Do I need a general contractor for a bathroom remodel?
For a small bathroom remodel, you may not need a general contractor. For example, if you simply need some plumbing or electrical work done in your bathroom, hiring a plumber or electrician should be sufficient.
However, if you’re tackling a large-scale remodel, a general contractor can coordinate a team of designers, painters and other specialty contractors to get the job done. Typically, the rule of thumb is that you should hire a general contractor if your project is large enough to require a building permit.
Reach out the best bathroom remodelers near you to start planning your project, assemble a team and get cost estimates.
What should I ask a bathroom remodeler before hiring?
It’s important to ensure that you and the contractor are on the same page before any work begins, so don’t be afraid to ask potential bathroom remodelers plenty of questions.
Start by reading the contractor’s reviews online. Ask to see examples of their past work — specifically, work that is similar to yours. If you need the bathroom remodel done by a certain date, ask the contractor if they will be able to complete the work by your deadline. And you should always ask how they handle payments.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask:
- What materials do you recommend for my budget and overall vision?
- How much are the materials and labor? What will my final cost be?
- Do you have the proper license and insurance?
- Can I see photos of past bathroom remodels you’ve worked on?
- How long will it take to complete the remodel?
- How do you handle payments?
Are bathroom remodels worth it?
Remodeling your bathroom can lead to high personal satisfaction, as perhaps even a return on your investment when it comes time to sell your home. When you replace old and worn out surfaces with high-quality materials, it is almost guaranteed to improve the look and functionality of that space. A bathroom renovation can also improve your home’s curb appeal to future buyers and boost its overall value.
To determine if this project is worth the cost, start by getting free estimates from the best bathroom remodelers near you. And if you plan on selling your home, consult with your real estate expert to identify which remodeling projects you should prioritize.
How much does it cost to remodel a bathroom?
Nationally, the average cost of bathroom remodeling varies greatly. Bathroom remodels can vary widely, from standard makeovers to luxurious master bathroom revamps.
The factors that affect your bathroom remodeling cost are the finishes you choose (marble tiles can cost 20 times as much as standard subway tiles), the square footage of the project, regional labor rates in your area and the scope of work. Changing the layout or size of the bathroom will also raise costs. Moving electrical wiring and plumbing lines will also dramatically increase costs, as you’ll need to hire plumbers and electricians to handle the work. What’s happening behind your walls and under your floor will also affect bathroom remodeling cost. Rot, damage or mold can lead to additional work and charges.
Here are some examples of average bathroom remodeling costs:
- 6-foot by 6-foot bathroom remodel: $3,500, including labor and materials.
- Standard renovation: $6,500-$10,000. Price includes labor and materials the customer has purchased. Labor may include taking out the shower and shower pan, installing new shower pan and shower, and installing new door, new vanity, new mirror, new bathroom fan, and all new fixtures. Price variation depends on the quality of the finishes.
- 10-foot by 6-foot bathroom remodel: $7,200, including labor and materials.
- Mid-range renovation: $12,000-$15,000. Price includes labor and materials the customer has purchased.
- Upscale renovation: $35,000 and up. Price includes labor and materials. Items might include digital displays for fixtures, multiple shower heads and custom showers.
Where should I start when remodeling a bathroom?
Bathroom remodeling doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Before starting a bathroom remodel it’s crucial to know what you want and have a clear understanding of your maximum budget. If you’d love all marble fixtures but have $3,000 total, you will have to compromise. Being realistic about materials and money before you even contact a contractor will have you on the road to success. Here are some simple steps to follow in the planning stages of bathroom remodeling:
- List your remodeling priorities in order of importance (e.g., 1. New shower head, 2. Replace flooring, 3. Install recessed lighting, etc.).
- Calculate what you can realistically afford to spend on your bathroom remodel. Identify an “all in” price — meaning the absolute maximum you’re willing to pay, as well as what you’d prefer to spend.
- Gather ideas from Pinterest about colors and finishes.
- Research the costs of the materials and finishes you want and begin making choices about what is and isn’t possible to fit into your budget (once labor is included). If you’d like to stay under $10,000 total, but really love a $2,000 tub, plan to downgrade in other areas.
- Request quotes from at least three reputable general contractors, share your vision and ideal materials, and work together from there.
How long should a bathroom remodel take?
