If you want your kids to go to college, do not renovate your bathroom. I’m serious. I thought kitchens were expensive to renovate, until we got the reality check that they have nothing and I mean nothing on the cost of bathroom renovations. So let me tell you a story, of how we are now embarking on the bank account draining renovation of our en-suite (master) bathroom.
The expensive reality check, otherwise known as your bathroom renovation
Get comfy, I write long blogs. This isn’t Instagram or Twitter.
Once upon a time my husband and I bought a twenty year old home in the suburbs. And like many of the other similar model homes in the our neck of the woods, the claustrophobic 32 x 32 shower in the en-suite bathroom complete with the then required 1980’s big corner bathtub, decided to start falling apart, tile by tile.
Totally looks like an inviting place to have a shower. Not scary at all.
This was no surprise to us given our home inspection had shown a lot of hidden problems and attempted patch jobs by the previous owners, instead of fixing things around the house right the first time. Such as putting an empty, plastic vinegar bottle on plywood in the attic to catch water from the leaking roof, as opposed to redoing the roof which was causing the rainwater to pour down the walls on the inside of the house.
I wish I was making that up. You cannot even understand the amount of work we have already done to this house (and if you really want to, you can read about it here).
What I need to be clear about is that water and us, in terms of home ownership specifically, are not friends. In fact, let me be very specific about how much water and us are not friends.
- We lived through major water damage in our first condo due to improper valve sealing of a shower faucet that caused water to slowly trickle down behind the shower wall over time…all the way into our living room, thus destroying the floors and walls.
- A broken bathtub faucet in our first home caused a slow leak and poured water into the bathroom below it, where I had just finished painting the entire bathroom, including the 12 foot ceilings, a week prior. The next day I looked up and the entire ceiling had was soaked and dripping on my head.
- Four – that’s right, FOUR – failed dishwashers (all different brands), all of them leaking, with one major leak destroying our entire kitchen in our current house forcing us to renovate the kitchen (which is still not finished by the way) much sooner than planned.
So when our en-suite shower on the second floor started showing glaring signs that said “Are you in the mood to redo your ceiling on your main floor?”, we cautiously slowed down using it. Then one day my father in law came over and within an afternoon the inside of the shower was ripped apart. And now we really needed to fix it.
Originally we went looking for a contractor to just repair that tiny 32 x 32 shower because at this point, we’re not made of money – despite what Instagram would like you to believe about every blogger and social media “Influencer” type of person these days. Who for the record, all seem to have 2.5 kids, a dog and enough money to buy a 10K Wolfe gas range and build a custom farmhouse from scratch on 5 acres of land at the mere age of 24.
But no one would take the job. Like no one. I called and emailed so many people for almost a year. Contractors as we have learned, do not seem to enjoy small jobs. Our friends even tried to hook us up with a contractor who worked on a very well known and reputable HGTV show known for helping homeowners. He showed up, said he’d get back to us, then nothing. At that point the reality that we were going to have to gut the whole room in order to find someone to fix anything set in.
Neither of us has any experience in DIY renovating a bathroom or even fixing a shower tile floor, so this was the one room in the house where we really did not feel comfortable attempting to do on our own. The builders had skimped on so much stuff when this house was built, that we just did not want to start breaking tiles and finding ourselves in over our heads. At least not with a first bathroom renovation.
Given that we shop at IKEA and Costco a lot and had previously renovated a basement and two kitchens, we thought we had a good idea of what to expect in terms of a budget for the reno. But honestly, nothing could have prepared us for the quotes that we were getting for the bathroom. Most of them were twice, if not three times the cost of both of our kitchens combined.
Our first IKEA kitchen was approximately $3000 in cabinets and $1300 for the floor for what I believe was about a 200 sq/ft room.
Our current IKEA kitchen for a 240 sq/ft room was approximately $4300 for the cabinets and $2000 for the floor. I am showing you the ‘pretty’ angle because behind me, the walls are empty and the range hood is still in the box on the basement floor due to a screw up in the outlet placement (we were never asked where we wanted it). And the floor in this photo looks clean…as if it’s like that every day.
