Remodeling a Bathroom on a Budget

by on December 9, 2011

Whether you’re looking to increase resale value, help sell your house, or just are in need of a new bathroom, remodeling a bathroom can add value to your home and is considered one of the more likely ways to get the money back from your remodel.  Depending on where you live and who’s estimate you use, somewhere between 50 – 90% of the value of the remodel is added to the value of your house.  The more extravagant the remodel, the less return you get.  So, if you reall want to add value to your house, then you should remodel your bathroom on a budget.  By finding ways to do things yourself and save money on the remodel, you can actually add more money to the value of your house than you spend on the remodel.  Here are some of our suggestions on how to remodel your bathroom on a budget.

Formulate Your Remodeling Savings Planbudget bathroom remodel

There are literally two ways to save money on a bathroom remodel.  You either save money on the labor, or you save money on the materials.

Lower Your Labor Budget

When it comes to labor costs, you either reduce the costs you pay someone, or you can do some or all of the labor yourself.  If you are a do it yourselfer, or want to at least take on some of the burden of the remodel, your time and skills can save you thousands of dollars on the project.  Below, we give some specific ideas on how to do some or all of the remodel yourself.  If you are not very handy or for whatever reason can’t work on the remodel yourself, then it is up to you to hire the lowest cost contractor that provides the best quality work.  Or, you could hire multiple people to do the work themselves while you coordinate the entire project.  In effect, you would be the contractor on the job and would hire the individual subcontractors.  By doing this, you could cut out all of the costs and markups that are passed along through a hired contractor.  Because a bathroom remodel may require plumbing work, it is likely that you’ll at least need to hire one subcontractor even if you do most of the work yourself.

Finding a low cost contractor that is good can be difficult.  Start by asking friends, family, neighbors and colleagues for referrals.  Also, do your own research and call around to find reasonable contractors.  Checking with craigslist and on bulletin boards at the local lumber yards can yield good results.  The important point here is that you get as many quotes as possible, and don’t jump at the first quote.  If a contractor is busy or does not want to do your type of work, they often give inflated quotes.  Find someone that wants the work and gives a fair quote.  Also, make sure you negotiate with any contractor on the price.  If you are looking to do some of the work yourself, make sure that your contractor is willing to work with you and that they have a mechanism to easily remove the work you do from their billing structure.

Lower Your Materials Budget

To reduce the cost of materials during a bathroom remodel done on a budget, you can either find really good prices on the materials, or you can lower the quality of the materials that you use.  Hired contractors often get commercial discounts on the fixtures they use.  However, that doesn’t mean that they pick out the most cost effective materials or get better prices than you can find yourself.  If you are looking to lower materials costs, the best way is for you to research, shop around, and purchase the materials yourself.  A good example of how to find low cost materials is to go to a flooring store and buy the materials (tile, vinyl or wood) from their clearance department.  Our local flooring store is very expensive, but if you go to their clearance warehouse, you can pick up enough quantity of the items you need (especially for a bathroom size remodel) for nearly 80% off.  Almost all fixture companies have clearance sections and most big retailers like Home Depot have sales that can save you a lot on your materials as compared to what a contractor would pay.  Plus, your contractor actually charges you for the time it takes them to shop for and pick up those items.

The other way you can save money on materials is to reduce the quality of the materials you choose for your remodel.  We’re not saying to go buy the cheapest stuff you can find, but rather, make sure that you buy the same type of quality materials that are in the rest of the house.  If you own a non-luxury home and decide to upgrade the bathroom with jacuzzi products and Italian marble, you would never recoup the money you spend.  Likewise, if you have a luxury home and remodel your bathroom with the cheapest fixtures you can find, it will actually lower the value of your home because the bathroom would not match the rest of the home’s luxury quality.  Try to match your remodel with the rest of your home.  Most people want to treat themselves to something nice when they remodel, which is fine.  Just don’t get too extravagant and try to think of your purchases through the eyes of a potential home buyer.  Now that you’ve got your remodel budget plan ready, it’s time to save money by doing what you can yourself.

Do Some or All of the Remodel Yourself

This is by far the most effective way to remodel a bathroom on a budget.  Once you know what you want done to your bathroom.  Start figuring out what you can do yourself.  Make sure you contractor (if you have one) is willing to work with and hopefully give you some guidance as to how to get things done.  Here’s a list of projects that you can do to help you reduce the costs of your bathroom remodel.  The list starts with the easiest projects and moves toward the tougher.  Each project can save you money.

