5 Lessons Learned From Renovating the Bathroom in My Toledo Home

I bought a house in Toledo, Ohio, and loved its bones but hated the bathroom, which was entirely peach and tan (even the sink, countertops and toilet were peach colored!). It’s fun to add your own flair to your home, right? So I started watching more HGTV and getting some ideas of my ideal bathroom. I wanted replace the countertops, toilet, tub and ceramic tile. Following the advice of friends, I obtained three estimates. I chose the contractor (who wasn’t necessarily the least expensive as the cost was about $250 more) because of my positive experience with the salesperson; the fact that I could save money by purchasing the materials myself (tub, toilet, faucets, etc.); and because I was assured that the project would be completed in six weeks. Here are the lessons I learned from the process.

1. Tile. I was overwhelmed by how many shades of white I discovered. I suggest looking online before going into the store so that you have some idea of what you are looking for as I could have saved a considerable amount of time if I had done my homework online rather than in the store.

2. Toilets. There are many varieties of toilets, including colors, shapes and sizes. There are one-piece toilets and two-piece toilets. There are oval seats and round ones. Again, I should have reviewed information online and made some decisions beforehand to save time. I had done a bit of that but height was not something I’d considered. As awkward as it might feel, be sure to sit on any toilet before you purchase it. Height, shape and design all impact your comfort.

3. Tub. I originally selected what I thought was a beautiful cast iron tub to replace the old peach monstrosity, but I failed to get proper measurements. Ask your contractor to do the measuring and provide those details to the salesperson at the store. When the contractors had to take out the old cast iron tub, I was amazed at the amount of dust and debris. That could mean that you will need to have your ducts cleaned after the project is completed and that’s an additional expense. They had to break it up into pieces to haul it away. When they went to install the new tub, they saw that the drain was 75% plugged and that the pipe needed to be replaced. So much for my budget!

4. Vanity and sink. I thought I wanted a granite countertop because many friends enjoy theirs. But after researching (I was learning to do my homework first!) I realized that not only was quartz less expensive but also more durable and easier to maintain. So I chose a beautiful gray flecked quartz top with a cherry vanity. What I failed to do, once again, was consider the measurements! Ugh! I knew my old vanity was 5 feet 9 inches. To have that same size, I would have to have one custom made. So, I opted for a standard 5 foot option. No problem, right? I figured, it’s smaller so it will fit in the current space. What I didn’t think about was where the current water lines were located and whether or not they would match up with the new size, which of course they did not. That meant the added expense of a plumber and the additional time to wait for the city inspector. I was now behind schedule by a week. It’s also a good practice to purchase your sink(s) before the countertop so you can be sure they will work together. I bought an undermount sink and took it to the place making the countertop so they could ensure the right fit.

5. Electrical. My house was built in the 1960s and the bathroom had a heat element built into the ceiling and only one outlet. This was my opportunity to get more outlets so I could plug in the curling iron, blow dryer, etc. all at the same time. I didn’t realize the heating element would have to be removed completely because the wires were damaged and it was a fire hazard. Nor was I aware of the necessity for a vent since it was required per code. So I picked out a vent, had them remove the dangerous element and added more money to my budget. I also added a new 7-light polished crome fixture.

When determining your overall budget, think about whether or not you want a cast iron tub or a fiberglass one. What’s more important to you — a comfort-height toilet or a standard one? How many towel bars do you want? Should you install heated floors? Those costs vary and will affect your overall budget so make a wish list and prioritize. Then look at your budget and determine what is a must-have and what you can do without.

My overall budget was $12,000. My actual expenses totalled $14,002. This was my first experience doing a project of this magnitude and I sure learned a lot. There were little things I’d not taken into consideration, such as the number of different permits, or matching faucets to toilet levers and cast iron versus fiberglass tubs. So here’s the breakdown:

-Contractor: $10,643
-Permits: $156
-Light and vent fixtures: $250
-Undermount sink: $321
-Quartz countertop: $990
-5’Cherry vanity: $738
-Toilet: $376
–Faucets for the sink and shower: $363
–Curved shower rod: $25
–Towel Bars (2): $79
–Toilet tissue holder: $40
–Toilet tank lever: $21

Overall, I would say that it was a positive experience because I learned a lot and the contractors were nice. I learned that inspectors are not always prompt, to expect the unexpected, and because I don’t drink coffee, to have a lot of diet soda on hand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eight − 3 =