master bath cost

capelliniFebruary 21, 2013

Contractor looked at our master bath today and said high 30's/low 40's to remodel. When I tried to break it down to see how he arrived at that figure, he said $8 - 10 K for new shower; $2,000 for new tub; $3,000 for porcelain tile on floor. Then he changed the subject. I couldn't get him to explain how he got to $40,000 from there.

We also want alder cabinets (I'd been thinking cherry, but he said alder would be 15% cheaper); quartz counter, undermount sinks, an alder tower in the middle of the counter w/ electrical outlet inside, wood framed mirrors, and updated lights over mirrors. Nothing fancy, just need to update it. The counter is 6 feet long.

Does anyone have a ballpark estimate for the cabinet/sink/mirrors/lights cost (including labor)? We're in Atlanta area. Thank you.

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I'm also in the Atlanta area. I can't help you with the estimate on alder cabinets, but I'd be concerned about a contractor who wasn't giving you a written itemized estimate. We are doing our own master bath, but we used a general contractor for our basement remodel and each element was itemized and priced out.

What I learned from that experience was to specify everything in the contract. A mirror can range from $30 to $500+. When we priced out our bathroom countertops the first place was double the others. You could choose all the fixtures and have your contractor only price you for labor. If you don't want to do that, you need to at least specify a minimum quality. For example, we didn't specify what type of heat pump for the basement and, of course, the contractor put in a very inexpensive one. When we had an HVAC company out to service the unit, he said we'd be lucky to get 5 years from it.

I don't know how larger you bathroom is or if you are moving plumbing. For that price, I'd expect pretty nice finishes.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:42PM
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We had our master remodeled in 2005. It's a 1980s house and has a very large bath. We went through HD Expo Center which was pricey but we figured they would stand behind the job.

We kept the same footprint and it cost about 42K. The materials are probably a 6-7 on a scale of 1-10--better than average but definitely not over the top.

The breakdown was about 10K for materials and the rest for labor. Labor is the killer--labor to take out the old and put in the new.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 8:25PM
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Thank you both. TSG, that's a good point abt making the contract very specific.

The contractors we've interviewed so far want to handle the whole thing.

We're not moving plumbing.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 8:49PM
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Get everything in writing as far as what's included and what needs to be supplied by you. Most GCs do not include painting, sinks, tub, toilet, tile and backsplash, faucets and so on. My MB is approx 12 x 12' and I had it ripped out to the studs. New tub, frameless shower stall, toilet, vanity, countertops, tile, window sills, faucets, hardware, paint, lights, mirrors, etc. Everything combined cost around $20 - 24k. I depends on your personal choices for the room. Don't let a contractor decide that for you.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 9:31PM
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My house was being used as a double when I bought it so it had a room upstairs being used as a dining room with a room right off of it being used as a kitchen. I am making the old dining room my master bedroom and the old kitchen is becoming the master bath. I live in upstate NY and my labor rates are really good. I didn't take it down to the studs because it's a really old house and I wanted to preserve the plaster walls. I had a new shower built but all of the other fixtures are second hand. Some of the finishes are long term and some are intentional points of upgrade. In the end, I will have a single sink vanity, a claw foot tub with a separate shower, a Toto toilet, heated floors and tons of storage for less than $10,000 total.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:34AM
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The number without any context doesn't seem too alarming to me. But your post doesn't really convey what you're doing. There's not really such a thing as "just update it" if you're having everything ripped out, having a new shower and pan built, a new tub set, new electrical run, and although you may not be moving plumbing that doesn't mean you don't need plumbing work (body sprays, for example, or if you didn't previously have a separate shower and tub, or if the drain pipe pitch isn't right. There are so many variables. Then there are the materials. If you don't buy them yourselves the contractor will charge a markup. (Labor only quotes still include other building materials such as wiring, plumbing, sheet rock, plywood/framing wood, etc.). You could save money by buying finishing materials yourself, but there's a reason contractors offer to do it for you and charge a markup: it takes a lot of researching, traveling, and frustration. But it can save you a significant amount if money (it saved me about $8-9K). Without the dimensions of the room, it's hard to say what certain other things should cost. The tile quote (which I assume is labor only) doesn't seem out of line for porcelain (I used marble and was told by nearly ever company who quoted that the labor for ceramic was cheaper than the labor for marble and porcelain). The $8K for the shower seems odd because it is just too vague in terms of what it covers. Glass alone could cost $1.5-2K, and it depends on the fixtures and plumbing options you're going with.

At a more basic level, I'd say this: don't get a quote until you know exactly what you want and have it sketched (even if roughly) out. You're wasting your time until you know exactly what you want. My quotes ranged from $15K-40K depending on whether materials were included or not. In the end, I went with a labor only quote of $14K and it ended up costing about $27.5K with all materials and labor (which, as I said above, may have cost $8-9K more if I hadn't bought the finishing materials myself).

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:48AM
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Thank you all. Really helpful. I'm new to this, & it feels like I'm learning a really difficult foreign language.

It sounds like we should think abt trying to find a contractor who'll let us pick out the materials & get a quote from him for labor only. So far, we've met w/ 2 contractors who have their own showrooms (so they wouldn't go for that) & a third who doesn't have his own showroom, but he said he'd charge $1,350 to come up w/ a plan. Maybe the third guy could give us an estimate for labor only if we tell him exactly what we're doing.

Another question: Is Angie's List a good place to find a contractor to handle master bath?

