Bathroom Problems: Renovate or Not?
Bathroom renovations vary widely in scope and budget. You can renovate a small powder room for only a few thousand dollars, while a luxury master bathroom may equal the cost of a mid-sized kitchen renovation. Typical homes in the DMV area have 2 to 4 bathrooms, so most clients I meet with are struggling with where to start and how to set a realistic budget for each room. Powder rooms get heavy traffic from guests; hallway and basement bathrooms are heavily used by overnight guests, kids and pets; and finally, the master bathroom is designed to be a private place to decompress and relax as the “perk” of owning a home.
With all this to consider, my bathroom clients typically call with a specific issue in mind. Sometimes it’s a dire insurance claim, but mostly, it’s just the everyday frustrations of using an old bathroom. Among my clients, I’ve found four main bathroom problems that drive them to renovate:
- Plumbing Issues
- While minor leaks just take a quick visit from your plumber, more serious issues begin to cause damage to shower tile, flooring, cabinetry, and your ceilings below. I can’t count the number of houses I’ve visited for a first appointment where I see the standard water ring and ceiling paint bubbles letting me know exact location of the bathroom I’ll be shown. Other examples of water damage are soggy flooring, bulging wall tiles and discolored wood on your vanity. These issues normally require at least a partial demolition of the area surrounding the source. In your standard 5×8’ hallway or kid’s bathroom, this makes for the perfect excuse to invest in a much-needed overhaul as a replacement of just one section of a smaller bathroom makes the rest of it look that much worse. Bathrooms of this size can suffice with just a facelift where the toilet, vanity and tub/shower go back in the same spot. Many renovation companies have budget friendly bathroom packages designed for the standard cookie-cutter bathroom. You may even be able to do multiple bathrooms simultaneously if you’re willing to select from the materials a fixed price package offers you.
- Bathrooms serve a very specific purpose: to maintain your hygiene and manage your stress. Once your bathroom stops being an enjoyable space to use, it’s time to renovate. One of the most common issues I find in master bathrooms in the DMV area is an oversized pedestal tub or jacuzzi next to a shower so small, you barely have room to turn around. Decades ago, when the VA and MD suburbs surrounding DC began developing, a jacuzzi in your master bathroom was seen as a status symbol. Real estate agents made sure to highlight it, as a selling point as jacuzzies used to be a luxury only found in the wealthiest homes. Now that jacuzzies and large tubs are commonplace, people have begun to realize just how impractical they are. You might have time for a bath at most once a month. In the meantime, you’re crammed into a tiny shower once or twice a day. When I first visit a client’s home, I’m always amused at the creative ways they’ve transformed their tub into a more practical space. I’ve seen everything from drying racks to cat play areas setup inside a tub that hasn’t been turned on in months. Whether it’s this common problem or another point of frustration, redesigning your bathroom to meet your needs will improve your quality of life immensely.
- In small and multi-person bathrooms especially, storage is always a high frustration point with my clients. Whether it’s a quarter of the shower floor filled with shampoos, struggling with those over-the-showerhead storage contraptions that gradually slip down, or a vanity cabinet stacked with beauty and cleaning products because there’s no drawers or shelving; we’ve all experienced the cramped bathroom that seems to shrink in size even more with clutter. Even a simple bathroom renovation gives you a chance to create built in storage options to keep your floors and countertops clear. While planning your renovation, make sure to view plenty of completed bathroom renovations and before/after pictures to find your perfect storage solutions.
- Wear and Tear
- We’ve all seen the ugly, overused, outdated bathroom. Most of us have one or two in our own houses. Maybe you’ve got a hallway bathroom shared between three kids or you’ve always got guests over in your basement. You can just tell when a bathroom needs a little more TLC than a deep cleaning will ever provide. Older houses are victim to the pink, blue and yellow themed bathrooms, or the classic plastic shower/tub two-in-one enclosures. Grout starts peeling and discoloring, mold and mildew pop up everywhere, shower doors fall off their hinges, vanities get old and discolored, the exhaust sounds like a helicopter takeoff (if it still works at all), and the lighting is dark and gloomy. If you’re looking around your bathroom and facing these problems, it’s time to let go of the past and invest in your happiness.
When your bathroom has too many frustrations to count, your quality of life decreases greatly. How can you expect to feel clean and ready to attack your day or get your kids bathed and ready for bed in a space that is screaming for a renovation? A properly remodeled bathroom is so clean and functional, you’ll find yourself waking up a few minutes early to spend a little extra time in your new space or happily offering your powder room to guests as they come and go. If you’ve been longing for a new bathroom, consider setting up a consultation with a professional contractor to explore your options and figure out a realistic budget. Unlike a kitchen, 5×8’ bathroom renovations only take a few days to plan and can be completed in as little as seven days by an experienced team. Your dream bathroom is closer than you think!