Remodeling a Bathroom. Cheaply.

Here you go! Here's our new bathroom! 

HA! Just kidding.

You didn't think I would just show you our bathroom without warning, would ya? I'm saving that until Friday. Sorry guys. You'll have to wait a few more days.

However, what I do want to share with you is how we made this bathroom renovation happen in just four weeks, and on a shoestring budget. I'll share what we spent {yep, right down to the last penny!}, how we saved money {because our highest estimate for the entire renovation was $15,000!!!}, and our biggest mistakes in the whole process.

Let's get at it, shall we?

The Cost Breakdown: 

In all, from start to finish, we spent $2,534.91 renovating our bathroom. 
**Addendum: I found three receipts crumpled in the bottom of my purse on 9/27 that I forgot to add to the overall total. These numbers now reflect the REAL cost of renovation.**

Of that total, $1,484.91 was on supplies, including two new sinks, mirrors, drywall, screws, etc. It also included things we can reuse again, like a nail gun {yeah, John ended up purchasing one because he liked my brother's so much...}, paint, rollers, paint tray liners, etc.

Of that $2,534.91, we paid a carpenter $200 to frame the laundry closet, add a header to hide some ventilation, and hang some precision drywall.

We also paid a finish work carpenter $225 to mud and tape the bathroom, as well as add an orange peel texture to the walls.

Lastly, we paid a plumber $625 to rework ALL of the plumbing and ventilation in the bathroom.

How We Saved Money:

1. We did 99% of the labor ourselves. The demo (which included the plumbing demo), installing the tile floor, and nearly all of the finish work was accomplished with the gun show loving known as The Lane's.

2. We got several plumbing estimates. Seriously. Like 6 estimates. Not only did that allow us to shop around for price, but we got a good look at a set of expectations for the plumbing industry.

3. We knew what we were NOT capably of doing ourselves. And that was plumbing, framing a laundry closet and door, and finishing drywall. Had we attempted to accomplish these things, we probably would have screwed it up and had to pay a professional to fix our shoddy work.

4. We planned this renovation for when John was NOT working. We didn't want the expense of a new bathroom to take away from John's job. He does not get paid time off, which means taking time off for a bathroom reno would could us nearly triple in lost wages. This was why it was essential that we started work right after John returned home from Arkansas.

5. We were smart shoppers. By shopping sales, looking for mail-in-rebates, returning items we didn't use, and yes, couponing, we were able to save money on all of the purchases we made.

6. We reused as much as possible. Which included:

  • Wainscot
  • Trim
  • Appliances
  • Bath tub
  • Sink hardware
  • Most painting supplies
  • All bathroom decor, minus the mirrors and storage drawers

Our Biggest Mistakes and Money-Suckers:

1. Don't buy cheap paint. We needed about two gallons of plain white paint for the ceiling and trim, and thought we would save about $25 by getting the el cheap $12-a-gallon white paint from the hardware store. We weren't keen on paying $32 a gallon for white paint. Well, as we began painting, we realized this cheap paint was crap. It was seriously like water, and after two coats we realized that there was no way this was going to cut the mustard, babe. I headed back to the hardware store and bought two gallons of better quality white paint, and that did the trick. When it's all said and done, we actually spent about $20 MORE on paint than if we would have just bought the better stuff to begin with. Lesson learned.

2. When tiling your floor, prepping the floor to be a flat, clean surface is essential. There are two spots where our tile floor is not level, which means the tiles are not level. My OCD just about went through the roof until I threw a rug over those three wonky tiles. Thinking about it makes my skin crawl. Let's move on.

3. Make sure you have all the tools needed for the job. My sister's boyfriend, John, saved us a lot of headache here by loaning us his wet saw and tiling supplies for the floor. My brother, Ryan, also kicked butt by loaning us his nail gun. Granted, this wasn't a mistake we made, but a mistake averted. We would have had to purchase all of these supplies (to use only once), had we not sought out the resources from our family and friends.

4. Plan for your timeline to be extended. We started the job the weekend after John returned home from Arkansas because we knew we had a tight window before he headed back to work. Our plumber and carpenter both had delays in their schedules, which put us behind about a week and a half. We finished the renovation on Sunday, September 22 and John went back to work on Monday, September 23rd. Talk about timing!

5. If you think you can cut corners by repairing things like, oh say, a claw foot bath tub, make sure you know if said bath tub can be repaired. Otherwise you'll end up with an amazing bathroom and a hillbilly bathtub held up on blocks of wood.


So, what do you think? I know you can't totally give me your opinion without seeing the final photos, but does $1,900 for a complete bathroom renovation sound acceptable? Where could we save even more? Anything we miss? Spill it, people!


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