How much should it cost approx. to renovate a bathroom?

luvofbeauty75July 30, 2014

Ok I have FINALLY gotten an estimate after I asked about the jack and jill bathroom in my townhouse last time. I am still waiting for another estimate, but the first one I got is way more than I expected.

The estimate includes changing the vanities (60" & 72" repectively), bathtub, stone countertops/ bath wall, faucets, toilet, flooring (tile floor), frosted glass doors, 2 regular 6 panel interior doors, 1 new sliding closet door, adding lighting and ventilation fan.

There's nothing fancy that I requested, and NO changes in plumbing is needed. But still, the estimate is almost 30K including labor and material!!!

I've asked people before and their renovation runs around 20K at most (either bathrooms or kitchens). And our bathroom isn't that big and no change of plumbing location is needed. So how such should that run approximately?

btw, my in-laws just renovated tiny bathroom (even including change of plumbing location because they added a shower in their half bath) and that just cost them 6k. So... hearing that the estimate of our bathroom (ok to be fair it's bigger than their tiny bathroom but still I expected 15k at most?) is close to 30K is just insane.

So sorry for my rant. But I really want to know... how much should this run usually? I'm having another guy to come in for an estimate this Saturday, hope I won't hear any bad news again.... :(. Honestly, if it's 30k for some mostly facelift job, I'd rather find another house and just move... some day...

Can my dream of living in a more relaxing bathroom with NO carpet come true???

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Babka NorCal 9b

Too many variables. It all depends on what you want. Hi end or low end for each of the items/materials you wish to replace.

Then it depends on where you live. And who is responsible for the work. A general contractor will charge more than if you individually hire your tradespeople, but then getting them there on time and being responsible for goofs is on the contractor, not you. You pay for that.

Always get at least three independent estimates. They will give you a clue on what is "normal" in your area.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 11:38PM
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We are going all out on a complete Master bath remodel and we are at $400/sq.ft in labor and materials, split pretty evenly. I had sourced all the materials beforehand and the 3 bids came in so close to each other that you would swear the builders knew each other. They didn't! Custom glass tile, custom vanity, high end fixtures, intricate tile work, some plumbing moved, some electrical and minor reframing of shower area. I'm in LA and labor is expensive in my town, but I also went all out with the finishes. I've never had a new bathroom, so I didn't hold back, but I also didn't over build since real estate prices are very high here.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 12:48AM
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Thanks for your input! Yes I know it has variables and it depends on what materials I want. But during the visit, the contractor was telling us how much the material would cost approximately and he suggested where we can get the material cheaper. So it all seemed like it wouldn't cost that much. Also on his estimate, it is a lum sum of what tasks are included, and material is calculated in the total cost. I don't know if this is the norm but I suspect he charges a lot for labor!

The other contractor I asked might charge even more, as I suspect :(. And he's the first one who came to our house and it takes him so long and we still haven't gotten the estimate yet, not a good sign.

So I can only hope that I have better luck with the guy who's coming this Saturday. btw, he's not a general contractor, does that make a big difference?

Anyways, thanks so much for reading... I really hope that my dream for so many years can finally come true. I can compromise for not having everything done professionally (like maybe I can try to paint the walls/ closet door or re-stain the cabinets by myself?), but still for most of the work, I really cannot DIY :(.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 12:49AM
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I can understand the $400/ sq ft if it's all high end stuff. And I like the idea of a cost for each sq ft. The estimate I got is not like that and its a total cost with a list of work to be done. Also we didn't mention ANYTHING high end. We were only looking for moderate material, nothing fancy...

My in-laws live in SF and probably there are so many construction companies there so their pricing is so much better than ours. (esp. their 6K includes the relocation of toilet, sink and adding a shower!) We live in south bay CA and seems like renovation costs here can't even compare?!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:01AM
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luvofbeauty, my quote wasn't in sq.ft, it was a lump sum to include all the work that needed to be done ... I just didn't want to state my final number ...

I bought all the materials myself and only asked for a labor quote from the contractors. You don't want allowances because your idea of a nice faucet will probably not match someone else's choice.

