The 2020 Master Bathroom Renovation Guide

Nothing adds value, style and a touch of luxury to a home like a bathroom renovation. But when you have a busy schedule, your time is precious and the idea of a bathroom remodel can be daunting.

But it doesn’t have to be. In this article, you’ll discover how to create a one-of-kind bathroom that adds real value to your home in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, saving you precious time and avoiding the stress!

4 Reasons to renovate your master bathroom

1. Increase the value of your home

No matter how long you plan on staying in your home, you should always keep the resale value in mind.

Remodeling a bathroom significantly increases your home’s resale value. You can get a return on investment of up to 80%, which is one of the highest ROIs of all the rooms in your home.

The bathroom and the kitchen are the two rooms sellers focus on most, so making sure your bathroom is up to date is a real investment in your future.

2. Improve Utility

If you’ve had the same bathroom for years, you may have found that it’s not as functional as it could be. Perhaps you don’t have enough storage so products clutter your counter space, or you have a large bath that never gets used so it sits gathering dust.

A great reason to renovate your bathroom is to improve function and utility, making your time in your bathroom less stressful and much more enjoyable.

The best way to discover if your bathroom lacks function is to be mindful when you’re using it every day. Is your towel rail too far away from the shower entrance? Can you never store anything because you don’t have enough space?

If you find yourself becoming stressed when using your bathroom, it’s time for an upgrade.

3. Improve energy efficiency

Updating your bathroom could save you thousands in the long term. By upgrading your toilet, sink, and shower to low-flow systems, you reduce your water consumption and save on bills, all while helping the environment.

4. Create a luxurious sanctuary

Bathrooms tend to get neglected for years because we believe renovating them is a hard job, meaning they don’t get changed for years.

The truth is, it’s easier than ever to renovate your bathroom, and the wide range of styles, materials, and finishes mean you can create a luxurious retreat that you’ll love using every day.

From gorgeous wood-effect tiles, to glimmering shower boards, to old-school brass finishes, you can create a bathroom that’s stylish and modern all for significantly less time and money than you might think.

Average costs for remodeling your master bathroom

How much does it cost to remodel a bathroom you might ask? Well, how long is a piece of string?

The cost of renovation varies massively. A low end renovation can cost $2500, whereas a high-end remodel can run up to $25,000 or more.

So what causes the vast difference in cost? It varies based on:

  • Geographical location
  • Quality of materials
  • Level of changes required (relocation of pipes, tearing down walls, etc.)
  • Size of bathroom
  • Cost of contractor
  • As well as many other factors

Overall, the most significant costs of a bathroom renovation will be:

1. Labour and Expenses

Bathroom remodelling is a labour intensive job that requires professional help. 60-70% of the cost is labor and associated expenses alone, whereas about 30-40% is finished product.

2. Relocation

Relocating your toilet, shower, bath or sink requires moving drainage and waste pipes, meaning more labor, so more cost. If you can keep the layout the same, you’ll save yourself a significant chunk of your budget.

3. Tiling and Flooring

Tiling is one of the most costly products of a bathroom renovation. The more tiling you use, the larger the cost. And this also varies hugely based on the quality of the finish.

The bottom line

To give you a more concrete idea of what you’re in for, the average bathroom remodel cost $11,364 in 2016, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

We’ll look at some clever ways you can keep costs down later in the article.

What you need to know to start renovating

Renovating your bathroom might seem overwhelming. There are so many things to consider and it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Here are some vital things you need to know to begin your project. By keeping these factors in mind, you’ll be able to start your project stress-free, so you can carry on with your busy schedule with minimal interruption.

Deciding on your budget

Before you start diving into planning, you need to decide on your budget. If you dive into the project without a clear idea of how much you can spend overall, you’ll blow through your cash and end up spending far more than you’re comfortable with.

Think about how you’re going to pay for the renovation. If you have savings, be strict with how much of it you’re willing to spend. If you’re planning on using finance or a loan, get this in place before you begin your project.

An important part of your budget is factoring in a contingency. As a rule of thumb, figure out your total cost of materials and labor and then add a 10-20% contingency to cover unexpected costs.

Choosing a contractor

Managing your own renovation project is time-consuming. You’ve got to be available at all times to coordinate different workers and make sure the timeline is on track.

If you have a full-time job or are too busy to oversee the entire project, hiring a contractor will save you time and stress. A contractor will oversee the renovation, coordinate the different workers and deadlines on your behalf.