  • Haul Away. Hauling away all of the garbage during contruction and demolition debris can be expensive if you pay for it. The cost of the average dumpster is several hundred dollars and can exceed $1,000 in some areas. Borrowing a truck or trailer or even renting a U-Haul to haul the debris away can save you a lot of money on your budget bathroom remodel.
  • Demolition.  Not just the most fun part of project, but a very big money saver if you can do it.  Demolition for a bathroom remodel means taking out all of the fixtures, vanities, cabinets, toilet, floors and maybe even the bathtub or shower itself.  Some remodels even need new drywall, so that could be included too.
  • Install Fixtures.  Installing the toilet, faucets, mirrors, light fixtures, towel hangers and toilet paper holders can save quite a bit of money and aren’t too hard to do yourself.  Depending on your skills and resourcefulness, setting up the drain for the sink may or may not be an option.
  • Install Floors.  Because bathrooms are relatively small, installing flooring is pretty forgiving.  Installing vinyl is very easy and can be done by almost anyone.  If you want to install tile or wood floors, you can also do that yourself with a little research and perhaps help from a friend.  Make sure you check with your contractor before you do any of this so that you know how to handle the areas underneath toilets and vanities.
  • Tiling.  Learning to tile your shower or bathtub area isn’t extremely difficult, adds a nice look to your bathroom, and can save you a ton of money.
  • Plumbing.  Plumbing is perhaps the most difficult part of remodeling a bathroom.  Many states do not allow non-licensed individuals to work on plumbing, so check with your state and local ordinances.  If you can work it out, try to get all of your plumbing projects ready at the same time, so you don’t have to pay the plumber for multiple trip charges and the extra time it takes them to set up and get started each day.

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Jenkins March 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I always recommend on-line services like Service Magic and Angie’s List to help people find contractors. I like Angie’s List’s service the best but Service Magic is free.
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Kelly Jones June 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

My husband and I just finished remodeling our kitchen and bathroom. Like Scott suggests, we used Angie’s List to help find contractors. We also started our remodels by borrowing a truck from a friend to haul away everything we ripped out ourselves. However, we found that we were wasting more time and money on making trips to haul away the items. We sat down and did the math and we ended up with a Dumpster Rental San Antonio . For us, it ended up being cheaper and caused less tension.
Next home remodel project I/we do, I’ll make sure yo come back here for extra money saving tips.

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Samantha December 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I agree it is always a good idea to sit down and figure out the cost. For us, the dump yard is quite far. When you add in the gas and the dump fees, it can get quite expensive. However, we can rent a dumpster from the city for $100 a month and they dump it just like regular trash. It had an extra delivery fee and return fee but it was so worth it.
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chris June 8, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Great article, I will say this though, there are a few of us contractors still keep the work in house. This enables us to do all of the trades at lower prices. A lot of times that is cheaper than the homeowner trying to staff the project.

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Kevin July 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Lower Your Labor Cost!

As a plumber I know that lowering your labor cost will save you tons and allow you to upgrade your fixtures with the money you save.
Just make sure you know what your doing, sometimes you can actually cost yourself more money if you do something wrong

Great post though :)

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Cheri July 21, 2012 at 11:14 pm

So many good ideas to help lower the costs. I am making note of some of the ideas as we consider out bathroom remodel.

Thanks,
Cheri

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Colin July 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

For our last bathroom I installed a vinyl floor myself and it was ridiculously easy. Second time round we decided to remodel I tried to be a bit more adventurous and attempted to install bathroom tiles – bad idea!! I didn’t particularly do much research, I’m sure I made it harder than it is but I think some things are just better left to professionals. Be confident you’ll be able to do a task before you start it, it really does save you money!

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chicago plumbers July 25, 2012 at 2:25 am

Remodeling bathroom, will no tub prevent me from selling? We moved into the house I grew up in. We’re fixing it up and remodeling a number of things. The bathroom is the current project, and we don’t want to put another tub in. From what I’ve been hearing though, I may not be able to sell the house without it.
chicago plumbers

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Chris S July 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

It all depends on the buyer. Personally, we have a tub in our master bathroom and we NEVER use it. It would not be a deal breaker for me but it might for someone that uses a tub often.

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Linda August 15, 2012 at 3:39 am

Thanks for the extensive article! We’re facing a massive remodeling with my husband, preferably starting from september, and bathrooms are of keen importance. Thanks again for the article, it was really helpful.

