Renovating a bathroom can significantly enhance the comfort and value of a home. In Canada, homeowners contemplating a bathroom renovation often focus on creating a space that reflects their personal style and meets their needs.
An example of this would be if you're single, you may find little value in a double sink. Whereas if you're married, a double sink and potentially even a bigger shower can be a huge plus.
However, many are terrified to even begin to think of the cost of a bathroom remodel. Bathroom renovation costs are among the highest in terms of remodelling projects you can take on in your home, and it's very important to understand the costs before you begin.
On average, how much are the average bathroom remodel costs
The cost of a new bathroom is influenced by various factors, including the size of the bathroom, the quality of materials, and the complexity of the work.
Bathroom project costs in Canada can range from $7,500 to $19,000, although this figure can fluctuate based on the scope and scale of the renovation, along with the estimates given by your contractors.
For a small bathroom remodel, like half baths, expenses tend to be lower, with costs averaging $3,931 for fixtures, which includes tubs, lights, showers, sinks, etc, while labour can cost around $100 per square foot.
The choice of a licensed professional versus a DIY project can affect labour rates, which can range from $65 to $144 per hour.
Meanwhile, larger bathrooms will generally require more materials and increased labour, thereby elevating overall costs.
Why you should be taking these average costs with a grain of salt
While these numbers provide a baseline, the final cost of a renovation can vary widely. Homeowners must consider their own specific wants and needs—from the choice of a simple vanity upgrade to a complete overhaul.
Each decision, whether it’s selecting high-end finishes or making structural changes like moving plumbing, will contribute significantly to the total costs. Therefore, a clear understanding of renovation costs is crucial to planning a budget.
This article is going to tackle all of that. Let's start with the planning.
Planning your renovation budget
When embarking on a renovation, understanding budget allocation is key. From labour costs to installation costs to simply the materials, every aspect requires careful planning if you're going to come to a total project cost that suits your budget.
Blow through your budget, and you may end up sitting at a loss in terms of your renovation when you sell. Or even worse, you'll have to start cutting corners or trimming back costs and have a subpar renovation in the end.
Why bathrooms are expensive to remodel
Bathrooms are typically more costly to remodel due to the need for specialized plumbing, electrical, and tile work. They often require waterproofing measures, high-quality moisture-resistant materials, and skilled labour which can drive up the total cost.
Additionally, because bathrooms are a focal point in homes, many choose custom designs and finishes that can be expensive.
Because of the expensive cost of plumbing fixtures, tilework, countertops, and cabinets, bathroom renovations come in much higher than, say, a bedroom renovation.
What should you be budgeting for a bathroom renovation?
The average bathroom remodel in Canada costs around $13,393, with a common range between $7,500 and $19,000. A realistic budget for a bathroom remodel should account for the size and scope of the project—from a basic update with essential fixtures to a luxury renovation with high-end finishes.
To budget realistically, homeowners should consider both the desired materials and complexity of the construction and design. Obviously, square footage will play a large factor as well.
- Small to Medium-sized Bathroom: $4,587 - $9,174
- Large or Master Bathroom: at least $17,000
How much is materials and how much is labour?
Allocating a renovation budget requires an understanding of both materials and labour costs. Generally, a substantial portion of the budget will go towards buying materials, especially in a bathroom.
Labour costs, meanwhile, can include fees for demolition, construction, and the installation of plumbing and electrical systems. The ratio of material to labour costs often looks like this:
- Materials: 60%
- Labour: 40%
However, these percentages can vary significantly based on the choices made regarding finishes and complexity.
Modifying the layout instead of a simple renovation will increase costs
Altering the existing layout of a bathroom can be expensive, as it typically involves extensive plumbing and electrical work.
Moving fixtures such as the toilet, sink, or bathtub is not only a matter of construction but also involves behind-the-scenes infrastructure. This can include the rerouting of pipes and wires, adding significantly to the renovation costs.
