Preparing for Unplanned Expenses During a Bathroom Remodel

A bathroom renovation can easily burn a $10,000 hole in your wallet if not carefully and properly planned and budgeted. This cost can quickly escalate for master bathrooms, or for those bathrooms which have unfortunate surprises in store. In this Costimates home improvement guide, we’ll cover some of the most common unexpected costs when renovating your bathroom, why they might happen, and help you prepare for the added costs needed for your bathroom renovation budget. Keep in mind that this list is only partial, there could still be other costs. We’ll do our best to add them when suggested.


Finding Mold During the Demolition

You’ve probably heard that demolition is the best part of renovating. We beg to disagree and this is especially true when you run into interior wall, ceiling or floor damage such as black mold growing where you didn’t expect. Bathrooms are wet rooms, and the number one area in homes to find mold.

In bathrooms with poor or improper ventilation, mold can sometimes find its way into the spacing between the drywall and begin to grow unhindered. This can quickly turn a simple renovation into a months-long nightmare.

How much does mold removal cost? The average American homeowner will pay between $15-$31 per square foot or an average of $2,325 for each mold remediation project you run into. Don’t plan on calling your homeowners insurance either, they do not usually cover mold removal. Learn more about what is covered with a home warranty, and more importantly whats covered with your home owners insurance.

Corroded and Leaky Plumbing

When you tear open your drywall, you could also encounter corroded copper plumbing due to old or leaky pipes. This is also one of the most common causes of unseen mold. Leaking, or old plumbing will drastically increase a renovation budget due to the material and labor cost of replacing copper, and is listed as one of our 10 most expensive home repair or replacement projects.

You’ll also want to take a few extra days and rent some dehydrators if the pipes leaked bad enough. Replacing copper could then land you another couple thousand dollars in the hole while PEX is just a bit more friendly budget-wise, but still an unexpected burden.

Making the matter of replacing plumbing even more of a nuisance, is that in most areas, once a plumber touches the pipes, everything needs to be brought up to current plumbing code in order to pass inspections. We discuss this a bit more further down.

Water damage to floors and walls

Water damage is a very common yet unanticipated factor when doing a bathroom renovation. It can happen if someone didn’t turn off the water before the demo began, but it can especially happen over time with leaky faucets or fixtures, long before you even began thinking of remodeling. One of our 12 easy home maintenance tasks, talks about fixing leaks in the bathroom so they don’t turn into a huge expense.

Since water damage could lead to mold or added plumbing problems, you’ll need to be sure that the water damage is fixed before starting any new remodeling.

Common water damage in bathrooms is usually found in these areas:

  • Walls behind shower enclosures
  • Wooden subfloors under toilets
  • Wood surface under tile floors
  • Under bathtub or shower floor

Unplanned Budget Increases from Changing your Design

A bathroom design means you need to buy all of the materials beforehand, or at least most of them. It’s not uncommon that some designs won’t look good with others. So, changing your mind at any stage in the renovation project, especially later in the project, will increase costs.

Imagine suddenly deciding to use one stone over the original kind for the tile surrounding your shower or tub. Now you have two sets of stone, more labor costs, more planning time, and a budget that rises. This doesn’t include the extra expense of disposing or selling the tile you originally planned, along with extra contractor charges for having to pick it up, change design patterns that result in more cuts, etc.

Bringing everything up to Code

If your house is a bit on the older side or if your local government recently changed the housing code, then your expenses are going to grow a bit in bringing it up to current standards. If you touch the electrical wiring or fixtures, you’ll need to hire an inspector to come and look at your wiring to ensure it’s up-to-code and safe. When you touch the plumbing, a different inspector. You get the idea… the city/county want to be sure that after it’s done, it was done properly to ensure the safety of you and your family.

This could mean a quick visit, or it could mean contractors need to spend another day on replacing old/faulty wire. Even if you’re deadset on doing it yourself, you’ll still need a city inspector to check the work.

Inspections range from $150-$300 each, can take days to get completed, and that does not include the added costs of the contractors doing the work to meet standards.

Additional Supplies and Tools for the DIY’er

Every homeowner with the DIY bug likes to do a bit of the work ourselves. Maybe you want to try your hand at tiling the walls o floor, or maybe installing the drywall yourself. If you’re thinking of saving money by some or all of the work yourself, you’ll still need to be careful about planning for the materials needed. It’s easy to under or overestimates just how much material will be needed. This could mean your budget is quickly broken.

In addition to the added materials waste you’re sure to generate when taking on a project for the first time, you’ll need specilized tools you may not keep around. Tile work requires the right tools to not only snap the tiles in straight lines, but you may need a wet saw or specialty drill bits to cut corners, holes, etc. These tools that you may only use once or twice in the time you own a home, can add up costs quickly.

Wrapping Up

Unexpected bathroom remodeling costs can come from pre-existing issues, new city codes, changing your mind, or any number of reasons you didn’t consider. Either way, try your best to think about how this renovation will affect you and your family in order to avoid those unexpected costs.

Finally, make sure the work is done right, even if it costs a bit more, otherwise, the next renovation could have water damage, mold, and even more problems that could have been avoided if the corrections were done right the first time.

What unexpected costs did you run into while renovating your bathroom? Share wit everyone in the comments below.

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