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renovation salle de bain September 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Truly beneficial information, which many other authors do not even touch. The way that budget interactions are explained in this article is deep, intriguing and complete. It is good to know that the person who wrote it knows how to address the problems of the first-time renovator, who does not know how to cope with such a big task. Every word in this article is gold, and if the author decides to make an additional piece, it would be great. Now let’s get back to bathroom renovation the proper way, shall we?

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Glen October 23, 2012 at 11:52 am

I give the customer 2 proposals. One for me to do the demo, and one for them to do the demo. I find that most people just want it done for them.

I also do the same when quoting material (quality vs cost effective). This is an eye opener for most folks.

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Colin November 9, 2012 at 6:07 am

Completely agree, the most sure fire way to save money is to do a lot of the remodelling yourself. Just be extremely confident you’ll be able to to a good job otherwise a profession might have to come and fix your mess and end up costing you even more! (speaking from experience.. :s)) :)

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Nicole Kelly November 16, 2012 at 6:30 am

A good organized Bathroom is very essential to call your home as a good one. I get some better ideas in this post while I am searching for some planning or design of Bathroom Remodeling. Thanks for sharing.
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Repossession Information December 6, 2012 at 6:29 am

This article shows to everyone that you can completely remodel a room for very little. You don’t have to spend thousands to get a new room in your house, its the smaller things you can cut back on to save money.

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Andrew May 6, 2013 at 5:46 am

its funny how i just stumbled onto this blog, i literally just finished off my bathroom last week, grouted the tiles and cleaned it all down, gotta tell ya its come up absolutely beautiful, wish i had have done it years ago ha

Cheers

Andrew

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Brian Niskala December 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Nice tips especially for people looking to re-design their homes. I had a thought to renovate my 30 yr old home long back but was deterrent because its expensive. Your valuable points on saving costs motivates me to fulfull my dreams. Lets see how it goes :)

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Plumbers Tucson December 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm

There we need to estimate if we wanna remodel our home or bathroom. You showed a great tips on exactly what to keep in mind to save money during remodeling bathroom.
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John December 20, 2012 at 12:45 am

Hi Chris, remodeling a bathroom within a budget will help one to think in various creative ways. Buying used fixtures, toilets and showers form sites like eBay and Craigslist will be an added advantage. Hope to get more useful budget tips form you Chris.

Best Regards
John

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Bathroom Sinks December 25, 2012 at 6:45 am

I think one don\’t need to consider budget while geting remodeling of bathroom done and should only need to focus on renovation or getting best for their bathrooms

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Bathroom Renovation January 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I do not agree with you. Budget always plays a big role in everything even in remodeling a bathroom. There are not a lot of people who can spend money without having any budget. But it can be said that if you want high quality work, you should make budget a bit higher. This post itself give some ideas to cut the cost of remodeling a bathroom. :)

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tap bolts January 9, 2013 at 10:32 am

I am bookmarking your blog because I first read your article about savings for holidays that was excellent and now I read this artilce and it is too great helping cost down. thanks

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stone sculptures January 17, 2013 at 10:52 pm

That’s really very helpful to remodel the bathroom in budget. I have need this ideas. That’s really great read for me.Thanks for posting it…….

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Roger Wright February 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Great article! Everyone is looking to save many and remodeling is a good way of getting your money sucked right out of your hands. I recently worked to remodel my parents bathroom for accessibility as they grow older and there is a good price difference when your looking at accessible components IE bathtubs, sinks, toilets. Its a great Idea to do as much as possible as a DIYer, but a contractor for the major elements isn’t always a bad idea and can save money in the long run when you chose the right one. Again great article.

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kitchen remodel March 8, 2013 at 2:37 am

I admire your knowledge and your article so much. You make everything so clear and detailed. I hope you will consult for my bathroom. I am building a house, is that possible?
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Martin March 20, 2013 at 9:20 am

I certainly agree with your tips, especially with doing some of the work yourself. It really is not difficult. Things like painting, changing the flooring or cabinet repair and refinishing don’t have to be done by contractors.

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Capital Plumbing April 11, 2013 at 12:12 am

These days keeping budget low is pretty tough whether it bathroom remodeling or kitchen renovation. I’ve counted recently good amount of money to remodel my bathroom and wish I could have visit here earlier, so that these tips could have cut my budget within range. Thanks for supportive tips.
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Pest Control April 11, 2013 at 4:04 am

I’ve never thought kitchen remodeling is possible within such affordable budget. I’ve been planning to remodel my kitchen but inappropriate budget delaying my plan but this budget recommendation seems to me awesome. Thanks.
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Painter in Perth April 24, 2013 at 3:54 am

This is good article to read. You share us good information to know about remodeling and how to budget a money wisely.