Take your time interviewing multiple contractors. Check their references, compare bids, and check reviews on independent websites.

Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting when picking a contractor. Are they going to help with the design or do you have to bring that to the table? Can they promise a deadline for the project?  

Make sure to get a detailed contract that outlines all the work involved – the last thing you want is unexpected costs coming up you didn’t agree on in the beginning.

Pinning down the layout

One of the most time-consuming elements of a bathroom renovation is changing the layout.

When you relocate your toilet or shower, it involves moving drainage and waste pipes which takes significantly more time and money.

Unless there is something obviously wrong with your current layout – for example, the toilet is situated behind the door – think about keeping your current layout.

If you do want to change the layout, think about consulting with a designer to find the best use of the space. Any major store that offers bathrooms will have in-house designers you can chat to, usually with no obligation to buy.


Lighting tends to be forgotten about in bathrooms, even though it’s usually the place where lighting is vitally important.

The best way to brighten up a bathroom is to use recessed lighting. Include one or two lights in the shower using a shower trim to disperse lighting.

Think about adding a dimmer switch to keep the bathroom tranquil and relaxing when you’re soaking in the tub.


It’s easy to get caught up in the style of a new bathroom and forget about storage. But think about all the bottles, cleaning supplies, medicines and other supplies hidden away in your bathroom.

You need a functional place for all of this stuff to live. This might be a vanity unit with deep drawers, floating shelves to showcase your liquids and lotions in style, or a medicine cabinet hidden behind a mirror.

The more storage you can add to your bathroom, the better, so make sure you factor this in during planning.


There is nothing worse than walls dripping with moisture after you’ve finished using the bathroom. And this happens due to poor ventilation.

As well as not looking great, this moisture can soak into your grout and ceiling, causing damp and mold to grow.

When you’re planning your renovation, think about how to add in proper ventilation to keep the room dry and fresh. Consider about adding in an extractor fan which turns on automatically when lights are on, or is on a timer.

This might also be a good time to assess the windows in your bathroom. If you can add in a skylight or new larger window, this will help to keep your new bathroom airy and fresh.

Choice of amenities

This one is going to vary massively based on your personal needs. Perhaps you currently have a bath with a shower but you’d find a walk-in shower much more functional. Maybe your current bathroom has a bidet that doesn’t get used so you could take this out.

If you’re planning on selling your home in the future, think about adding in a bath if you don’t have one. Families look for baths for their young children, so adding one in will help you appeal to a wide market.

The main thing to remember when choosing your amenities is making it as functional as possible for your family’s needs.

Underfloor heating

Have you ever had the wonderful feeling of walking into a hotel bathroom to feel warm tiles underfoot?

Underfloor heating is a wonderful luxury that is often overlooked during renovations.

With new technology, underfloor heating doesn’t have to be a huge expense but can be the icing on the cake when creating a luxury new bathroom.

Planning for inconvenience

You should plan to be without your bathroom for 3 weeks for the remodel. If this is the only bathroom in your house, you might have to think about moving out for a couple of weeks to make sure you have access to a toilet and shower.

If you have to stay in the house, make a plan for the inconvenience. Whether that means showering at the gym or popping over to a friends house to use the facilities, this will help things run more smoothly during the project.

The quick 8-step guide to remodeling your bathroom

  1. Plan your budget

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – don’t do anything else until you’ve planned out your budget. Don’t forget to add a 10-20% contingency.

  1. Plan your layout and design

Use Pinterest and other search platforms to plan out your color scheme and style. Do you want a floating vanity unit? Walk-in shower? Square or round bathtub? The more details you can map out beforehand, the easier and quicker you can get accurate quotes from contractors.

3. Source your materials and amenities

You’ll save money buy sourcing your own materials and products. If you leave this to your contractor, they may charge a commission for each piece sourced and ordered. Simply go online and compare products in different stores to compile a list of the best deals.

4. Find the best contractor and team

Take some time to interview and compare contractors for your project. To save yourself time, download a project management app that will allow you to easily track invoices, deadlines and any issues that arise. Trello is a good option for keeping everything organised.

5. Map out your timeline

Be realistic with your timeline and know what you want to achieve. Make sure each tradesperson knows when you need them and how long they have to complete each task. Having a physical copy of a timeline will help keep everyone on track.

6. Get your paperwork in order

Paperwork is never fun, but contracts with tradespeople are incredibly important. Without clear guidelines, it’s easy for projects to run over time and budget. Make sure you map out contracts with all people involved so you can clearly see how much your paying and the work involved. If you hire a contractor, this could be a job for them to oversee to save you time.

