as the sub-floor and underlayment it is installed over. TY for bringing that up!
    John
    Replied over 6 years ago
    HD sells the glacier bay for 98$. I found getting the box home far more difficult than the actual installation. What a difference this made! It took me 1 hr my first time and all I knew I learned on u tube! Glad I avoided the two flush style as parts are not as easy to find and the #1 flush is a bit weak!
    Michael
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Good to know on the 2 flush system. Thanks for sharing
    Nikki H.
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I also recently purchased both the 1 flush and 2 flush Glacier Bay toilets, also got a rebate from the water company. Very easy to install, look great, and work well with no issues after 5 months. Also, for small bathrooms the $39 Glacier Bay sink/cabinet combo is great.
    Michael
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Rebates for investors on the toilets. Good job getting them.
    Robert Warren
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I have told others if they are worried about the budget to just focus on working on sections of the bathroom when remodeling. There is no point in putting a strain on yourself and on your wallet when you really can’t afford a whole customization of the bathroom. By working on sections, you can complete at a much better pace and make it so you are adding value to the home for your future buyers to be impressed with. Perhaps small things do need to be changed, as your example of changing the toilet seat is really all you needed for the toilet, and is very understandable. Great tips provided in the article! Definitely beneficial for the budget oriented.
    Charlotte Eddington
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Your comments about light, were interesting. I hadn\’t thought about adding a dimmer switch to the bathroom. But, I a soft light with calm music, sounds like the perfect way to take a bath. I will have to keep these tips in mind the next time I do a bathroom remodeling job. Thanks for sharing.
    Account Closed Investor
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for the tips! I’ve been trying to find new ways to improve my bathroom, so this list gives me a good idea of what I can work on. Now that you mention it, the lighting in my bathroom is quite dim. That makes it really difficult to look at myself in the mirror at night, so I should replace my bulbs with lightbulbs in a higher wattage, and I should look into lighting fixtures that will match with the rest of my bathroom better.
    Chase Wilson
    Replied over 5 years ago
    These are great tips! I had to learn all of them the hard way, but if I can give any advice, just plan ahead as much as possible and you can save yourself a lot of headache! I have remodeled a few houses before and it has always gone fairly smoothly. I am getting better at it though! Eventually I would like to just hire someone that knows what they are doing and I can get it done right! How much does it generally cost you to remodel a tiny bathroom?
    Gaston Parizeau
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I absolutely agree that a bathroom remodel should not happen without plenty of planning, as the article suggests. There is a lot that goes into a bathroom remodel, and without proper planning things can quickly get overwhelming. Good planning will ultimately cut down on the duration as well as the cost of the job.
    Callie
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I don\’t plan on buying and selling houses for a profit anytime soon, but these bathroom remodeling tips are great for anyone who wants to add value to their home. Replacing toilets that show any sign of wear is a good idea. I can see why potential buyers would look for this in a new home. Thanks for the great advice.
    Callie
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I don\’t plan on buying and selling houses for a profit anytime soon, but these bathroom remodeling tips are great for anyone who wants to add value to their home. Replacing toilets that show any sign of wear is a good idea. I can see why potential buyers would look for this in a new home. Thanks for the great advice.
    Ethel
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing. All these suggestions are awesome but I personally like lighting the room. I think the lighting really opens up a space and can completely change the way you see a room. I will remember these tips during my next remodel.
    Kyle Ross
    Replied over 5 years ago
    These are great pieces of advice, and I especially appreciate your tip to come up with a plan before starting any renovations. From the view of someone who is remodeling in your own home, as opposed to flipping a house, I also like to prioritize the improvements I want to undergo. I list things as necessities or just things I want, and plan accordingly within my budget. Thanks for the great information!
    Alex Lane
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for sharing this advice. This is a project that my wife and I are wanting to start on soon. Our bathroom is very dated. I like your emphasis on the lighting. It’s such a simple thing that can change the feel of the entire room completely. We will definitely have to plan that out well.
    Zach Potter
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thank so much for the post and everyone for your comments as they are enjoyable to read. My wife and I are trying to remodel our bathroom but are having some problems deciding on what exactly we want to do. These articles really help us with knowing what to do (especially number one).
    Kyle Ross
    Replied over 5 years ago
    These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to make sure the entire demolition process is finished before you begin the remodeling process. Several years ago, my wife and I renovated our master bathroom, but we hadn’t finished tearing out the floor when we started putting in new fixtures. We didn’t think it would conflict, but we ended up having to remove some of the new stuff we had put in. It’s definitely more efficient to complete demolition first! Thanks for the great post!
    Dean
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great suggestions listed here. These are vital to a successful bathroom remodel. I especially like the pointer: Evaluating what needs to be done to the bathroom before you purchase the property can give you a rough estimate of how much money you will need to invest. This information alone can save you substantial amounts of time and money. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Joel
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hey Mike. Thanks for sharing the comment about making sure to clean up the renovation messes. A friend of mine was recently house shopping, and there were some stains on the sink. It really makes a huge difference when the rest of the house is spotless and the bathroom looks used already. I\’ll have to shoot him a copy of this article. Thanks!