This bathroom? The 60″/ 152.4 cm / mere 5 feet vanity alone was $1449 not including 13% Ontario sales tax and that’s on the seriously cheap end of things only thanks to our beloved Costco membership. I really should work there. Yes it’s pretty (you can see it here). That’s all I’ve got. A bathroom vanity cost half of what our entire first kitchen cabinets did.
This is the old vanity. Everyone I know grew up with this vanity in their homes.
The average price of any respectable vanity these days is usually $2000 and up. Don’t believe me? Go on Wayfair.ca and search for 60″ double sink vanities and find one that you really like. I’ll wait. You’ll be back going “What the hell was that?”
IKEA would have been ideal except they don’t make a 60″ double sink vanity that has a lot of counter space. Which they should because they are by far the most economical choice for bathroom vanities when compared to other major retailers. But they stop at like 55″ and their double sink counter top designs don’t actually leave you with a lot of counter top space. Lots of sink space though.
If you don’t think two extra inches of counter top space a big deal, you have not shared a bathroom with anyone. Make a 60″ vanity please IKEA. Possibly even a 72″. And a basic, bright white, shaker style kitchen cabinet front already.
So, bathroom vanities = expensive as all hell.
Then there’s the extremely important job of waterproofing behind the shower walls and the plumbing. Let’s get to tile. You want a marble hex floor that’s in every Studio McGee bathroom? $37 a sq foot is calling you.
What about those mirrors with curved rectangle edge that are on Rejuvenation? That’s going to cost you too because unless you luck out, HomeSense and Marshall’s never seen to get two of the same mirror in stock at the same location, at the same time.
Perhaps you want toilet paper holders that don’t feel like cheap plastic and that doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for does it? Hello $84 CAN ($54 US) gorgeous Delta Champagne Bronze.
Dear God the shower and vanity faucets. The kids need to get part time jobs in high school to pay for college because I cannot get over the costs of bathroom fixtures. In fact I am going to encourage them to go into trades.
If you want anything to look remotely “not chrome and from the 80’s” or that screams “we didn’t get the upgrades offered by our suburban home builder”, you better hope you have an extra kidney to spare.
You can see the whole Nostalgia line from Aquadesign here. I absolutely love the line and it’s perfect, but I am still not over the price tag.
There is so much more to learn about faucets and their finishes than I ever realized and that’s a separate post to come. FYI – we pay more for *everything* in Canada, especially when it comes to appliances and all of the above, compared to our neighbours to the south.
If you’ve read this far you’re probably like “Aren’t you a blogger? Don’t you guys work with brands? Why don’t you just pitch some brands?” Yes. We do. But my Instagram (everyone’s social media darling of the moment) isn’t cool enough to warrant that special privilege at this time. I’d need about 50K more followers on there to impress brands, even though this blog pays for our mortgage every month – thanks Mediavine! Also, remember when we all counted Facebook Likes and thought that was the most important social status symbol for bloggers? Yeah, neither do I.
There is nothing in this bathroom renovation that is sponsored by any brand. We bought everything. And our in-laws are helping us out with the costs of the reno and I am not sure if that’s even allowed in blogging these days but here we are. This is real life, not a curated and staged Instagram photo. And real life is messy and not always cheap.
Except classic hex tile. It’s cost effective, timeless and what will be on our floors. I love you marble but you’re not happening.
As the renovation moves along, I’m going to be breaking it all down per post to provide more details on each aspect of the bathroom from the faucets and why we chose them, the style we went with and to things I really wish I had known before we started. We may know kitchens, however this is our first bathroom and it has already been a huge learning experience.
But the most important thing we have to discuss first, is who the hell thought these bathtubs were ever a good idea? You can argue with me about why we decided to take out the bathtub in the master bathroom in my next post.