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10 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Bathroom Renovation

Have you ever wanted to begin a bathroom renovation but you become so overwhelmed and confused that you put it off entirely? Well, I can relate. We did that for quite some time. It occurred to me that once I really sat down to think and plan, things became much more clear. It retrospect, there were roughly ten things that we ironed out prior to taking a jack hammer to our bathrooms. If you’re contemplating a bathroom renovation, ask yourself these ten questions prior to beginning.


1. Why Do You Want to Remodel? Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is your motivation for the remodel? Is it outdated? Were you forced into a remodel due to a leak? Do you just not like your current bathroom? What isn’t working? Setting aside aesthetics, are there things that just don’t work? Are you missing towel hooks? Is the countertop too low? Do you want a separate tub and shower? Really take some time to figure out why you are going down this path and what needs to change to make you love your bathroom.

2. What Does Your Dream Bathroom Look Like? So you know things need to change. Maybe you’re ready to say goodbye to the builder grade materials or maybe you need to step out of the 1970s. Whatever the case may be, this is the fun part. Dream. And dream big! No inspiration photo is too out of the question. Hop on Pinterest and start searching, “Bathrooms”. Don’t over think this step. If something, anything, about a bathroom catches your eye . . . pin it. If you stop to think, “Well why do I like this? Or “Hmm. I could never afford this,” you’ll sabotage your own design board. Don’t think! Just pin! Do this for as long as you like. Weeks or months. Once you have pinned beautiful bathrooms, you will start to see consistency. Are you drawn to a white, fresh look? Do you like a more traditional style? Do warm tones just make you happy. Is there tiling on the wall? Are the floors you are pinning light? Dark? {And if Pinterest isn’t your thing, tear out pages from magazines or search blogs. . . whatever is your comfort zone. I just find Pinterest to be quick and easy. And very inspiring}.

3. Is It Worth The Investment? This is where you need to draw out your inner real estate guru and crunch some numbers. Hop online {things are so much easier these days} and look at comps in your neighborhood. What are things selling for? What is the average price per square foot in your neighborhood? Do the math. What financial commitment do you have to the house already? What makes sense to put into the home? Does it make sense to gut the entire thing and spend $20,000 or more? Does it make sense to save the cabinets and the shower and do more cosmetic changes. Will you see the money back? Consider a prospective buyer walking through your home. What will they expect? Does a marble goddess bathroom fit in with the expectations of the neighborhood? All good things to consider.

4. How Long Do You Plan to Stay? This is a good follow up to the answers you come up with in question #3. While none of us have a crystal ball, what is your five year plan? Is it likely that you’ll be in the same home? I ask because if you are not living in your forever home, then the financial consideration is far more important. If this is your forever home, perhaps investing  a large amount of cash makes sense for you. Are you fixing it up to move or to enjoy for a long time? Or somewhere in between. Be passionate about your home and remodel, but be smart about the investment.

5. Do You Plan To Rent Out Your Home? This is crucial. Is your current home ever destined to be a rental property? You know where I am going with this, right? If you are about to let another family into your home, you may want to reconsider the oh so gorgeous marble countertops. Do you want to worry about things getting ruined if you walk away for a bit?  Are quartz countertops more in line with the staying power of a new gorgeous bathroom? Just think through your material choices if you plan on handing over your home.

6. Where Do I Get The Most Bang For My Buck? Set a realistic budget. Things cost more than you think they do. At least in our experience. Everyone wants to make a dollar goes as far as possible. If you are not gutting the bathroom, think of what makes the biggest impact. Flooring, countertops, and lighting can be life changing. Ok, bathroom changing! Things like hardware and fresh towels also make a big difference. Do your homework. You desire a new tiled shower? See how much those start at. A lot more goes into it than you think. If trying to keep costs down consider a finish like chrome. While I am in love with brass and dark hardware, too, a polished chrome adds shimmer and can reflect light well. It’s a solid choice especially in small bathroom.

