How to Plan a Bathroom Remodel

Planning a bathroom remodel can seem like a daunting task, but with some preparation and research, you can create the bathroom of your dreams. Here are some tips to help you plan out your bathroom remodel.

Assess Your Needs

Before picking out finishes and fixtures, take the time to think about how you want to use your new bathroom. Consider the following:

  • Do you need more storage space, a separate tub and shower, or room for two people to use at once?
  • What are your must-have items? A large mirror or standing shower may be non-negotiable.
  • What would improve your current bathroom? Better lighting? More outlets? Improved ventilation?

Making a list of your needs and wants will help you create a cohesive design and budget.

Set a Realistic Budget

Bathroom remodels run the gamut from simple cosmetic upgrades to complete gut jobs. Prioritize what is most important in your new bathroom, and allocate budget accordingly. Some items to factor into your budget:

  • Permits and inspection fees – Building codes likely require permits when doing structural, electrical, or plumbing work.
  • Contractor fees – General contractors charge 15-25% of total project cost. Hiring specialty trades directly saves money but requires project management.
  • Materials and fixtures – Higher end finishes, custom tile, and luxury hardware increase costs. Research prices to estimate realistic amounts.
  • Unforeseen expenses – Leave 10-15% wiggle room for surprises like rotted framing, leaky pipes, or faulty wiring.

Get quotes from contractors before setting a firm budget. Their expertise will help you balance wants and costs.

Choose a Theme and Design Elements

Decide on an overall aesthetic for your new bathroom. You’ll also need to select finishes for major components:

Flooring: Tile, vinyl plank, natural stone, and linoleum are water-resistant options. Maintain visual flow by using the same material on walls and floors.

Walls: Water-resistant drywall, tile, or plastic panels are common in bathrooms. If tiling walls, decide on subway tile, mosaics, or larger format tiles.

Cabinetry: Stock, semi-custom, or full custom cabinetry comes in a range of styles and prices. Decide on door style, finish, and layout.

Countertops: Quartz, solid surface, and laminate stand up to bathroom use. Marble and granite work too but require sealing.

Plumbing fixtures: Pick finishes and styles for your sink, faucet, tub, shower, and toilet. Get accurate measurements of existing plumbing when choosing replacements.

Hardware: Towel bars, hooks, shower caddies, and cabinet hardware should complement your overall style.

Create a Floor Plan

With a rough layout in mind, create a scale drawing of your new bathroom including:

  • Dimensions of the room and locations of doors, windows, pipes, and vents
  • Desired locations of fixtures like the sink, toilet, tub, and shower
  • Cabinetry, shelving, and other storage
  • Space needed for door swings and walkways

This will help you maximize usable space and ensure everything fits together properly when it comes time to start renovations. Use graph paper or online floor plan software to experiment with different layouts.

Hire the Right Professionals

Unless you are highly skilled, hire professionals to complete specialized work like:

  • Plumbing and electrical: Licensed pros should handle any replacement or relocation of fixtures.
  • Tiling: Experienced tile setters get clean, consistent results on floors, walls, and in showers.
  • Carpentry: Framing, cabinetry, and custom built-ins often require an expert.

For other finish work like painting, you may choose to DIY portions to save money. Get quotes from at least three companies for big-ticket items. Check reviews and verify licenses before hiring.

Apply for Permits

Most bathroom remodels require permits, particularly when:

  • Relocating or adding plumbing fixtures
  • Moving or reconfiguring walls
  • Upgrading the electrical system

Building codes regulate minimum room and door sizes, ventilation, moisture prevention, and more. Submit detailed plans to your local permitting office for approval before starting demolition. Allow several weeks for processing.

Create a Timeline

With permits in place and professionals hired, map out an overall timeline including:

  • Demolition of old bathroom
  • Structural work like moving walls or floors
  • Rough-in of plumbing and electrical
  • Installation of major components like tiling, cabinets, lighting
  • Painting and installation of finishes
  • Final inspection

Factor in material lead times and labor hours to estimate how long each step takes. Build in some buffer room in case of delays or issues. Clearly communicate timeframes with your contractor.

Planning your bathroom remodel thoughtfully from start to finish will help you transform your space beautifully and cost-effectively. Set realistic expectations, do your research, and work with reliable professionals for best results. With some vision and dedication, you can create the bathroom of your dreams.

Frequently Asked Questions About Planning a Bathroom Remodel

How much does it cost to remodel a bathroom?

The average bathroom remodel costs $10,000 to $20,000 but can range from $5,000 to $50,000 or more. Factors affecting cost include the size of the bathroom, chosen finishes and fixtures, structural changes, and if you do the work yourself or hire out. Setting a realistic budget is key.

What is the first step in remodeling a bathroom?

The first step is planning. Analyze how you want to use the space, identify your must-haves, assess what needs to be updated, and come up with a rough layout. This will help you create a cohesive design and budget before getting into the details.

Should I get quotes before setting my budget?

Yes. Reach out to general contractors to get itemized quotes for your projected remodel. Their expertise will help you determine reasonable costs for labor and materials in your area and avoid underbudgeting.

How do I plan electrical and plumbing for a bathroom remodel?

Create a detailed plan showing proposed locations for all electrical and plumbing before demolition. Hire a licensed electrician and plumber early on to provide quotes and advice on any code requirements. Leave wiggle room in your budget for unforeseen issues.

What order should I remodel my bathroom?

A typical sequence is demolition, structural work, rough plumbing and electrical, flooring/tiling, installation of fixtures and cabinets, painting, and hardware. Finish plumbing, electrical, and inspection should happen last. Build in contingency time in case of delays.

How long will my bathroom remodel take?

The timeline depends on the scope of work, but expect 1-4 weeks for a cosmetic refresh and 4-12 weeks for a complete remodel. Create a detailed schedule with input from your contractors to establish realistic timeframes for each stage of the project.


Remodeling a cramped, outdated bathroom can seem like a daunting task, but with careful planning it can be manageable and achievable. Focus on setting priorities, creating a workable layout, selecting finishes, hiring professionals, getting permits, and setting a realistic timeline. Do your homework to set a reasonable budget and stick to it. With some vision and dedication, you will be well on your way to the bathroom of your dreams. Just take it step by step.