Monday, June 6, 2011

Bathroom Remodel: Cents and Sensibility

So… I have spent the weekend trying to decide how to write this post. Whenever you talk renovation, the very first—and most frequently repeated—conversation has to do with money. Which it’s not nice to talk about.

So many of us live with major problem areas in our homes, and spend a lot of time dreaming about “someday.” And because of costs, someday often never arrives. An average bathroom remodel on the scale of ours generally runs around $20,000. So I am going to break the taboo here, and talk real dollars and cents, to let you know how we did a major, major bathroom renovation for right around $10,000. Settle in with a cup of coffee and read all about how we did it.

We really wanted to end up with a high-end look, and so we decided to dedicate a third of the budget to fixtures and finishes. Another third went to the plumber, and a third to the carpenter. We did end up going over budget by about 25% due to unexpected things that arose during construction, as well as my own first-time mistakes.

Here’s how the spending shakes out.
The tub was our single biggest expense other than labor. I really wanted an apron-front or claw-foot tub for this space. When Rachel from Southern Exposure revealed her master bathroom remodel last year, I was instantly smitten with her tub. We emailed back and forth about her experiences with the Acrastone (a fiberglass material that is about 10% the weight of cast iron) and the company. She ordered her tub through a third-party big box store, so that in case something was wrong with the tub, someone else could handle the return.

After spending a whole lot of time looking around the American Bath Company website, I decided to go out on a big limb, order directly from them, AND choose a style from the Clearance Center on their website. Because of costs, we opted not to do a separate tub and shower, and so a claw-foot tub with a circular shower curtain bar was our only option. We ordered a first-quality discontinued tub with all fixtures, drain and curtain bar for around 70% off retail. The tub was delivered in an incredibly well-packed pallet-wrap via flatbed truck FOR FREE! I opted not to pay for liftgate service, and the delivery man actually both used the liftgate for us, and got the tub up our driveway on a dolly anyway. We checked it THOROUGHLY before signing off on the delivery, and Adam and I got it upstairs by ourselves (that was comical. In retrospect, at least.)

Here is the tub sitting in my living room, waiting to go upstairs!

For the sinks and toilet, I knew I wanted TOTO, and found the best prices at National Builder’s Supply. I also ordered our faucets from them. They offer free shipping on all orders over $100, and the packages were shipped via direct freight. Their customer service has been exceptional. We ended up saving about 40% over retail by buying these items online.

Word to the wise—check, double check, and then triple-check that you have ordered everything in the same color finish, and that your sink hole configuration matches the faucets you have chosen. You DO NOT want to discover mid-job that you accidently ordered 3-hole faucets and 1-hole sinks. Especially when the only decent-looking one-hole faucets in your price range are on back-order for 2 weeks. It sounds like an easy mistake to avoid, but when you are trying to coordinate a millon little things in an order, it's a detail that can (apparently) be overlooked.  Harumph.

Whoops.  My bedroom ceiling was the casualty of mis-routed pipes that "exploded" when disconnected.  Cha-ching.
My original plan was to use the existing hardwood floors, painted with porch paint (they were covered by a layer of plywood and a layer of peel and stick vinyl tile.) However, in order to do all the plumbing, most of the floor had to be removed. We had the carpenter put down hardibacker, and then chose tile. We decided to go with a simple hexagonal sheet tile made by Dal-tile for the floors. By purchasing our tile from Home Depot instead of directly from Dal-tile, we saved 50%. My handy husband rented a tile saw for $70 for the weekend and set, grouted and sealed the tile himself. It looks outstanding. I honestly didn’t price out labor on tile, but I think we probably saved between $1500-$2000 by doing it ourselves.

For the walls—because of the placement of the tub, we would have had to tile the ENTIRE bathroom to about 4 ½ feet from the floor. NO WAY that was in the budget—wall tile is much, much harder to get straight than floor tile, and we would have had to pay for a professional tile job, plus the cost of allllllll that tile. Thousands and thousands of dollars. Our solution was to have our carpenter panel the entire room in 1x4 inch pine boards, following a picture I printed off of a blog for him. He then painted the entire paneled section—boards and drywall—with a high-gloss white paint. It looks pretty good, and very in keeping with the style of our house (a 1930’s Cape Cod.)

The mirrors and sconces are a major feature in the room—I wanted something memorable, a little bit sparkly and romantic to match the tub. I chose to order the oval Atoll mirrors from Ballard Designs, which were on sale for 20% off when I ordered them. The sconces are from World’s Away, and I got them for cost from a local interior design shop.

We opted not to build in a linen closet, but will use furniture pieces for storage in the bath, as it is designed to look more like a “room with a tub” than a “bathroom.” I am on the hunt for some cool, narrow shelving—how I would love to find some industrial shelves with reclaimed lumber planking. I’m also adding a small cabinet for counter space near the sink, and am on the hunt for a round or octagonal ottoman which I will upholster in terrycloth and place next to the tub.
We had originally budged $3000 for fixtures and finishes. We had a few hundred dollars of overages in fixtures, mostly due to me ordering the wrong thing in the first place. Because our bathroom is upstairs, and we had to move all existing lines and add two new lines for sinks, our plumbing bill was not cheap-- $2500. Our carpentry is where we had the most overages—our original estimate was for $2400. Our final bill—for demolition, removing three layers of flooring, including a hardwood floor—and reframing the entire room, including insulation and drywall, came to just under $4000. This is still a very good deal-- we used a guy who has done a lot of work for us in the past.  I'm afraid he was in a little over his head with such a big project, and that led to some problems along the way.  We saved about 20% of the entire job by acting as our own contractor—however, the cost to my sanity and goodwill that came from this decision cannot be measured.

Would I do it again? Humph. I guess so, because doing things this way is the only way I could get the look I wanted for the price I could afford. But it has been a long, loud, messy, frustrating process, and one I am not sad to see the tail end of.
a teeny little sneak into what the finished room will look like

We are STILL waiting on a screw—the one that holds the overflow drain onto the tub face, which in turn holds floor drain to the tub—to arrive from California. It was either not included in our original packaging, or, more likely, was lost when the plumbing parts were unpacked (I didn’t do this myself. I should have.) Once it arrives, we will be able to install the tub, and the plumber has been waiting to finish installing the other fixtures so that he can do it all in one trip. Come heck or high water, I SHOULD have some after pictures for you this week!


dana said...

Love the depth of this post and the detail provided. Nice job!

Joy said...

Sounds like an awesome deal on the tub! I love all the fixtures you picked. I can't wait to see it all pulled together. :)

Rene said...

Thank you for the links and advice. Will definitely bookmark for future reference. From what I see, your bathroom is beautiful!

Lacey said...

amazing! love the tub, and the tile is SO great--maybe better than painted floors?! and sturdier, i'd imagine.

for the love of a house said...

love this post and can't wait to see the finished bath. you have done an amazing job and at a great price. love, love the tub!
When I was designing the master bath I had designed it with the same hexagon cararra marble tiles that I used in the half bath and the showers.... until I found out the cost:O. I then made the decision to go with wood, and now realize how "wrong" (even if I had been able to afford it) it would have been to have that space with marble. In another house, maybe- but here it would have looked wrong.
Sooo sorry about the ceiling...not fun. And, yes, you will do it again in time;);) It is one of those things where the memory of the pain fades and all you see is the beauty of your hardwork (like childbirth they say;)


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