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If your home is older, you may be considering a bathroom remodel.  Bathrooms and kitchens are like time capsules and can easily take guests – or potential buyers – back to the 1980’s.  Remember the bright brass fixtures and turquoise toilets? How about shower doors with swans? If you want to remodel and upgrade your bathroom, there are lots of products and ideas available.  However, to save money and minimize headaches later, there are a few things you will want to consider as you plan and budget for your bathroom remodel. Consider how the existing plumbing and other construction characteristics limit what you can do, what you can repurpose versus replace, and having a contingency plan if you find major repair needs during the remodel process.

Existing plumbing and other construction characteristics

As you plan your remodel, whether you are using a contractor or handling this as a DIY project, it is important to make notes about the size and shape of existing tubs, showers, vanities, doors, etc.  Unless you plan to completely rebuild this part of your house, you will need to buy things that will fit. Also, consider where plumbing is located; is the tub you have your heart set on taller and wider than the existing one?  If so, move the plumbing to accommodate the larger tub. Want to add a second sink to the vanity?

Consider where water supplies and drains are located and if this would be a cost effective option. Consider the size of doors and configuration of the bathroom as well as the hallway, etc.  The alcove tub/shower that have been there since the home was constructed, may have been put in place before walls and doorways were completed. In that case, find a tub that has separate surrounds. This way, you can install it without a significant amount of collateral damage.

Repurpose versus replace

If you’re on a fixed budget, repurpose what you can.  The old vanity with the formica top, drop in sink, bright brass fixtures, and swollen side splash probably needs to go, right?  Maybe not completely. If the base cabinet is of good construction, it might be a wise financial decision to repaint the cabinet, and replace hinges and door/drawer pulls.  Now all you need are a new vanity top and fixtures. Your tub may be fine and all you need is to protect it while you remove and replace the gaudy tile that seemed like a good idea and looked wonderful on the Brady Bunch.

A plan for unforeseen problems

With proper planning and a good contractor, you can come up with a pretty good estimate for the remodel…except for the unknowns.  It is a good idea to have an understanding with your contractor regarding how you will handle the unforeseen problems. Maybe the contractor can quote a cost per hour plus materials cost and agree to gain approval for any additional work that happens along the way.  A good inspection during the planning phase can identify many repair needs and minimize surprises. Experienced contractors will know to look for sagging floors, water stains, peeling wallpaper, etc and can include fixes in their estimate.

So, as you proceed down the path of a bathroom remodel, a little planning up front can save money and headaches later.