Renovating your bathroom can be an exciting project that adds value and improves the function of an important living space. However, bathroom remodels require careful planning and consideration to execute well. Here is an in-depth guide on how to start a bathroom remodel project.

Developing a Budget

The first step is determining your budget. Bathroom remodels span a wide range in cost. Simple changes like new fixtures and paint can cost a few thousand dollars. Complete gut renovations with moved walls and plumbing changes can cost tens of thousands. Outline your goals, must-haves, and nice-to-haves. Get quotes from contractors on different scopes of work to shape your budget. Factor in contingencies too – projects often have surprises!

Hiring a Contractor

Finding the right general contractor is key. Look for licensed pros with extensive bathroom remodel experience specifically. Check reviews and talk to past clients. Get at least three bids to compare cost and approach. Make sure bids are very detailed – materials, labor, timeline etc. Many contractors offer design-build services to handle design and construction. Others work with your architect/designer. Discuss roles and responsibilities upfront.

Designing Your New Bathroom

Start by considering what you hope to change – layout, fixtures, finishes, lighting etc. Decide on your preferred design style – modern, traditional etc. Think about lasting trends vs fads. Create a detailed wishlist of elements you want – tub, shower, vanities, toilets, sinks etc. Decide if you’ll DIY any portions, like paint and trim. Work with a designer if needed to develop an optimal detailed plan meeting your style, function and budget goals.

Preparing for Construction

Get all needed permits from your local building department. Hire any required plumbing, electrical or HVAC contractors. Purchase all supplies – lighting, tile, vanities etc. Develop a detailed timeline with your contractor. Plan where you’ll use the bathroom during construction – consider adding a temporary outdoor shower/toilet. Protect existing areas from dust and debris. Photograph the space before demolition so you can put things back properly. Remove all belongings from the bathroom. Close off and seal the room from the rest of the house. Turn off power and water.

Demolition and Site Prep

Have your contractor demolish all unwanted elements like old fixtures, flooring and wall surfaces per the design plan. They should also inspect for rot, mold or damage behind walls and under flooring and correct any issues. Plumbing and electrical may need to be moved at this stage as well if walls are moving – be sure your contractor has arranged any subcontractors needed. Once the room is gutted, have the contractor thoroughly clean the area.

Installation and Construction

The contractor will first prepare the bare bones of the room – framing new walls and ceilings, installing insulation, running updated electrical and plumbing per plan. Next drywall is added and finished. Now the fun stuff starts! Flooring, wall tile, cabinetry, lighting fixtures and other decorative elements are installed. Fixtures like the shower, tub, toilets and vanities are carefully put in place and hooked up. Last touches like caulking, adding door/drawer hardware come next.

Inspections and Finishing Touches

Your contractor will work with your local building department to arrange all needed inspections of the electrical, plumbing, and construction work. Make sure the space passes inspections before finishing details like paint and trim. Add any wall art and accessories you want in the new space. Thoroughly clean the bathroom before using. Test all fixtures and lighting. Make sure proper ventilation is in place. Enjoy your fresh new bathroom oasis!

Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Bathroom Remodel

What is the typical timeline for a bathroom remodel?

For full gut renovations of master bathrooms, projects typically take 4-8 weeks from demolition to final finishes. Smaller powder room updates can be 2-4 weeks. Ask your contractor for a detailed timeline.

What are signs I need to remodel my bathroom?

Consider a remodel if fixtures/finishes are very outdated, you have layout issues or leaks, limited storage, or want to update for accessibility reasons. Cosmetic upgrades like new tile and paint can help, but full remodels are best for layout changes.

How do I get permits for my bathroom remodel?

Your general contractor will typically pull all required permits with your local building department. They will be familiar with regulations and can submit proper plans. Permits often take 2-4 weeks. Do not start any work until permits are secured.

Should I DIY any part of my bathroom remodel?

For extensive changes, it’s best to leave all work to your licensed general contractor and subcontractors. But for cosmetic changes like paint, trim, art and accessories, you can DIY to potentially save money. Discuss this with your contractor.

What design mistakes should I avoid?

Avoid trendy patterns and finishes that will look dated quickly. Put function first – have adequate lighting, storage, ventilation. Don’t let a trend like open showers compromise privacy. Don’t sacrifice too much space – smaller baths still need essential items.


Bathroom remodels require careful planning, quality contractors, smart designs and ample budgets. But done right, your new dream bathroom can greatly enhance your home and quality of life. By following this comprehensive guide during every project stage – from planning to completion – you can ensure your bathroom remodel is successful.