Expenses to consider that you may not think of
In planning the renovation budget, it is important to account for additional expenses that are beyond the basic materials and labour. These can include:
- Permits: Required for most structural, electrical, and plumbing changes.
- Disposal of Waste: Costs to remove and dispose of old fixtures and materials.
- Unexpected Issues: Budget for unforeseen complications, like mold, mildew, or structural damage.
- Hidden Damages: Water damage behind the scenes you may have not noticed when your old bathroom was complete may result in added costs.
Homeowners should also consider adding a contingency of approximately 10-20% of the overall budget for any unexpected expenses that may arise.
The order you should follow with renovating a bathroom
Renovating a bathroom should follow a specific order to ensure that the job is done correctly at the lowest costs possible
- Demolition - Removal of old fixtures and tiles.
- Plumbing and Electrical - Essential for layouts involving repositioned fixtures.
- Framing and Drywall - Preparation of walls and layout.
- Painting - Before fixtures are installed to simplify the process.
- Tile and Flooring - Once walls are complete, for a cleaner installation.
- Fixtures - The final touches, including the toilet, sink, and shower/bath.
Can you remodel a bathroom on a weekend?
A complete bathroom remodel typically cannot be achieved in a single weekend. I cannot imagine there would be enough time in the day over the course of a weekend to do what needs to be done.
Even simple things like mudding and taping, painting, and tile setting will require an allocated amount of time to try and cure to be ready for completion.
Minor updates, such as painting or replacing fixtures, may be possible but any extensive renovation requiring plumbing or electrical changes will need more time.
Cost breakdown of renovation elements
When considering a renovation, understanding the individual cost elements is crucial for budgeting and planning. This breakdown will examine the expenses associated with key components ranging from fixtures to flooring.
What costs the most with a bathroom renovation?
Typically, the most expensive part of a bathroom renovation is the actual labour to do the job, which can account for up to 60% of the total cost.
Among the fixtures and fittings, however, the bathtub or tile shower tends to be one of the more costly items, especially if opting for a luxury or custom model. The choice of materials and the complexity of the installation can significantly affect the price.
Prices for various fixtures
The cost of fixtures like toilets, sinks, and showers varies widely based on the quality, brand, and design. For example:
- Toilets: $150 - $600
- Sinks: $100 - $2,000
- Showers: $300 - $3,000 (excluding tiling and installation)
- Lights: $15-$30 for potlights.$100-$500 for bathroom vanity lights
Estimating tiling and flooring costs
Flooring and tile costs fluctuate depending on the material selection. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are popular for their durability and can range from $5 to $15 per square foot, while luxury materials like marble may cost upwards of $20 per square foot.
I know when we were originally building our home, we were looking into expensive tile for our shower and some of them were upwards of 5x the cost of ceramic. It was something we simply couldn't afford.
Evaluating cabinets, countertops, and vanity expenses
Cabinetry and vanities serve as the cornerstone of bathroom storage. Depending on the material, size, and customization:
- Vanities: from $500 for standard models to several thousand for custom builds
- Cabinetry: can add an additional $1,000 to $10,000 to the renovation cost
- Countertop: Depends heavily on the material. Granite, marble, quartz, laminate, etc. Expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $150 a square foot
When we built our house, I opted for quartz over granite, even though I do like the style of granite much more. The cheaper element of quartz, while offering the same look, was definitely too appealing to pass up.
Quick tips to make your renovation cheaper
- Refinishing existing components like the bathtub or sink instead of replacing them
- Choosing mid-range fixtures and fittings that offer durability without the luxury price tag
- Comparing quotes from different contractors to ensure competitive pricing for labour
Material choice and how they impact costs
When renovating a bathroom, the materials chosen for finishes and features play a significant role in the overall costs. In fact, it is the largest deciding factor.
Variances in price can be substantial between natural stone and engineered materials, and considerations regarding the longevity of these materials can affect both upfront cost and long-term value.