I can't believe that SF would be "cheap". We are in a nice town in LA and we most certainly get "zip coded" (charged higher prices for living in a nice town). The market has also changed in the last year and the contractors, builders and suppliers are all very busy. My contractor is booked through next February. We built a guest house in 2011 and in hindsight it turned out to be a great time to do it, as the contractors were hungry for business and prices were down. Now in 2014, our real estate prices have passed the 2007 high mark. Crazy!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:25AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Mid grade 22K, high end 60K. Average numbers.

Mid definition, ''Update an existing 5-by-7-foot bathroom. Replace all fixtures to include 30-by-60-inch porcelain-on-steel tub with 4-by-4-inch ceramic tile surround; new single-lever temperature and pressure-balanced shower control; standard white toilet; solid-surface vanity counter with integral sink; recessed medicine cabinet with light; ceramic tile floor; vinyl wallpaper.''

High definition,''Expand an existing 35-square-foot bathroom to 100 square feet within existing house footprint. Relocate all fixtures. Include 42-by-42-inch neo-angle shower with ceramic tile walls with accent strip, recessed shower caddy, body-spray fixtures, and frameless glass enclosure. Include a customized whirlpool tub; stone countertop with two sinks; two mirrored medicine cabinets with lighting; a compartmentalized commode area with one-piece toilet; and a humidistat-controlled exhaust fan. Use all color fixtures. Use larger matching ceramic tiles on the floor, laid on the diagonal with ceramic tile base molding. Add general and spot lighting including waterproof shower fixture. Cabinetry shall include a custom drawer base and wall cabinets for a built-in look. Extend HVAC system, and include electric in-floor heating and heated towel bars.''

Sounds like what you want is somewhere in between. The price should reflect that. Your contractor shoukfd furnish you with copies of his license and insurance, discuss calling his references, and the permitting and inspectionsthat must occur. Don't hire an unlicensed hack!

Here is a link that might be useful: Cost vs. Value. SF

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:26AM
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" A general contractor will charge more than if you individually hire your tradespeople,"

I'd like to see that substantiated. Why would a sub give a wholesale price to someone who's only going to hire them once?

A homeowner is going to pay retail. You might as well get the benefits of having a GC.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:54AM
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Getting multiple quotes will help.

The number might not be crazy but I would guess you could get in the $15-20K range. We've heard that all the building trades are busy right now and prices have gone up quite a bit in the past two years. Are you planning on a tiled shower/tub surround? Tiling in this area can be very expensive (labor, even if you pick a cheaper tile). Shower glass is pricey. Doors can be expensive if you use solid core. Could you just paint your existing doors? Does the quote include any permits you might need for electrical work?

Also, depending on where you are some contractors might have an unwritten zip code markup, e.g. charge more in 95070 than in 95037.

Good luck, hope you get some better news with the next folks.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:44AM
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I can substantiate it in my experience. I used a general contractor extensively on a previous project. If you do not use them for the complete design/build package which includes limiting your input on some specific fixtures and finishes, you pay strictly time and material.

Their rationale is that they can do a more efficient job if they are allowed to select a few options for fixtures and finishes and you choose from those.

Anyway, for time and materials they bill out around $90 per person on the job and they have a pretty significant upcharge on materials (and they don't reveal exactly what it is). So if you have a laborer doing demo that they are paying $15 an hour, you pay $90. If they have a carpenter on the job they are paying $35, you pay $90. And possibly with some plumbers or electrician they may barely be breaking even.

It only makes sense that they would have to charge to cover overhead: there is someone answering the phone and doing other administration and there is a project manager who is Coordinating the project, but not contributing task-oriented labor directly to the project.

I am not using them on this project because they no longer used the plumber or electrician I liked. The plumber and electrician charged *them too much and was cutting into their overhead and profits. So that quality level went down.

I am currently acting as my own GC because I designed the project and did not want to be on a time and materials contract. I am using the same carpenter and tile setter they use and I am not billed anywhere close to $90 an hour.
The plumber and electrician are not that much less expensive, but they do not have the large materials markup that the contractor has.

What I DO NOT gain from doing it this way is Time or Efficiency. As an individual person with one project going I cannot coordinate the trades to come in and out one right after the other. Projects take a lot longer.

