Spaces for Life: How much does a bathroom remodel cost?


By Lance McCarthy

Lance McCarthy
Lance McCarthy

From the looks of old bathrooms in this area, the homes were all inhabited by skinny dwarves who never got ready at the same time.  The showers are too tiny, the countertop barely has room for a toothbrush, and the toilet height makes me feel like I’m in my son’s first grade desk at back to school night. How did they do it?

Truth be told, I love these old bathrooms. They are what we call in the business “job security”. Bring me your tired, your cramped, your uni-colored bathrooms. yearning to be modern.

So, let’s say you’ve had it. Enough is enough. Time for a change. The first question is “how much?”

I’m glad you asked. Let’s go through some quick pricing rules of thumb on bathroom remodels. Just like last week, there are three main cost elements: Plan, Product and People. Get out your pencil and paper. We are going to work out a “back of the napkin” budget for it.


By Plan I mean how it is built. How many square feet, is there already plumbing to that spot, is it a facelift or a bathroom addition, etc. A bathroom budget starts here with the Plan. And the first question is, “How many holes are there?” “Holes” is contractor-speak for a fixture — faucet, toilet, tub, shower, etc. One fixture = one hole.

If we are replacing fixtures in the same locations, a good place to start is around $3000 per hole for a bathroom remodel. Want to add or relocate a fixture? Double the cost per hole. Got it? If you are playing along at home, call this your Hole Budget.

A Fairway master bathroom remodel by ReTouch.
A Fairway master bathroom remodel by ReTouch.


By Product I mean what it is built with.  In bathrooms, this makes up 40-60% of the total budget.  The choices you make can easily cause your budget to jump. Example: a basic shower faucet runs $120. Add a hand shower: $250. Add a couple of jets and you are at $800. Increase the quality and you can easily hit $2400.

To get a handle on the numbers, take half your Hole Budget (we’ll call this your Product Budget). Now, if you are wanting a basic level of quality, keep the number where it’s at. If you want a mid level, double it. Higher level, double it again. Wondering which level you are? Check out this Pinterest page we made for some examples.


The who of a project matters. To use one of the big boys may add 200 percent to the costs above. To use Pickup Truck Joe could lower them by 50 percent.  Many people are stunned by this spread and flee to Pickup Truck Joe to save money. Beware. Bathrooms are smaller than most rooms and seem easy. They are actually complicated projects because of all the moving parts in a tight space. Many a remodeler has failed a bathroom remodel. Ask me sometime over a beer about some of the humbling experiences we have had remodeling bathrooms!

Lance’s Second Cardinal Rule of Construction Cost

The answer is always “yes.” The question is what do we sacrifice to get to that “yes”? Options abound in a bathroom. Heated floor? Heated towel bar? Heated toilet seat? That tub with the amazing little bubbles?..the list goes on. Each “yes” is wonderful, but costs money. To fit within a budget, a lot of “nos” are required. My tip? Decide on your three or four Big Rocks, the “haftas.”  Then fight for those and let everything else fall where it may.

A video on bathroom remodeling costs from ReTouch

This weekly sponsored column is written by Lance McCarthy of ReTouch, a full-service, client-based contractor specializing in home remodels. For more information about their services, or to view samples of their work, visit their website.