Bathroom Remodel Costs & Tips For Los Angeles
When most people think of renovating their home, one thing they usually prioritize is the bathrooms. Like a kitchen, bathrooms are a part of the house that can make it feel dated and worn. Bathrooms are high traffic, ‘wet’ areas that get used daily – this adds up to a lot of wear and tear over the years. Vanities get water-stained, tiles start to crack, and mold/mildew takes its toll.
Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable general contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about bathroom remodel costs – here are some ideas & tips to get you started.
LA Bathroom Remodel Costs: $15,000 – $60,000
In Los Angeles, most bathroom remodels cost about $25,000 for a smaller or secondary bathroom and $40,000 for a larger, master bathroom. Let’s break down the total remodel cost, options, and considerations further.
Bathrooms expenses are distributed among multiple items like floor tile, shower tile, vanity, shower door, tub, sinks, faucets, shower/tub fixtures, and more. In the case of a bathroom, it’s important to clearly understand and quantify which of these materials are paid for by the contractor versus the homeowner, as this can make a drastic difference between various contractors’ estimates. It is important to know that there are a few items in a bathroom remodel cost that make up a significant portion of the costs: Tile, vanity, stand-alone tubs, & plumbing fixtures.
The most efficient and cost-effective option is to remodel the bathroom and replace the major items in the same location – toilet, vanity, shower, tub. Relocating these means increased costs from re-routing water and waste lines, reframing the space, and removing and installing new electrical, lighting, exhaust, HVAC vents, etc.
If you want to change the configuration and relocate components like a toilet, shower, etc, you can expect the bathroom remodel costs to increase. One major cost factor is relocating the drains & waste lines that serve these bathroom components. If the bathroom is on the second floor or on a raised foundation, the costs will be lower than if the bathroom is on a slab foundation, which requires cutting into the concrete. In addition, bathroom plumbing requires vertical vent pipes that run all the way to the roof in order to vent sewer gases. Sometimes these pipes need to be re-installed or rerouted depending on the new bathroom configuration, adding to the costs.
Homeowners generally have two vanity options. The lower-cost option is a pre-fabricated vanity, which comes in standard dimensions and can be purchased at local supply stores (IKEA, Home Depot, etc). Some come with a countertop already installed, while others come without a countertop and you must buy a pre-fab countertop to match the size.
Prefab vanities generally come in single-sink sizes like 24”, 30”, 36” and 48” widths or as a double sink vanity in 60” and 72”. Prices for pre-fab vanities generally range from $300-$2,000.
Homeowners seeking a higher-end look, custom-designed cabinets, or a vanity larger than 6 feet will likely need to use custom cabinets. These are manufactured in any style & size desired for your specific bathroom.
You will also need to select a custom countertop for this vanity that will be fabricated from a slab of marble, quartz, granite, etc. Suffice it to say, a custom vanity will cost significantly more than a pre-fab vanity. Custom vanities generally start at $2,000 and go up from there.
There are a few things worth discussing with your contractor to ensure you’ll get your desired result:
- In a custom vanity, make sure you like the proposed sink locations, so they don’t feel too close to the wall or too close to each other
- If you have a very long vanity, inquire whether the countertop will have a visible ‘seam’ where two pieces of slab come together
- Inform the contractor exactly where you want the vanity knobs/pulls located on each door/drawer and if they should be installed vertically or horizontally
- Inform the contractor if you expect specific vanity features like custom drawers, pull-out shelves, or soft-close doors & drawers
The shower is a substantial portion of a bathroom remodel cost, but it can range from reasonably inexpensive to extravagant. On the inexpensive side, one would utilize a pre-fab shower surround made of fiberglass instead of utilizing tile. A shower surround is available for a stand-alone shower or a shower/bath combo. This material is commonly used in apartments or rental properties. This option can often be installed for $1,000 or less.
To create a higher-end look and feel, most homeowners use tile on the shower walls. Tile is expensive because it’s very labor-intensive to install. So, regardless of the cost of the tile itself (which can certainly be expensive), this often becomes a substantial cost of the project. In addition to shower walls, one must also consider the shower floor. Again, there are two options here. The cheaper option is a fiberglass shower pan and the more attractive option is to use tile. The shower walls and floor also require the installation of a backer-board and a ‘hot-mop’ as waterproofing under the tile, which adds another cost in this category.
The shower is often a major focal point of any bathroom, so its important to get this right with your contractor. First and foremost, be aware that tilework is a very skilled trade and only experienced tile layers have the experience to do this right. Workers without the right skills can easily ruin a shower with crooked, uneven, or poorly grouted tile work. So, check the tile work on a regular basis while its in progress.
Also, make sure to be clear with your contractor about the exact pattern and design you want, ie. will the tile be horizontal or vertical, will it run all the way to the ceiling, what color do you want the grout, and how will the exposed tile edges look, etc. Finally, remember to discuss whether you want a ‘bench’ in your shower, the size of the bench size, and the material you want to use there.
Not every bathroom these days must include a bathtub, but it’s a must in a secondary (kid’s) bathroom and a regular feature in a luxury master bathroom. In a secondary bathroom, it is likely to be integrated into a shower/tub combo and should not substantially increase the bathroom remodel cost. A bathtub of this size is likely to cost between $300-$800.