But it makes sense it Has to cost more if you use a General Contractor --Unless they pass on some sort of volume discount to you--mine didn't. You are paying for the coordination and administration of completion of the project in a timely manner. They wouldn't be doing it if they weren't making money out of the deal.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:53AM
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You haven't said how large your bathroom is. I just finished a complete replace-in-kind (mostly) guest bath. It's 5x10 with a tub/shower alcove. I only have one vanity (faucet/sink). I can't tell if you have a separate shower with glass doors or they are attached to your tub. No added or moved plumbing or electrical. I used to have a glass door attached to the old tub but I went with a shower curtain this time and am happy I did.

My total cost was $15K. I had hoped for $10K, felt $12K was more realistic and was prepared to spend $15K. :)

I got three estimates and went with the highest because I felt his was the most complete and he was easiest to communicate with. I live in the SF Bay Area and our prices are as high as anywhere. I loved my GC and all the people who worked on my bathroom. I've already recommended him and my BD to a friend and they are starting work on her bathroom next week.

The only allowance he included was tile+labor (he subcontracted that). It was no problem since I was going with budget-friendly tile. The tile people did great work. I contracted for my carrara counter myself, the light and little things. I went through my BD for the vanity and all the plumbing stuff. Everything is included in the $15K. I could have gone way over that in finishes, but I don't think I needed to. For my house and neighborhood, this is a nice bathroom.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:46AM
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If you have both a 60" and a 72" vanity in the bathroom, it must be large. The cheapest quote that we got for our hall bath, which has a 72" vanity, toilet, separate shower and tub was about $20k for labor only. We didn't move any plumbing. So your 30k bid does not sound shocking to me for a jack and jill bathroom with materials included, since you'll have 2 vanities, 2 stone countertops, etc.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:42PM
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We just finished a small bathroom re-do. We replaced a tub with a shower and changed the flooring and single vanity.
The space is typical 5 x 7. We hired a tile guy who had his own plumber, and spent approx. $4000 on labor/construction materials (original estimate was $3500, but the plumbers ran into major issues when re-piping for the shower) . We purchased all of our own tile, glass shower doors and the vanity, then did our own paint and lighting.
Our biggest expense? The glass shower doors. Basic sliding, framed door cost us $1600. Tile--$300. Vanity---$300 (from Lowes). Shower/sink fixtures--$175.

When all is said and done, ours will have cost about $7k.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:59PM
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We just finished a small bathroom re-do. We replaced a tub with a shower and changed the flooring and single vanity.
The space is typical 5 x 7. We hired a tile guy who had his own plumber, and spent approx. $4000 on labor/construction materials (original estimate was $3500, but the plumbers ran into major issues when re-piping for the shower) . We purchased all of our own tile, glass shower doors and the vanity, then did our own paint and lighting.
Our biggest expense? The glass shower doors. Basic sliding, framed door cost us $1600. Tile--$300. Vanity---$300 (from Lowes). Shower/sink fixtures--$175.

When all is said and done, ours will have cost about $7k.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 2:01PM
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I can't help but I can commiserate, as I am currently in the same situation, and possibly location too(South Bay Area). I am trying to even figure out what a good range will be as most contractors ask you this before they even come out. I recently had one highly reputable/recommended place tell me that bathrooms are at least 25k, no matter what. Mind you, that was with no dimensions or description of my children's small jack and Jill bath. Also, I am only doing a rip and replace with mid grade finishes that I have already priced out to be around 5k and we are using the existing tile floor because we had carpet up until 2 yrs ago(what is it with that?). From now on I am only asking for labor costs and if they won't separate it out, I have to pass on them. In my case I have a hard time justifying 20k for labor, even in this high COLA. I am working down the list of referrals from neighbors as well as using Yelp and Angie's ratings, because I do want a quality job, just not a luxury job. Unfortunately the guy I used for my kitchen decided he hated me for asking questions about stuff like pricing and process and screamed at me about how horrible I was so I need to find a new contractor. Preferably one that doesn't mind being around the type of happy inquisitive homeowners who are cheerfully cooking on hot plates and mini ovens for months on end.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 2:04PM
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Honestly, if it's 30k for some mostly facelift job

This is not a "facelift". You are removing all the fixtures and installing new ones, installing new flooring, and adding electrical ... it's more of a "gut it and fill it" situation,

changing the vanities (60" & 72" repectively),
stone countertops/ bath wall,
flooring (tile floor),
frosted glass doors,
2 regular 6 panel interior doors,
1 new sliding closet door,
adding lighting and ventilation fan.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Thanks for all your input!!!