    Zach Potter
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thank you or the information on bathroom remodeling! We have been thinking about doing this for quite some time and are excited to start. I think that the most exciting part will include number four. We have a lot of old looking fixtures and I cant wait to make it look more modern. Thanks for the information here.
    Joel
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for the tip about using brighter lights to make the bathroom look better. A friend of mine is currently looking to remodel her bathroom because she feels like it looks too gloomy. I\’ll have to share these ideas with her. Thanks again!
    Steve Holt
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I\’ve been looking for tips for inexpensive bathroom remodeling ideas, and it appears as though I came to the right article. Your tip to replace the fixtures in my bathroom seems like a great way to get the look that I want without spending a lot of money. My doorknobs and light fixtures could always look better, so replacing them with something newer and better will give my bathroom the makeover it needs. Thanks for the tips! Reply Report comment
    Steve Holt
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I\’ve been looking for tips for inexpensive bathroom remodeling ideas, and it appears as though I came to the right article. Your tip to replace the fixtures in my bathroom seems like a great way to get the look that I want without spending a lot of money. My doorknobs and light fixtures could always look better, so replacing them with something newer and better will give my bathroom the makeover it needs. Thanks for the tips!
    Steve Holt
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I\’ve been looking for tips for inexpensive bathroom remodeling ideas, and it appears as though I came to the right article. Your tip to replace the fixtures in my bathroom seems like a great way to get the look that I want without spending a lot of money. My doorknobs and light fixtures could always look better, so replacing them with something newer and better will give my bathroom the makeover it needs. Thanks for the tips! Reply Report comment
    jamesrod214
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I think that your first tip is the most important. I\’ve had plenty of experience with doing projects in my life, and the one thing that makes a difference is planning. If you have a plan, you know where you need to go. That applies to remodeling just as much as it applies to anything else.
    Eliza Cranston
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thank you for the advice on remodeling a bathroom! I want to sell my house and I think that this could be a great way to make my house more appealing. I\’ll be sure to think about the demolition before making changes. It sounds like not doing this could really lead to some problems! Would you recommend that I get a professional renovator to help me with this?
    Aaron Stephens
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Mike, I like the tip about lighting, because the house I’m working on doesn’t have a window for natural light. It seems like proper lighting could make a real difference. Hopefully, we won’t need to install any new fixtures in order to get the space bright enough.
    Sean
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Master bathroom remodels are such good ways to increase a home’s value. Thanks for all of these tips!
    Sean
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Master bathroom remodels are such good ways to increase a home’s value. Thanks for all of these tips!
    Faylinn
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Next month, I am planning on flipping my house and remodeling the bathroom. One of the things that I really want to do is to replace all of the fixtures, cabinets and, even, the toilet. If I’m, doing this on my own, though, and without any type of package, where would you suggest that I go to for budget-friendly supplies to begin working on this very extensive project?
    kyle walker
    Replied over 4 years ago
    here are some important steps you should go through for your bathroom renovation…It is really comfortable when you bathroom is warm and I think there are some tools how to keep warm on your bathroom…
    Braden Bills
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I’ve been trying to figure out what I should do to remodel my bathroom. I didn’t even think about improving the toilet! It makes sense that I would want to strive to get a brand new, clean one. Thanks for sharing!
    Jeff Curtis
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks for the helpful post on tips for bathroom remodeling. I am planning a large home remodel soon, and it will involve remodeling 2 bathrooms. I also am planning on flipping this house as an investment. I like your tip on lighting the room. I will be sure to get the lighting right in my bathroom. Thanks for the help!
    Kris S.
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Fantastic suggestions. I couldn’t agree more with a sparkling clean toilet. ANY grime/stain/etc is definitely repulsive to a potential buyer. I think having a plan is the utmost importance. Trying to sort out a remodel haphazardly never works out for the cheaper. Thanks for sharing!
    April Cook
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I really like your tip to light the room. That can make all the difference. It is especially important in rooms that tend to be small, like bathrooms. Do you think it is a good idea to add natural lighting if possible? Thanks for these great tips!
    Bruce
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Awesome article. I really enjoy this post, your useful tips help me a lot, I’m going to try them out with my home remodeling project. Thanks for sharing, Mike! Reply Report comment
    Bruce
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Awesome article. I really enjoy this post, your useful tips help me a lot, I’m going to try them out with my home remodeling project. Thanks for sharing, Mike!
    Steve scot
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Very interesting post..it has become gorgeous bathroom,tiles or it\’s finishing looking also great. I appreciate your work or really enjoyed your article. Reply Report comment
    Steve scot
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Very interesting post..it has become gorgeous bathroom,tiles or it\’s finishing looking also great. I appreciate your work or really enjoyed your article.
    Gary
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Really great guide here. I especially like your recommendation on the lighting. That is something simple that is definitely overlooked! Gaz Reply Report comment
    Gary
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Really great guide here. I especially like your recommendation on the lighting. That is something simple that is definitely overlooked! Gaz
    Johnny McCarron
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I really like your advice to make sure you are replacing the fixtures. It is interesting that many people don’t understand the kind of benefit that can have on their home. They just don’t seem to realize the fact that replacing the fixtures can really really be a positive thing. When it comes to things like your door, you really want it to work well. Do you have any other tips when it comes to bathroom remodels?
