Tips for Tackling a Bathroom Remodel: When to DIY, When to Hire, and What to Expect

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One of the most common home improvement projects for people looking for a moderate to upscale change is the bathroom remodel. Whether it’s a guest or master bath, a bathroom remodel has many different components and can range anywhere from mostly DIY to barely any DIY, depending on a variety of factors. Here are some tips for how to tackle your bathroom remodel in the smartest, safest, and most cost-effective way possible.

What any DIYer can handle

There are a lot of different elements to a bathroom remodel, all with their own degree of difficulty. Bathroom remodels can be relatively simple, like this spa makeover, or they can require a lot of heavy lifting.

If you’re new to DIY, there are some tasks that can be tackled by almost anyone, including stripping/putting up wallpaper, painting, removing tile/linoleum, and replacing light fixtures where wiring already exists. More advanced DIYers can handle tougher tasks like putting down tile, replacing fixtures like toilets, sinks, and bathtubs (adhering to original floorplan), and installing new vanities.

What can be tricky or dangerous for a DIYer

One of the first questions anyone should ask themselves when deciding on whether they should do a project themselves or hire a professional is “Can I seriously injure myself?” If the answer is yes, it’s hard to justify not spending the money to get it done by a pro.

Bathroom remodels have a few tasks that fall into this category. Major electrical work, for example, is dangerous to a novice. If you’re tearing down a wall, adding more space, or installing new light fixtures (in places with no existing wiring), you’ll likely need the help of an electrician. If you’re installing new fixtures (sink, tub, toilet) in places where you need to move/install new plumbing, it’s tricky to try to tackle it yourself. Shoddy plumbing work can lead to dangerous structural issues down the road.

You may need a permit for this level of work, which means an inspector will ensure the work is done to code. If it’s not done correctly, the inspector won’t approve the permit, and that can be an impediment if you ever want to sell the home.

Consider cost, construction time, and convenience

According to some estimates, a mid-range bathroom remodel (“putting in a toilet, tub with a tile surround, an integrated solid-surface double sink and vanity, recessed medicine cabinet, a ceramic tile floor and vinyl wallpaper,” according to DIYNetwork) will run, on average, about $10,500 to have it done professionally. Higher-end remodels can run double that investment.

For the DIYer, money can be saved in labor costs by doing some of the remodeling yourself. Though some contractors will mark the price of materials up, many can also get them at a discounted rate (and you can only get them at a consumer rate). You also must factor in the cost of fixing mistakes and re-doing improper work. If you aren’t confident you can get it right, it may end up costing you more in the end to do it yourself, even when factoring in labor costs. Check here for some budget bathroom remodel ideas.

You should also know what to expect when it comes to “construction time,” or how long you’re willing to live in a construction zone. There may be projects that you could DIY, but they would take you twice or three times as long as it would take a professional. Is the money saved on labor costs enough to offset the inconvenience of having a deconstructed bathroom for weeks?

Deciding what to do yourself and what to contract out can be a tough decision when it comes to bathroom remodels. You may be very skilled and only need help moving items to and from storage, for instance. You may be a novice and need the help of a professional for many stages of the remodel. Whatever your situation, it’s important to consider your safety, costs, convenience, and construction time before making any decisions.

About the Author

Mr. Denikin is passionate about sharing his experiences working on DIY projects to benefit people with special needs children. He does so at