I've never asked for an estimate from a general contractor, now I get a better idea!


OK so I agree that it seems the allowances thing is somewhat subjective. And I don't know if we got "zipcoded" or it's the whole south bay is like that :(


Thanks for your input! So 22k is midrange... got it! Hm… the materials we and the contractor mentioned are nothing fancy and he was suggesting stuff that are cheaper etc., so I thought he would charge less than 20k, but not 30k.


That’s what I thought too… 15K to 20k at most. 30K is way more than what I want to spend. From what I saw on HGTV ( I know those shows are filmed in Toronto…), even a whole house reno (and the house is much bigger than ours) cost 80k to 100k? Including moving the walls and adding/ relocating fixtures? So 30k for a very moderate reno of just 1 small bathroom is not what I expected.

And yes, the contractor already suggested us NOT to do a tile surround the tub because of the higher labor cost and I’ve no problem with that. But still it turned out as 30k.  For the tiles for the floor, I already told him I like some wood looking porcelain tiles from HD, nothing fancy and not small complicated tiles. And no glass shower doors I am keeping the current shower curtain rod. We also never mentioned we need solid core doors, unless that’s what he assumed.

Yeah so for the next estimate, I’m gonna ask to maybe paint the current closet door and move the solid doors to the bedroom side, and just restain/ paint the current vanity cabinets (to save on materials). Also maybe I shouldn’t add more lighting or vent to lower the cost? If it still costs too much or takes too long for that, maybe I’ve to settle to do it later or DIY on those, just focus on the most important or stuff that we can’t do DIY for now 
And thanks, hope I’ll have better luck the next time too! Fingers crossed!


Thanks for sharing your experience! Now I know how this works. Seems like GC can charge whatever they want to cover their overhead. For this crazy market now, I guess they are really charging more than they have to…
Since I don’t have to set a tight time frame for this remodel, maybe I will see how much the subcontractor will charge. Hope at least it’s a much more reasonable cost.
And yes, no wonder most houses I saw in this area only have basic renovation now, if any (esp. for the bathrooms). Oh yes, and all these houses are not cheap now.


My bathroom is a bit bigger than yours with a weird jack and jill layout. But there’s no separate shower, just a bath/ shower combo, and I don’t want glass shower doors (want to keep the current curved shower curtain rod).
And probably no allowance on material is better? My quote includes everything. And who knows how much they actually charge for material and labor. Also your 15K seems to be well spent for a nice bathroom in your neighborhood. I think for my small townhouse, I shouldn’t spend over 20k (actually not even 15k :P) for a bathroom!

Anyways, let’s see how we do with the subcontractor this Sat. He’s actually our friend’s friend, so hopefully we can be given a more reasonable price, if not discount. I will certainly post a question here again if needed. Thanks again for all your kind input!!!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:36PM
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You would think having a 60" and a 72" vanity must be a large bathroom, well I wish too :( . I also think that is what eating most of the estimate! My bathroom actually is not that big, these two large sinks are like in a narrow hallway of either side of the bathroom, and the main bath area is cramped in the corner with 2 doors. (it's claustrophopic). Anyways, I think it's mainly the layout that sucks!


7k is very reasonable! I'm looking forward to have a budget re-do, at least just replace the yucky carpet with tiles, change out the terrible countertops/ sinks and yucky bathtub and faucets. Thanks for telling me how much the material/ labor runs! That's very useful!


Wow... what a headache with finding contractors! You know, I can never justify 20k for labor too! I also looked at Yelp and referrals from friends/ neighbors too. The first GC who came in for estimate actually did our friend's sister's kitchen recently, but he's super slow in doing an estimate! And he seems to recommend high end finishes... so not a good sign. This 2nd one (the one I got estimate) I found on yelp. He has very good reviews, but again, he suggested more than what we wanted to do... hope the 3rd one is the one....


I know right? Seems not a facelift anymore? Maybe that's why the 30k?

