Even seasoned DIYers gulp and took a deep breath when considering tackling a bathroom remodelling job. Other than perhaps a kitchen, no project is more involved in terms of the systems and skills involved. Bathroom remodelling is all about plumbing, electrical, and tile work—all highly skilled trades. It’s dense, tight work, too, where every square foot counts. And then there are the frequent surprises, such as when you find rotting subfloor and joists below a leaky shower or cast iron plumbing stacks that have rusted to the point of crumbling. And finally, there is the time pressure. A bathroom is an essential space, and a DIYer is under great pressure to get the room remodelled and back into service as quickly as possible.
The obvious solution is to call in the professionals, whether this means hiring a general contractor (GC) to manage the project from start to finish, or hiring and managing your subcontractors for each stage of the process. The pros will do the job well and almost certainly faster than you can.
But there’s one real (and very important) reason why you wouldn’t hire professionals to handle your bathroom remodelling job: money.
A bathroom makeover is an easy way to spruce up your home. But before you start taking measurements for an open shower, you should take the time to plan out your bathroom renovation step-by-step, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Bathroom remodels, and additions have one of the highest returns on investment among all home projects. When shopping for homes, buyers look for how many bedrooms and baths home has, not kitchens or laundry rooms.
Bathroom remodels costs can add up quickly once you consider the cost of new plumbing, a new bathtub, a new toilet, new flooring, new paint, a new sink and sink basin, and more. Even though you know you’ll make all this money back at closing, it’s hard not to want to do this work yourself.
At Hitch Property Constructions, we offer a wide range of bathroom renovation Melbourne.
Do It Yourself vs. Professional Bathroom Remodeling
DIYers often like to talk about the personal satisfaction that goes with doing the work yourself. Still, the reality is that saving money is the single biggest reason why people tackle home improvements themselves. Even a small bathroom can easily cost you $20,000 if a general contractor completely overhauls it. With $250 per square foot as a common average used to compute contractor costs, a large 150-square-foot bathroom can approach $40,000 when completed by a good contractor. The same bathroom fully remodelled yourself might cost $75 per square foot, or $11,000 total if you choose your fixtures carefully with an eye on the budget.
The bottom line is a bathroom remodel will generally cost less than half of having a GC do the work. Essentially, you will retain all the materials cost but save the labour costs. That savings will buy a lot of shampoos.
Of course, convenience is its luxury and one that might be worth paying for. In this case, luxury doesn’t mean a spa-like bathroom with Tuscan tile, but the luxury of having someone else do the heavy lifting while you keep your hands clean. There is certainly value to having skilled pros do the work faster, and perhaps better, than you can do it yourself.
Bottom line: The truth is that most DIYers with a moderate amount of experience can do at least the surface remodelling of a bathroom, especially if they use the same contractor-grade materials that pros depend on. But should you do it yourself? That’s a different question, and arriving at an answer involves looking at the individual considerations in a major bathroom remodelling project.
Balanced against the cost savings of doing the work yourself is the brutal reality that DIYers usually take a lot longer to do the work. You can save an incredible amount of time—weeks or months even—by hiring professionals. A busy homeowner squeezing remodelling work into a hectic schedule might take six months to remodel a spare bathroom painstakingly. In contrast, the same bathroom can be whipped into shape in a couple of weeks by a contractor and his team.
Your head will spin as you watch professional contractors do a number on your bathroom. In the morning, you have no shower. The workers come, and you go off to work. You come home. Now there’s a shower.
Bottom line: If you have only one bathroom, you must hire pros. If you have a second bathroom and can afford to have one out of commission for a while, then the DIY option is more realistic.
The basic carpentry work involved in building walls, boxing in shower or bathtub alcoves, and installing insulation and vapour barriers is not all that hard. Most DIYers are perfectly able to do this work, though it does require carefully following the specifications of your fixtures and cabinetry. Precision is important when it comes to the framing work.
Bottom line: If you know your way around a hammer, give it a go.
Plumbing and Wiring Rough-In
The mechanical systems in a bathroom are subject to all kinds of rules and regulations, and professional plumbers, electricians, and HVAC contractors deal with these issues every day and will know the particulars of local code requirements. Unless you are an experienced home plumber and electrician, it is a good idea to leave the plumbing, wiring, and HVAC rough-in work to professionals.
