About two months back, I discovered a small crack in my shower floor. Fast forward to now, and I have a completely gutted/remodeled/finished bathroom.
How did it go? Not bad!
It was a whirlwind of contacting contractors, shopping for materials, sending back materials, and dealing with plumbers, electricians, tilers, and glass installers coming in/out of the house for a month.
Choosing the Contractor
I contacted a number of contractors. My market is booming lately, and that means contracting companies are stretched thin. Great for them, tough for me! I got about a 15% call-back rate. Luckily, the ones that did call back offered to do a free in-home quote for me.
I ended up with two choices. One was a guy with 20 years of experience and photos of his previous jobs. The other choice was an entire design/build firm – complete with their own showroom, conference room, 3D rendering of their recommended final product, 0% financing partner, and even an intern.
Guess which one quoted $9,400 + materials, and which one quoted $22,000 + materials. I chose the first option.
I had no idea where to start with this one. I googled some companies and unknowingly ended up in some very high-end stores. I had no architectural designs, and just rough measurements. In the end, I showed up at Home Depot and talked to one of their designers. I spent an hour with one and left with a binder of items printed off. There was no obligation to buy. I went home, thought it over, refined my material choices slightly, and began ordering what I needed.
The contractor I chose had a few projects on his calendar, but not for about two more weeks. That provided enough time to do my bathroom. Demolition began while we waited on materials. This took exactly one day. He also found some badly rusted pipes and replaced them. Honestly, if those pipes had failed, I might have had a much worse situation on my hands. I am glad we found this issue before it needed immediate attention.
After the initial gutting, the plumber slightly moved the shower and toilet drains. The pipes hang freely in my house’s crawlspace, so moving them was easy compared to other houses where concrete is involved. Moving these drains allowed a shower expansion. Maybe more importantly, the toilet is now under proper code (18″ free space to either side of the toilet center line).
Speaking of code issues, I also had a vent installed. Advice for future me when I buy a home – make sure things are up to basic code.
Next came the tile installation and dry wall work. I wanted things to move faster, but tile grout needs time to harden, drywall compound needs time to dry, paint needs to dry, etc. I learned that a few hours of work gets done, with a few hours of waiting, and repeat. We also had to wait for the vanity to ship. Glass measurements had to wait until after the tile was finished in order to get a perfect size. The two weeks turned into a month, but there were good reasons all along.
There’s no way around disruptions when remodeling an entire room. Luckily, I have a second bathroom or else I would have used the shower at the gym. People were coming in and out at different times. I parked my vehicle outside because my garage had become a material staging area. My floors were filthy and dry wall dust throughout the house was unavoidable. It was best to just embrace the mess that came with the remodel.
Total Cost: $11,200
Specific bathroom remodels and costs are not as easy to find online as I expected, so I will put mine out there. Contractor estimate was $9,400 + materials. After a little more plumbing than expected, I paid $9,700 to the contractor in total. Materials (vanity, tile, shower head, lighting fixture, light bulbs) cost me about $1,500 in total. I was hoping to spend closer to $9,000 all in, but my contractor was up front with me about the price. It is a small room, but was rebuilt from the floor to the ceiling.
This took a large chunk out of my emergency fund, but I’m gradually replenishing it. A home equity loan would have involved three annual $90 fees, 4.75% interest, and a $400 early termination fee (if I was to sell the house before three years). Yikes! Glad I dodged those extra expenses. I usually post about my taxable/nontaxable investment accounts, but I put priority on first having an emergency fund. Now I know why first hand.
If I rented, I’d wouldn’t have any responsibility for this. Since I own, this is all up to me. I could have ignored the crack in the shower, but water would have trickled down and rotted the sub-floor and joists and I’d have a much bigger problem. I could have just replaced the existing (tiny) shower, but it still would have probably cost a few thousand dollars in labor and materials and I’d still have two code violations (toilet spacing, lack of vent). I took the big plunge and remodeled the worst room in my house. Now, it’s a highlight instead of a blight. Will I recoup the remodel costs when I sell the house? Probably not all of them. Some of the cost will be offset by my home equity that increases with every payment. Other costs will be offset by interest and property tax deductions.
This has been quite the experience! I’m now looking forward to refilling my emergency fund so I can get back to investment contributions.