You know we actually didn't say we wanted to add / change so much lighting and add a vent. But the GC said we should do that... so ok I let him include that in the quote. But what I didn't know is he included everything as one big cost... not like separating how much each task will cost and let us decide. So is this usu how they do an estimate? I mean one big number including all material & labor?

This post was edited by luvofbeauty75 on Thu, Jul 31, 14 at 15:57

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:55PM
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Hey luvof, if you're keeping a tub/shower combo, with curved curtain rod, and no separate shower, what are the frosted glass doors for?

This post was edited by linelle on Thu, Jul 31, 14 at 16:09

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:08PM
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They are the doors to the jack and jill bath/ toilet area (one door to each sink area). Yes it's weird like that.... it's hard to describe.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:14PM
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I prefer working with a contractor who gives me a price for labor so that I can adjust the overall price based on materials that I choose.

I'm in the LA area and was given a quote of $25K for a "standard" remodel of a 5-piece master bathroom. My contractor told me that, for the most part, his price for the labor does not change with the price of materials.

The overall cost will adjust based on product choices that I make. So, the $25K would not include high-end items, like Kristalla faucets, a Toto wall-hung toilet, a Hansgrohe Axor Massaud two-person tub, Think Glass vanity tops, a Dornbracht rain sky ceiling shower head, or an Electronic in-TV Mirror.

I can potentially save costs by keeping the toilet where it is, finding vanity top remnants, shopping for overstocked tile, and planning ahead to avoid costly redo's.

There are some hidden costs that may be unavoidable - like paying for a truckload of demo'd materials to be delivered to a dump.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 11:30PM
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I should add that I had a bad experience with using an apparently unlicensed knucklehead (GC would be a misnomer in his case) for my kitchen remodel. A licensed GC is less expensive in the long run - fewer mistakes to have to redo.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 11:45PM
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Thanks for sharing your experience! Yes I also think it makes more sense if the GC lists the labor cost in the estimamte-- the estimate I got didn't. It's just a lum sum with the work needs to be done. Also we didn't mention anything that is even remotely related to what you mentioned ( I mean all cheap materials, HD tiles, NO custom made cabinets, big box store faucets etc...) so that's why I thought the total (including labor & material) won't be that much. I would also prefer if I can make it more flexible... like if I know the labor cost is that much, maybe I can save more on material or skip some work to save some labor cost? But from this estimate, I've no choice on anything! It's like I've to either do it all or nothing (i.e. not to hire them).

So I'm still waiting for another estimate (I'm kinda feeling like maybe he won't even give us one after so long!!!) and the subcontractor (friend's friend) will come in to take a look tomorrow...

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 12:39AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Any contractor who doesn't increase his price of labor when the materials price increases won't be in business long. There is a much more substantial risk to him for working with expensive products than with budget ones. If he crossthreads a $200 Delta faucet and has to replace it, it will cost him less tha if that were a 2K Dornbracht. Also, there are different and more stringent ''backstory'' requirements for many expensive products than there are for less expensive ones.

For example, you currently have a sheet vinyl floor in your kitchen, laundry room, and pantry area, and you want to upgrade to ceramic tile. So you get bids for doing the job, and they all come in around 5K for that 500 square feet, using $3 range tile.

But, they are all based on using builder standard 12x12 tile in a standard layout. In the meantime, you've discovered natural stone tile. Specifically large format 12x24 Crosscut Silver Travertine. The cost difference between the tiles is only $3, so you expect your job to only increase by $1500. Instead, the quote doubles in price from one contractor while it's only the $1500 from the other. Why the price discrepancy?

If you ask the right questions, you'd learn. It's not only because the risk of the more expensive stone increases the contractor's risk, but also the needed prep for the tile has also increased in difficulty and material costs. A subfloor for natural stone has to be 2x as stiff as for tile, so now your joists need to be sistered and crossbraced because there woud be too much deflection otherwise. And that little bit of a hump where the ffloor settled around the main support beam now has to be 100% leveled out because large format tile need a perfectly flat substrate, preferably with an uncoupling membrane like Ditra under it. Then, you need modified white medium bedding mortar instead of the standard gray thinset, plus the use of one of the tile leveling systems while laying the tile. Cutting around obstacles is much harder with large format than with smaller tile, and it takes more time.

