10 Spending Mistakes To Avoid When Updating Your Bathroom


contrastaddict / Getty Images

contrastaddict / Getty Images

It feels like you’ve been talking about remodeling your bathroom forever, and you’re finally about to do it. Right now, you’re feeling a mix of excitement and overwhelmed as this is a big project to take on — no matter the size of your space.

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The average cost of a midrange bath remodel is $24,424, according to the Remodeling magazine 2021 Cost vs. Value Report. Since this is a major investment, you want to make sure you get the most for your money.

Ready to learn which routes you shouldn’t take with this project? GOBankingRates talked to the experts to find 10 spending mistakes to avoid when updating your bathroom.

Tore Johannesen / iStock.com

Tore Johannesen / iStock.com

Choosing Extremely Unique Fixtures

You might be tempted to choose distinctive fixtures for your bathroom, but this isn’t the most economical option. Jake Romano, who works for Ottawa-based plumbing company John The Plumber, said things like unique shower valves and faucets might look beautiful and interesting, but they can be pricey.

“These fixtures don’t last forever, and they often need replacement parts like cartridges,” he said. “Replacement parts are not standardized. If you buy an extremely unique fixture from a relatively unknown brand, you’re going to have a difficult time finding replacement parts.”

Opting for standard fixtures might not seem as fun, but you’ll likely be glad you did.

“If you buy a fixture from a popular brand like Moen or Delta, you’ll likely be able to get a replacement part the same day you need it,” he said.

You can’t put a price on the value of having a fully functioning bathroom at all times.

Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

Hiring a Company That Doesn’t Offer a Warranty

“While plumbing is very reliable, needing warranty work is common enough that I highly recommend hiring a company that offers a good warranty and has a reputation that instills confidence they will honor their warranty,” Romano said.

He suggested reading reviews of companies you’re interested in to gauge their commitment to their warranty. The average cost to replace plumbing is $350 to $2,000 or more, according to HomeAdvisor, so this isn’t a step you want to skip.

More Rooms: 8 Affordable Ways To Upgrade Your Kitchen

JodiJacobson / Getty Images

JodiJacobson / Getty Images

Using a Regular Handyman for Plumbing Work

Romano said it takes plumbers thousands of hours in the field and many hours in the classroom to become certified — a process that typically takes several years.

“This is not for fun,” he said. “It’s because knowing building codes, how to do work correctly, and how to prevent issues takes time.”

While he said some handymen are capable of performing quality plumbing work, it’s not worth the risk.

“I say it often, but the most expensive plumber is the inexperienced plumber,” he said. “Saving a couple hundred bucks today might cost you thousands in the future.”

freestanding soaking tub in master bathroom-shutterstock_1082168360

freestanding soaking tub in master bathroom-shutterstock_1082168360

Placing Plumbing Too Close to a Window

“Drain systems require venting,” Romano said. “Drain systems must be a certain distance from the window, and the distance varies by jurisdiction.”

He said failing to do this can cause sewer gas to enter your home.

The average cost to move a drain pipe is $746 to $918, according to Porch.com, so this isn’t a project you want to pay for twice.

SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com

SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com

Not Planning the Project With a Professional

Before starting your bathroom project, Romano stressed the importance of planning it out with a professional.

“We can’t always have everything we want,” he said. “While we can sometimes make things work a certain way, sometimes it costs a lot more money.”

This is the best way to ensure the finished product is what you want, fits your budget and meets your quality standards.

PeopleImages / Getty Images

PeopleImages / Getty Images

Not Getting Multiple Quotes

When it comes to renovations, Romano said there are no standard price points or ways to complete all work.

“Some quotes will seem very expensive, but upon explanation, they make a lot of sense,” he said. “Some quotes may be very cheap, and be riddled with issues. Some quotes may be very expensive, and be riddled with issues. And, some quotes may be cheap, and still make sense.”

He said if you like the person with the most expensive quote, dig deeper to find out why they charge more than everyone else.

“For all you know, they’re doing the job properly and to code, while the others aren’t,” he said.

maskalin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

maskalin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Opting Against Tile Flooring

You might be tempted to install cheap vinyl flooring in your bathroom to save cash, but Ralph Severson, a licensed contractor and owner of Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers, Inc., based in New Albany, Indiana, said even the best options aren’t as durable as tile.

“You still get a waterproof floor, but it is a waterproof floor that lasts many years longer than vinyl,” he said. “Not to mention that tile is much more beautiful, especially with a contrasting grout color, and the occasional brightly colored accent tile.”

Additionally, he said a tile floor will add value to your home if you decide to sell it.

“Cheap vinyl only costs about $2 per square foot to install, and only lasts about five years,” he said. “High quality tile with a professional installation can last up to 50 years, and costs $7 to $14 per square foot for materials and installation.”

Therefore, he said the cost to install vinyl flooring every five years over a 50-year-period in a 150-square-foot room is $3,000. Conversely, he said installing the most expensive tile — that lasts 50 years — at $14 per square foot is $2,100.

dblight / Getty Images

dblight / Getty Images

Not Budgeting for Hidden Costs

No matter how carefully you plan, your bathroom update project could present some unexpected expenses. Therefore, Rinal Patel, a licensed real estate agent and co-founder of We Buy Philly Home, a house flipping and rental business serving the greater Philadelphia region, said it’s important to leave room in the budget to cover these costs.

“For example, if you need to move plumbing or electrical wiring, that can add significant expense to the project,” she said. “So it’s important to be realistic about the final cost and to have a plan for how you’ll pay for it.”

Ceneri / Getty Images

Ceneri / Getty Images

Over-Estimating the Amount of Work You Can Do Yourself

Taking a DIY approach to your bathroom remodel can save you money — in some cases.

“This can lead to a lot of wasted time and money, as you’ll often find that you don’t have the skills or tools necessary to complete the job,” Patel said. “A better, cost-efficient strategy is to hire a professional contractor who can get the job done quickly and efficiently.”

A general contractor typically charges around 10% to 20% of your total construction project cost, according to HomeAdvisor. This might sound like a lot, but factoring it into your budget from the start can make it more feasible.

kali9 / Getty Images

kali9 / Getty Images

Forgetting About Permits and Inspections

It’s almost inevitable that your local area requires you to get a permit for a bathroom update and to have the completed work inspected. Failing to take these steps can be costly.

“Not only will you have to pay fines, but the renovations themselves may not meet safety standards and have to be redone,” she said. “It’s important to plan and ensure you have all the necessary permits and inspections before starting your renovation project. “

You’ll need a permit for any plumbing, electrical, construction or HVAC work, according to HomeAdvisor. Expect to pay between $175 to $2,000 per permit.

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