Remodeling a bathroom can be an exciting project, but it’s also easy to make rookie mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing. Avoid these common pitfalls with our handy guide to the four biggest bathroom remodeling mistakes – and how to steer clear of them.

Not Having a Clear Plan

Going into a bathroom remodel without a clear plan is one of the biggest mistakes rookie renovators make. It often leads to going over budget, making design compromises, and feeling frustrated with the end results. To avoid this:

  • Decide on your budget upfront and stick to it. Factor in contingency costs as well.
  • Map out what you want to change – flooring, fixtures, layout, etc. Make a list.
  • Hire or consult a designer if you’re unsure about the layout and design elements.
  • Create a detailed renovation plan with tasks, timelines and deadlines before starting demo work.

Having a clear roadmap and realistic budget makes it much easier to execute the remodel efficiently. You’ll avoid making impulsive, expensive changes mid-project that can blow your budget.

Choosing the Wrong Team

Hiring qualified, reliable professionals is key for a successful stress-free remodel. Be wary of choosing contractors based on the lowest bid alone. Other mistakes include:

  • Assuming your general contractor will handle everything – plumbing, electrical, tile, etc. They may subcontract this work to uncertified handymen.
  • Not verifying licenses, insurance and references. Unprofessional or inexperienced contractors can botch the job.
  • Not getting 3+ quotes for the job. Doing your due diligence results in a quality contractor at a fair price.

The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to:

  • Interview at least 3 licensed and insured contractors. Ask for referrals from family and friends.
  • Check online reviews and the Better Business Bureau for red flags.
  • Verify their experience with bathroom remodels specifically.
  • Ask pointed questions and have them walk you through previous jobs, timelines, problem-solving approaches, etc.
  • Compare quotes to identify the best value, not necessarily the lowest bid.

Taking your time to find the right team prevents many issues down the road.

Using the Wrong Materials

Bathrooms require materials that can stand up to moisture and mold. However, rookie renovators often select bathroom materials based on looks alone, only to regret it later when they fail or need excessive maintenance. Common mistakes include:

  • Using real wood floors – laminate or LV flooring are better options for bathrooms.
  • Installing drywall on shower walls – cement board or fiberglass panels are more water-resistant.
  • Selecting a plastic surround for a tub – these get damaged easily. Opt for tile or solid surface surrounds instead.
  • Choosing trendy materials like metallic finishes that show water damage over time.
  • Not checking product warranties – some won’t honor water damage claims.

To avoid these missteps:

  • Consult your contractor on the best waterproof, bathroom-friendly materials.
  • Read product specifications to ensure materials can withstand humidity and moisture.
  • Compare warranties – longer and transferable warranties provide more protection.
  • Balance form and function – choose durable materials that also suit your design aesthetic.

Doing your homework on appropriate materials prevents moisture-related repairs later on.

Poor Planning of Electrical, Plumbing and Storage

Rookie remodelers often focus on surfaces and overlook essential but unseen elements. To avoid issues:


  • Map electrical plan beforehand. Place outlets near sinks and consider heating switches.
  • Include waterproof bathroom fan to reduce humidity and mold growth.
  • Consider adding dimmable lighting on separate switches for flexibility.


  • Consult a plumber before moving or changing fixtures. Know functionality impacts.
  • Check water pressure at sinks and shower heads after plumbing changes.
  • Inspect seals around fixtures for leakage prevention.


  • Include drawers, shelves and cabinets for ample storage. Built-in niches also help.
  • Consider floating vanities to allow storage underneath.
  • Add a medicine cabinet for hidden storage. Proper storage helps prevent clutter.

Carefully thinking through electrical, plumbing and storage needs upfront prevents having to make expensive changes later.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much should a bathroom remodel cost?

The average bathroom remodel costs $10,000 to $20,000, but prices range from $3,000 for a simple makeover to $50,000 or more for a custom luxurious bath. Get quotes from contractors to estimate your specific bathroom remodel cost.

What is the most popular bathroom layout?

The most popular and functional layout has the toilet and shower/tub along one wall with the vanity opposite. This provides an efficient flow and space to move around.

Should I update the plumbing during a remodel?

If your plumbing is outdated, it’s wise to update it during a remodel. Replacing galvanized pipes with copper or PEX piping improves water pressure and flow. It also prevents leaks from old pipes.

Can I do a bathroom remodel myself?

Bathroom remodels require plumbing and electrical work, which makes DIY tricky unless you have experience. Small vanity or fixture upgrades are reasonably DIY. But extensive layout changes are best left to professionals.

What design mistakes should I avoid?

Avoid these common design mistakes: insufficient lighting, no ventilation fan, cluttered layouts, choosing a tiny vanity, outdated finishes like avocado appliances, ignoring storage needs, and not planning for electrical outlets.

How do I stay on budget with a bathroom remodel?

Set a realistic budget upfront and build in a 10-20% contingency fund for overages. Get multiple quotes and check references to choose reliable pros who won’t inflate costs. Stick to your plan to avoid making expensive changes mid-project.


Bathroom remodels are complicated projects with many opportunities for mistakes by inexperienced DIYers. Avoid headaches and regrets by carefully planning your remodel, hiring qualified pros, using bathroom-friendly materials, and thoroughly thinking through all functional elements in the space. Pay particular attention to lighting, ventilation, storage, and the nitty-gritty unseen details that distinguish an amateur job from a professional one. With smart planning and diligent contractor vetting, you can steer clear of common pitfalls and enjoy your beautifully remodeled, functional new bathroom for years to come.