But, the consumer just thinks that the contractor is ''price gouging'' her because the quote doubled in price from the initial estimate. So, she picks the guy that only quotes the $1500 difference between the two tiles. And who doesn't do all of the proper prep work. Or use the manufacturer recommended materials. And the tile starts cracking before the job is even finished. And the job has lippage that not only exceeds TCNA tolerances, but is physically hazardous to the homeowner's elderly mother who lives with her. And the contractor either loses his shirt completely (and then some) on redoing the job after he's done some research (that he should have done on the front end) or, if he's a hack, he disappears, leaving the HO holding the bag on an installation that needs to be gutted to be corrected. And will cost even more than the original ''high'' quote to repair properly.

So now the HO has a bad taste in her mouth about both ''price gouging'' contractors and the less than competent, or complete hacks that ended up doing the job and doesn't think that there is much difference between any of them. Whereas if she had just done more research on the front end, and asked more questions about why there were such a variance in pricing, she would have spent that 10K and been satisfied with a quality job.

And hopefully the contractors involved learned lessons too. If Mr. Expensive had better communication skills, he might have gotten that job. If Mr. ''Value Price'' actually knew more about his profession and the technical and stylistic developments in it, he wouldn't have had to pay the tuition in the School of Not Enough Industry Education to fix his screwup. The only one who didn't learn anything new was Mr. Hack, who merely had his past experiences reinforced about taking the money and running when he's the successful low bidder.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:06PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Oh, and I wouln't expect a contractor to completely break down the materials and labor. Not if he's a competent in demand guy. That leads to consumers mistakenly thinking tha the job can be picked apart to reduce costs. Which is exactly what you intend to do.

It's the old trade adage. ''The job costs $500. Start picking it apart, and taking away parts of the job, and it will cost $490. Start wanting to do parts of it yourself, and it will cost $600''

There are certain static overhead costs on any job, and you trying to nitpick the job down doesn't reduce those static costs. It still costs $500 a day for the contractor to pay his licensing, insurance, truck note, tool note, gasoline and dumpster. You pay that no matter what.

If you want to reduce the costs of the job, the only way to do that in a significant manner is to significantly revise the scope of work. Not nitpick. Ask the contractor what the major costs are that are driving the quote upwards. He's the expert. Use his expertise to your advantage. If you can find one that will look past all of the big red flags to even give you a quote that is. You are sending out a lot if signals that you are not a customer that most will want to work with. The good guys will charge extra for the hassle factor, and only the hacks with the too good to be true cheap price is who you will be left dealing with. See the scenario above.

Good. Cheap. Fast. Pick two. You cannot have all three.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:27PM
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I would much rather pay a higher labor cost for a job carefully done than splurge on a pricey material or fixture and try to save money with the contractor.

A very good contractor can work with common or with unusual materials, and I agree, you may pay more with pricier materials because of the risk involved. An average or so-so contractor may work very well with common materials that s/he is used to using, but may not be so great with unusual or higher level finishes. If you can't afford both, my advice would be to choose better craftsmanship with simpler materials.

This may not be salient to the initial post but since it has been discussed I will through in my two cents.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:50PM
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Thanks for the clarification! Very useful! The GC who gave me the estimate did ask me what kind of tiles I want to use because he said the quote will be different. But I didn't expect high end tiles can have double the labor cost (I didn't pick high end tiles anyways). Also what I meant is not necessarily the detailed breakdown of labor and material, but like how much each job costs approx. is better. Because like this guy suggested some tasks I didn't think of doing initially (like adding recessed lights and vent etc.) and included in the estimate as a lum sum. I think the estimate would have been lower if any of these are not included. Anyways, I ve learnt something. Let's see if I can communicate better with the next ones.

And yes, I don't think the contractors will like people like me :) .

