Budget Bathroom Makeover – Planning is Key to a Successful Redo

Our house is 20 years old and we have renovated two bathrooms. When we decided to update the downstairs bathroom, we were dismayed to learn the construction company we had been using was out of business. So we decided to act as our own contractors. Our goal: Update the downstairs bathroom tastefully and cheaply.

Alex Brooks writes about bathroom makeovers in his article, “Back to Basins,” published on the Renovation Planning Website. “Bathrooms are a bit like high-waisted jeans,” he writes. “What looked good a decade ago stands out like a sore thumb when trends move on.” According to Broos, people renovate their bathrooms every 17.9 years.

Before you do anything, Brooks says you should decide how much you are willing to spend. If you are thinking about updating a second bathroom (in our case, a little used basement bath) you may not want to blow $15,000.

Susan Rich writes about bathroom makeovers in her article, “It’s All About You,” published on the Northwest Renovation Website. “The bathroom is the second-most remodeled room in the house,” notes Rich. Before you start a project, she says you need to decide if you need a full re-design or partial makeover. “Make sure you organize trades people in the correct order,” Rich advises, “otherwise there may be costly revisits, extra work and additional costs.”

To stay within our budget, we decided to keep the existing shower and cherry vanity. The makeover began with the removal of a giant mirror over the vanity. A local glass company was willing to do the job for $92 per hour, which included the removal of broken glass. As it turned out, the job took less than an hour and our bill was $62, a bargain as far as we were concerned.

A new mirror was next on our makeover list. After comparison shopping at local home stores, we found a horizontal, beveled mirror that matched the vanity. Talk about luck! We felt even luckier when we saw the half price tag. Lighting was next on our list and we bought a brushed nickel fixture that was a cross between traditional and moder design.

Scheduling is key to a successful bathroom makeover. Steven Carter addresses this issue in his article, “Renovations: A Work in Progress,” published on the Cooperator Website, which serves co-op and condominium owners. You should figure out the square foot cost before work begins, according to Carter. “Scheduling is especially important in co-ops, where there are usually strict guidelines about the use of freight elevators, placement of dumpsters and construction hours,” he explains.

Scheduling can also be important if you live in a neighborhood that has covenants. Check neighborhood and city restrictions before you start your makeover. Your city or town may have restrictions on how long a dumpster can be in front of your home, for example. Trades people go from job to job and you need to contact them well ahead of time to get on their schedule.

We are hiring a professional carpenter to raise the vanity to comfort height and install a Formica top, a plumber to install a comfort height toilet, and a mason to lay the tile floor. Our neutral color scheme will appeal to buyers when we have to downsize. Thanks to planning, our budget bathroom makeover is on time and on budget. Planning will help you transform your dated, ugly bathroom into a beautiful swan.

Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson