by: Colleen Tang
Whether big or small, bathroom renovation projects can spruce up the look of any home. Here are some tips from other professionals you can share with clients about how they should spend their renovation dollars.
Before any construction or remodeling can be done, one thing needs to be clear: What’s your client’s budget?
eff Bain, chair of the Renovation Council of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association and president of JKB Construction, says a bathroom renovation with his company can start at around $15,000. Projects of this size could take weeks up to months depending on the type of renovation it is.
However, if you are looking to do small updates in your bathroom to change the overall look, this can be done with a smaller budget and in less time.
“If you’re just trying to freshen up a bathroom on a budget, put a good coat of paint on the walls, change your countertops, sink and toilet,” Bain says. Plan to spend approximately $200 for a sink and tap, $250 for a laminate countertop installation and $80 to $300 for a toilet, Bain says.
To spruce up lighting in a basic renovation, suggest a wall sconce or a wall-mounted vanity track light. “This will provide more than enough lighting and much cheaper installation,” says Bryan Sim, project manager of Vancouver General Contractors.
A small budget doesn’t have to mean limited options, Sims says. For example, using ceramic tile is a cost-friendly option when it comes to tiles and they come in a variety of colours.
A 13x13 or 12x24 ceramic tile is cost-effective at $2 to $3 per square foot, is durable and gives the bathroom a sharp appearance, Sim says.
Mark Ashton, CEO of Ashton Renovations, recommends a budget-friendly porcelain tile, which can range from $1 to $20 a square foot.
Using a shower curtain as opposed to installing a glass door is cost-effective, Sim says, and it can really punch up your bathroom decor.
“A new shower curtain can add a new vibe to the bathroom and is an inexpensive change,” Bain says.
Bathroom vanities, toilets, countertops, hardware and materials range in terms of cost depending on which materials your client chooses and the areas they are looking to highlight.
Ashton says replacing more prominent items in the bathroom that will catch a visitor’s eye, such as fixtures, can often make a big impact that can help create an upgraded look.
“Put money into nice sink tops, nice fixtures, closets, toilets, paper towel holders, things like that,” Ashton says. “Never cheap out on those things because they can make the bathroom look cheap.”
Look for products made with solid wood, plywood or some elements of actual wood for cabinets, and granite, engineered quartz or porcelain tops for countertops. Avoid laminate countertops, plastic-like materials and cheap particle board.
Ashton also recommends stock materials; because they are mass-produced, there are quality control checks during the production process so customers can be sure of the quality. In addition, these products are typically affordable.
When choosing a toilet or a vanity, go with a standard toilet and a standard 24-36 inch vanity with a sink and countertop combination, Sim says. “There are many suppliers that carry vanity sets with the sink and countertop pre-installed,” he adds, which saves contractors time because it is one less item for them to install, cutting down on labour costs.
With more time and a larger budget, everything in the bathroom can be changed or updated, including the plumbing, electrical, drywall, floors, tiles, fixtures and cabinetry.
If the homeowner thinks there’s an issue with the plumbing or if the plaster is not holding up well on the walls, it’s better to do a gut renovation because you have more access to remedy plumbing, electrical and installation problems when the walls are opened up, Ashton says.
With an older home of 20 to 25 years, a gut renovation is strongly recommended, Sim says. “We can upgrade your electrical, upgrade your plumbing, get in fresh installation and know there’s no water damage behind the walls instead of trying to bury it and cosmetically hide it,” he says. “With renovations, we start fresh with brand new plywood on the floor, new installation and proper concrete boards in the shower to waterproof them. Then, they’re waterproofed again with a membrane.”
Another advantage of doing a gut-renovation is the option of installing in-floor heating. It will be an extra cost, but in the long run your clients’ bare feet will be thankful of the warmth.
For another upgraded look, you can suggest a tile shower surround to your client. “An inexpensive mosaic accent tile strip is a great touch when installing a shower surround as well. It gives the surround a custom look,” Sim says.
Regardless of how high-end or basic of a renovation customers want, Ashton says contractors should always provide a range of options.
“It's mostly communicating and putting it out there that you're trying to give the client the best value for what they're getting because what is basic in one mind is a piece of craft to another,” he says. “If you can suggest a product that is relatively the same function and performance and less money, then you present it to them.”
From a simple toilet or faucet replacement to a complete bathroom re-do, look to Lowe’s to be your Project Professional. Lowe’s has a wide range of Professional Installation Services available. Ask in-store for details.
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