10 Ways To Actually Save Money On A Bathroom Renovation
Yes! It is happening! You are finally going to renovate your bathroom this year. However, your budget is not ready for primetime. Not to worry! Not everybody can afford to install a bathroom that belongs in a luxury home. There are ways to save money at almost every step of the renovation process. Put one trick to work or a whole bunch of them and watch the bottom line shrink.
In this post, I’ll go over 10 actionable tips and ways to actually save money on new bathroom or bathroom renovation.
Let’s get into it!
10 Ways To Save Money On A New Bathroom
Before you read on, just know that not every piece of advice may apply to you for various reasons and they will all require some extra work and effort on your part. However, if you can roll up your sleeves a little and pick even just a couple of tips from this list, then it will definitely help you to save money on your bathroom project.
It’s important to note that wanting to save money doesn’t always mean you have to choose cheap alternatives that you’ll later regret. This advice is to make sure that every penny of your budget counts and goes towards getting the best bathroom you can, whatever your budget may be.
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1. Get A Few Quotes
While you may be in love with your neighbour’s recently renovated space, using their builder may result in a higher bill than you can afford. Just as the finishes in your bathroom will widely vary in price, so will the cost of one contractor compared to another. Have several builders or bathroom companies come in and provide a quote.
Check their contracts for firm pricing or areas where additional costs will be added later. Check with a nuts-to-bolts bathroom contractor and then price out the separate trades yourself. Hiring a neighbour that is fully licensed may get you a break on their hourly rate.
Schedule your work for the winter months. This is a slow time for many contractors when homeowners don’t want to deal with a renovation with open windows and doors while it is cold outside. You may find a contractor willing to drop their price a bit to fill in their empty schedule.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate! If you really like the pricier contractor but have a lower bid in hand, feel free to ask for a price reduction. The worst that can happen is that they say no.
The most expensive part of having your bathroom renovated is the cost of labour. Think about what you feel confident doing yourself to save money. Have a few friends over for demo day and spend a little on pizza and beer.
Do you enjoy painting? Maybe you want to do the tiling yourself. Every hour you spend getting dirty can save as much as £100 vs. paying the pros. Even cleaning up after the crews at the end of each day can shave some pounds off your total.
Some projects that can be tackled by the average DIY homeowner include:
- Demolish the old bathroom–toss it all in the skip and clean the space
- Paint walls, doors, and remaining cabinetry
- Install the knobs on doors and drawers
- Install shower panels
- Change out taps
If you own a complete set of tools and like to get dirty on the weekends, do your research and add these jobs to your list:
- Tile the walls
- Replace the flooring with tile or vinyl
- Install the toilet
- Replace the countertop
- Install a drop-in bath or shower enclosure
With enough determination, you can do just about the entire job. Just remember that your local council inspector requires that you hire a licensed professional to handle new electrical and plumbing installations.
3. Keep The Layout The Same
All the plumbing and electrical wiring are hidden behind finished walls. As soon as you want to relocate the WC to the other corner, you will need to cut new holes in the floor, run new pipes, and close over the old holes. If your home was built after 1960, all your fixtures are likely positioned for optimal use.
Reorganizing all the sanitaryware, especially if it doesn’t really improve the functionality of the bathroom, can be a very costly exercise. In this instance, you save money by going with what isn’t broke.
If your new basin and vanity are just moving over an inch or two, you may not need to move the drain pipe coming out of the floor or wall. The plumber can create a new configuration of pipes under the counter that will still save money. However, this approach may not work for the toilet and bath.
On the flip side, if you are committed to installing modern fixtures in an old farmhouse, attempting to leave the plumbing in the same place can end up costing you more in retrofits as you try to bodge the job. Starting fresh may be more beneficial in the long run.
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4. Shop Online For Discounts
If you have hired some builders to do the bathroom and they are not sourcing your fixtures, you can save significantly by doing some serious comparison shopping.
First, visit your local home improvement or plumbing supply store and scope out the prices on their sanitaryware. Next, hit up the internet and set your net wide to hunt for bargains on the items that you loved.
You may find enough discontinued tiles in the clearance section to do your tub surround. Look for last year’s basin and tub models. Ask about sanitaryware bundled suites where you get all the big fixtures at one price and save over buying separately.
You will need to keep a keen eye out for shipping costs as more and more online retailers are including that in their upfront pricing. Make sure that the item isn’t back-ordered and will arrive before your builders are ready to put them into place.
If you are buying local, there may be a delivery charge that you can avoid by borrowing your neighbour’s van.
Beware of unbelievably low prices from an anonymous supplier. The internet is also home to a wealth of disreputable sellers that deliver poor product quality with no recourse for refunds or returns.
5. Consider Your Tile Options
When most people think of bathrooms, they picture a small space that is covered in tile. It costs an average of £65 per square metre to have tile installed. You don’t have to place tiles on all the walls and up to the ceiling.
Consider just having a splashback behind the sink and around the bath. A premium bathroom paint applied to water-resistant wallboard can be scrubbed and costs considerably less to complete.
So, you love the intricate mosaic tiles, but you don’t have to use them everywhere. Add a thin line of the expensive tiles behind the sink and by the bath. The rest of the tile can be a simple generic look. Those plain tiles can be found on the cheap at building supply centres.
Vinyl flooring does an excellent job of resisting water damage, is easy to install, and can be a very affordable choice. The vinyl can be ordered to look like stone, mosaic, wood, or your favourite colour. It can be run underneath your freestanding tub and can be cut to fit around any funky corners. The least expensive vinyl is sold in rolls, but vinyl floor tiles can be installed by most entry-level DIYers and look fab.
6. Save Money On Brands
No landlord that owns affordable rented properties installs the latest and greatest brand named basins and baths. And yet, those no-name fixtures perform their duties perfectly well. It saves the landlord no money to install sanitaryware that is doomed to fail.
