Is it finally time to take the dive and renovate your bathroom? While it can be really exciting to plan your update, actually renovating can be a bit daunting. Things often take longer than expected. There are the unknown issues you might encounter. And then there’s the biggest issue of all — budget. 

The last thing you want is to discover halfway through your bathroom renovation that you don’t have enough money to finish the job. The whole point was to have a more functional bathroom, after all.

The good news is that you can avoid many of the worst-case scenarios with some realistic planning. Use the following tips to set yourself up for success.

Make a DETAILED List

Before you begin any renovation project you want to know (as precisely as possible), everything you’ll need. So make a — VERY DETAILED — list. This includes everything from new paint and tile to screws and bolts.

Consider Your Wants and NEEDS

This one can be tough. We get it. But one of the tricks to a successful remodel is making sure your needs are met first. Take some time to be honest with yourself about which updates are wants and which ones are needs.

Make sure as you consider these, you’re thinking about the practical use of each update. While you want your refreshed space to look nice, how it functions will offer far more long-term satisfaction and re-sale value. This will also help you weigh the pros and cons of each item, comparing prices, durability, and function. It’s not uncommon for a good remodeling list to have a fair number of “maybes” and “if there’s budget” items.

By establishing firm goals in advance, you can save time and money on changing coarse or making mistakes.

Run the Numbers (and fudge on the side of caution)

First, take the time to figure out how much you can really afford to spend on your bathroom remodel. Then, subtract 10 – 15 percent. This will be your contingency fund. If you don’t end up needing it, great! You can either save it or invest in some of those “maybes” and “if there’s budget.” However, if you open up a wall and discover your pipes are rusted and need to be replaced, you’ll be incredibly grateful to have the extra financial wiggle room.

Determine What You Can Do and What You Can’t

DIYing a bathroom update can be incredibly attractive. For some homeowners it’s the joy of working on their own home and having a project. But for most, DIY projects present an opportunity to save money.

Unfortunately, if you wind up over your head, trying to do something you don’t have the skills and expertise to accomplish, you could wind up spending more money. Or worse, putting yourself in danger.

It’s important to be honest with yourself about what items you can realistically tackle. Generally speaking, painting is an item that can be done with little-to-no skill. But plumbing and electrical work tend to be a different story.

Hire with Caution

Unfortunately, not everyone is trustworthy or skilled. You want to make sure you hire contractors who can do the job and do the job correctly.

Personal referrals are the best way to find someone because they’ve already proven themselves. But regardless of whether you get referrals or not, take the time to interview any contractor you might hire. Be honest about your expectations. Ask for examples of their previous work and referrals. Ask to see their licenses and proof of insurance. And, always get a detailed contract which spells out everything that should be done, the estimated timeline, and the cost.

Understand the Timeline

Most construction timelines are an estimate. There can be a lot of unknowns as you start tearing apart a bathroom. Make sure you understand that your remodel might take longer than the predicted deadline — especially if you throw your contractors a curveball. Any changes to your plan will undoubtedly set your project back.

Prepare Your Family and Your Home

Remodeling is loud. It is messy. And, it’s disruptive. You want to make sure your family and your home are ready for the ‘in-between’ phase while the project is underway. Sometimes this means moving out, especially if the bathroom being remodeled is your only one.

Other times it means clearing space and setting clear guidelines for workers and your family so everyone knows their boundaries.

Get more bathroom remodeling tips.