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The Ins and Outs of Bath Reconstruction

Remodel Budgeting, Choosing a Vanity, and Selecting Task Lighting

© 2013 by Dixie Somers; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

A remodeled bathroom before and after; photo courtesy Michelle Rebecca

A remodeled bathroom before and after; photo courtesy Michelle Rebecca

This article was updated on 07/28/20.

Decorating and giving your bathroom a new look can save you a lot of cash, but it also poses the opportunity for design mistakes. A well-planned bath can give you years of enjoyment and pleasure.

Also, it can add a sizeable value to a home. Here are six ins and outs to save your bathroom remodel from the challenges of DIY remodeling.

Lay Down a Bathroom Remodel Budget

You must be sure that funds are available and a remodeling budget is specified prior to beginning. It can be frustrating to postpone, substitute fixtures, or even halt progress on a bathroom project because the funds dry up.

The solution is to set a budget and stick to it. Changing your mind and installing a granite counter top instead of the tile counter can add a considerable amount of money to the project and wipe out the budget.

Stick to the plan and don’t deviate from it if possible. A good rule of thumb is to add 20% to the final budget to account for material scraps (drop-offs) and to cover unexpected expenses, which always happen. It's just a vicissitude that goes with the territory.

Do Buy the Right Sink

Porcelain is a classic material for sinks, but it can chip if mishandled. Stainless steel and enamel products are becoming more mainstream because they offer dependable resale value and can withstand years of use.

Other popular materials are granite composite, cast iron, and stainless steel. The composite is a good choice on a budget because it provides the look of natural stone without the exorbitant expense of the real thing.

Install as Large a Vanity as You Need, and then Some

Choose Your Lighting Fixtures

Also, provide plenty of lighting. Common choices include horizontal multi-bulb fixtures, pendant track lights, ceiling-mounted fixtures, and wall sconces (mounted on side walls to provide additional light, or secured through the mirror itself as primary illumination).

Depending on which kind of light fixtures you choose, you may need to do some drywall work in addition to the electrical work. Anything electrical might call for a pro. Again, check your local building code. Bathrooms, like kitchens have special considerations because they are wet environments.

A granite composite bathroom sink and vanity; photo © KSmith Media, LLC
A granite composite bathroom sink and vanity; photo © KSmith Media, LLC

The bathroom vanity is where people prepare themselves for the day and brush their teeth (hopefully) and before retiring for the evening. The surface space should be large enough for multiple people to use comfortably. More space will be appreciated; two side-by-side sinks are ubiquitous in upscale homes.

Use Professional Tradesmen as Needed

Always consult your local building codes before embarking on a project like this. You may need to have blueprints drawn up, pull permits, and hire licensed plumbers and electricians. Some cities even require carpentry permits for structural work (although trim work is almost always waivered).

Installing or relocating water and sewer lines should be left to the professional. In fact, this usually requires a permit, a licensed plumber, and city inspections.

Besides, it can be challenging trying to run drain lines and supply pipes through concrete slabs or floor joists yourself without compromising the integrity. Just hire a licensed plumber. A professional can make a low-cost tile floor look spectacular and expensive.

An electrician can wire outlets where you will need them. Store any remodeling or extra items in a storage unit. Why? The bath is a cramped room under the best of circumstances. During a remodel it will only get worse and slow down progress.

Here is a nice DIY project if you are handy -- build a recessed medicine cabinet. If you're not so handy or so inclined, hire a carpenter or handyman to build it; either way you will be reclaiming lost space in the bathroom's double-framed walls.

Don’t Skimp on the Shower

Make your shower a place that you want to be. An attractive and well-built shower stall can cost about $5,000. By adding a good shower head and a steam generator, homeowners will own a royal room to wash their cares away.

Don’t Highlight the Toilet

The bathroom toilet can be tucked away in a spot where it doesn’t take center stage. Whatever you do, don’t make it the center of attention. Although every situation is different, these are some of the do's and don't's of bathroom remodeling. Use your imagination.

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