Bottom line: Even experienced DIYers often leaving major wiring and plumbing work to the pros. Tackle this only if you are very confident.
Installing bathroom flooring is relatively simple for the DIYer, and quite easy for certain types of flooring. You gain nothing by having pros take on those easy-install coverings like luxury vinyl planks, for example, which can be done in an evening by a DIYer who has carefully studied the techniques. Hiring a pro to install luxury vinyl is almost unthinkable—the material is that easy to install.
Ceramic and porcelain tile is very often left to professionals, but considering the limited floor space in a bathroom, there is no reason you can’t do this yourself, too. It does not take long to learn the basics of tile installation, and you can easily lay a moderate-sized bathroom floor in a weekend.
Bottom line: Most DIYers will find it easy and satisfying to install their flooring.
If they’re worth their weight, professional drywallers will nearly always produce flawless bathroom walls. Even the best homeowner ends up with anomalies that must be conveniently ignored or covered up.
Installing moisture-resistant green board in bathrooms isn’t all that different from hanging conventional drywall in other areas of the home. Mudding and sanding to a smooth finish are what separates the homeowner from the drywall contractor who does this every day. If you can accept flaws, you can save a small amount of money hanging and finishing your own.
Bottom line: Considering the modest expense, having professionals hang, tape, and mud your drywall may be money well spent. But DIYers can do this work, too, saving a small amount of money.
Cabinets and Countertops
The main advantage of having professionals install cabinets and countertops is the simple convenience. A professional crew of two or three workers can navigate the cabinets into place and mount them quicker and easier than you can do it. But bathrooms don’t have a lot of cabinetry, and the countertops are typically short. For the smaller spaces of bathrooms, you’ll most likely be buying a bathroom vanity unit in a prescribed width that you can easily handle by yourself. Many come paired with vanity unit tops, making countertop installation a snap.
Bottom line: Homeowners can DIY this. Except for large bathrooms, homeowners will gain little by having professionals install cabinets and counters.
Looking for bathroom renovation? Look no further. Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
Installing a shower is tough when you’re building up your shower pan and covering walls with tile. While you can do this, most people will want to hire pros for this stage. However, installing a pre-fabricated shower stall may be practical for DIYers.
Refinishing your tub/shower yourself can produce acceptable results. Hiring out a glazing company will give you a better finish, mainly because the companies do better prep work.
Bottom line: This is often difficult work that is best hired out to pros. DIYers will need patience and plenty of help if they attempt it.
Sink and Faucet Installation
As long as supply pipes already run to your sink location and a drain pipe runs out, bathroom sink installation is easy. There is no need to have a plumber install your sink. However, if the installation requires moving plumbing lines, then bring in a plumber. If your project has included major rough-in work done by a plumber, a return visit to do the final hookups may be part of his bid service.
Bottom line: DIY this if you already have the plumbing lines; hire it out otherwise.
Toilets are clumsy and heavy, but they are not hard to install. Unless you are already having a plumber install the other faucets and fixtures, there’s no reason you can’t install the toilet yourself.
Bottom line: A DIY task, unless a plumber is already making other hookups.
Painting and Trim
Even homeowners hesitant to do-it-themselves for most other remodelling tasks can tackle the painting and trim installation. Hiring painting contractors make sense for large spaces but not for the tiny wall spaces of bathrooms. Hardware, mirrors, and other trim pieces are also fairly easy to install yourself.
Bottom line: You gain little by hiring a painting company to paint your bathroom or a trim carpenter to hang mirrors and install towel bars. Do it yourself.
Steps to Remodel a Bathroom
Remove or Demolish Bathroom Fixtures
Assuming you’re partially or renovating your bathroom, this is where you’ll start removing drywall and any fixtures you’re replacing. Remodelling a bathroom yourself isn’t all that hard, but there are a few steps you should follow to avoid any costly mistakes during the demolition phase.
Tips for Gutting a Bathroom:
- Start by draining and removing the toilet to avoid any unpleasant spills.
- Next, if you’re removing your bathtub, cover up the tub and start removing the bath tile down to the studs. This is necessary in order to rework the plumbing to fit your new shower/tub design.
- Remove the insulation from your walls where necessary. Do not use a hammer on insulation, instead use a reciprocating saw to cut out the panels. A safety mask, gloves, and goggles are a necessity.
