Costs and Tips For Planning a Small Bathroom Remodel

Everyone knows that renovating your home can be an expensive and daunting undertaking. But one of the simplest ways to improve your home is to start with a small bathroom remodel. This is a reasonably affordable and straightforward project that can be accomplished quickly if you hire the right contractor.

It also helps to be prepared with an understanding of the materials you want and the scope of the project.  Small bathroom remodels are a simple project because most of these bathrooms are similar in size (5ft x 8ft) and have the same components (shower, toilet, vanity).    

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable general contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about small bathroom remodels costs – here are some ideas & tips to get you started. 

Los Angeles Small Bathroom Remodel Costs:

Small Bathroom Remodel Oval Mirrors

$15,000 – $30,000

In Los Angeles, most small bathroom remodels cost about $25,000 on average for a standard-sized secondary bathroom where every part of the bathroom is being replaced. Let’s break down the total remodel cost, options, and considerations. 

Bathroom expenses are distributed among multiple items like floor tile, shower tile, vanity, shower door, tub, sinks, faucets, shower/tub fixtures, and more. It’s very important to clearly understand and quantify which materials are paid for by the contractor and which are paid for by the homeowner, as this can make a drastic difference between various contractors’ estimates. There are a few items in a small bathroom remodel cost that can make up a significant portion of the total: Tile, vanity, tub, & plumbing fixtures.

Bathroom Layout:

Small Bathroom Remodel Hallway

The most cost-effective way to do a small bathroom remodel is to 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 decide to change the configuration and relocate components like a toilet, shower, etc., you can expect the bathroom remodel costs to increase.

Vanity

Small Bathroom Remodel Sink

A small bathroom remodel will usually require a single-sink vanity, a pedestal sink, or even a floating sink. An average size hall bathroom will usually accommodate a vanity that’s between 24-36” wide, although you can find vanities in sizes as small as 18” wide or in other standard sizes like 30” or 48”.

Vanities in these standard sizes usually also come with a sink and countertop as a single kit and are available in many color & style options from various retailers. Their costs can range from several hundred dollars up to over a thousand, depending on the style you choose.

Pro tip: When buying a vanity, take note of whether the sink comes with one or three holes for the faucet. This will determine the type of faucet that will be required (either a widespread faucet or a center-set faucet). Also, check whether the vanity you’re considering comes with cabinet knobs or not.  The vanity is a significant design element in your small bathroom remodel, so consider spending a bit more to get the look you really want.

Shower/Bath Combo

Small Bathroom Remodel Open Concept

In a secondary bathroom in Los Angeles, the most common configuration is a shower/tub combo. The average-sized small bathroom is approximately five feet wide and therefore the standard-sized tub is also sized at five feet to fit this space. A bathtub of this size is likely to cost between $300-800. Tubs can vary by material (fiberglass, porcelain, cast iron, etc) and by width and height, so it’s a good idea to compare options. Most tubs come in white, but there are many shades of white so it’s always best to shop in person if possible.

For the shower walls that surround the tub, there are two cost options. On the cheaper side, one would utilize a pre-fab shower surround made of fiberglass.  A shower surround often comes as a single part that’s quick to install. This material is commonly used in rental properties and can often be installed for $1,000 or less.

However, since the shower is an important focal point of any small bathroom remodel, many people opt to use tile on the shower walls to create a higher-end look and feel.  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 and will run into the thousands.

Pro tip: 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, etc. If you’re including a shower niche, identify where you want your tile ‘lines’ to be, relative to the niche.

Floor & Wall Tile

Small Bathroom Remodel Stone Tiles and Tub

With regard to flooring for a small bathroom remodel, 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.  Although tile installation is an expensive part of a bathroom remodel, the amount of floor tile in a small bathroom is not significant. An average 5ft x 8ft bathroom has only 40sf of floor space, but you’ll need less than 30sf of tile because tile doesn’t go under the bathtub area.     

In some small bathroom remodels, homeowners choose to tile portions of the bathroom walls, usually up to a certain height for a ‘wainscot’ look or sometimes an entire wall, floor to ceiling.  But, as you can imagine, this amount of tile and labor can substantially increase the total small bathroom remodel cost.

Pro-tip: 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’).  Do your best to purchase enough tiles for your project all at once. If you run out and need to rebuy the same product, it’s possible the new batch of tiles won’t exactly match the one you originally bought.    

Plumbing Fixtures

Small Bathroom Remodel Shower Head

Plumbing fixtures can vary greatly in cost. In a small bathroom remodel, you may need a faucet, a showerhead, shower valve & tub spout, a sink, and a toilet. Depending on the quality, design, and brand you choose, these parts can cost between $300-$2,000.

Pro-tip: Try to purchase all plumbing hardware with the same color/finish (chrome, bronze, black, gold, satin nickel, etc) to create a matching finished look.  

Lighting/Electrical

Small Bathroom Remodel Blue Accent

Many people decide to upgrade the lighting in their small bathroom remodel. As needed, you can add recessed lights and other decorative lighting such as a vanity light or sconces over or next to the mirror. Also, it may be a good idea to add or replace the exhaust fan. Electrical/lighting should not be a significant component of your budget unless you’re purchasing expensive designer lighting.

Pro-tip: For sconce lights, there is no standard height, so identify and mark exactly where these lights should be hung on the wall. Also, clarify which direction sconces need to be hung because they often get hung upside down. 

Miscellaneous 

Small Bathroom Model Monochrome Grey

Although I’ve covered the major components of a small bathroom remodel, it’s worthwhile to discuss a few minor items that you’ll need to consider and include in your small bathroom remodel budget.  

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 bathroom area so that a majority of dust doesn’t escape into the rest of your house.

After the major of construction is done, your small bathroom will need a quick paint job. The contractor’s paint budget shouldn’t be huge because the space is reasonably small.  However, make sure this line item also includes preparing and texturing the walls to create a finished surface for painting. And of course, you’ll need to pick a paint color.  

Although a curtain rod and a shower curtain will suffice in many small bathroom remodels, some people want a glass shower door installed. For a standard-sized five-foot shower or tub, you’ll be able to use a standard size door which will cost between $700-$1,200 installed.

The final touches you’ll need are the mirror, vanity knobs, towel racks, toilet paper holder, and possibly a medicine cabinet. It’s likely you will be purchasing these items yourself, so measure your space carefully to ensure you are buying the appropriate size fixtures. Ideally, the color/finish will match your plumbing fixtures.

Pro-tip: Mark the wall with tape exactly where you want each item located, so there is no confusion for your contractor and his team.

 Finding a Good Bathroom Contractor

A good way to find the best bathroom remodeling contractor is to ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. if they have a bathroom remodeler or contractor who they’ve used and liked.  If you ask for suggestions on Facebook or other social media platform, you can only trust recommendations from ‘real life’ friends.  Other people on social media that you don’t know are often biased (their brother is a contractor, etc).

If you can’t get any good suggestions from the people you know and you need to look elsewhere, consider websites that do really intensive contractor screening and personalized introductions to reliable bathroom remodelers (like we do at GreatBuildz).  The absolute last option should be looking online at large, national contractor listing websites. Because there are so many bathroom remodelers near Los Angeles, there is no good way to tell the quality, reliable ones from the bad ones. Suspiciously, most of the contractors listed on these sites have a 4- or 5-star rating with lots of glowing reviews and pretty pictures of their work, but it’s hard to know which reviews are real and which are not.   

For detailed costs on other major home renovation projects, you can read our Home Remodel Cost Guide

When it comes to planning and coordinating a small bathroom remodel 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 & 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.

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