Thanks for all the helpful comments!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:59PM
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I would like to chime in again in response to hollysprings' post. I do appreciate her insight, and others who are way more knowledgeable about this stuff than I. I agree that there are often circumstances that we may not be aware of that drive costs up, but let's face it, for many of us the construction industry is an enigma and it is already so hard to sift the wheat from the chaff. It only makes it harder for us when they don't let us know what goes into an estimate and we are left in the dark. Not only trying to find someone upstanding, but also someone who you get along with and understands your goals in the project. And I do think we should know the separation of labor and materials at least in some basic context. Obviously there is some range of cost that they have taken into account in order to come up with a lump sum estimate in the first place. Not to mention their own magic number that they need in order to make a decent living. And yes, there is a difference between nit-picking and getting a range of expected customer's choice driven costs. Shouldn't there be some responsibility on the contractor to let us know what types of allowances they are taking into consideration?

I am new to remodeling, much like the OP. Unfortunately there are not many good resources for us noobs to educate ourselves about the construction process, how contractors work, good design, and product knowledge. Which is why I and so many others are on online forums such as this. I have been burned a few times attempting to learn and ask those same questions, like what the driving force is behind estimates and it is very frustrating because many contractors are not able to really articulate these things.

What I have experienced is either a well organized design/ hold firm that does high quality work but only wants to work with luxury finishes or small time guys who come recommended by friends and neighbors that don't have a broad range of knowledge of products/design. And then those who do really great jobs for their friends and families but slack off for those who aren't on their Christmas list. No one I have met as a potential or actual client has been particularly interested in answering my questions, except with a short answer and a 'trust me I know what I'm doing'. I do know you get what you pay for and I am able to pay for what I want, but I also want to gain an understanding in what those driving forces are behind the costs. And in my expensive area of the country, it is very easy for me to feel and actually be price gouged.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 2:58PM
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get a new vanity. I once painted an old vanity and it is too short in height. Or, get two.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 3:04PM
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Yes I know it's hard for us who are not as knowledgeable in this whole renovation process. It's like everything is not clear, like how they come up with such cost, and as a lum sum, I feel like they're forcing me to do everything they want us to do! I mean I don't think everything included in their estimate is necessary, so I may want to leave those areas alone if they tell me how much each task costs at least ( even not separating labor and material). And I agree with you, I feel like they assume we should be able to afford such renovation costs because of the area we live in! :(


Yes I know that the new vanities are higher in height now. But I'm actually ok with my old oak cabinets' height, even I do hate that color! :P So if I really have to save the renovation cost, I'd just paint/ re-stain them....

And what did you mean by "get two" Did you mean get 2 36" vanities and combine into one big one? The problem with this is my 72 vanity cabinet has only ONE sink. So obviously I'd have to make them a double sink to do that. But anyways, let's see how it goes. Still waiting for the 3rd guy to come...

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 3:30PM
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The 3 bids I got for my remodel were all for labor only. I was able to order most of my tile and some fixtures through a designer family friend. Rest of the fixtures I ordered from a local plumbing supply store. GCs are very used to having designers purchase materials and the GC is only involved in labor.

All the bids were detailed and broken down into many sections, such as plumbing, electrical, framing, tile installation, demo, vanity, shower doors, countertops, etc. It isn't unreasonable to expect a breakdown of costs. None of the contractors I have worked with so far had to be asked for a breakdown, it is part of their normal business practices. Since all my bids were nearly identical (very freaky!), I accepted that as the price and there was no attempt on my part to cut any costs.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 2:23AM
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I missed the memo when vanities became kitchen counter height and didn't think anything was wrong with my old ones. Now that I have a new one, it feels like another world. Not only is there so much more storage space, but the one in my unremodeled master bath feels like it belongs in a preschool, and I'm only 5'4".

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 10:14AM
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Linelle, the family who built/owned our house were all very tall and all counters are at 36" even though they built when their kids were smaller ... one of those kids is now around 6' 8" and plays basketball for Yale!

The tall counters seem normal and natural now. When visiting my MIL, who had a recently remodeled bathroom with lower counters, it felt very odd to use the shorter vanity. As I remodel the bathrooms, the taller vanity height is the one thing that won't change,

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 6:36PM
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chispa, wow, 36" is tall. I think mine are 34-35, including counter. I remember being shocked when I discovered the new standard vanity height. I thought it was crazy and I would feel like Alice in Wonderland. And yet, my kitchen counters are that height and it seems perfectly fine.

Now, standing over my old vanity, I feel like very big Alice.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 9:15PM
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