Remodeling a Bathroom? What Makes it so Expensive

Grey and white master bathroom vanity,Thyme & Place Design, Sharon L Sherman, Top New Jersey Kitchen Designer, Top New Jersey Bathroom Designer,

Who can you turn to when remodeling a bathroom?

Recently a prospective client called me and asked if we will remodel just a bathroom. I thought that was an interesting question since bathroom renovation is exactly one of the services we offer. As it turns out, not many design/build companies will take on just a bathroom unless it is part of a larger remodel. Why do contractors avoid bath remodels? They are hard to schedule and less profitable than other remodels. Lets take a look at several reasons why remodeling a bathroom is so expensive.

What drives the cost of remodeling a bathroom?

Just do a quick internet search on the cost of remodeling a bathroom and you find will a sliding scale of cost estimates. Where you are located can influence prices due to labor, material and insurance costs. We will look at what drives the costs of remodeling a bathroom and how to decide what is right for you and your home.

Prices across the country will vary quite a bit. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) report that homeowners spent a mean of $32,000 renovating their bathrooms in 2019, roughly twice what they spent on redoing a guest bath (about $18,000) or a powder room (about $12,000).

Another NKBA study  released at the end of 2020 “revealed that the average primary bathroom spend over the past year was between $20,000 and $30,0000, with two-thirds of the finished projects showing an increase in size over the previous layout. The most popular anticipated option for layout change is to remove bathtubs to increase the size of the shower.

What does all of this mean for your budget?

Lets break down some factors affecting bathroom remodeling costs.

What you can’t see will hurt you.

You will not know what is lurking behind the walls until you begin the demolition. Corroded pipes, damage from previous leaks, unsupported flooring, poorly executed electric work are just a few of the issues you may find.

Even if you are just replacing existing components, ignoring factors that would impact health, safety and welfare concerns are a no no. We always correct anything that is considered “not to code” (building code standards) even if we do not need to obtain permits (check with your local building department regarding permit rules for your location). 

Building materials and the bathroom

You may or may not have realized that the cost of most everything has skyrocketed and building materials have not escaped price increases. Simple items like 2 X 4 lumber has more than tripled over the last 12 months. Materials like sheet rock, windows, insulation and even the pipes have been impacted by price. Building supplies can by hard to come by. 

You also must consider if you are leaving everything in place or redesigning the room for that large dream shower to relax in or create a separate room for the commode so more than one person can use the bathroom at a time. Any time you relocate something, it may substantially impact the costs. 

How many trades can you fit in one bathroom?

Not many. Bathrooms, even before social distancing, only allow one trade at a time to work no matter what the size of the room. You just can’t  have subs working on top of each other. Scheduling becomes a fine balance of giving everyone time to complete their appointed tasks and keeping the job moving. Coordinating multiple trades is like choreographing a dance troupe. There are a lot of moving parts.

Tile, Tubs and Everything in between. 
Fitting and Fixtures:

Remember that gorgeous oversized freestanding tub with the sexy tub filler that holds a glass of wine? Dreaming of indulging in lavender infused water and a session of chroma-therapy? Be prepared to allocate $5K for that indulgence. True you will be able to enjoy a veritable spa every day but luxury has it’s price.

Free Standing Bain Ultra Bath Tub

Showers with multiple heads, temperature balanced water controls, built in benches, as well as the added benefit of steam are all to die for. While attractive they drive up the costs of not just the fittings themselves but the plumbing installation costs.

Make sure the hot water heater is large enough to accommodate the water consumption. Newer tubs with air systems can be ordered with inline heaters to keep the water at a comfortable temperature. This feature eliminates constantly adding hot water. 


Tile materials are also available in every style and every price point. Marble and glass tiles are generally more expensive than porcelain tile and will cost more to install.  Pinterest is full of tile style ideas but those beautiful  images could carry a hefty price tag.

Master Bathroom with custom tile details, Sharon L Sherman, Thyme & Place Design, Kitchen Designer NJ, Bathroom Derringer NJ

Complex patterns add drama and beauty but can increase the cost of installation. Intricate designs also require more waste (the extra materials needed to create those beautiful patterns and designs). 

 Tile options are endless and choosing the right tile can be overwhelming. Looking for help choosing tile for you bathroom remodel? Check out my blog “Tips from the Trade”  “How to choose tile for your bath”.

Let’s Talk Cabinets

“Ready to Wear”, semi custom and custom cabinets offer something for every budget. Custom colors and sizes as well as cabinets with special features cost more. I advise my clients to create a portfolio of rooms they would love to live with. Once you have a design plan in place you will be able to make informed decisions about what cabinet type is right for your remodel. 

The 5 “C’s” of Crafting a Successful Bathroom Remodel”

Carefully review your wish list for your bathroom remodel.

Consider your budget. Everyone has one but be flexible and realistic.

Curate your can’t live without and would really like to have list of needs and wants.

Collect images of bathrooms for inspiration.

Categorize your “Splurge” and “Conserve” priorities

The Next Steps for a Successful Remodel

Collaborate with the right professionals to insure you will have a great bathroom remodeling experience. Interview design and construction professionals. Consider reviews but also ask for a referral list of clients you can speak with about their remodeling experience, Understand how the costs of the materials will affect the price of your bathroom remodel. Be patient and remember that construction is a disruptive undertaking. Communication is key for a successful remodel. 

Sharon L Sherman ASID CID CKD  founder of Thyme & Place Design, Thymeless Home Decor and Thymeless Well Being is a business owner, designer and Reiki Master located in New Jersey. Her award-winning designs and editorial comments have been featured in Kitchen & Bath Design News, Woman’s Day, Country Decorating, Design NJ, New Jersey Home Magazine, 201 Magazine, The Best of Bergen, Savvy Living, The Vue, The Record, The Star Ledger, Bergen Magazine and Aspire as well as several books.

Her Blog “Tips for the Trade” has appeared in digital form on, and, She has also appeared on HGTV’s My Big Amazing Renovation and episodes of House Smarts with Lou Manfredini.  




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remodeling hints


Sharon sherman

My award-winning designs haven been featured in multiple magazines, industry publications and on television. That’s nice affirmation, to be sure.

But perhaps the greatest accolade I’ve received is the repeat engagements with so many clients, project after project, year after year.

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