In addition to underestimating the budget, Cutler believes that DIY’ers also get carried away with all of the various options: “We have all been there in the plumbing showroom looking at all those amazing options: Body sprays, steam, heated floors, and even talking toilets, but they all come at a cost.”
And sometimes, he says, there’s a tendency to blow your budget on these features and then end up not using them a few months later. “Before committing to these toys, take a few visits to high-end spas and try some of them out to see if it is something that will fit into your lifestyle,” Cutler advises.
Every year, cool new bathroom features and gadgets enter the market. Cutler points out that a bathroom remodel is one of the most expensive projects, so you should try to make it as timeless as possible. As he further explains, “Our rule of thumb is to make the bigger, more permanent items more classic, and then with things that are easier to change out—think wallpaper, light fixtures—make them more trendy.” This will allow you to have a bathroom that won’t need to be remodeled again for another five years or so.
Some renovations are like giving your bathroom a facelift, while others are like performing major surgery. “Changing the location of major water and waste systems is akin to major surgery,” says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations at Power Home Remodeling in Chester, Pennsylvania. “Your plumbing and electrical systems are already in place, and there are many complex steps involved in moving them around,” he adds. “It requires gutting everything in your bathroom, rerouting water and waste lines, and making sure all attachments are connected and sealed properly.”
DiMartino recommends keeping the tub, toilet, and sink exactly where they are because “you can swap them with updated models, but once you start envisioning your toilet where your sink used to be, call a contractor.”
Although there are many bathroom projects that you may be able to handle, Wynter warns against trying to tackle the task of bathroom plumbing. “Many DIY’ers overestimate their skill and underestimate the difficulty, often venturing into life-threatening areas,” she says. “Attempting to move or relocate plumbing pipes or drains is serious business as sewer gasses need to be vented correctly in order to prevent inadvertent poisoning.” DiMartino agrees that it’s far easier and less risky to hire a plumber for a few days of work than attempting a few weeks on your own—and you might end up having to call in a plumber for an emergency fix anyway.
You may be tempted to save money by installing bathroom tile on top of existing tile or wood panels, but DiMartino believes that’s a huge mistake. As he further explains, “In a room prone to moisture buildup, the tile must be laid down on top of a cement surface, or you risk the tile buckling and cracking.”
When it’s time to finally lay down the tile, he says that you need to start in the center of the room and work your way to the edges while ensuring everything remains level. “It’s also helpful as it prevents you from walking on the new flooring, which will depress your tiles,” he adds. The final step is grouting and sealing the grout. According to DiMartino, “Tiling is a four-day project that involves a lot of steps, but it’s critical you implement each one, or you’ll have major problems down the road.”
Wall-mounted faucets are beautiful to look at, and they can also save space—something that is vitally important in a smaller bathroom. However, Goli Karimi, director of design at CarbonShack, warns that failing to properly plan can result in the spout being too high or too low. “You need to carefully determine the distance from the tip of the spout (where water comes out), relative to the sink top, and not necessarily the centerline of the rough valves in the wall.”