Billdr's complete guide to bathroom renovation

Renovating a bathroom often involves a lot more than just updating the fixtures. Depending on the age of your home, a renovation can quickly turn into a rebuild. Bathrooms that suffer from poor (or no) ventilation might very well harbor mold and it’s not uncommon to demo your shower walls and find that your bathroom’s wood structure has succumbed to many years of wet, humid conditions.

While it’s important to choose your materials — shower, bath, toilet, sink, lights etc — before taking a sledgehammer to your dated ceramic floors, you’ll also need to work with your general contractor to determine what more structural upgrades need to get done to ensure that when you finally settle in for that long-awaited bath in your new freestanding tub, you can be confident that your subfloor is in good shape and can support its weight.

This guide will help you decipher the different steps of a bathroom renovation from potential costs to important things you need to take into consideration. We’ll use an average-sized 5x8 three-piece bathroom with combined shower/tub, toilet and single sink as our baseline. We’ll also assume that for this baseline, plumbing fixtures don’t move and all materials are in-stock from a big box or bathroom specialty retailer.

Bathroom renovation. Photo provided by a Billdr certified contractor.
Bathroom renovation. Photo provided by a Billdr certified contractor.

How much does a bathroom renovation cost

The average materials and labour cost for a turnkey renovation of a typical bathroom is between $15,000 and $30,000. But this price varies greatly depending on the extent of the renovation.

The different factors that impact the cost of a bathroom renovation:

  1. Custom vanity: +20 %
  2. Upgrading in-wall plumbing: +15%
  3. Changing location of toilet: +20%
  4. Changing location of a vanity: +10%
  5. Upgrading to a double vanity: +10%
  6. Tile-in shower with tiled base: +40%
  7. Tile-in shower with pre-fabricated base: +10%
  8. Installing a freestanding bath: +10%
  9. Reinforcing your bathroom’s subfloor: +5%
  10. Installing new ventilation: +5%
  11. Painting the bathroom yourself: -10%
  12. Leaving existing toilet in place: -5%

How long does a bathroom renovation take?

The timeline for a bathroom renovation depends on the scope of work. In any well-managed renovation, all materials will be on site before the renovation begins to avoid any delays. This means speaking with your contractor and designer, if applicable, and ensuring you have enough lead time to get that imported tile you’ve been eyeing. Same goes for any permits you might need.
Taking that into account, the average time to renovate a typical bathroom varies between 2-3 weeks
The different factors that impact the amount of time it takes to renovate a bathroom:

  1. Changing in-wall plumbing: +2 days
  2. Changing the location of a toilet: +1 day
  3. Changing the location of a vanity: +1 day
  4. Installing a separate shower/bath: +4 days
  5. Opting to tile walls: +5 days
  6. Reinforcing your bathroom’s subfloor: +2 days
Bathroom renovation. Photo provided by a Billdr certified contractor.
Bathroom renovation. Photo provided by a Billdr certified contractor.

Bathroom renovation vs bathroom addition

What happens if you want to build a completely new bathroom like in your basement or as an ensuite? That goes beyond a simple renovation and there are additional factors to consider.

To build our baseline bathroom in the basement, the average cost is between $20,000 and $35,000 and can take between two and four weeks. This assumes that plumbing in the basement does not need to be re-graded (in other words a plumber can tap into your existing drainage).

A qualified contractor will be able to best advise you on these factors based on your particular set-up, but these are the major questions you will need to answer to help determine both the cost and timeline of a new bathroom build.

Consult with your plumber early to understand how your desired bathroom location will or will not work with whatever existing plumbed spaces you already have in your home. For instance, if you are adding a second-storey bathroom that is not directly above the existing one on the ground floor, how will your new toilet drain feed into your existing one? You may need to carve out more space in your basement for new plumbing infrastructure. Also, expect other parts in your home to be disturbed as the plumber and electrician will need to run new water and electrical lines through your walls and ceilings.

Important questions to ask your contractor

How does adding a bathroom impact your existing space?

  1. Do you need to alter any structural elements to make space for your new bathroom?
  2. Do you need to run a new plumbing stack to accommodate the new bathroom?
  3. Do you need additional permits to install a new bathroom?

The value of a bathroom renovation

According to the RE/MAX 2021 Renovation Investment Report, the average recoverable cost of a bathroom renovation, or the amount you recoup for every dollar spent, is 62 percent. But there are other reasons to renovate your bathroom including:

  1. To create a more comfortable and modern space.
  2. Upgrade to more energy and water-saving fixtures.
  3. Fix and get rid of any potential mold in the wet areas.
  4. Match your bathroom’s aesthetics to the rest of your house.
  5. Install fixtures that will make your bathroom more user-friendly and accessible as you age.
  6. Bring spa-like amenities to your home

What to look for in a contractor for your bathroom renovation

All Billdr contractors are vetted by our expert team so you know that you are getting someone reliable to work on your bathroom renovation. But when it comes time to select from your different bids, make sure you take the following into account:

  1. Do you and the contractor have the same overall vision for your bathroom renovation?
  2. Do you like the contractor’s communication style?
  3. Do you feel your contractor is being transparent with regards to pricing?
  4. Is the contractor willing to work with your budget and suggest cost-saving alternatives?
  5. Is the contractor up front about the scope of your renovation based on your budget?
  6. Does the contractor’s availability and timeline meet your needs?
  7. Do you like the contractor’s material samples and portfolio of past projects?

Billdr’s tips

  1. Determine the length of any interruptions to your water supply and plan for them accordingly with your plumber and contractor.
  2. Figure out if you can live in your home during the renovation. If you are renovating your only bathroom, it might be best to relocate.
  3. Make sure there is space in your home to store all the construction and renovation material to avoid transporting them on-site every day.
  4. Work with a trusted contractor
  5. Check with your municipality if you need a building permit ahead of time. They are required for new bathroom builds and often required if you plan to relocate existing plumbing fixtures.

Not ready yet?

Plan your home renovations with our cost estimators for different spaces.

Ready to get started?