Natural stone versus engineered materials for your counters
Natural stone, such as marble and granite, brings an undeniable luxury and uniqueness to bathroom surfaces, with each piece offering a truly unique pattern.
However, this elegance comes at a higher price, with marble typically ranging from $40 to $100 per square foot.
Granite, known for its durability, also falls within a similar price bracket but can vary based on rarity and colour.
In contrast, engineered stone is a cost-effective alternative to natural stone. Materials like quartz composite offer a similar aesthetic at a lower price point, usually between $35 to $70 per square foot. As mentioned above, this is what I chose for a countertop for my home, and I love it.
Similarly, porcelain and ceramic tiles are popular choices for bathrooms due to their versatility and lower cost, often seen in the range of $5 to $20 per square foot.
Make sure you consider the longevity of your materials
Longevity plays a pivotal role in selecting materials, influencing both cost and maintenance. Natural stones, while sturdy, require regular sealing and maintenance to preserve their condition. For example, marble is prone to scratching and staining if not properly maintained, which can lead to higher long-term costs.
On the other hand, engineered materials like porcelain are lauded for their low maintenance requirements and durability, making them a cost-effective choice over time.
Porcelain tiles are especially resistant to moisture, chips, and scratches, lengthening their lifespan and providing consistent performance with minimal upkeep.
Similarly, engineered quartz, due to its non-porous nature, does not require sealing and is resistant to stains, offering both practicality and longevity.
In terms of wood and glass, these materials tend to fall into a moderate price range but will vary depending on the quality and treatment of the product. Glass tiles can give a modern look and easy-to-clean surface, with prices often between $20 to $50 per square foot.
Wood, while warmer and inviting, must be well-sealed and maintained to prevent water damage, potentially increasing its lifetime cost.
Selecting the right contractor for your job (if you hire one)
Do your research when it comes to contractors
Employing a licensed professional for a bathroom remodel isn't just a matter of ensuring quality workmanship; it's about legality and safety, too. Licensed professionals, such as a plumber or an electrician, are required to adhere to Canadian building codes and standards.
Yes, you can pull a homeowners permit and do the work yourself, at least here in Alberta. However, if you're hiring out, just make sure who you're hiring is qualified. I've known some family members who have been burnt significantly as a result of hiring contractors that were cheap but very poor.
Should you do your bathroom renovation by yourself?
The possibility of reducing costs by taking on a bathroom remodel project oneself can be tempting, but one must consider their skill level and understanding of the intricacies involved.
For example, I've been handy enough to do my own electrical, framing, drywalling, and plumbing in the past. However, I've tried to do my own mudding and taping and it's been a disaster, so I outsource it.
While simple cosmetic updates may be manageable, tasks requiring advanced work should be handled by a licensed professional. In the long run, hiring the right contractor might save money by preventing costly mistakes and ensuring the job is done correctly the first time.
How much will labour truly cost?
Bathroom renovations involve a variety of skilled tradespeople whose costs can significantly affect a project's budget.
The cost of professional labour
Labour costs in bathroom renovations cover a range of specialized skills. In Canada, for a typical bathroom project, one can anticipate labour to be a significant part of the overall expense.
Professionals such as plumbers and electricians may charge anywhere from $65 to $144 per hour, informed by factors like location, experience, and the complexity of the job. In this day and age, however, it's becoming more and more unlikely to ever see a contractor in the plumbing or electrical trade charge under $90 an hour.
Plumbing and electrical work require licensed professionals due to the safety and regulatory standards involved, so they can often charge more.
For tiling and painting, costs vary based on the size of the bathroom and the materials used. Tiling can be particularly intricate and labour-intensive, especially if the design includes detailed patterns or the use of high-end materials.
Construction labour for tasks such as demolition and carpentry requires different skill sets, and costs may be calculated by the hour or by the project. They're generally cheaper than skilled trades.
Is a DIY bathroom remodel worth it?
Undertaking a bathroom remodel as a DIY project may initially seem like a cost-saving endeavour. However, bathroom renovations can be complex, involving plumbing, electrical work, and tiling that typically require specialized skills and tools.
