Estimating the Cost to Remodel a Bathroom

Jan 01, 2011
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When it’s time to estimate the cost of your bathroom remodel, the first thing you’ll learn is that construction cost estimating is anything but an exact science. There are simply too many variables that impact the final cost on any job. General estimates for bathroom remodels can be especially non-specific, due to the wide range in the costs of materials and fixtures and the difficulty of estimating the labor involved in changes to existing floor plans. That said, bathroom cost estimating is an important part of the planning process. It helps you to set your design goals and create a realistic budget, and it often prevents the all-too-common “sticker shock” that can come with the first round of bids from prospective remodeling contractors.

Dreaming in the bath

While you might have a dream bathroom, it's best to set realistic goals and budgets.

Start with a Ballpark Range

There are a few different ways to get an idea of how much bathroom remodels cost in your geographical region. One source for regionalized estimates is the well-known Cost vs. Value report published by Remodeling magazine. The report provides the average job cost for bathroom remodels (among other popular home improvements), with data and descriptions for both “midrange” and “upscale” projects. It also includes the predicted resale value of a bathroom remodel, an important budget consideration if you’re planning to sell your home in the near future.

Other sources for general bathroom cost estimates are local builders/remodelers associations. Many organizations provide reports and data on average job costs in their service area. Finally, if you have access to software for calculating construction costs (and know someone who can help you use it), you can get ballpark figures for remodel jobs of any size and scope that you feed into the calculator.

Create a Basic Plan

Once you have an idea of what other people are spending on bathroom remodels these days, it’s time to focus on what your new bathroom will cost. You’ll need to outline a basic plan of everything you’d like to change with the remodel and, ideally, every material and fixture you’d like to use. The more decisions you can make at this stage, the more detailed your plan will be, and the closer the bathroom cost estimate will be to your real project costs. A detailed plan is also the best tool you can have for obtaining accurate bathroom cost bids from contractors, but that stage is farther down the road. For now, spend some time brainstorming on layout changes and other big-ticket items, as applicable, and shopping around for the fixtures and surface materials you really want.


Outline a basic plan of the changes you want to make and the materials you'll need to buy.

Talk to Local Professionals

Using your preliminary remodel plans and materials preferences, consult with local remodeling or design professionals to discuss your project and obtain bathroom cost estimates for the job. At this stage, you’ll likely be seeking unofficial estimates and not true “bids” for the project. Remodeling contractors, design/build firms and bathroom designers can help you with cost estimates, often during a free consultation. Or, if you’re interested in using an independent designer or architect for the project, you might begin a paid relationship at this stage to begin the process of refining your plans right away.

Consulting a contractor

Talk to a professional to get an estimate on your planned project.

Part of the cost of a bathroom remodeling job is the contractor you use. Other aspects depend on how much of a renovation you plan to do. You can opt to just change the paint, or you can knock down walls and rip out floors and start all over again with a fresh layout and fancy tiles.

Consult with a remodeling contractor on the general cost estimate for your project. Fill out the form below to get in touch with a bathroom pro in your area.

Philip Schmidt is a home improvement author and editor based in Colorado. He enjoys honey-do lists and boring his family with random facts about houses.

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