- Finally, remove cabinets, vanities, mirrors, floor tiles and any other features you plan to replace. When removing tile flooring, it’s a good idea to remove the baseboards and reinstall them later.
Bathroom Remodeling Tip: Renting a dumpster for your demolition debris will allow you to dispose of everything at once without having to drive to the local dump, cutting hours off your project time.
Install Your New Shower or Tub Basin
After you’ve gutted your bathroom, its time to install your new fixtures, for a shower or tub replacement, you’ll want to pick a pan or basin that fits your new decor, as well as space where your current tub sits.
Shower Remodeling Design Choices
In terms of shapes, you generally have three choices:
- Pentangle (base with one corner cut off)
The base shape you choose will determine your layout, so make sure you take into account the other features of your bathroom beforehand, including the location of the door. You could also consider installing a combination shower and bathtub if you have space.
If there are any signs of rotting wood or water damage to your subfloor, you should replace it before installing your new shower to prevent further damage.
Bathroom Remodeling Tip: A walk-in shower conversion is a stylish, space-saving update to make in any home. If you’re converting your bathtub to a shower during your bathroom makeover, check out this guide to a DIY walk-in shower conversion.
Install New Fixtures and Features
With the shower out of the way, you can now install your new vanity and cabinets. If their dimensions are bigger or smaller than your current ones, you’ll need to renovate your bathroom a little further by adjusting the wiring.
For the most part, that means moving the GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) and other power outlets so that they line up with your new vanity and cabinets. After all, you don’t want to have to reach down next to the toilet to plug in your hairdryer. You should call in an electrician for this step, especially if you have never worked with home wiring before.
Lay Down Your New Floor Tiles
A DIY bathroom makeover is not complete without new floor tiles. But before you start grinding away with the grouting, use a mason’s chalk line to mark reference lines perpendicular (at a 90-degree angle) to the wall with the longest continuous line. This will allow you to keep your tiles in a straight line, avoiding the dreaded crooked tiling job.
Hang New Drywall and Start Painting
Now your bathroom makeover is starting to take shape. The next step is to hang your new drywall. This can be a long process as you have to cut new drywall to fit around your vanity and any other features. But once you start nailing up the boards, you should be able to move briskly.
Important do-it-yourself bathroom remodelling tips to keep in mind during this step:
- Use drywall mud and tape to cover seams and fill in gaps.
- Use cement board instead of drywall for the shower/tub wall.
- Coat the cement board with Redgard or another waterproofing membrane to guard against water damage.
After you’ve put your walls back together, you can start adding some colour to your bathroom. Painting is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to freshen things up and give the bathroom a whole new look. It’s best to use paint with a semi-gloss finish that is resistant to mould and mildew.
Bathroom Remodeling Tip: While you’re working on your walls, it’s the perfect time to start re-tiling your shower and tub area if you plan to do so. Here are a few handy tips to follow when tiling your bathroom shower.
Install Your New Vanity and Cabinets
After you’ve taken care of the walls and finished installing any new lights, it’s time to install the vanity, cabinets and anything else that’s on your bathroom remodel punch list.
The first thing you want to install is the vanity, including the sink and faucet. Once you have the drain hooked up to the faucet, you can move on to the other essentials such as the mirror, cabinets and the trim around the shower or tub.
Finish Hooking Up the Plumbing
At this point in the process, your bathroom resembles a bathroom, except for one thing: the toilet. You could install or reinstall your toilet earlier in the process but leaving it for last helps avoid chipping it while working on other areas of the bathroom.
Any renovation is exciting in the beginning, but hard work and long hours cause most people to lose a little steam. If you’re so eager to see the completed room that you start rushing, you can burn out. Instead, move at a steady pace at the beginning, then slow down at the end to be sure everything is done correctly. Patience pays off.
Check out our range of Melbourne bathroom renovation here.
DIY bathroom remodelling: Well worth the effort!
You don’t need to go through a complete demolition and remodel to make your bathroom look and feel brand new. A simple swap of the toilet, fixtures, and baseboard; a thorough paint job; and freshening up the floor, walls, grout, and vanity are low-cost ways to make the bathroom look remodelled without paying a professional.
Avoid high-labour projects like new tiling or a shower replacement to keep costs down, giving you a greater bang for your buck with the projects you choose to take on. With a lot of prep work and a little patience, you can end up with a transformed bathroom on half the budget.