When my wife and I bought our house in the summer of 2001 it was in pretty good shape. the only things that needed updating were the kitchen sink (which was indescribably ugly), and the upstairs bathroom which was functional, but also in no danger of winning any beauty awards. Almost sixteen years later that kitchen sink is still ugly, and we just recently finished the upstairs bathroom. No one can accuse us of knee-jerking into a reno before we’re ready.
Do It Yourself
We chose a DIY option for the bathroom for two reasons. One, because both my wife and I love the challenge of doing something ourselves and being able to stand back and take pride in what we’ve accomplished. And two, you can save a lot of money doing it yourself. I know a DIY option isn’t right for everyone, but I also believe that with some determination, effort, research, and common sense, most people are more DIY capable than the HGTV producers would have you believe. We decided to leave the existing tub enclosure, but to update it by simply adding some higher end fixtures. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and we felt the rest of our vision could be built around it. Also, we didn’t move anything (sink, toilet, lighting), which makes the plumbing and electrical MUCH simpler.
Want to ensure a more difficult and expensive bathroom reno for yourself? Move the toilet.
The Nitty Gritty
After removing everything but the tub (again, pop on some higher end fixtures and there was nothing wrong with it), we started ripping the bathroom apart. We even ripped out both layers of vinyl flooring that was covering the subfloor. We scrubbed the ceiling. We painstakingly fixed any flaws in the drywall.
Once that was done, we started painting. I’m a bit of a weirdo because I actually enjoy painting. I’m careful taping whatever needs to be taped (reno tip: when it doubt, just tape it!), and just taking my time rolling the paint on. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Nothing transforms a room as inexpensively or as easily as a well chosen can of paint.
We chose a premium mold resistant satin paint for the ceiling, and a Home Depot satin kitchen and bathroom paint for the walls. We ended up painting them four times, twice in one colour, and then twice again after we decided to change the colour.
Down To The Last Tile
For the floors we opted to go with a porcelain tile floor with a radiant heating system. I had a tile guy give me a price on installing this for me and I was quoted at $4,600. It’s a small bathroom and only about 45 square feet. He said he would need to sub-contract the electrical and that the heating system required some specialized training. I get that, but there was no way I was paying close to five grand just to keep my feet warm while brushing my teeth.
After chatting with the guys at my local Home Depot, I did some homework, spent some time on YouTube and decided to try and do it myself. Like much else in life, it wasn’t nearly as hard as it sounded. I rented a wet saw to cut the tile and set it up in the basement. I walked up and down the stairs a lot, which was a bit of a pain (but I can’t deny that I needed the exercise). I did the electrical work myself and had a licensed electrician come in and inspect my work before we turned it on. Total cost of my awesome heated floor system? $625. I saved nearly $4,000 simply by doing it myself.
We went with a stock vanity and granite countertop from a big box store instead of going with a custom option. We bought them, along with our new toilet, for half off during boxing week sales.
The Grand Total
New faucets, a mirror, lighting, medicine cabinet, fixtures, and trim were done. Total time to complete the renovation was three weeks. We’ll skip the number of f-bombs dropped during those three weeks (somewhere north of 700). Temperature of my bathroom floor as I brush my teeth? 76 degrees fahrenheit.
Total cost for our DYI renovation? $3,200.
DYI isn’t for everyone, but there is some real money to be saved by tackling some things yourself. There are a ton of great resources out there, and with some patience and common sense, you just might surprise yourself.