Five Things to Consider - Bathrooms

With each and every new client that I meet and discuss renovations options with there always seem to be those specific points that we need to cover in order for us to give our clients exactly what they want. You would be surprised how many things get overlooked by the homeowners when deciding a style of the project, and even more surprising is the amount of contractor's that don't ask the right questions. I have decided to do a series entitled 'Five Things to Consider' that will touch on the five most important parts of a renovation in my mind. The first topic in this series will be bathrooms.


1. The Floor Plan


When thinking about renovating your bathroom, one main concern is space and how to better utilize it. If you are lucky enough to have a home that has an abundance of extra space in the bathroom area that you can change locations and maximize the square footage, you're one of the lucky ones. Most of us do not have that luxury. The standard master bathroom floor plan that you will find in the area if the home was built in the past 20 years is a double vanity, bathtub, and a small shower. Some homes in the area do not even have this kind of generous space available and sometimes still have a single vanity and shower in their master bathroom. Available space can be one of the hardest decisions to wrap your head around when coming up with a new floor plan if you plan on expanding from the existing plan. There are heavy costs involved once you start moving walls, plumbing, and electrical. Its not as easy as you might think, "Oh, lets just knock down this wall and move the bathroom into the closet". More often than not it just doesn't work out that way. And you have to consider the costs involved with this because the amount of money you spend on moving walls, plumbing, and electrical is going to dramatically cut into your budget for the remaining in the five things to consider for your bathroom. 

When coming up with a new floor plan, there are certain codes that licensed contractors have to work with that you as the home owner might not consider or even know they exist. Things like the amount of space needed around a toilet, the amount of space needed for a shower door opening, the proper pitch needed for a main drain line. All of these things come into factor once you start to deviate from the original design of the bathroom. It takes a lot of labor to move a toilet drain across a room. If you're on a second story, you run into different challenges with drainage because of floor joists and the direction that they were framed. There are many options that an experienced contract will help you explore if you decide to change your floor plan. Some clients, in designing a new floor plan for your bathroom, want to expand their bathroom floor plan past the existing roof of the home. That expansion is considered a room addition, which  can be one of the most costly renovations you can do to your home and often does not come with a return on the investment. 

2. Tile


When we talk to clients about the tile they are going to use in their bathroom areas, more often than not they do not have specific tile in mind. There are so many types and styles of tile out there from ceramic to porcelain, from travertine to glass, the choices these days are almost endless. From traditional to contemporary and everything in-between, there is something out there that will fit your style and taste. When you walk into a tile showroom, sometimes our clients are taken a back just from the sheer number of choices.

From a construction aspect of the project, the of style of tile does not impact our installation, however some options that might increase the cost your renovation. Larger tiles might take up more real estate in a shower than a subway tile, but both come with pros and cons that might change the budget. Glass tile is a popular item for accent striping for a shower but we are also starting to see it in some of the ultra-modern designs. Full glass tile sheets can add a tremendous amount of labor to a project because of the care involved with cutting glass. Slate tiles can add costs because of the fact that they typically need to be sealed during installation because of the natural properties. Natural river rock stone, although beautiful when installed, can cause problems especially in smaller areas because of their nature of being variable sizes which can lead to water pockets. Rectified tiles have become more popular in recent years but be cautious of inexpensive rectified tiles as the manufacturing process can vary greatly from one country to another. 

Whatever type of tile that you choose, make sure your contractor has the know-how or at least the experience with that particular type of installation. Make sure your contractor will take those extra steps to install even substrate and seal it as this will go a long way to creating a good foundation for your tile.

3. Vanity

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The vanity is one of those items I see so many people fail to really consider the pros and cons when deciding to remodel their bathrooms. Many clients look for inexpensive vanities at big box stores as a way to cut costs and because the vanities are attractive. Vanities go beyond looks and assessing how well it will function and hold up during daily use is extremely important. Vanities are not all the same. If you are looking fro a really nice piece of furniture for your vanity, that is made of wood, that has modern drawer and door treatments, you are going to have to expect to spend quite a lot more money on than a vanity you are going to purchase from the local supply house. The difference is in the details. Although vanity A and vanity B might look the same on the outside, they way the function will not be the same. Getting custom cabinetry made for your project allows you get something that fits your space perfectly. You have the ability to add slide out drawers, or custom areas that you won't find from a vanity you purchase online. But, with that being said, if the budget is the concern, you might be okay with purchasing a lower end cabinet. You can save a lot of money with this option as the off the shelf cabinets typically come with countertops and sinks. If you were to purchase a custom made cabinet, the countertop and sink are yet another expense to figure on in the final cost of the project. We like to say that everything comes with a trade-off and vanities have some major trade-offs to consider when purchasing.

4. Shower Door

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Remember before where I talked about 'trade-offs', well shower doors and enclosures have some major trade-offs. If your new design is going to be more of an open concept design, frameless glass makes a major statement. If your design does not necessarily change the floor plan of your existing bathroom and you can still utilize standard measurements, you do have some less expensive options. Frameless glass is pretty much the standard these days for shower doors and enclosures. They give the homeowner a 'wow' factor in the room that they use everyday. Frameless glass can be a bit expensive up front but typically they can be a savings over framed walls and tile work once everything is said and done. If your bathroom has a more typical design of a alcove bathtub, you do have the option of some very varying prices for enclosures that you might find at a big box retailer. You can find standard 60" enclosures for as low as $300 or as much as $1,200. It all depends on what your budget can handle for the overall project. Some of our clients still opt to go with the tried and true method of curtains as they are a huge cost savings point and they are typically relatively maintenance free compared to the glass that must be cleaned on a regular basis. For whichever style you choose, you should go with the factors of the project are most important.

5. Lighting

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Finally, one of the most over looked things during a bathroom renovation project is the lighting. Proper lighting can be the difference between a bland, un-inspiring bathroom design, and a magnificent, magazine worthy, remodel. A lot of the clients I meet with that aren't doing what we would consider a full renovation tend to want to keep the lighting as-is. All client decisions work for us, but we will encourage bringing proper lighting into the space. Not only will it make your bathroom a beautiful space but it will also provide some major every-day uses. We typically encourage our clients to not only have a beautiful vanity light, but also add LED ceiling lighting to flood the room with light when needed. A small bathroom that might have a single sink vanity, toilet, and a bathtub/shower combo, can typically get away with a single overhead LED. But once your bathroom starts to gain square footage, you could find yourself adding four or even six overhead LEDs to properly light the space. Never let lighting go un-noticed and make sure it is one of the five things you consider for your next bathroom remodeling project.