When to remodel our bathroom? How long will it take and the cost?

4 Replies

Dear All,

I need your input on some questions: When should we remodel our bathroom, what is the best way to do that, how long it will take and how much would it cost? Any suggestion on contractors?

My husband and I are thinking about buying a house and rent out our one-bedroom condo that we are currently living in. However there are problems with our current bathroom which not only will make it harder to rent out the place, but also might create potential liabilities.

We have a really old and small bathroom: 4'10"*6'10". The paint in the bathtub is peeling and some mold growing under the caulk (I think the previous owner might have caulked the mold under without proper cleaning). The vanity and medicine cabinet are also very old with peeling paint. Old light fixtures and the switch on the ventilation fan is chewed by my parrots which could be dangerous. We can only turn on the fan when the lights are on and the bathroom can get really humid in summer unless we leave the lights and fan on for hours. Very old styled tile on the floor and wall. The worst problem is when we had to re-seal our toilet earlier this year because water was coming out from the side under the base of the toilet, my husband found that the toilet was not properly mounted on the floor so is slightly wobbly. I do not quiet understand the problem, but according to my husband who did the job, we would possibly have to make the floor higher or lower the piping to properly mount the toilet and make the wax seal can work properly (we did get the right size wax seal), otherwise, the leaking will just happen again overtime and water could get into the sub-floor which could be really bad. He could be wrong, but we wouldn't know unless we get some help to figure it out.

We would definitely renovate our bathroom before we rent it out and we are thinking about redoing everything including replacing a tub, since if we re-tile the floor and the wall, we might as well replace the really old and peeling tub. We know a new bathroom probably won't increase the rent a lot, but we want our bathroom to be strong enough so that even if the tenant is a little careless, they can still be safe in there and won't create major issues.

We are hoping to rent the place out at $1300-$1400 a month with very little cash flow or break even at least. Our lender told us if we can show a signed lease when buying our new house, we can qualify for a monthly payment of about $2900, without the lease, we can only qualify for about $1900. So here comes the question of when we should renovate our bathroom:

Scenario #1: to be able to show a lease while buying and count the rent as our income, we would have to do house search, make offers and advertise our condo at the same time, hopefully we can perfectly time it and have a tenant move in when we move out to our new house. But of course this requires us to do the renovation while we are living in the condo. With that bathroom being our only bathroom, we would have no other bathroom to use while they are doing the job in our place. We could ask if my parents-in-law would be willing to let us sleep in their place just at night for a little while, since they know what we are trying to do and have been really supportive and generous, but we would have to leave all our stuff in our condo and we can't take our parrots with us no matter where we stay. They are a bit destructive and could be really loud if we put them in the cage during the day. We don't really feel comfortable leaving them home with strangers coming in and out, pounding and drilling either. Another concern with this scenario is we would have to take pictures of our condo when all our stuff is here. Our place is neat and clean with really nice shelving space, new kitchen and windows, etc. but we really do not have the best taste on other furniture and interior designing. We feel pictures of an empty move-in ready place or a re-staged place would be our best choice.

Scenario #2: we buy a house without a lease, we just need to buy a cheaper house that way, which is not easy to find in our market (Montgomery County, MD) unless the house needs a good bit of work. We schedule the renovation work on the day we move out to our new place and advertise our condo right after work is done. Worst case is it take us 3 months from the day we move out until a tenant moves in and we lose about $3900 in vacancy this case. But it would be easier with our living situation. And without the pressure of finding a tenant before closing or closing on a house before we keep losing qualifying good tenants, etc. we are more likely to stay sane and hopefully make no stupid decisions.

Anyway, I know the situation is a bit complicated, but I would really appreciate any advice, even criticism. What should we do? What is the best way to renovate our bathroom? How long does it usually take to redo the whole bathroom and how much would it cost?

Any suggestion on contractors? This would be our first time dealing with contractors. 

Thanks a ton!!!

Figure on around 6 grand for a basic bathroom remake .  And a minimum of one week .  One bedrooms are harder to rent .  Sounds to me like you are trying to reach a bit too much . Almost sounds better to sell condo .  

What happens when you but another house , you are counting on the rent and the tenant stops paying , and 3 months later once you get them out , you have missed out on 3 months rent , and have 8 grand of repairs .And another 2 months to get it ready and rented again.   So there is 5 months of lost rent ,AND 8 grand of repairs .   Its ready in mid November and nobody is looking to move , those that are looking were evicted from their old place . 

Happens ALL the time 

@Russell Brazil @Matthew Paul

Happy Thanksgiving! I realized that it is Thanksgiving today right after I posted, didn't think I would get any response. LOL. Thanks a lot! 6K is pretty close to what we budgeted and we were preparing for about 10 work days. 

The thought of selling briefly crossed my mind, but one bedroom units in our building seems to be pretty tough to sell. Our unit sat on the market for 4 months before we bought it. The unit right below us has been on the market for several months now. And the unit next door was also sitting for months before the owner gave up selling and started renting it out and the tenant moved in within a month. The building is within walking distance to a metro station, hospital and grocery stores. Pretty good location but condo fee is a bit high. I think that might be why the one bedroom units are easier to rent than sell. 

We bought it at the beginning of 2016 and we were those "motivated buyers". I just finished graduate school and we had to move out of my parents-in-law's place soon. To rent a one-bedroom apartment in our area for me and my husband would have cost more monthly than what we are paying on our condo. And we didn't think we wanted to do anything with real estate back then, so not really thinking much. 


I finished watching podcast #192. It is sooo good. Thank you so much! A lot of helpful information for us. Thanks! 

You really only need the toilet to always be working while you are in the condo. Which depending on what type of flooring you put down, it could work. I would renovate the bath while you figure out your plan.
I’ve done a ton of bathroom remodels and the range is massive. I’ve done them as low as 3k and as high as 30k. And they go higher than that. But if you plan on renting you could put down some cheap vinyl that looks decent. If you buy all the material and hire a handyman you might be able to get away with 3500 or 4000. I’d probably agree with the others though. More reasonable is going to be 6k.

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