10 Mistakes to Avoid when Renovating your Bathroom

When taking on a full bathroom renovation, there are many steps you can take to ensure your renovation runs smoothly and you avoid mistakes that could really cost you in the long run.

  1. Do you have sufficient lighting?

One of the most common mistakes we see if insufficient lighting in bathroom. Too often, our clients will say,

I don’t need anymore lighting. It’s been ok like this for years!

Just because it’s been ok for years doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be better. We too often get used to the lighting we currently have forgetting that if we had more lights within our bathroom, it would be easier to put on make up, style our hair or shave in the morning. During the renovation process is the perfect (and cheapest) time to add a shower light or some LED pot lights throughout the bathroom.

You can customize your walk in shower with a corner bench or shower niche to hold shampoos and soap. Think about your needs in advance and then talk over your options with your contractor.

You can customize your walk in shower with a corner bench or shower niche to hold shampoos and soap. Think about your needs in advance and then talk over your options with your contractor.

2. Plan, Plan, Plan

Prior to starting any bathroom renovation project, plan and then plan again. Prior to demolition, you need to ensure you have thought through all aspects of your design and layout. If you want to enlarge your shower, will you be encroaching on your toilet space and not leave yourself enough room? If you’re relocating fixtures, will your contractor be able to run the drainage pipes to the new location without cutting through floor joists, thus compromising the structural integrity?

We were once asked to quote on the relocation and enlargement of a shower. However what the home owner neglected to notice about her plan was that her shower door would open right into the toilet. There are so many things to consider during the planning process that you want to ensure you haven’t missed anything before beginning.

Also take a good look at what you’re planning on putting into your bathroom. You may love the look of a stand alone tub tub but if you have arthritis in your knees and have trouble getting up the stairs some days, installing a deep tub that you might not be able to easily get in and out of may not be a practical choice.

3. Stay away from trends or fads

It might be tempting to take on the latest fad or trend in your bathroom renovation but unless it’s just a paint colour that can easily be changed, opting for a trendy tile or vanity that might go out of style within 5 years will date your bathroom and be an expensive item to change out when it’s no longer in style.

We always recommend that our clients opt for classic choices for tiles, vanities and tubs. These are the big ticket items that need to stay in style over the long term.

Wall mounted vanities are a trend right now but if you really like the look, make sure your vanity is a very classic design that can survive at least 10-15 years. Consider when you’re selling your home what the future buyer would like to see in your bathroom.

Wall mounted vanities are a trend right now but if you really like the look, make sure your vanity is a very classic design that can survive at least 10-15 years. Consider when you’re selling your home what the future buyer would like to see in your bathroom.

4. What are you looking at when you first come in the room?

Make sure the toilet isn’t the first thing you see when you open the door to the bathroom. If you are planning a custom renovation and will be relocating fixtures, ensure that the first thing you see is a gorgeous tiled shower or a beautiful vanity. If possible tuck the toilet behind the door or hidden by a half wall. Your new bathroom will be stunning and you don’t want to be looking at the least attractive part of it when you first enter the room.

5. Don’t DIY it when it comes to a full bathroom renovation!

Unless you are a professional renovation worker or Licensed Plumber, leave the bathroom renovations to the professionals. We see far too many “handyman specials” when we’re asked to come in and quote on remodeling bathrooms. If you’re changing out a toilet, painting some walls or putting in a new faucet and you’re comfortable with your skill level to do that, then go at it! But if you’re doing extensive plumbing or electrical work in your bathroom renovation, call in the pros! You will gain back 75% - 100% return on your investment if your renovation is done right!

Stand alone tubs are very popular right now. Before you install one, consider your current and future situation. These are very deep tubs. Do you have any mobility issues (or could you develop any soon) that could prevent you from getting into the tub easily?

Stand alone tubs are very popular right now. Before you install one, consider your current and future situation. These are very deep tubs. Do you have any mobility issues (or could you develop any soon) that could prevent you from getting into the tub easily?

6. Make sure that all of your fixtures are on site BEFORE your contractor arrives to get started.

The time to start shopping for your tub, toilet and vanity is weeks or even months before your renovation starts. You may find the perfect tub only to find out it takes 6-8 weeks to arrive. Your plumber will need to have your tub on site within 1 day of starting demolition so make sure your fixtures are on site before demolition begins.

Many bathroom stores will offer to store your fixtures until you need them on site. Always ask what their policy is if you pay for your fixtures in full but don’t need them for a couple of months.

7. Keep a consistent style throughout your home.

We were hired to just do the plumbing and electrical for a bathroom renovation for a client in Whitby, Ontario. I’ll never forget the first day we arrived on site. The bathroom was designed in a VERY modern style yet the rest of the house was French Country. Nothing matched! The bathroom looked so out of place! Instead of being a beautiful new bathroom, it stuck out like a sore thumb and looked like it didn’t belong.

Make sure that the design and style of fixtures you select match the rest of your decor. Unless you are planning to redecorate your entire home in the near future, you want to ensure that your style remains consistent throughout your home.

8. Plan for adequate storage

Make sure your new bathroom has plenty of room for storage. Medicine cabinets and storage shelves are handy for the items you use daily.

Make sure your new bathroom has plenty of room for storage. Medicine cabinets and storage shelves are handy for the items you use daily.

Although vanities can hold a lot of toiletries, you can never have enough storage in a bathroom. Another place to plan for storage is at eye level with a small shelf or medicine cabinet. You can even position a medicine cabinet directly on top of your counter. This type of storage would hold the items you use daily. Under counter storage can hold non-daily items.

9. Make sure your budget is realistic

Far too often we find home owners have a certain budget in mind and spend every penny of it on the renovation. We always encourage our clients to spend 10%-15% below the top end of their budget. Once the project starts, you never know what you might encounter behind the walls or what additional extras you will want to add to the project. If you spend at the top end of your budget, you will be unprepared for life’s little curve balls and may be forced to cut corners in order to meet your budget. If you don’t end up spending any of the contingency you provided, then you can treat yourself to a luxurious towel warmer or a higher end faucet. Download this free Renovation Budget Planner to help you plan more successfully.

10. Don’t rush things at the end!

Once you get close to the end of your project, you may be tempted to rush your contractor because you’re so excited to see the end in site. However, it is the fine finishing work that takes place in the last few days of your project and this type of work takes time. Remain patient and let your contractor do his/her job properly.

Have you done a bathroom renovation and have some tips to share about what you wouldn’t do again if you had to do it over again? Share your tips with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

Do you want to receive more valuable home improvement tips and ideas? Sign up for our monthly email newsletter.