7. Be available for questions and the unexpected

If you want your bathroom remodel to run smoothly and quickly, be available to answer queries that arise. This is where project management software can save you time and energy. If you’re too busy to be available constantly, give your contractor the ability to make executive decisions on your behalf and then get daily reports.

Want to know how to survive a bathroom renovation without killing your spouse? Find out here.

8. Keep the project on track

Make sure you’re checking in with your contractor daily to make sure everything is on track. Be flexible when issues arise, but confident enough to stop timelines getting out of hand. If you’ve taken your time to hire a competent contractor, this will be much easier for you.

For more tips on how to survive your own bathroom renovation, check out these creative tips.

Mistakes to avoid when renovating

There are common mistakes which tend to pop up during bathroom renovation projects. Avoid these mistakes to keep your project efficient and stress-free.

Mistake #1: Relocating fixtures

How to avoid it: Keep your toilet, bath, shower and sink where they are unless you absolutely have to move them. Relocation takes significantly more time and is usually unnecessary.

Mistake #2: Failing to plan

How to avoid it: Before you jump in, do some prior planning. The more you plan out in the beginning, the quicker the project will move forward. Here are some ideas to help you plan quickly and efficiently:

  • Search through pinterest for inspiration and create a board of styles you can refer to.
  • Source materials online to get an idea of cost and delivery times. Compare different suppliers and stores for the best price and quickest delivery.
  • Download a project management tool such as Trello to keep track of prices, website links and timelines.
  • Keep in mind the 3 functional factors: layout, lighting, and storage.

Mistake #3: Not choosing the right materials

How to avoid it: Always keep in mind you’re working in a humid, moist room. Although you might love the idea of a wallpapered feature wall, this may peel or bubble after a steamy shower. Likewise, small tiles means more grout lines to keep clean. Always keep in mind function when deciding on materials, not just style.

Mistake #4: Prioritising look over function

How to avoid it: Just like choosing the wrong materials, prioritising look in the layout is a massive error many people make. You may decide your towel warmer looks great on a big, open wall, butt it’s nowhere near the shower entrance. Not ideal!

Keep in mind the size and layout of all items in your bathroom. Imagine having to use them every single day and make sure your bathroom is as functional as possible.

Mistake #5: Forgetting storage

How to avoid it: Plan to have as much storage as possible. This might take the form of a vanity unit with drawers, a medicine cabinet behind a mirror, floating shelves, or a cupboard if space allows. Storage is the most overlooked aspect of a bathroom, but it is the most vital component for creating a stylish, functional space.

Ways to save on a renovation

1. Do your own demo

Paying a professional to pull tiles off the walls can be expensive. To save money, think about rallying some friends and family members to help you do as much as the demo as possible as quickly as possible, before you need to call in the professionals. Make sure you don’t do anything you’re unsure about.

2. Ask your contractor for contacts

Your contractor likely has a treasure trove of contacts you could use for different projects. They usually have friends in the trade which could save you a lot of time and effort with sourcing professionals you can rely on.

3. Consider lookalikes

Yes, marble countertops look amazing, but they can blow your budget. There are so many alternatives to high-end finishes which still give the stylish look without breaking the bank. For example, marble-effect countertops look exactly the same as real marble but cost considerably less.

4. Wait for lulls in the season

Contractors tend to be busiest during the summer, meaning they can charge more for their time. Consider waiting for luls in the season when you’ll be able to negotiate much more effectively.

5. Don’t relocate

Keep your bathroom layout the same. As we’ve learned, this will save you time, money and stress.  

6. Consider an auction

House auctions are a fantastic place to find antiques and one-of-a-kind pieces to add to your bathroom at a great price. You can even attend auctions online which saves you the trouble of travelling.

7. Limit the use of tile

Tile is one of the most costly materials of a bathroom remodel. To save time and money, consider using tile only in the wet areas (in the shower and around the bathtub) and painting the rest of the walls. Shower panels can also be a cost-saving alternative.

8. Upcycle your bathtub

Bathtubs can be easily brought back to life by having them relined. This gives it a fresh look without the added expense of having it ripped out and replaced.

9. Consider Green Upgrades

Low-flow showers, sinks and toilets are much more environmentally friendly and will save you money on water costs over the long-term.

Want some more ideas? Check out these 12 easy-clean remodeling strategies.

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