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How to Plan (and Stick to) Your Bathroom Remodeling Budget

By
Industry Observer with Spectrum Communications

When it comes to any sort of financial planning, there are often two phases. The first is the initial, on-paper tabulation, which gives you a general snapshot of your expenses, as well as the assurance that you have complete control of where your money is going. The second phase is reality, which is less accommodating—especially when it comes to bathroom remodels, which are highly dynamic processes subject to any number of changes from homeowners and the remodelers they work with.

Proper remodel budgeting isn’t so much about ballpark estimates as it is about constant adaptability and real-time reexamination of renovation goals. That said, setting your initial price cap is key to determining exactly what remodeling services you need. Bathroom renovation prices have a wide range depending on your scope of service. Per HomeAdvisor, the national average price for a bathroom remodel is just over $9,000, but there’s an incredible amount of variance, as this figure can dip as low as $2,500 or skyrocket upwards of $20,000.

There are many factors that could inflate or lower your project cost, like labor fees, fixture prices, and project timelines. A full-service remodel that requires demolition work will certainly cost more than a one-day bathtub replacement, but it’s not always a question of preference. Sometimes the most expensive route is the most viable to ensure your space’s long-term performance, comfort, and durability. The trick is having a clear, established remodeling vision so you can project as much of your requisite expenses as possible.

To give you a leg up on budgeting your bathroom remodel, we recently teamed up with an expert crew that has completed successful Quad Cities bathroom remodels for hundreds of area homeowners. They’ve recalled their numerous experiences helping clients finance and budget their projects to help us create a list of tips to assist you during the intense, but rewarding process of getting your remodeling expenses in order:


Tip 1: Account for Labor Costs

This seems like a strange thing to overlook, but it’s important to remember that, during initial budgeting, you’re likely still in the process of gathering project estimates and checking out a showroom here and there. At this stage, the products are the focal point, not the staff needed to install them. If this isn’t your first project, you may be considering part and labor expenses simultaneously, but first-timers will benefit from resisting the urge to overlook the forest for the trees.

Tip 2: Give Your Budget Some Flexibility

Drilling down your remodeling expenses to the penny can seem rewarding and relieving in the moment, but it is a bit naïve if you’re not accounting for the possibility of the unexpected. The success of your bathroom remodel is solely based on your satisfaction, but the project itself is a multi-pronged effort that requires constant communication between manufacturers and your remodeling crew. Last-second order and timetable changes can create more expenses, so it’s wise to reserve approximately a tenth of your budget for unanticipated costs.

Tip 3: Refine Your Remodeling Vision

We’ve alluded to this a few times already, but it’s a crucial consideration. Having a full understanding of your bathroom’s age and functional strengths and weaknesses will give you invaluable insight as to how complex your remodeling needs are. Are you simply looking to update the look of your shower, or do you need to completely replace it with a more accessible solution? Do you have rusted, depreciating pipes that require immediate repair, or just a stylish wall surround so your fixture looks as new as your plumbing? Your answer could affect your budget to the tune of thousands, so it’s vital to understand your needs and the needs of those living with you.

Tip 4: Take a Close Look at Every Financing Option

Since bathroom remodeling is a commonly costly endeavor, most—if not all—reputable remodeling companies offer at least one financing package, but more likely several through numerous financiers. You’ll enjoy more peace of mind paying upfront and out of pocket, but if financing is your most viable route, make sure to carefully read the qualifying information of each offer. That way, you get a full sense of what services are covered, to what degree, and under what conditions.

Diligent evaluation of financing info will help you refine your initial project estimate and minimize the possibility of unforeseen expenses. If you’re looking to install energy-efficient or handicap-accessible products, you can also research potential tax credits or reimbursements for utilizing these technologies, but these opportunities will differ by state.

Tip 5: Digitize Your Budget

Pen-and-paper budgeting at the outset is useful for establishing a general expectation of your major remodeling expenses, but it doesn’t give you the ability to track budgetary changes in real time. Since many of your interactions with your remodeling crew and project manager will involve in-the-moment decision making, it’s useful to import your budget into an Excel spreadsheet that can instantly calculate how even the smallest changes influence your spending pool.


You may not be the one rolling up your sleeves and installing your new fixtures, but bathroom remodeling is an intensive process for all parties—one that requires constant preparation and adaptation. With these tips, you can reduce the headaches that come with money management and focus more on making your dream bathroom a reality.