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How to set the right expectations for a bathroom remodel

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

When it comes to a bathroom remodel, or pretty much any home renovation project, most homeowners are shocked at how much it can cost.

Unfortunately, we have all been groomed by HGTV to believe that a complete bathroom remodel is only going to cost $5k to $10k, and we’re going to get everything we want and more!

But what we don’t see on HGTV, is the dozens of volunteers that are used to complete the project, the materials that are provided for free or at a deep discount, and the extensive amount of resources HGTV has on hand that every day contractors do not have access to.

I wish it was possible, but you can’t get a $30k bathroom for $10k. The reality is though, many homeowners have this perception because they have been misinformed over the years.

However, it is possible to keep a bathroom remodel under $10k, but it most likely would have to be a very small bathroom, a renovation with minor cosmetic updates, or if you are capable of doing all of the work on your own. But most of the time, a major bathroom remodel is better left to the professionals.

So, in this article, we are going to discuss how to set the right expectations for a typical bathroom remodel to make sure you are able to get what you want, without being surprised or disappointed.

For the purpose of this scenario, we will assume a common bathroom size of around 35-50 square feet with a bathtub/shower combo, toilet, and one sink.

At the end of the day, there are four (4) areas of a remodel that can skyrocket the cost quickly, and you need to consider these options before diving into a remodel:

Walk-in Shower or Bathtub

One of the most popular updates these days is converting a bathtub into a shower. This can be a very appealing transformation as walk-in showers tend to make the bathroom look fancy and spacious and can be easier to get into for aging homeowners.

But, just be aware that a change like this comes with a major cost. Instead of reusing, refinishing, or replacing the current bathtub and just updating the wall tile and shower fixtures, a complete shower conversion will come with a number of additional costs, such as:

  • Plumbing costs to move the shower fixtures and possibly the drain.

  • Most likely, a highly skilled professional will be needed to install a shower pan that allows water to drain properly.

  • Additional, and sometimes more complex tile work may be required on the shower floor and wall.

  • A glass enclosure with a sliding or swinging door will also be needed, which comes with another hefty price tag.

After all is said and done, a new shower, instead of an updated bathtub, can easily tack on an extra $5,000 or more.

However, if you are set on a walk-in shower, but maybe not thrilled about the additional price tag, an alternate option could be a pre-fabricated drop-in shower, which will be significantly cheaper, but it will be very basic and offer little customization.

Changes to Layout and Fixtures

Another thing to be aware of is the layout you choose for your bathroom. Are you wanting to rearrange the bathroom by knocking down or adding walls, or moving the location of any plumbing or electrical fixtures? If so, each one of these could tack on several hundred, or even several thousand to your total costs.


It should come as no surprise, but plumbing can be a significant part of a bathroom remodel budget, whether you are converting a bathtub to a shower, changing the location of plumbing fixtures, or even keeping everything the same.

More than likely, the plumbing in your bathroom has not been updated in years, maybe even decades. So even if there are no major changes, it’s still worth the investment to have a licensed and insured plumber update your pipes and shut off valves to ensure everything is working properly and up to code while the walls are opened up and everything is easily accessible.

Vanity and Countertops

The last area of a bathroom remodel to be aware of is the vanity and countertop. Most think it’s just a piece of furniture that holds the sink. But what most homeowners don't realize is that a bathroom vanity and countertop can add up quickly.

While the price range can vary, depending on size, finish, and material, it’s easy to spend anywhere from $1-$3k for a pre-made vanity and countertop, and possibly double that for a custom vanity and countertop.

With that said, the more expensive options also tend to be the most highly sought-after features of the bathroom that every homeowner wants. Which is why it's so important to take this into consideration and do your homework before expecting to get a $30k bathroom remodel at a $10k price tag.

Curious what a bathroom remodel might actually cost you? Give us a call at 918-289-2001, or submit a form to get a free estimate!




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