To clarify what we're doing: keep water closet as is; take out old prefab shower & install tiled shower w/ frameless glass doors, porcelain tile, niche, just one shower head, bench; take out garden tub & put in new tub (both contractors who've seen it have said $2,000 including labor to do that); take out existing vanity, big sheet mirror, old brass lights & install cherry vanity (changed my mind abt alder), quartz counter, cherry tower, undermount sinks, 2 wood framed mirrors, updated lights; put electrical outlet in tower; take out carpet on bathroom floor (ugh - I know) & put in porcelain tile. Apologize for all the detail, but just in case anyone has any feedback.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 11:48AM
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There have been a few recent discussions about dealing with contractors. I have included a link.

If you don't use a contractor with a showroom, you will need to spend a lot of time planning and purchasing. I purchased all the tile and fixtures and my reno contract was for labor and basic building materials only.

I planned my two bath renos for a year....researching on this site and houzz. visiting granite shops, tile shops and Fergusons. talking to all my friends about their experiences. it is a lot of work.
It would be much easier to go to a showroom and select from their choices of tile and fixtures.

my two baths were 5'x8' and labor-only bids ranged from $4,800 to $10,000 for each bath. my renos were easy demo and replace with a tiled tub surround and tiled floor. I didn't change any plumbing or electric.

after I chose my contractor, I was able to use their account at the tile shops to receive their discount.

good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: choosing a contractor

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 1:31PM
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Since you are in Atlanta, you might check out We've had really good luck finding service people that way. We found an excellent plumber there that we used for multiple projects. I've also used it to find an electrician, landscaper, and dry wall guy. We also just recently used it to find a shower glass door company. So far, everyone we used who had a lot of good reviews there has worked out well for us. We've talked to a couple of the service providers and they also seem to be on angie's list as well. I've never tried angie's list since kudzu has worked well for us and is free to the consumer.

Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend the contractor we used for our basement. I can understand why it would be much easier to use a contractor with a showroom, but you are going to pay for the convenience and be limited by his options. If you don't have the time or inclination to do all the legwork yourself though, then it may be worth it.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 2:08PM
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Jules, thank you for that link. And TSG, I'll definitely check out Kudzu. I'd gotten in the habit of checking Yelp & had forgotten abt Kudzu. So glad I found this site.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:07PM
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We finished a kitchen remodel about a year ago using a single guy who knew how to install gas and electric appliances (recommended by our appliance store), run wiring, install cabinets and set tile. He demo'ed and got a friend in who made custom cabinets, including an island that matched our existing cabinets. We found granite, a wood floor installer, and lighting fixtures - our guy helped supervise everything. We spent less than $20G for what would have otherwise cost twice that.

We're now embarking on a similar project to add a bathroom where none existed in our 3400 sq. ft. 1924 home that only has one full bath. I got a bid from a GC for $30,000 that sounded good, but I just kept thinking about our kitchen experience and thought I could do better. So I found a licensed plumber who said he could plumb the room for $3500, and someone who is a plasterer/carpenter who will charge me $30/hr to do much of the finish work. I figure with a 4x5 ft shower, freestanding Victoria and Albert tub, marble floor with radiant heat, Toto toilet, IKEA vanities and sinks and a rainshower shower head and hand-held sprayer I can get the whole thing done for $15-20G.

I'll save myself $8-10G, and am well aware of the headaches it will cost, but that's a lot of cash. I've already been online and at the local fixture stores and need to have a pretty good idea of what I'm putting in there before the plumbing part even starts - but with the help of gardenweb, I'm confident we can do this.

So yes - $40,000 sounds like an awful lot of money. In this economy, I want to make sure that I'm not over-investing in this house, but expect something nice.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:36PM
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one thing to keep in mind if you are serving as your own GC or using a one-man shop is the time it will take to complete the job.

our contractor completed 99% of the work on two baths in 6 days (they worked Saturday). they have to return after the granite tops are installed to complete the plumbing.

two of our estimates were from one-man shops and they indicated that it would take them two weeks to complete each bath. and if you serve as your own GC, it may take longer than that to schedule the subs.

time for completion was important to me. I didn't want the contractors in my house for a month.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 8:36AM
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WOW... price is extremely high, Check with other contractors. I just redid my bathroom and it looks amazing. The first contractor I had out gave me an estimate 2X plus some, for what I paid to have it done. The contractor I had do the work, completed the work in 5 days. Bathroom was gutted and redone with drywall, all new cabinets, flooring, shower & toilet. I was thrilled...

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 12:23PM
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We live in the Chicago area and are in the process of getting quotes for a MB remodel. Ours will be a gut job. We will need to move the toilet but hoping to keep much of the plumbing in the same spot. One estimate for a one man operation was $45 per hour for labor. He said plumbing could be about 5 or 6K alone depending on the extent of it. That does not include any material costs. We got another ballpark quote from a remodeling company that has a store front and were told MB start at about $25,000. We are hoping to do ours for under $15,000. We have been our own GC in the past on other projects and I really do not find it difficult and actually prefer it.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 12:55PM
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Thank you all again so much. Still researching.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 12:19PM
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The best advice you've gotten here is to figure out what you want and need before you start to get pricing.

You can get a toilet for $100 or one for $4000. A bathtub can cost $200 or $ 10,000. The fact that you don't want a bathtub could significantly alter the cost. One sink or two? $120 faucet or a $1200 one......or two?

Whats the size and price range of your house and neighborhood? My "Guesstimate" for your bath - which is all you can get at this stage - is based on my experience of projects in your type of house and neighborhood. That will vary depending on the side of the tracks you live on and whether those tracks are in Malibu or Milwaukee.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 5:43PM
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