7. What Can I Do Myself? While you may want to immediately say, “nothing!” don’t sell yourself short. Can you paint? Even painting yourself can save money. Are you handy? Can you install new lights or set the new toilet? If you are handy and can knock some things off of the contractor’s bid, you can save hundreds of dollars. {Do not attempt plumbing or electrical projects if you are not confident in your skills}. After looking at our current bid, I crossed off a few things my husband can do and the contractor rebid. She was happy to do so and we saved ourselves some money. That is especially nice when you go to buy toilets and faucets and are shocked at how much they cost. Just sayin’! Save where you can.

8. What Materials Are Best For This Bathroom? Really think this through. It’s ok if this takes you a while. Do  you need to pay a designer just to go with you to the showroom to pick out samples. Their hourly fee may be worth it if you are indecisive and can’t create your own vision. So remember when you pinned all of those lovely photos. Here is where they start to come to life in your own home. Chances are one or two of those photos evoke emotion. Like, you love looking at them!!! What is it that you love? Is it the tile floor? Is is the marble countertop? Is it the brass fixtures? Try to recreate the look within your budget. And by recreate, I do not mean copy. If you like the look of marble, can you incorporate marble tile on your wall? As a backsplash? Can you set your flooring in a pattern that matches your inspiration? Like the look of brass? Maybe use it one place {hardware on cabinets or a light fixture}. Will the occupants of the bathroom be adults or children? Think of durability. As with any room, I tend to pick one non-negotiable item that I have to have and build the room around that. For us this time around, it’s our flooring. I fell in love with it and it has set the stage for the rest of our bathroom remodel. Anything I bring in needs to play well with it. And because I love it so much, I am great with using it a my guide. Find your guide. What is the one thing you must have?

Dearborn Builders Inc., Residential Projects via tory haynes

9. What Will Bring Me Joy? How do you want this bathroom to make you feel? You want to love walking in to it each day, right? So while you need to be sure you are sticking to your budget and being financial responsible, don’t suck the life out of your space. Be flexible enough to see that how you feel in this new room is very important. I am a firm believer that our spaces directly effect how we feel. Keep your vision in mind. It’s easy to start letting go of the vision once the demolition begins. Hold firm to the big picture. I had an instance come up where I could have saved $600 by choosing one countertop over another. I even called my sister in Singapore to chat with her about it. $600 is a lot of money. In the end, it was one simple question she asked that lead me to my decision. She said, “If you choose the better deal, will you look at it each day and wish you had gone with the other one?” Yep. Yep I would. And to me, I would rather spend the $600 now than pay for it in regret later.

10. Where Do I Begin After Answering These Questions? If your are doing the work yourself, then you will need to be realistic about how much time tasks will take you. Try to set up a calendar just like contractors do. Demo one day. Prep the floor for tiling the next day, etc.. But speaking from experience, it’s a long process when you DIY a bathroom. And that’s ok. Just be prepared. What bathroom will you be using while this one is out of commission? On the flip side, when you use a contractor, be aware you need to make quick decisions. If they are installing your countertop, you better have the faucets you picked out ready and on hand. They will need to template for holes, etc. Communication is key. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Have the contractor tell you each day what to expect and ask what they need from you. Finding a contractor you like is key. And one that does great work. Do your homework. Ask around. Go look at finished projects. Even MORE important, stop by a current job site. Did they prep the house {cover the path to the bathroom with plastic, hang plastic, etc.}? Are they taking care as they work? These are important things to look at. Get more than one bid. Have two or three contractors come out to look at the project and give you a bid. You’ll need to choose not only the contractor you feel best about, but one that gives you a reasonable bid. Beware of choosing the lowest bid. There could be a reason their bid is quite low. Do they need work? Are they not busy because their work is poor? Perhaps, no. Just be smart about your process in selecting the right person for your job. And never underestimate the power of a gut feeling!

I hope these questions help you if you are contemplating a bathroom remodel. This was all learned from our own experiences and from trial and error. Good luck in your reno! Enjoy the process. You’ll be so happy as you watch your new space come to life. Master Bathroom Renovation | Here We Go