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So, how much did all of this cost? A lot. And way more than what our original quote was.
I do think it’s important to be transparent about renovation costs so others aren’t blindsided by prices when they’re doing their own remodels. Prices vary depending on where you live, and your contractor’s experience and expertise. Plus, you don’t know what you’ll find when you open up your walls. I’ll share more about the half bath in upcoming posts, but when we got behind the walls and saw our old cast iron plumbing, we decided to update it to modern PVC pipes which was an expected cost, but a smart decision to take care of it when the room was down to the studs to prevent possible plumbing issues down the road related to old pipes.
In this post, I’ll break down the costs by three areas:
Labor – This is self-explanatory. We paid our contractor $65/hour and $30/hour for the trainees that were on the job occasionally. Due to what would turn out to be a wildly inaccurate quote, our contractor eventually did a blanket 20% discount on labor and did roughly $6,000 in labor for free.
Materials – This includes things like lumber, paint, nails, backer board, caulk, etc. Tile is also included in this section.
Fixtures – This will account for the finishings that you saw in the reveal post. It includes things like light fixtures, the tub, faucets, etc.
I’m excluding the cost of updating our plumbing, which came to $3,040.47. We removed all of the cast iron plumbing in the house and replaced it with modern PVC pipes. Cast iron eventually erodes and creates rough surfaces inside the pipes, which leads to drainage issues like clogs. We also discovered that the pipes were pitched incorrectly in the basement, so that was all corrected with that above price. It was money well spent.
Here’s where we came in at:
Permits – $242
Labor – $19,670.25
Materials – $4,945.24
Fixtures – $4,223.68
Grand Total – $29,081.17
To put this in perspective, our original quote for labor and materials was approximately $12,000. We decided to remove the original built-in cabinet and rebuild it to match the new one, so based on the original quote, that would have added another $1,300 to our estimated costs. We anticipated an additional 30% to account for unexpected costs, but we certainly didn’t expect to come in as high as we did by time the project ended — and this was after the labor discount. We ultimately decide to take out a home equity line of credit to allow for a cushion while we pay this back.
When it’s all said and done, though, I’m sure we’ll have “renovation amnesia” and will forget some of the financial stress. We’re certainly very lucky to be in the position to take on such a bougie remodel and I don’t take that for granted. It really ended up being worth it and it’s really an investment in our home which will pay off when we eventually sell, but it’ll also pay dividends now with our enjoyment of our home — and peace of mind that we’re no longer having sustained water damage!
In full disclosure, our bathroom is completed and it’s gorgeous! I can’t believe it’s ours and I’m just the happiest! Before we get to the full reveal in an upcoming post, I wanted to share some photos and updates from the last leg of the project.
As you know, we renovated our first floor half bath before we began the upstairs main bathroom. The project was expected to take six to eight weeks, and it ended up being a full three months. It was stressful and expensive. I will do a full cost breakdown for you in a future post as I think it’s helpful to get an idea of what these things cost as you plan and save for your own renovation. Now that we’re through it, though, I’m starting to have “renovation amnesia” as Emily Henderson put it in her new book. It’s completely accurate that the final product makes you forget the frustration you felt during the process. I’m not going to sugarcoat the fact that the process sucks sometimes. You’ll have moments of bliss and excitement. I felt that when our tub was placed or when I saw our built-in cabinets coming together. Those are counterbalanced by annoyances that pop up during the process — two of mine are shared below.
Shortly after I left you with the last update, team finished tiling the shower and we turned our attention to the flooring. You may recall that we had to shift gears with our flooring. The marble tile I had originally purchased from Home Depot had good reviews when I bought it, but shortly after there were complaints about tile yellowing once it was grouted, likely due to too many mineral deposits that were oxidizing. We shifted gears and ordered a more expensive marble hexagon flooring from The Tile Shop. I’m really glad that we did because the new tile is beautiful and better quality than the budget marble. When you’re already spends tens of thousands of dollars, you may as well figure out a way to pay for the nicer finishes. I know that costs add up and it feels overwhelming, but I promise that you’ll be happier in the long run if you can make it work with your budget or a home equity line of credit.
I spent a lot of time obsessing over the layout of our tile and our contractor numbered each sheet so it would go back where I wanted it. It was a great idea in theory, until a couple of sheets were rotated. For the most part, it didn’t matter. A natural material is going to have variations. That’s why it’s attractive and why people pay for it. But we had an unfortunate tile layout that, well, looked phallic:
It wasn’t really noticeable in person, but I couldn’t unsee a penis in those dark tiles when I took photos of the room — as you can see from this screenshot from my phone. I hated it so much that I asked our contractor how much it would cost to replace tiles that I delicately phrased as “a dark line that catches the eye.” He quoted approximately $20 per tile to replace individual ones (thankfully this was before it was grouted), but asked Dave if he thought the tiles were really that bothersome. Dave bluntly told our contractor, “she sees a dick.” Haha. So, for around $100, the tiles were replaced with a few lighter ones to break up the pattern:
Of those two options, I went with the set of five replacements on the left.
We extended the tile to the floors of the built-ins. We could have either done this or placed a wood “shelf” on the floor. I figured that this would be easier to clean when I mop the floor.
This is the interior of the left cabinet where there’s an access panel for the shower plumbing. The team eventually created baseboards for the inside of the cabinets to give them a clean finish.
The tiles still had a grout haze in this photo, but it was such a delight to see the room coming together exactly how I had imagined it last summer when we started interviewing contractors. It was a long time coming!
