Home Renovations and Interior Design

How our budgeted bathroom renovation saved us thousands

bathroom renovationINCREASE YOUR HOUSE VALUE


You might not want to update your bathroom to an ultra modern bathroom but even the smallest of bathroom renovations need to be planned.

Our bathroom renovation has gone on a little longer than I had anticipated because I didn’t predict problems along the way.

Even the best project planning will be met with some issues so it’s imperative to leave room for completion dates if you need a project done by a certain time.

This summer was no exception in the fact that I started yet another planned undertaking around the house.  After completing a full installation of the central vacuum system the en-suite bathroom was next on my home renovation list.


En-suite designs and planning


We didn’t suddenly decide that the en-suite bathroom needed updating because the tiles clashed with my underwear or some other ridiculous excuse. The shower cubicle which is of a plastic and aluminum construction which has quite literally done its job and after 20 years of service needs be put out of its misery.

The shower faucet leaks, the toilet has to be flushed 3 times even for the simplest of excuses, the cheap steel sink is rusting, the linoleum floor is a death trap once it gets damp and more than a few times I have gone arse over tit or done the splits which can be pretty painful.

Having done a bathroom renovation many times before a project such as this didn’t faze me. In fact it’s a great opportunity to create a bathroom with materials that you expect to find in a more expensive renovation because you’re doing the work yourself and don’t have to pay out all that labour.

Doing research on sourcing out materials and their performance helps down the road with the longevity of the bathroom and how it performs. The last thing you want to do is pour all of your hard-earned money into something as pricey as a bathroom renovation only to have it fall apart years down the line.

Watching the budget was one thing but buying quality items involved spending a little more than the bargain basement price tags on the cheapest materials going. Much time was spent looking through flyers for “Tax Free” events or just sales for items needed before I even started the bathroom renovation to cut the total cost.

The start of the bathroom renovation consisted of the wife and I looking at styles of bathrooms that caught our eye. Our aim was to both agree on style without going too far into fashion orientated bathroom designs which would look out of date before it was finished.


Small Bathroom Makeover


It’s always nice if you have a large space to design your bathroom renovation but the majority of Canadians have a standard bathroom size for their master bathroom or en-suite bathroom. Our en-suite bathroom has 4 pieces; jacuzzi, shower, toilet and vanity along with a large double closet.

If you upgrade your home-build, buy a larger home or a smaller home with a large bathroom you can easily add more value into the space you already have. When we were viewing open houses most bathrooms were similar in size for the price range we were looking at.

Remember that you’re not limited to a small bathroom design if you have a small bathroom either. The design or feel of the bathroom can be anything you want, you just have to make it work for you and the space you have.


Bathroom renovation ideas


Practicality of the bathroom is another factor to consider, in this case the wife requested floor to ceiling tile work around the whole bathroom. The practical side is tiled bathrooms are easier to keep clean, look better than blank walls but definitely more expensive and time-consuming to complete.

Spending time online looking at products that are currently sold through retailers whether they are a big box store or not will give you some ideas for your bathroom design. I had actually drawn out the shower cubicle on the floor in the bathroom and up the walls to gauge the size in comparison to the rest of the bathroom.

You don’t want to make something that overwhelms the rest of the room by being dark and obtrusive, unless you’re planning to make a large shower blend in with a good use of glass.

Although porcelain and ceramic tiles are made of essentially the same ingredients the use of porcelain in shower is a better choice than using ceramic tiles as they have a lower water absorption rating which aids in keeping the shower watertight.

Personally, I like the durability of the porcelain tile over a ceramic tile although they are harder to cut and work with. These days you can get just about any design on a porcelain tile and get non-slip surfaces for floors leaving you with endless possibilities.

We purchased new vanities for both of our bathrooms during a Tax Free event which saved us enough money to pay for other bathroom renovation materials. There are times when waiting for such events might mean you pay full-price so we did have to purchase both at the same time which can put a dent in the finances.

I think we were fairly lucky because the same vanities haven’t been back on sale since and just shows how timely a purchase can be although that’s not always the case so planning your bathroom renovation is important.

The vanity however still needs a counter-top because we are still deciding on what type of stone to purchase. Granite and marble still require maintenance so a stone alternative might be better for us steering away from the melamine chipboard work top.


Planning Time To Renovate


There is never a good time to renovate and if there is it’s likely because you haven’t moved into the house yet and you don’t have to worry about living through a renovation and resulting mess.

I should have started the bathroom renovation before I did because I still haven’t finished it yet which means I’ve been at it for over two months. Having our baby 7 weeks ago and trying to complete a bathroom renovation doesn’t tend to mix very well. Having said that, the biggest job was building the new shower and that is almost completed.

Plumbing and electrical is completed with a brand new two-head shower system from American Standard. I had to special order the shower system and shower safe LED lighting to illuminate the whole cubicle.

