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10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

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Bathrooms can be one of the most expensive rooms to refinish in a home. But a bathroom renovation can also be one of the most rewarding projects to tackle, as it can have a major impact on a home’s comfort and functionality. The issue is balancing the cost versus the reward, but that’s the case for almost all home improvement projects.

There are ways to tip the scales in favor of savings while still achieving the bathroom space of their dreams. Below are 10 of the best tips for reducing the construction costs of your bathroom renovation, and they apply to both do-it-yourself builders and those who hire out the project to a contractor.

RELATED: 5 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Bathroom Remodel

1. Handle the demolition yourself

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10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you hire contractors to remodel your bathroom, you can still save a bit of money by handling the demolition part of the project yourself. However, be aware that saving money during demolition requires a careful and steady hand. Recklessly running into the bathroom with a sledgehammer and reciprocating saw is the recipe for a very expensive (and dangerous) accident.

Be careful around plumbing pipes, HVAC valves, electrical outlets and fixtures, and similar items in the bathroom. If you accidentally break or damage these, it may require you to hire a professional to repair them, which completely outweighs the cost savings.

2. Buy used vanities and cabinets

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

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Most bathroom renovations don’t require a ton of cabinets or shelving like a kitchen does. In fact, many bathrooms only have one sink – everything else can usually be tucked away in a linen closet.

For this reason, finding a used vanity is typically quite easy. There are no worries about finding matching tops and bottoms, or enough to fill a wall. Habitat for Humanity ReStores, Facebook Marketplace, and area classified ads are all great places to shop for used vanities. And for those feeling crafty, it’s not that hard to turn an old dresser or lowboy into a vanity.

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

Photo: istockphoto.com

Considering that many people undertake renovations so that they can jump into a new trend, this advice may seem hypocritical. But trends come and go, and remodeling a bathroom every few years to keep up with those trends is a good way to flush money down the toilet.

Also consider the cost of the materials alone. Trend materials typically increase in price, meaning the renovation will cost more than it might be worth when those prices drop back and the trend changes. Instead, stick to classic designs and materials to avoid high prices and frequent remodeling.

4. Avoid moving utilities

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

Photo: istockphoto.com

A brand new bathroom that looks completely different from the old one might sound good, but it will definitely be expensive. Instead of changing the entire floor plan, leave the existing utilities in place. This includes sink and shower supply lines, drains, electricity for lights and outlets, HVAC fixtures like baseboard heaters and radiant heaters, and bathroom valves.

5. Get more offers

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

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It is not always possible to do a complete bathroom renovation (especially if the utilities move). It may be necessary to hire an authorized craftsman or contractor to handle the task, which will undoubtedly cost a pretty penny.

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Although paying for this expertise is often unavoidable, it is best to seek multiple quotes for the job. With several offers for a particular job in hand, it is easier to possibly pit the companies against each other and convince them to take the job for a bit less than the quoted price. While some people may prefer to avoid negotiations, they may be missing out on some real savings.

RELATED: Pro Tips: The 5 Most Common Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes

6. Recycle what you can

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

Photo: istockphoto.com

Scrapping the entire existing bathroom may be the quickest way to start fresh, but it’s not the most affordable. Removing items that don’t need to be replaced, like drywall that’s still in good shape or wall paneling that just needs freshening up, will cost more than a paint job or other small repair will in the long run.

Be extra careful with existing tiles. Breaking a few tiles may require replacing the entire floor. But if DIYers are careful, they can simply remove and replace the grout for a fresh new look without buying new tiles.

7. Be your own designer

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

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Interior designers are almost always worth their cost, but they don’t always fit into the budget. Instead of overextending yourself for a designer, you can handle this design element of the job yourself. But don’t do it blindly either. Take some time to learn about bathroom decor by reading up on the subject with a book such as National Kitchen and Bath Association guidelines and access standards (available on Amazon).

It is also important to recognize that designers are worth the money. Sometimes they pay for themselves since they have access to discounts and supplies that homeowners don’t have.

8. Focus on inventory

Reduce bathroom renovation costs

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Sometimes replacing a bathtub, shower or sink is out of the budget. While these items make a huge impact, it’s still possible to breathe new life into a bathroom with new shower valves or faucets like the Luxice Automatic Touchless Sink Armature, a favorite in our guide to the best bathroom fixtures. Bright, shiny fixtures will give the room a fresh look without the labor costs of replacing sinks, vanities or showers.

9. Consider open shelving

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

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If the bathroom feels like it’s missing something, but putting a finger on it feels hard, consider adding open shelving. Adding a few open shelves provides the perfect space for folded towels and knick-knacks, giving DIY designers more surfaces and styles to work with to add plants and fresh decor.

Remember that anything placed on an open shelf requires constant attention. Aside from the frequent cleaning or dusting, adding a bookcase in the corner or floating shelves on a wall can be just the design trick a bathroom needs.

10. Set a fixed (and realistic) budget

10 ways to reduce bathroom renovation costs

Photo: istockphoto.com

No project will ever stay on budget if the budget does not exist. Before the project starts, it is important to come up with a firm and realistic budget that will help you achieve your goals while allowing room for emergencies or unexpected renovation costs. This buffer or wiggle room is incredibly important. After all, it can be hard to tell when a project might go south, so be sure to leave extra money in the budget.

Also, fight the urge to deviate from the plan and buy more expensive materials than necessary. It can be tempting to spend a little extra here and there, but these additions add up over the course of a project.

RELATED: How Much Does a Shower Remodel Cost?