The cost-effectiveness of doing it oneself should be weighed against the risks of potential mistakes and longer project timelines. For tasks like painting, though, DIY might be a viable way to reduce costs if one has the necessary skills and experience.
Overall, if you renovate your own bathroom and do a poor job at it, you're ultimately going to cost yourself, not save money.
Common questions when it comes to bathroom renos
When should you renovate a bathroom?
Homeowners typically consider bathroom renovations when existing fixtures become outdated or when the functionality of the space no longer meets their needs.
It's advisable to renovate when the costs of constant repairs outweigh those of a full upgrade. Timing the renovation can also follow with the life cycle of the home's components — for instance, when the waterproofing sealant grows old.
Is the bathroom the best room to renovate first?
In the realm of home improvement, the bathroom often yields a higher return on investment compared to many other areas. Given how frequently you use it, a well-executed bathroom renovation can be a great choice for homeowners looking to upgrade a part of their home.
Do bathroom updates increase the value of your home?
Bathroom updates, particularly when they involve the introduction of new fixtures or modern aesthetics, can significantly increase a home's value.
Aesthetically pleasing and functional bathrooms often stand out in real estate listings, enticing potential buyers to book a showing of the home, and possibly commanding a higher selling price.
What should I spend on a bathroom renovation?
There's a delicate balance between spending enough to achieve a high-quality finish and overcapitalizing on your bathroom renovation.
A general guideline suggests homeowners should spend no more than 5 to 10 percent of their home’s value on a bathroom remodel.
- Economical Update: New fixtures, fresh paint — $3,000 to $7,000
- Mid-range Remodel: Higher-end fixtures, custom elements — up to $15,000
- Luxury Renovation: Top-of-the-line finishes, layout changes — $15,000 to $30,000+
Understanding these financial tiers helps ensure homeowners make updating decisions in line with their budget and the potential value increase for their property.
How can I add value to a small bathroom?
To add value to a small bathroom, one can maximize the limited square footage by focusing on high-impact elements. Installing a walk-in shower can significantly enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of a powder room or guest bathroom.
Unlike larger bathrooms where the cost may scale with size, the focus for small bathroom renovations should be on choosing quality fixtures and finishes that create the illusion of space.
- Maximize Space: Utilize space-saving designs such as wall-mounted toilets and sinks.
- Update Essentials: High-quality faucets, showerheads, and hardware can transform the space.
- Smart Storage: Floating shelves and recessed cabinets reduce clutter and add value.
- Comparative Shopping: Homeowners can benefit from comparative shopping, where they can seek multiple quotes from contractors.
- Budget-Friendly Alternatives: Opting for cost-effective materials and fixtures can result in savings.
- Smart Planning: Engaging in smart planning and phased renovations can mitigate the large upfront costs typically seen in cities across Canada.
A strategic renovation that considers these aspects can be quite cost-effective while greatly enhancing the overall appeal of a small bathroom.
What should I upgrade first in my bathroom?
Materials play a crucial role – opting for marble countertops or heated tile flooring immediately elevates the space. In addition to this, a high-end bathroom tends to include advanced technologies, such as smart showers that offer temperature and flow control and mirrors with built-in lighting and digital displays.
Here are key elements to transform a mid-range bathroom into a dream bathroom:
- Showers and Tubs: Freestanding soaker tubs and rainfall showerheads are staples in a luxury bathroom, providing not just a function but a focal point.
- Toilets: Consider adding a bidet or a high-tech toilet with features like seat warming and automatic lids.
- Vanity and Storage: Custom cabinetry designed to fit the space perfectly merges functionality with luxury.
- Lighting: Strategically placed lighting, including chandeliers or dimmable LED lights, can set the mood and accent the design.
Investments in the design phase ensure a bathroom is not just built, but crafted. Homeowners should consider consulting with design professionals who can assist in creating a space that aligns with their vision of luxury, as it's different for everyone.