Waterproofing was courtesy of a Schluter Kerdi shower kit and then dark grey porcelain and glass tiles on top. Exterior of the shower is separated by a marble threshold and then marble on the outside wall which really makes the interior on the shower stand out.

On the outside of the shower the wall is covered in similar shades of marble ledge stone from top to bottom which ties into the bathroom vision we were looking for. We have yet to buy a mirror and accessories, more tiles and the heated flooring.

The total estimated bathroom renovation cost is draining our bank account costing us an estimated $6000 so it’s a good thing we saved money in our budget for this expense.

Keep in mind I am doing the bathroom renovation myself. If I was to hire someone to exclusively do the bathroom renovation we would be looking at the price-tag being around $10,000- $11,000.

I’m not sure yet how much the bathroom renovation will increase our home value but we do know that it will make a difference.


Renovation Tools


The most time-consuming process was measuring out everything and then double checking those calculations to make sure such things as the drain were on center and fall in line with the rain can shower head.

The lights needed to be centered up in the ceiling too which sounds fairly easy if the floor joists above it were at 90 degrees or ran parallel but the shower is set at 45 degrees within the room.

The renovation doesn’t just have to involve purchasing the necessary materials to construct the bathroom out of but also how you go about constructing it.

As many tools as I may think I have I still had to drop everything because I discovered that I didn’t have the required size hole saw or drill bit. I can only blame myself for not reading the require tools section of the installation guide or thought that I had that exact tool when really I didn’t.

There’s a reason why they ask you to use a certain size drill bit in the instruction kit so don’t think you know better by drilling a different size and making it work. It won’t work but if you manage to make something work it likely won’t last. Remember that saying.. “Do it right the first time”.

Having the right tool for the right job is a necessity so looking through a large selection in one shop will reduce having to look around multiple shops. I used Rona to find the correct tools I needed for cutting specific holes through the tiles and floor. Having previously bought items and tools from Rona before, shopping there made sense as well as keeping our money within a Canadian company.

I’ve learned so much about this bathroom renovation but the number one tip I can give is making sure you have the time to complete the project. I now have to finish up my bathroom renovation and then move on to the second bathroom in our home.

If something is out of your expertise, consider bringing in a contractor for part of the project such as a plumber or an electrician. If you don’t have enough time you can also consider hiring help to get the job done faster than if you did it on your own. This doesn’t mean you failed in your DIY bathroom, it just means you realized you couldn’t do it all and hired someone to bridge the gap.

Happy renovating and keep reading the blog to follow this bathroom renovation to the end in my Saturday Weekend Review posts. Each weekend I share what’s happened in the CBB household and likely the progress on this project!


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    1. We do too but we have to remember they don’t happen overnight. Some of us think we can pull it off myself included in a flash but I needed much more time than I thought.

  1. The last really big reno we did here was likely the kitchen 20 years ago. Still haven’t done the floors but the whole house needs new floors. We have been here 22 years now and other than re-wiring the whole house everything has been cosmetic. The town considers re-doing a kitchen as cosmetic due to the fact we were only (?) replacing the cupboards, nothing major. This is an old house so you know things need to be done.
    Hubby is one that will overdo things. He thinks he’s doing it better than a pro would but I have seen some of the stuff he’s done and had to clean up afterwards. With his health issues now there is no way he could do any of the work here and if the boys try to do any of it he is going to poke his nose in “To make sure they are doing it right” meaning his way. When it isn’t he is going to step in and, pretty much get in the way.
    When we did the downstairs bathroom over so I could have my washer and dryer on the main floor, I wanted a tile look without the cost. Hubby painted the white base coat for me and I did the rest. I used 1/4 inch painters tape in a grid and sponged over it. Came out nice..I’ve had people leave nose prints on the wall looking to see if it really is paint or tile!! My SIL still has trouble believing it’s paint after all this time. Being crafty can save a bit!!!
    When we go to do something here I look around to find what I like. With hubby there isn’t much in the way of planning from him, trouble in the making. With the kitchen I did the planning as I’m the one using it and I knew what I wanted. This meant we were able to walk in and say we want this size and style of cupboards and such. I had picked up one of the information flyer things from the company that made the cupboards and could figure out the sizes and so on from that….
    Good luck getting the bathroom done with the little one needing attention….

  2. When I do renovation projects and woodworking projects, I always underestimate the time it’s going to take, even when I think I am leaving lots and lots of time. Like you said, there’s always a tool you have to run out and buy and such. By the time you’ve done that, it’s eaten up an hour and you’re another hour behind on the job for the day.

  3. You’re so right about budgeting enough time! We’re chronic underestimaters of how long each DIY project we do will take. Fortunately, we always overestimate the budget, so we’re pleasantly surprised in that category. But, it just always takes longer than you think it will! Especially since each new project we do has its own unique learning curve… maybe someday when we’re repeating projects we’ve already done it’ll be quicker!

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