With proper planning and a good general contractor, your bathroom remodeling project doesn’t have to take forever. The construction phase of the project will always vary based on your scope of work, the square footage and the condition of your bathroom under the surface layer. Inevitably an 80-square-foot master bathroom with major changes will take longer than a 25-square-foot guest bath undergoing a minor renovation. For a smaller bathroom, a facelift — the industry term for sprucing up the surface layer (such as paint, vanity, tiles or light fixtures) but keeping the existing footprint of the space — may take five to eight working days, as long as there are no surprises like mold waiting when the old vanity comes out. A more complex bathroom remodel that revamps the shower area (customizing the plumbing, installing tile and changing the shower door), updates the flooring and cabinetry, and adds new paint and new lighting could take anywhere from one week to three weeks. A full bathroom remodel that guts the room, changing the footprint and moving the electrical wiring and plumbing lines, could take four to eight weeks or more. To keep your bathroom remodel on schedule, have your materials ordered and waiting, and don’t make any change orders once construction begins. Planning is key to keeping a bathroom remodel on schedule.
For more on how long a bathroom remodel should take check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.
How do I remodel my bathroom?
Bathroom remodeling is made up of three general phases. The first phase is the planning and permitting phase, in which you determine exactly what you want, what materials and finishes will be used, and what the end product will look like. If you’re competent with design you can handle the planning yourself, or you may hire an interior designer to guide you. During this phase you’ll also hire a general contractor who can help execute your remodel vision, coordinating and overseeing all the subcontractors required to do the bathroom remodeling (plumbers, flooring pros, etc.). When your plan is finalized, your contractor should obtain permits for the work you want done. During this time you’ll work together to order all the materials so they’ll be ready and waiting when it’s time to start construction.
The second phase is construction. Bathroom remodeling typically starts with demolition, removing the old floors, shower and vanity to make way for the new. Delays in delivery of materials, or changing your mind and ordering different materials halfway into the project, will mean that construction has to pause until the new materials arrive. Each subcontractor is dependent on the next to do their work, and the general contractor should keep things moving along at the proper timeline, ensuring that the right materials are available and dealing promptly with any unexpected repairs, such as damage discovered behind the walls or under the floor. The general contractor will also coordinate inspections from the necessary officials if you’ve moved load-bearing walls or done electrical or plumbing work. After construction is complete, the final phase of bathroom remodeling is addressing your punch list. These are all the items that need to be corrected before final payment is handed over to the contractor.
For more on how to remodel a bathroom check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.
How do I plan a bathroom remodeling project?
If you’re stumped on how to plan a bathroom remodeling project, it pays to hire a designer. This is especially important if you’re changing your bathroom layout in any way. Designers create contractor-friendly drawings indicating exactly where each tile and fixture will be installed, down to the light switches. This investment might cost you $300-$500 but save you significant frustration and miscommunication, while ensuring you get precisely what you want.
If you’re going to do your own design, planning a bathroom remodeling project means being organized and planning ahead. Create a general outline of what you want and the budget you have. Identify the specific fixtures, tiles, paint and vanity you prefer. Get all this organized before requesting quotes from two to three reputable general contractors. Once you find the right pro, get a written contract outlining scope of work, materials that will be used, timeframe and payment schedule. Communicate clearly about when to order your materials so they are ready and waiting by the time the contractor gets the permits. Your job from here is to communicate clearly, pay the contractor as the work progresses, and enjoy your remodel when it’s done.
For more on where to start when remodeling a bathroom check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.
How much does a shower remodel cost?
If you don’t need foundational work (like a new shower pan) but want a tile makeover in your shower, the average national cost for tiling a shower is $3,875. The average cost for bathroom tile is $25 per square foot for installation; at that rate, a standard tub and shower combo tile job with walls that are roughly 6 feet to 8 feet high may have tile installation costs that average $2,000. If all your bathroom really needs is a new shower door, door installation averages $250-$510.
For more on how to remodel a bathroom and what it costs for a shower remodel check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.
Who remodels bathrooms?
The professional best equipped to handle bathroom remodeling is a general contractor. A general contractor is typically licensed by the state or region in which they work to carry out home remodeling projects. To receive licensing, they must generally demonstrate their knowledge of construction and building and safety codes. General contractors act as the organizer for the entire bathroom remodeling project, ensuring that each element (new tile, shower pan replacement, lighting installation, etc.) is completed at the appropriate time by the proper contractor. Before hiring a general contractor, it’s wise to do your research. In addition to getting several competitive bids, here are questions to ask:
- May I see before-and-after photos of some of your recent bathroom remodels?
- Will I need permits for this project? Do you apply for those?
- May I see proof of insurance and licenses?
- Can we have a written contract outlining scope of work, budget and timeline?
- Will you be here each day overseeing the work?
For more on who remodels bathrooms and how long it takes check out The Complete Thumbtack Bathroom Remodel Guide.