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Bryan John May 9, 2013 at 7:50 am

Don’t forget about Bathroom mirrors this also creates illusions in making the bathroom wider it bounces the lights off but be careful to choose mirrors that does not take too much of the space and will not compromise the design.

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Luke Peterson May 30, 2013 at 1:58 am

I am actually planning to remodel my bathroom and am on a really tight budget. Some of the ideas you have presented here might actually help me remodel somewhat within my budget. Hence I must really thank you for your suggestions.

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jerry June 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Bathroom is important part of our home that make our home worth so it needs to be remodeled in an effective manner. And Budget is also an issue while remodeling bathroom for ROI So these point are of much value. Thanks for sharing.

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Emily Brown June 21, 2013 at 8:04 am

For bathrooms I always recommend vinyl flooring they are foot friendly and comes within budget. Even easy to renovate. Vinyl flooring comes in almost all designs. For those who want to install hardwood for their bathroom and worried that moisture will damage it; vinyl flooring comes with same appearance of hardwood.
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Steve Bewan June 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Remodeling a bathroom on budget is challenge for remodeling contractors so it is the point that should be pay attention to. I want to remodel my bathroom environment friendly can anyone tell what are the factors that should be considerable for this.

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Jaren July 4, 2013 at 7:55 am

Thanks for sharing your tips in remodeling a bathroom. If the flooring store near you have expensive products. I suggest hiring a contractor to get materials at a cheaper price.

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Solomon July 6, 2013 at 11:00 am

Hi, very helpful post. actually I was just thinking about the renovation of my bathroom. These are nice tips on saving. Thank you so much for helping me.

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Fitout Dubai July 8, 2013 at 5:39 am

Your all points are worth read but here the foremost important thing which can save much money is the picking up the right contractor because I have noticed that sometimes contractors with less knowledge create a very low level plan which leads to increase cost of plumbing and piping.

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Fred Chris July 9, 2013 at 6:08 am

this is a good article for saving money last time i have wasted much money for home improvement.shared a very good plan for home improvement before making a plan read this first. this article will help every one.

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Walk in Bath July 26, 2013 at 2:07 am

Basically, I am belonging from real estate background so know these things and yes, its very true that if you planning to sell your house and at same time if you remodeling your bathroom your room cost automatically get increases by this.

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Pool Guy July 26, 2013 at 2:49 am

Chris I just wanted to post a comment and commend you on the excellent article outlining how one can save money! It is a complete list of ways to save from top to bottom and great way to help folks save on any future projects they have! Thanks again!!!
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Vasiliki Karakatsanidis August 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Remodeling our homes,bathrooms,kitchens,bedrooms,basements, name it, it can be an ADVENTURE!!!
When we save and manage our money we can do all our home re-modelings and enjoy them.
I personally do it every year,little by little,searching for sources that give the best offers,discounts
and actually cash back too.I go to very popular stores and get the materials when they offer them
in very low prices.I make sure I get my cash back too so I can use it in my next remodeling adventure.I don’t use credit cards,no other fees,no monthly payments but I focus on ways to save
money and I achieve it very simply.What about you?
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New Orleans Plumbing Co. August 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm

You would be surprised what you can learn from videos on YouTube. There are countless videos and demonstrations that can teach you how to do many remodeling tasks, from the small to the complex. Of course, certain things should be handled by a professional, but you can save a lot of money by doing at least some of the tasks yourself.
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RS Plumbing August 7, 2013 at 10:06 am

Very effective way to save money. My friend renovated their bathroom and used some of these tips. I helped on the plumbing side so he definitely saved a bit. Should always plan and be sure that you know what your getting yourself into. Great article.

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Jeff August 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Great tips, thanks a ton! Actually my wife and I JUST started re-tiling our bathroom last week. My Cousin owns his own DIY/Handyman/Tile Repair business and helped us out in exchange for a few lunches – so that saved me a few bucks :)

Jeff

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bathroom remodeling August 16, 2013 at 3:54 am

I usually follow all this alone but i don’t know how could i do tiling work alone in bathroom,because it needs too much time and care. Thanks for sharing these excellent tips and i definitely recommend this to my friends of Maryland.

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Donald Quixote August 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Great article with a lot of good ideas…I really enjoyed the idea to rent a Uhaul to use it for the haul away of demolition materials (although I am not sure if Uhaul will appreciate that much)…it sure beats the prices of having a dumpster placed in your driveway (they also usually scrape the heck out of our driveway during pick up.