    Luke Smith
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Taking the time to try scrubbing out grime before opting for a full replacement of flooring or appliances definitely makes sense to me. Even if you still have to replace portions, anything you can salvage would translate into time and money you end up saving. I imagine that if the project is much larger than one or two fixes that are necessary, outsourcing the remodel of at least this particular room could be the most cost-effective way to ensure that you maximize your resale value.
    Cindy Tesler
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I agree that before you start on your remodeling of your bathroom you need to figure out what first needs to be fixed. You also mentioned that the bathroom can be the most expensive room to renovate. I think it\’s important to look at tons of pictures of bathrooms so that you can be completely sure that the outcome out the renovation is what you want.
    Samantha Rogers
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I recently talked my husband into remodeling our bathroom, but I would like to keep everything as affordable as possible. I really liked your suggestion of updating the plumbing fixtures, as it is typically inexpensive and can really change the feel of your bathroom. I’m sure that I will love it for the change, and my husband will love it for the price.
    Ruth R. Nero
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Bathroom remodeling always comes with a price. An extra budget is much needed in case there are changes in the existing plan. If you want to cut cost, then try to re-use and remodel things inside the bathroom.
    Danni Black
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I really like your first time about coming up with a plan before you even start the remodeling project. My husband and I have flipped a few houses over the years and that definitely helps. We are going to be redoing our bathroom in the next few weeks so we will have to keep these tips in mind, thank you for sharing!
    Mason Everard
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great post, mike I really enjoy your post, your useful tips help me a lot. I’m going to try them out with my home remodeling project. Thanks for sharing! Reply Report comment
    Mason Everard
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Great post, mike I really enjoy your post, your useful tips help me a lot. I’m going to try them out with my home remodeling project. Thanks for sharing!
    Tiffany Locke
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Coming up with a plan that is going to help you accomplish your goals is excellent advice. If you know what kind of renovation you want you will probably be able to find the right renovator who will be able to accomplish the task. Planning ahead would also help make sure you get the bathroom renovation that you want.
    Jay Jorgenson
    Replied about 4 years ago
    The point that resonated the most with me was the part where it talked about how step by step planning is the most important thing. My wife and I are in the process of remodeling our bathroom, and I think that we jumped the gun a little bit because we are kind of lost. After reading this article, I am inspired to take a step back and plan more.
    Braden Bills
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I’m considering flipping houses. It makes sense that bathroom remodels would be a big update! They’ve added a lot to the standard bathroom, so lots of old houses could use an upgrade. I’ll be sure to replace the fixtures of any house I get!
    John
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    My wife and I aren’t house flippers, but we have been looking at having a bathroom remodel done in our own home. I thought it was interesting how the article mentions replacing the toilet, sink, and fixtures are essential for making the space have a new look. I think using the right quality supplies for your bathroom’s plumbing needs would also play a part in the overall look of the space.
    John
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    My wife and I aren’t house flippers, but we have been looking at having a bathroom remodel done in our own home. I thought it was interesting how the article mentions replacing the toilet, sink, and fixtures are essential for making the space have a new look. I think using the right quality supplies for your bathroom’s plumbing needs would also play a part in the overall look of the space.
    John
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    My wife and I aren’t house flippers, but we have been looking at having a bathroom remodel done in our own home. I thought it was interesting how the article mentions replacing the toilet, sink, and fixtures are essential for making the space have a new look. I think using the right quality supplies for your bathroom’s plumbing needs would also play a part in the overall look of the space.
    Tim R
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Tip number #5 was super interesting. I never thought about that. Will definitely try this out
    Jade Brunet
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I am glad to know that before you start remodeling your bathroom, you need to determine what needs to be improved and fixed. Having a plan would be a great first step of a remodeling process. Hiring an experienced contractor would be a good idea. Interviewing several contractors would be wise to get accurate bids.
    Peter
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    This is a very good article. When renovating there is always an unexpected thing will happen, that’s why you always need a reserved budget for it. I have experienced this before and I know this is one of the stressful parts of renovating. Thank you for sharing this valuable article. Keep it up!
    Adrian
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hey Mike, great post and spot on advice as well. Even though renovating, fliping houses and everything that has to do with building and construction in general are constantly changing, improving, and we need to stay up to date with everything. Your tips Mike are still available, we still need to come up with a plan, we still need to organise everything in order to avoid disasters, losing time by taking bad decisions, stress and all that. It’s amazing how sometimes just a little bit of “make up” gives a new face to the house and add value. As you mention, just change the fixtures in the bathroom or paint the existent if it’s in good condition, change handles, put some spotlights or whatever it’s nice and modern … and you are good to go 🙂 Great article Mike and good and simple tips! Thanks
    Account Closed
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Really interesting post, Mike, but I think that great changes in bathrooms are limited by the location of communications. Communication needs to be thought out even during the construction of the house.