Bathroom Remodeling Tips: How to Plan Ahead for the Smoothest Possible Process

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

All this week we’re talking about bathroom renovations, starting with Ashley’s recent remodel, and following up with tons of helpful posts about the process!

So you’re thinking of remodeling one of the most necessary rooms in your home – not an easy task to take on! Luckily, there are ways you can prepare to take the pain out of a bathroom remodel. Here are just a few to get you started:

Save Up

When it comes to a remodel, always make sure you have a contingency fund. If things can go wrong, they will. We recommend saving 15% of your overall budget for contingencies.

Set Up a Temporary Bathroom

If you have another bathroom, then this is easy. If not, make a plan for where you’ll shower and brush your teeth as the remodel happens. And if you’re planning on replacing or moving your toilet, then you may just need to find another place to stay for a few days, or the whole project, depending on how much you want to put up with it.

Shop Around

The fun part…shopping around! Check out magazines, Pinterest — or, you know, Apartment Therapy — for ideas on what kind of fixtures and finishes you like. There are a ton of choices out there and you’ll make life easier for you and whomever you work with if you have a clear vision in mind. Keep a file or Pinboard with all of your favorites ideas and finds!

Do Your Research

There are a lot of people who can help you on your remodel, so the first step is understanding who you need to hire, and which parts — if any — you want to take on yourself.

We recommend chatting with an architect or designer simply to get the opinion of someone who does this for their job. Often architects or designers will charge a nominal consult fee for an initial meeting where you might exchange ideas and get opinions on the ideas that you already have. Though it is upfront money, we think it’s money well-spent since you walk away with another opinion. (An architect can be especially useful if your space is a challenging size or layout.)

Then do some research.

When looking for a contractor, start with recommendations from friends or family. If that doesn’t help, then check out Angie’s List or Thumbtack to find contractors, read reviews, and collect estimates. Another reason to work with designers or architects is that they will have connections that they know and trust. If you already have drawings, you can just send them your plans and see what they say via email.

Once you’ve selected a contractor, don’t agree to work together until you’ve had them walk through your bathroom so they can give you a more accurate estimate. Meeting in person will also help you decide if you trust them. Remember, this is someone who’s going to be in your home often for a few days or weeks and will be making structural changes to your home – it’s imperative that you trust and feel comfortable with them.

With a designer or architect, you’re also going to want to have them come to your home to give you an idea of the cost and the direction they’d go in. They’ll then deliver a proposal to you (usually any time from 2 days to 2 weeks later).

Make sure you ask them questions like how long it will take them to complete the project and when they can get started. Some changes (such as moving walls) require approval from your city, so you’ll need to factor in potential delays to your overall project timeline. The good news is all that can all be handled by your designer or architect.

Hiring a Contractor: A Single Piece of Truly Invaluable Advice

Going The DIY Route?

If you decide to go the DIY route, you still need to do research— especially if you’ve never done a renovation project yourself. Read up on the process, and watch a lot of how to tutorials if you plan to do things like tiling. Above all, know when it’s smart to bring in an experienced plumber or electrician.

Budget Your Time

The same way you need wiggle room in your financial budget during a remodel, so too you’ll need wiggle room in your time budget. For starters, it could take you anywhere from a few weeks to a month to decide on the right project team (designer or architect and contractor). And, depending on the scope of your project, it can take up to a few months to complete the entire remodel. Just like a project can go over budget, so too it can go over time. If you account for these overages in your initial plan, then it will be more of an annoyance than a true hassle.

Undergoing a remodel is never easy, but the results can be so worth it! And the more you prepare in advance, the smoother your project can go. Next stop: a beautiful new bathroom!