The marble was sealed after grouting with a water-based sealer that was recommended by The Tile Shop. We also added a marble ledge in our shower niche and window, which was also sealed prior to showering for the first time to reduce water stains.
I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am with the built-ins. They replicated the original cabinet (seen here) and added a second to flank the tub. It was important to me to make sure this room incorporated design features that were original to our 1929 house. While the original built-in was in bad shape, the replicas are spot on.
The team was also able to keep the original trim for the window that isn’t in the shower. They carefully cut around it during demo. The doorframe wasn’t so lucky, but they rebuilt it so it looks original.
Take a moment to note that register opening. Like the rest of our house, it’s a large register. I had expressed concern about this when we began the project, and wondered how this was going to work with a vanity in front of it. It was too expensive to move the duct, so I had asked if a decorative register cover would work since the vanity has an open shelf. I was assured that it would be fine, so I spent $100 on a register cover.
…it clearly was not fine. So, the register cover jutted out from the wall about an inch, which was just enough to keep the vanity from being flush against the wall. Our contractor had gone to lunch when I popped my head in to see how things were coming along and saw this. Surely he wasn’t going to leave it like this, right? Yet, I still texted to share my concern. (I figured it’s cheaper to share concerns earlier rather than later.) He told me that the register cover was the issue and that we could try to set a piece of marble behind the vanity to meet up with the wall or built a wood ledge — and then had the audacity to suggest that some people like floating vanities. No, they do not. (Never mind that floating vanities are those without legs; not those that float away from the wall.)
I asked him if there was a way to recess the register cover by cutting out some tile that surrounded the hole and setting it in deeper, or to just go with a smaller register cover that fit within the open shelf. The latter would simply force more air to other rooms upstairs, which isn’t the worst. I’m still a little sour that I had to suggest those solutions rather than him coming up with them, but whatever. We got through it and went with the smaller register:
He eventually tiled underneath the new cover. The spacing of the tile down there doesn’t match the rest of the wall as a result, which bothered him. (Weird time to be a perfectionist.) I told him that I didn’t care and we can address it down the road if if we ever swap out this vanity for one where we can see that tile. This was clearly a better solution than a “floating vanity.”
Truth be told, this room has the most direct run from the furnace, so it would always get too hot or cold, depending on the thermostat, so reducing the opening and forcing air to other rooms has actually been great. Even if that weren’t the case, pushing up the vanity against the wall was necessary:
Stay tuned for the full reveal!
Fortunately I don’t suffer from decision paralysis because this renovation is one decision after another, and it’s everything from location of light switches and outlets to the size of the shower nook to the color of grout — and even to the accessories like soap dispensers. The soap dispensers I’ve had from Target haven’t really held up over the years, with exception of No. 6 above which is in our kitchen, so I’m on the hunt for new ones to outfit both bathrooms. Since I already have dozens of tabs open, I thought I’d share some of my favorites. Right now, I’m leaning toward No. 2 or No. 10 for our powder room. For the main bathroom, a glass version like No. 9 looks like it might be the perfect vintage-inspired choice.
It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in! Our computer malfunctioned so I was MIA for a little while until we could get that back in working order and it couldn’t have come back at a better time when I have some updates to share with you from my last progress report on our powder room.
First things first, a peek of that easy-to-clean, flat-sided toilet was my most commented-on Instagram story ever. I love that we’re at the age where stuff like this excites us! If you’re the market for a toilet, you can find it here and here. I bought the recommended toilet seat for it.
Shortly after we left off, the drywall went up and it finally felt like a room again! We had a few days of mudding and sanding. In a perfect world, we would have primed and painted before the tile went in, but we had some scheduling delays that moved the tile up on the priority list. And trust me, I was not mad at it. Seeing the tile installed made my heart soar and I could finally see my vision board come together. It’s one thing to make a collage in Photoshop, but it’s another to see your selections actually take shape and work together.
It was around this point where I snuck downstairs and smugly smiled to myself thinking “I have good taste.” Haha. But it felt so good to see the pieces fall into place so well — and quite literally at that. You’ll see that we lucked out and were able to place a full tile at each corner and along the sides of the room. We did have a delay with the grout, so after the tile set in mortar, the floor was covered and attention moved to the walls and woodwork.
One of the things I really wanted to do in this space was make the millwork mimic that of the original trim in the house. They removed the frame and sill of the existing window in the half bath and rebuilt trim to match our window casings elsewhere. The window itself is pretty crappy and we’ll probably replace it down the road, but the new trim makes it seem so much larger and adds much-needed architectural detail in this space. The team still has some work to do with it to add a sill and a finishing piece over the seam, but I’m just so happy with it. They did a similar trim around the doorframe, and they put in baseboards that match the profile of our original trim on the first floor. (You can see these in the opening photo.) Our contractor’s team is so talented and they have such acute attention to detail that makes my perfectionist-heart sing!
The grout arrived on Friday of last week, which allowed the team to get that taken care of fairly quickly. This week was all about dehazing the grout, placing the finishing pieces like the trim, and starting to install fixtures. We still have to seal the floor and finalize locations of things like the mirrors and towel bars, but we’re getting there! The team also moved to the main bathroom on Monday and have already completed demo and leveled the floor. I’ll share more about that space in the coming weeks!
Until then, here’s a tiny peek at how far along this room has come. I’ll do a reveal post once we’re complete with a full source list.
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