How Much Does A Bathroom Renovation Cost?
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
Have you ever had the luck of getting a blocked drain? At night? On a holiday?
How about replacing that rotting deck out back? Or the sketchy steps out front? Perhaps overhauling the "retro-vintage" grandma-pink guest bathroom?
If so, you might be familiar with the cost of renovations.
If you haven't dealt with this yet, you might be in the market for a renovation project. Or, you might be curious how much to budget as you dream of a new home. As you shop around for prices, you realize that they're a little bit all-over-the-place. And none of it is cheap.
You've asked around, and found wildly varying prices. Google gave you a few sites, one told you "a bathroom renovation can cost $1,500-$50,000" (gee, thanks for narrowing it down!)
Another site said the average is $25,000.
Your friend Janice told you she paid $45K for her en-suite (don't blame her, she's the product of her C-Suite Executive lifestyle). Meanwhile, your buddy "knows a guy" and got his bathroom renovation for "$7K but I bought all my own material" (he didn't mention that the caulking around the tub looks like it was installed by my 3 year old niece... while wearing a blindfold).
The more you look into it, the less you understand the discrepancies. Let's break it down.
How Much Should A Renovation Cost?
The real answer? It depends. (I know, cue the eye-roll, right?)
A variety of factors come into play when pricing your renovation. There is a long list of products that go into your bathroom renovation. These are physical items like the pipes that end up under your floor, to the studs in the walls, the tiles in the shower and even the protective paper that your contractor lays down in the hallway to make sure your floor stays clean and damage-free.
There is an even longer list of tasks. These are all the individual steps your contractor will need to take to get your bathroom from drab to fab, and make sure it lasts for years to come.
How Do Contractors Calculate Cost?
Before delivering a price, your contractor will need to meticulously calculate every single item that will go into your renovation project. Every screw, every fitting, every tile. All of it.
Then, they'll need to rely on experience to calculate how long it will take. As if that wasn't enough, they'll also need to use their x-ray vision.
Ok, you got me on the last one. Contractors don't have x-ray vision. At least, not that we're allowed to discuss publicly. (We're sworn to secrecy pursuant article X2.3.2-a in the building code.)
We rely on years of experience to make educated guesses and extrapolations about what we might find behind the walls and under the floors. Sketchy plumbing, canceled vents, water leaks, missing insulation, insufficient support, hidden electrical junctions. It's all par for the course.
"But My Contractor Said There Shouldn't Be Any Issues!"
Often, the guy who comes in with the lowest quote will usually do one of two things:
1-Be shocked and surprised when he finds these issues, and require you pay him more money to fix them. (He's in your home, you've paid him a deposit, and he's already ripped open your walls... you're basically a hostage in your own home!)
or, the (arguably worse) second option:
2- He pretends he never saw them and buries them; covers them up. (This exposes you to real liability down the road!)
I've been working in residential renovations for almost 20 years. I have never participated in a renovation project where we didn't uncover a hidden problem behind a wall, ceiling or floor. Sometimes, it's hiding in plain sight. Like improper wiring in your 3-way light switch, or an overloaded junction box behind your ceiling light with sketchy connections in it. Maybe even that retro-looking Federal Pioneer electrical panel lurking threateningly in your garage.
What Affects The Price?
Get ready to cue the eyeroll again. Want to know what affects your price? Everything. Literally everything.
Do you have a driveway for the dumpster? If you need to place the dumpster on the street, you'll have to pull a permit for parking it on a public roadway. And the city isn't shy when it comes to racking up fees for this.
When was your house built? Is your house built before 1990? Before 1940? Different eras
used different methods and materials.
Typically, the older it is, the more challenging it will be to demolish or deconstruct (especially if you will be doing targeted or "tactical" deconstruction).
Is the project on the ground floor?
Third floor? Is there enough space for all the tools and material to be stored safely adjacent to where the work will take place? If your contractor needs to walk down two flights of stairs, exit the front door and walk to your garage to get the materials, it will add time.
Will you be living in the home? If so, the contractor will need to take extra precautions to ensure that there's no dust getting into your living space, and no dangers for you and your family throughout the project.
Renovating or reinventing? Hate the layout of your kitchen and want to put the sink on the other side of the room under the window? It can be done! But it will represent an increase in cost versus putting a new sink where the old one was.
UGH! What About Materials?
By this point I'm sure you've already guessed that different materials will affect the cost of labour.
For example, a small 3"x6" subway tile can have many factors that will affect the installation cost. Ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles, natural stone, glass accent tiles, they all have different requirements. From how they're handled and applied, to how they're cut and installed, and even how they're grouted. For example, some natural stone tiles will need to be sealed before grouting.
A smaller tile might cost less at a store but require more labour to install, and require more grout (which means more labour).
I've installed $100 toilets that take an hour to assemble, $300 toilets that come assembled and get installed in about 30 minutes, and $3000 toilets that required a dedicated circuit to be run from the 3rd floor on one end of the house to the basement at the other end of the house. (But it warms your butt cheeks and gives you a rinse... and a dry!)
So How Will I Know?
I wish I could give you a ballpark. A price per square foot. A range. I wish I could tell you that a bathroom gut starts at $13,000. The reality of it, unfortunately, is that all the nuances from location to materials to access to age of the home affect the price.
In my particular market, the average cost to renovate a 3-piece bathroom without moving anything around is around $20-25,000. That said, I've done some for less than $20K, and I've done bathrooms of the same size for over $25K. The variables, like access, age of the construction, permits, design and finishes can generate a broad spectrum of price variances.
Seeing as there are so many variables involved in any renovation, your best bet is to contact a licensed contractor.
The internet can be misleading with pricing. It depends on when the site was published, where the author is from, and what the intention of the author is. If someone is trying to sell you a referral service, it's in their interest to rope you in with low prices.
If their intent is to sell you an alternative to renovations, then it may be in their interest to inflate the prices. Think: companies that put an acrylic tub over your old tub "in one day!" The issue here, is no one is addressing the plumbing behind the wall that's likely due to be changed. And if they make "adjustments" on the plumbing, chances are the work isn't being carried out by a licensed plumber (which means liability for you.)
All told, the only way to get a price for your renovation is to really get a price for YOUR renovation.
How Do I Get A Price?
Ask trusted friends and family, ask your neighbors, and reach out to a few licensed contractors, or general contractors. After gathering some information about your home and what you would like to do, they should be able to either provide you with a ballpark estimate, or price range.
If you have a budget and are ready to move forward with your project, they'd gladly provide a proper estimate to let you know how much it would cost to make your dreams a reality.
If you're ever unsure about how to go about it, please feel free to reach out to us and we'd be happy to help you out!
Montreal Contractors is a qualified company, holding an active bonded license as a General Contractor and Specialized Contractor with the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec (RBQ License: 5767-5480-01), ASP Health & Safety Certification and a $2M liability policy. Our employees have all passed background checks, are registered with CNESST and have their ASP Health and Safety certification.