So, when shopping for your fixtures, ask the salesperson at the plumbing supply centre which toilet or basin is the most popular item for property owners. You probably will not recognize the brand, but it will function as expected and you can save money.
Now, your hardware can be an entirely different discussion. Changes in design and fashion mean that taps, showerheads, and even knobs for cabinetry will change every year. You can save big on quality pieces by shopping the clearance shelves in the back of the store or search for discontinued items online.
Super cheap taps will have a chrome finish that will wear off over time. They use cheap plastic washers and seals that are more likely to fail. If you love to renovate your bath every five years, you can likely get away with opting for the least expensive tap.
Do you love to take a long soak but consider the toilet an afterthought in your bathroom? You may want to go with the no-name toilet and vinyl floors to save enough cash to invest in an opulent jetted tub. Spend big on the items that are most important to you and will make you smile with every visit. Or use that extra cash to invest in a quality installation service.
Basic fixtures fitted well will outlast expensive furniture fitted poorly.
7. Reuse, Revamp Existing Bathroom Fixtures
Are you thinking about renovating your bathroom because all you can see is a cracked counter, missing grout, and outdated taps on the basin? If all the sanitaryware functions perfectly well and is not damaged, you might want to think about what you can do to simply dress up the room without a complete redo.
- Paint out the dated wood base of your vanity using a cool grey or off white and add some new knobs.
- Replace just the countertop with a simple piece of white quartz.
- Regrout the tile in the tub surround to erase those black lines.
- Lay a new floor to get rid of the cracked tiles.
- Switch out the lighting fixtures with something made in this century.
- Swap out the faucet and bath taps with shapes and finishes that are more contemporary.
- Old porcelain and steel tubs can be repainted in your favourite colour.
- Resurface tiled walls to bring a new colour into the room.
- Add new area rugs, towels, and curtains.
- Add an enclosed cupboard for storage to declutter counters.
Anytime that you avoid replacing an entire fixture or prevent the demolition of walls, you will save big on labour and materials.
8. Sell What You Can From Your Old Bathroom
While you invest in a new suite of fixtures, somebody else out there is trying to save money on their own bathroom project. If the overhead light and exhaust fan still work, consider posting it online to sell! Somebody may be finishing out their summer camp or adding a second bath in the basement, but don’t need the latest fixtures for their job.
Items that can be resold when in good working condition include:
- Taps for basin and bath
- Freestanding bath
- Old countertops
- Mirrors and medicine cabinets
The few extra quid recovered from your used items can help your budget stretch to buy that upscale tile or extra-large tub. Popular resale sites include Facebook Marketplace, eBay, ExchangeandMart.com, and craigslist.
9. Save Money In The Long Run
Do you have a monthly water bill and keep seeing the number climb? Your bathroom renovation can help lower your monthly utility fees when you include smart and eco-friendly finishes in your budget. You may a little extra upfront for these modern upgrades, but they will pay you and the environment back over the years.
When toilets were first invented in the 19th century, they used more than 20 litres of water per flush. Many older toilets still use this outdated technology to make the waste go away. New water-saving toilets use just 6 litres per flush. When you multiply how many times the WC is used per day in your house, you will see a significant reduction in water bills after the first month.
Low-Flow Shower Heads
Look for a green label when shopping for your shower head. Eco-conscious heads use just 50% of the water that a regular showerhead pours out. Instead of using 60 litres of hot water in a five-minute shower, only 30 litres will go down the drain.
On-Demand Hot Water
Traditional hot water systems use a storage tank that constantly maintains a huge supply of water at the set temperature. Replacing your home’s hot water tank with an on-demand combi boiler means that water is only heated when you turn on the hot tap. You could see savings on your heating bill of hundreds each year and possibly get back some square footage in your bathroom with the smaller unit.
10. Pick The Right People To Work With
Some rather general advice here, but none the less still very important;
Making sure you choose the right people to work with will not only make the whole experience far less stressful and hopefully at least a little bit fun, but it could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.
From a good bathroom designer making sure your layout not only looks great but is also functional, to the right tradespeople for all of the various services and fitting, researching and getting the right people for the job can mean you do this just once.
Getting the wrong people, often to try and save just that little bit more, can mean that you end up doing a job twice, or the work doesn’t stand the test of time.
It may sound a bit counterintuitive for this post, but spending a bit more money on these aspects, in the beginning, could mean that you save much more in the long run.
Should You Try To Save As Much Money On A Bathroom As Possible?
The answer is yes and no. It’s great to save a bit of money – who doesn’t want that? However, taking action on all of these tips on a single project will be very difficult, and may not even be possible, depending on what you are doing.
Some of these tips are easier than others, and they all have varying consequences should you attempt them, and that’s what you need to take into consideration and really think about.
How Much Money Is Your Peace Of Mind, Time And Stress Worth?
Yes, you can save money by doing a lot of things yourself, but it will take up your time and may cause stress doing it all. Whereas if you paid for a professional to do their job and do this work for you, not only are you freeing up your time, you are also becoming free of the burden of responsibility if anything were to go wrong.
For instance, if you ordered the wrong shower screen, that’s going to cost you, but if your bathroom company ordered the wrong thing, guess who’s paying to have that fixed? Not you. And, hopefully, they won’t order the wrong thing in the first place!
You cannot underestimate the benefits of having a professional do their job and take the time, stress and responsibility away from you.
There you have it! 10 ways to save money on a bathroom renovation.
Remember, it’s not about cutting every corner and trying to save every penny possible. Think about yourself and the project, weigh up the pros and cons of the savings and how they will affect you.
All that’s left is to wish you the best of luck with your new bathroom project.
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Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.