In a post-HGTV world, what does a reasonable bathroom remodel project look like? With gorgeous marble-floored bathrooms and custom-built cabinets being featured on so many design shows, it’s easy for homeowners to get carried away by visions of magazine-worthy washrooms. In such a tiny space, purchasing high-end flooring doesn’t feel like it’s going to break the bank.
But when a bathroom remodeling job has become so exorbitant that it’s priced your home out of the range of the homebuyers who’d buy in your neighborhood, then you’ve gone too far.
This article will explore what separates low-end, mid-range, and high-end bathroom remodeling projects from each other, and it will address the question of whether a bathroom remodel truly adds value to a home.
The Differences Between Remodeling Budgets
The three kinds of remodeling budgets are centered around not only the cost of the fixtures, flooring, and bathroom features but around how much of a bathroom you replace or add on. Additionally, this section will cover accessibility remodeling, which is gaining in popularity as many Baby Boomers are choosing to remain in their homes as they age.
You can plan your bathroom remodeling project to be as small as a quart of paint or as involved as new flooring, and you’ll still be adding value to your home. Even simply caulking around the shower and sinks is enough to increase the perceived value of your home, so a low-end budget can truly be barebones. It turns out that buyers appreciate any effort to freshen up one of the most used rooms in the house.
A low-end remodeling job looks like this:
- New caulking and paint
- Repainting cabinets
- New light fixtures
- Replacing cabinet hardware
- New faucet
- New flooring
Replacing all of the old fixtures but keeping the same layout is a hallmark of mid-range bathroom remodels. The finish of hardware pieces like faucets and vanity pulls can affect the price as well because you’re moving beyond chrome and into oil-rubbed bronze and brass. The price range for this budget is much higher than builder grade and is more likely to be found in the higher-end price range of a big box store like Lowe’s.
A mid-range remodeling job looks like this:
- New countertops and vanity
- New fixtures
- Updated flooring
- Updated tub or shower
- Radiant heating
Usually, the more square footage a bathroom has, the more expensive the project will be. In the case of high-end bathroom remodels, the budget is also driven up by expanding the size of the room, gutting the entire bathroom, or moving around pipes and electrical outlets.
A high-end remodeling job looks like this:
- Rainshower fixtures
- Luxury tile
- Shower niches
- Bidets and luxury toilets
- Custom vanity and fixtures
- New light fixtures
- Electric fireplace
This type of remodeling is increasingly popular as Baby Boomers choose to age in place, and retrofit their homes to meet aging requirements instead of moving to a retirement facility.
An accessibility remodeling job looks like this:
- New toilets lower to the ground
- Widening the doorways
- Walk-in bathtubs
- Non-slip floors
- Grab bars
- Grip-friendly faucet
How Much Should You Spend on a Bathroom Remodel?
If you are solely focused on remodeling to increase your home’s value, then you’ll be disappointed to hear that every kind of bathroom remodel leads to a negative ROI. The low-end bathroom remodel has an ROI of 90%, representing the closest you can get to recouping your money. The more you spend on a bathroom remodel, the less ROI you’ll see, with the high-end bathroom remodel recouping only 56% of its cost.
There are other factors to consider besides a positive ROI. Many experts talk about the “Joy Score”, or the way house projects make you happier. If a bathroom is outdated, or not meeting your family’s needs, then weighing the joy of a beautiful new bathroom against the sunk costs of a remodeling project may tilt your decision toward fixing up your home.
Keep in mind that making small improvements like freshening up the paint and replacing the light fixtures can go a long way toward making the bathroom feel updated even if you just invested in a few weekend projects.
Budgeting for Surprises
Every home improvement project goes over budget, and the bathroom is no exception. Building a cushion into your remodeling project is not only a great idea, it’s financially prudent. You’ll be glad you have the cash set aside in case mold is hiding under the vanity or an unnoticed drip near the shower has rotted out the floor.
DIY or Hire It Out?
A little sweat equity can go a long way toward bringing down the cost of your bathroom remodeling job. Even if you just choose to demo the bathroom and hire out the rest of the project, you’ll be able to save on costs.
Most Millennial homeowners said they’d be more willing to tackle a DIY project than any other generation, but if you’re a remodeling novice, you might be unsure about whether your skills are within the scope of your project. Check out this AgentStory article about whether you should hire out your remodeling project.
The Bottom Line
While a smaller remodeling project is more likely to add value to your home, that’s not always the only consideration when you’re looking to update this room. You may also be considering the joy score this will add to your life or your family’s need for a more functional space.
One final consideration is that your dated bathroom could pull down the price of your home, especially if the other homes in the area have updated bathrooms. Talk to a real estate professional about what buyers are looking for in your area before taking on a bathroom project so you can be confident your home will have comps when you get ready to sell.