Alternatively, in a master bathroom, a stand-alone bathtub will be considerably more expensive. One option that is popular is a freestanding or clawfoot style tub which could be ceramic, fiberglass, cast iron, etc. Another option is a drop-in style tub which requires the construction of a framed platform to fit inside. Either way, expect this to be a substantial part of your budget to cover the cost of the tub, any surrounding tile, running water supply and drain lines to the location, and the cost of the tub hardware.
A few tips to consider when planning for a bathtub. If you’re doing a freestanding tub, make sure any nearby walls are tiled to protect these areas from water splashing. Also, purchase the tub early in the process so your contractor has the exact dimensions in order to correctly locate the tub drain and tub faucet. If you’re using a wall-mounted tub faucet, discuss exactly how far it will extend over the tub. Finally, try to locate the tub so there are no areas behind it that might get wet and are too hard to reach to dry off.
Floor & Wall Tile
With regard to flooring in the bathroom, tile is the most common option as a waterproof surface. Other options include linoleum or waterproof vinyl planks, but most people still choose tile to achieve the look they want. As discussed in the shower section, tile installation is an expensive part of a bathroom remodel. The amount of floor tile could easily be greater than the amount in the shower, depending on the size of the bathroom. In elegant bathrooms, some homeowners are even tiling portions of the bathroom walls, whether its up to a certain height for a ‘wainscot’ look or an entire wall, floor to ceiling. As you can imagine, this will add substantial time and increase the total bathroom remodel cost.
Like other areas of tile, you’ll want to give clear instructions to your contractor regarding the direction & pattern you want the tile laid and the color of the grout. Also, make sure to discuss how you want your grout lines to look; some people want to achieve a look with virtually no grout lines showing (called a ‘butt-joint’). Remember to consider how you want the finished tile edges to look. Finally, do your best to purchase enough tile for your project all at once. If you run out and need to rebuy the same product, it’s possible the new batch of tile wont exactly match the one you originally bought.
Surprisingly, plumbing fixtures, which vary greatly in cost, could be a substantial line item in your budget as well. In a larger master bath, you may need two faucets, one or more showerheads, valves & handles, sinks, a tub faucet, and a toilet. Depending on the quality, design, and brand you choose, these parts together can easily approach $3,000 or more. On the other hand, if you are not picky about plumbing fixtures, there are certainly many cost-effective options.
Most people decide to upgrade the lighting during their bathroom remodel because it’s outdated. This means adding recessed lights in various areas and potentially decorator lighting such as sconces or hanging lights over the vanity or tub. If you’re making any changes to the layout of the bathroom, you’ll need to relocate or add electrical outlets and light switches. Finally, you should consider adding or replacing the exhaust fan. These electrical changes may require you to run a new circuit from your main panel to the bathroom to accommodate these upgraded electrical components. Electrical/lighting should not be a significant component of your budget unless you’re purchasing expensive designer lighting.
Inform your contractor early in the process exactly where you want your wall outlets, light switches, and lights. Ideally, you can even mark where you want these located on the wall or ceiling with some painter’s tape. If a light needs to be centered on something (or between two things), be sure to make that clear to your contractor. For sconce lights, there is no standard height, so identify and mark exactly where these lights should be hung on the wall. Amazingly, you’ll also need to clarify which direction sconces need to be hung because they often get hung upside down.
Although we’ve covered the major components of the bathroom above, it’s worthwhile to discuss the additional, minor items that you’ll need to consider and include in your bathroom remodel cost.
Demolition isn’t anything you need to think about, but you should expect it to be an item in your contractor’s estimate. Demolition requires heavy labor, moving the trash out of the house, and the costs of transporting and dump fees. Make sure your contractor intends to securely seal the remodel area so that a majority of dust doesn’t escape into the rest of your house.
After all the heavy construction, your new bathroom will need a quick paint job. The contractor’s paint budget shouldn’t be huge because the space is reasonably small. However, keep in mind this line item also includes preparing and texturing the walls to create a finished surface for painting.
Although a curtain rod and a shower curtain will suffice in many cases, most people now want a real shower door installed. Depending on the size & configuration of your shower, you’ll either use an ‘off-the-shelf’ door or require a custom size to be created. Expect a shower door to cost between $1,000-$2,000 on average.
The final touches you’ll need are the mirror(s), vanity/cabinet knobs, towel racks, and toilet paper holder. It’s likely you will be purchasing these items yourself, so measure your space carefully to ensure you are buying the appropriate size fixtures. Also, as discussed earlier, consider marking with tape exactly where you want each item located on the wall, so there is no confusion.
For detailed costs on other major home renovation projects, you can read our LA Home Remodel Cost Guide. If you’re considering a kitchen remodel alongside your bathroom project, we’ve put together a helpful LA Kitchen Remodeling Cost Guide as well.
When it comes to planning and coordinating the bathroom remodel cost for your home, you shouldn’t have to go it alone – GreatBuildz can help simplify your renovation experience.
GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.
Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com