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Walk in Bath August 29, 2013 at 12:57 am

Yes, i do agree with you while you planning to sell your house that you should not only considered your about living room, bedroom,kitchen apart from this you should need to be considered about your bathroom also. This also help your to raise your selling price, because while purchasing house we considering bathroom structure, space as well.

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Aalok Lyric August 29, 2013 at 6:18 am

You can replace the old bathroom equipments to new latest one. I recently replace my bath tub and i bought it in cheaper rate from online store.

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John Bizzo September 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hope you did a great job with the remodel and hope everything went well how did you get the debri taken care of?

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Chris S September 17, 2013 at 8:44 am

I remove all the debris myself. Use my trailer or truck and haul it to the landfill.
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Walk in Shower September 20, 2013 at 12:18 am

Mostly people thinking that renovating house for the sale are fine enough but actually its not so….your bathroom remodeling also matter that also help to sale you house in high cost. Thanks for sharing budgetary article.

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Miranda September 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for these great tips! I’ve been considering remodeling my bathroom lately and I’m definitely going to bookmark this page. Even the comments are helpful :)

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Rip Mart October 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm

What an ideas of bathroom remodeling within lower budget!!! I think some task we can do own. No need of labor. If we can target this task & do some plan it will be easy to remodel bathroom in own budget. Thanks for you great tips!!!
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Kitchen Remodeling Contractors October 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I always tell people to establish a solid budget upfront with 10% margin for error. They almost always go over budget. Especially on fixtures.

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Paul October 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm

If you are remodeling, and doing some of the work yourself, it is an excellent time to think ahead to reduce the possible inconvenience or even damage from plumbing emergencies in the future. Make sure you put shutoff valves in easily accessible places. In fact, make sure you put in shutoff valves. I have seen people forget them entirely, and then have to shut off water to the whole house until they could either fix the problem or get a plumber on-scene. Maybe think about removable panels at major plumbing connections and pipe bends as well. Access is everything in plumbing work. Just a thought.

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Bath Belt October 7, 2013 at 7:26 am

Thanks for sharing such a budgetary blog. Its really nice to know that we can remodel our bathroom in low cost with the excellent manner. I will definitely considered these things.

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rubbish pod October 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

My friends recently renovated 2 of their their bathrooms and used some of your tips. I helped them with plumbing so they definitely saved a lot of money. You should always plan and be sure that you know what your getting yourself into. Great information!

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John November 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I definitely agree with you that you can save more if you will do that renovation with your own but it still best to hire a sub contractor to do the rest. I am pretty sure that the outcome will be impressive.

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Carl November 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Some great tips, the more you can do yourself the more you can spend on the fittings… I suppose it all depends on the level of skill and confidence you have in your abilities.
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Paul Morgan January 31, 2014 at 5:01 am

You had point when you said that if you can do some of the fixing then the better. We remodel our bathroom a year ago. Since I know plumbing job so I installed by myself our bathroom then I have a friend who is knowledgeable in construction. He help me on that part.

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donald quixote from general contractor blackfoot February 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

It is crazy how much you can lower the budget by just changing certain materials. I’m always blown away by how good of an option things like concrete can look as an alternative!

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home interior design February 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Rather than spending money on a new vanity try to refurbish your own. Most can be painted, but you can also try more eclectic things like tiling it or decoupaging with your favorite pictures or magazine clippings. Changing fixture makes a big impact on the over all feel of your space without costing you too much.
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Andy March 3, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Hi Chris,

Other than installing and doing somethings yourself, I believe in early planning so that you can shop for the best bargains for your bathroom. For example, things like faucets tend to be on sale in September and that is the best time to get a bargains.
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Darren Kucko April 13, 2014 at 12:52 am

These days home improvement is very expensive. The more fancier I think to enhance my home, my budget more gets fail to achieve my enhancing planning. But the bathroom remodeling ideas shared here seems like really effective. I’m excited to construct such ideas to remodel my bathroom within budget. Cheers…

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Alison April 14, 2014 at 2:49 am

Interesting point but I know nuts about bathroom remodeling and it will take me forever to do it on my own. Although I have to pay slightly more, I prefer to let the professional do the job. My point of view anyway.
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denver real estate April 16, 2014 at 2:08 am

Great post. This is another good idea everyone can get. We all know that renovation takes time and budget, specially when you are more specific with what you want to add in your bathroom, we must admit that at times our bathroom is our comfort space. Thanks for sharing.

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